I'm thinking questions such as:

What is Kopi Luwak?

How do I make a Cappuccino?

Simple questions that might not even be asked by the user base until the site has grown a little, but might bring in more beginners.


  • 1
    An interesting idea; there are a few of those questions / topics emerging already; e.g., one of mine is Q/A about strength and extraction that seems reasonably well-received. I wrote a meta-question about a somewhat-similar topic of summary-like questions; see especially this answer from hardmath about how Mathematics handles some of those "canonical" topics. Would this encourage or discourage beginners / participation?
    – hoc_age
    May 18, 2015 at 0:48

3 Answers 3


I haven't seen that many duplicates; canonical questions are really the answer to that. By taking an existing question / answer and putting everything someone would want to know about a frequently searched question, you can obviate the need for people to continue to ask. But they do, which is why duplicates asked just a tad differently all pointing to the canonical work so well.

I don't think we have the problem yet, even though I'm wondering how much ground we haven't covered on the topic :P

End of anything official in this response.

What I've been kicking around is the idea of self-answered questions about my own gear, e.g. "How easy is the Breville Barista Express to operate?" or "how long does the niju-glass double-walled press hold a constant temp?" where I'd just write about my experience with owning and using this stuff. I'd definitely be interested in someone from this community talking about a La Marzocco Linea Mini.

This serves a big piece of what people look for in a site like this, should I spend my hard earned cash on [thing]?. It also unlocks a lot of additional content for us. It's not 'shopping', or 'what should I buy' - it's "I have this thing and have useful information to share about it". It just has to be shared in the form of a question.

I don't know. I haven't given it a lot of thought, I mention it only because signs that folks are getting a bit bored are starting to emerge :)

  • I wonder if the former of your questions might be too subjective for a Stack Exchange site, but then I guess that's up to the community to decide. I like the latter of the two, technical details about specific equipment sounds (to me at least) like a great fit for the site.
    – Nick Udell
    May 14, 2015 at 13:29
  • 1
    @NickUdell I'd probably pick a better title for the former, mostly just brainstorming at this point. We definitely need another angle for giving folks stuff to do. Plus, 80% of my coffee related searches are about gear, mostly looking for honest reviews.
    – Tim Post
    May 14, 2015 at 15:23
  • Are you saying that we've covered many/most topics? What are these signs -- question frequency, visitor volume, ...?
    – hoc_age
    May 18, 2015 at 0:59
  • Also -- I like the idea of a "wanted info" area! Is there any precedent for this? Other than the conventional "ask a question" and potentially "add a bounty if it hasn't solicited much traffic" or so. As has been said before, gear can be a big (too big??) part of coffee, and as you point out there's a fine line between "what should I buy" (not so good) and more legitimate topics such as "features" or "value" of Some Coffee Device.
    – hoc_age
    May 18, 2015 at 1:09
  • @hoc_age Just what I know about the topic. I'm sure there are plenty of great questions left, it's just getting hard to think of what we haven't covered yet.
    – Tim Post
    May 18, 2015 at 1:40
  • 1
    @hoc_age well, some - we have always supported blogging in the form of a quality self-answered question. I think I'll try posting one or two over this coming weekend just as example tests, so we have a better idea of what these would look like and how they could fit.
    – Tim Post
    May 18, 2015 at 1:46

I like the question and was thinking more on it... so I decided to expand on part of my comment on the question into this answer.

My first thought with most of these is, "What have other Stack Exchange sites done in this situation?" I wrote a meta-question about a somewhat-similar topic of summary-like questions. I especially liked this answer from hardmath about how Math.SE handles some of those "canonical" topics.(Aside: His particular example is fasinating and blew my mind. :)

I think there's value in letting good answers to such topics "happen organically," even though that's somewhat less satisfying in certain ways than getting some good, fundamental answer to some good, fundamental question committed into the annals of the Internet(s). That said, I saw some confusion (partly my own) about a topic, so I wrote a self-Q/A about What do the terms extraction and strength mean? My goal there was to clear up some terms that I didn't understand and that were being used somewhat inconsistently or imprecisely. Especially in those cases, I'm certainly in favor of penning a good Q/A.

On the other hand, I think having some "softball" questions every once in a while, even if duplicate, is healthy. If a new user to the site gets hooked by giving a solid answer to a question, that's a great "gateway" to this community. Having fundamental topics that are "still open" might be a good hook for a new user.

Another take on this is that some questions that are on-topic for the site might be already answered well other places. For example, if I search for how to make a cup of coffee in an auto-drip coffeemaker, I think I'd find a very large number of answers that are very adequate... therefore, they don't need to be "asked" here as such. That said, I'd be totally happy if someone earnestly asked something like that and got an earnest, helpful answer from this community. I hope we will be so lucky as to be "the" coffee reference site at some point in the future! :)


There is a general trend away from CW, and my meta participation in meta.music.SE illustrates how I've learned this the hard way. But it does seem like CW's greatest feature is it greatest failure: no reputation points for participants.

This is particularly unappealing if you're writing something intending it to be a "canonical" answer. Yes, you may need help on some details. But the work you put into it should be rewarded.

Even on codegolf.SE where it used to be the policy that "tips" questions should be CW because they're not proper code challenges. When they changed it, removed all CW, and everybody started getting points ... nobody's complaining.

In short, Yes! Write canonical answers. You can even write a fictitious question to lead-in to it. Share your knowledge. And enjoy the appreciation of your readers.

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