Does it make sense to ask a question with not one specific answer, but many different answers to collect a list of things like "known coffee types" together with preparation method or is this more a wiki thing to collect them?

3 Answers 3


It's more "a wiki thing."

Not every question about coffee is on topic for a Stack site about coffee: Stacks want to be neatly-sorted piles of questions and answers wherein experts solve actual problems that people are facing. The Stack Exchange has little interest in duplicating services other parts of the Internet are already good at providing, and is structured so that often those services just plain don't work here. This is why we are choosey about the questions we get.

Lets turn to the Help Center and see what it has to say about how question structure helps accomplish Stack goals.

The Help Center lists some flags indicating that a question might be a poor fit for the site. If a potential question hits more than one of the flags, that's a sign it's likely not gonna work out here.

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid
  • there is no actual problem to be solved


A list of coffees would make every answer equally valid, and there's no actual problem being solved. That breaks our voting system, making it impossible for our answers to be neatly sorted by the groupmind.

Now lets look at signs of a good question:

  • Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question?
  • if you give us details and context, we can provide a useful answer.


The second bullet point there reinforces the idea that questions should have problems they're trying to solve: without a particular situation the querent faces, details and context for useful answers are impossible.

And the first bullet point really hits the thing on the nose: the Stack is a place to ask experts to leverage their education and experience in a field to solve problems we can't solve ourselves. The Stack is not a place to ask experts to do simple research for us.

For further reading, I suggest Repositories; Polling, Recommendations and subjective-ish stuff; Questions with educational value; Is trivia on topic?; and What's so problematic about a recommendation question having potentially hundreds of answers, anyway?.

And, of course, there's always Wikipedia's List of Coffee Drinks.


Don't even try to answer it.

Yep, those type of questions are off-topic and there is no real problem. You want a list of coffee types, go up to Google and/or Wikipedia and look it up. To answer your question:

That is a wiki question, Downvote it and flag it, no questions asked

That's basically what you should do. Seriously, that question would not survive 5 minutes without at least 3 dowvotes, unless it was deleted. :-) I hope this answers your question!


I disagree with the other answers. These sorts of questions (if properly worded) are certainly on topic. The way they should be done is by marking the question as community wiki so that everyone can answer in one place instead of having hundreds of different answers with individual names in them.

  • Well, it does depend, I agree. But, if the topic is only about the types of coffee you know, that's off topic. That could be asked in chat. Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 2:58

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