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When people are considering veganism or vegetarianism, they often search for answers to very basic questions. Here are some basic questions that each get searched thousands of times per month in Google, along with some of the top results:

  • is veganism healthy

    • "Is Vegan Healthy? 10 Reasons Why I'll Never Be Vegan"
    • "Angelina Jolie Says Vegan Diet Nearly Killed Her"
    • "How our vegan diet made us ill"
  • is vegan better for environment

    • "Is a vegetarian diet really better for the environment?"
    • "Vegetarian and 'healthy' diets may actually be worse for the ..."
    • "Vegan eating isn't as environmentally friendly or sustainable as you ..."
  • etc... ("authority nutrition" and a few other big sites often come up near the top of search results with sneaky titles the seem informative, but then the article trashes veganism with all sorts of cherry-picked research results that "prove" a high-beef, high-fat, high-butter, high-bacon is actually way healthier (not even joking))

As you can see, there's a lot of "backlash" against veganism in the form of poorly researched blog posts, news articles, etc. that just want to report on something unexpected, or something that's very shareable because of dietary insecurities or whatever.

So there's a bunch of misinformation out there and I think that this site would be a great resource to help squash that misinformation. To do this, we'd need to be very open and supportive of super basic questions, and really build a community where even the most obvious questions are allowed (you'll see what I mean in a moment).

What follows is a massive list of search terms which, together, are queried tens of thousands of times per month. Sorry about it being so big, but I just want to make sure I'm properly communicating the sorts of things people (especially beginners) are searching for. For those interested, I generated this list and the linked one using an online tool.

  • are vegans healthy
  • are vegans healthier
  • are vegan diets healthy
  • are vegans stupid
  • are vegans allowed to eat honey
  • are vegan desserts healthy
  • are vegans skinny
  • are vegan doc martens good
  • are vegan donuts healthy
  • are vegans unhealthy

and many more.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that every single one of these search terms deserves a question (many don't even make sense), but there are many of them that (I think) people would scoff at or try to close either because the question seems too obvious, or because it sounds "troll-like". Basically, I want to help make this forum as successful and useful as possible. To do that, I think we need to reach as many people as possible, and so am just thinking about strategies to help us out with that.

Note that I'm not suggesting rules changes, but rather am just trying to make the community aware of potential pathways to help people and spread good information.

Edit:

I just happened to read over the invite email and came across these important paragraphs:

The first questions set the tone for the site. If you ask high quality, expert-level questions, you'll build a site that attracts the experts and pros who will make it really successful. But if you ask beginner questions, survey questions, or social-conversation questions, experts and pros will not be interested.

Remember, you get the site you build! Ask difficult, specific questions — the kind of questions pros and experts ask each other, not the kind of questions novices ask pros, because a site full of pros and experts will attract everybody, but a site full of novices rapidly becomes boring. No easy questions, no survey questions, no polls, no intro-level/basic questions, no unanswerable hypothetical questions.

This definitely makes sense. Perhaps we should leave the basic questions for later when we've got a good crew of experts on board?

Edit 2:

To clarify some points raised in answers, the question is as stated in the title: Should we encourage/allow very basic questions which would be beneficial to those just starting out? I'm not suggesting that we start spamming a list of basic questions into the community. Rather, I'm asking whether we should be supportive of newbie questions, even though most people in the community will think they're super obvious to the point of maybe being silly (e.g. "can vegans eat fish?").

  • 1
    I've got two possible solutions to this, so I'm going to post them both and let votes determine which way people want to go :P – Erica Feb 2 '17 at 11:19
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    Also, would you mind paste-binning that list? It's quite big and is a serious pain to scroll through on mobile. – Riker Feb 2 '17 at 18:12
  • I tend to a "NO". Quality of the site is also important. Closing questions which convey the same meaning should be closed as duplicate. I asssume you have received a mail from Stackexchange network in which there is a clear guidelines on which type of questions should be asked. – Nog Shine Feb 3 '17 at 2:22
  • I did pastebin your list, sorry. It's just massive. I left a couple for the sake of the question, but the full list is just too big. – Riker Feb 3 '17 at 22:21
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Scrolling down that huge list, I would just put it away. This site is for you. Ask questions that you actually have. That is how you will build a great site.

My cautionary tale is to avoid explicit efforts to create an exhaustive primer for folks who aren't using this site (yet). There's nothing worse than getting excited about a new community only to see it fill with the same boring questions asked thousands of times on every other site on the subject.

This subject is really interesting, but please read: Your New Site: Asking the First Questions

The folks here have real, genuine issues that come with actively committing to this lifestyle. But the front page says a lot about your site… so when someone sees your community for the first time, you want to capture that moment of excitement when someone says, "Heck yeah! This is the place for me!"

These rudimentary questions will get asked, I promise you. Just don't force it. And don't chase them away. When folks run into these "beginner's issues" organically, they will come to you with their stories and passions about issues they actually face. This type of community building is what makes for an interesting site.

Otherwise all you are doing is lining everyone up to robo-march SEO search terms into a dry, unimpressive text book.

This may not be what you are recommending explicitly, but

just don't do it.

  • I'm not sure what you mean by "put that list away". It seems a little patronising. I think you've missed the point of my post. I'm all for creating a welcoming community for everyone - that's why I started this discussion. The list, as I stated in the post, was to help people (like yourself) understand that closing a question because it seems to obvious or silly may in fact be a bad idea. If we care about making this community the best it can be, I think these are important things to consider. – user116 Feb 2 '17 at 15:18
  • Certainly these questions may seem "dry [and] unimpressive" to you, but to beginners, these questions are important. Also, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "Don't do it." Don't welcome newbie questions? – user116 Feb 2 '17 at 15:19
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    @JoeRocc Yes, these questions are really important (and often impressive) when asked by those with genuine need; that was my point entirely. When you see a post akin to "should we encourage..." followed by 182 bullet points of SEO subjects, communities often see that as a call to ask all the important foundational subjects as a way to build a site. That's where the dire "please don't do that" plea comes in, even if you weren't suggesting that directly. In any case, the blog post is a good read. Highly recommended. – Robert Cartaino Feb 2 '17 at 15:25
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    Right, I see where you're coming from. I added an edit to the question which hopefully clarifies that the list was just a quick copy paste to show that surprisingly basic questions may in fact be useful and so shouldn't be scoffed at / closed. I agree with your points on keeping things community-centric though - very important 👍 – user116 Feb 2 '17 at 15:33
  • @JoeRocc I made some minor but significant changes to express the cautionary tale. I hope that works better for you, and a bit less patronizing. – Robert Cartaino Feb 2 '17 at 18:46
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Allow "intro" questions, but collaborate to create a great Answer.

If a question is likely to be asked frequently by beginner veg*ns or simply by curious passers-by, it is likely a "canonical" Q&A that can be easily linked to and/or used as duplicates. (Cooking.SE has a number of food safety questions, used for the frequent "I left my hamburger/chicken/milk out on the counter/in the car for 2/4/48 hours, can I still eat it" newbie questions.)

However, a mediocre question or (worse, in my opinion) incomplete, poorly written answer is unhelpful, both because of beta appeal and because it doesn't provide the basic information that's being sought. A community wiki is one way to ensure that the content provided in an answer is built as a community.


I'll also caveat this: we shouldn't attempt to go through the list of common search terms and create questions to match. It seems like it would be a poor use of everyone's time, and get boring/exhausting/annoying quickly.

  • Sounds like a plan. I hope we can get the community on board with this. Yeah, going through those search terms wouldn't be fun, but I think it's important to be aware of what people are actually asking at the start. Most of the big questions will "organically" occur very quickly anyway - it's just that we need to be prepared for them (build a community that is accepting of them) – user116 Feb 2 '17 at 11:28
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Use well-curated tags to provide basic/introductory definitions and information.

Tags are great for organizing questions and helping people look for categories they are interested in. However, they can also provide useful information for quick referral ("If you want to know the difference between vegans and vegetarians, have a look at our tag...").

Having well-written tag excerpts and definitions is useful for other reasons, but can (in a pinch) serve the same end purpose as a set of canonical answers.

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