I've been seeing an increase in the number of off-topic questions answered recently, and I wanted to address them. It is my understanding that anything off topic is to be flagged, closed and/or migrated to another stack exchange site. Strictly not answered because it mucks up the content and search of the site, where the content will bleed into other SharePoint-specific content. If this happens the mix of SharePoint and unrelated content makes the site less searchable, generic, and overall confusing.

The purpose is to keep the content of the SP.SE site completely relative to SharePoint. Anything that can be found in Stack Exchange or Server Overflow should not be asked as a "new" question. If the user does not know which Stack Exchange site to ask, the point of closing it will redirect the user.

Can we address this?


Overwrite sharepoint css

Powershell - Parse value 00:00:20.12369 to HH:mm:ss

Upgrade visual studio solution from 2010 to 2013

Disable Date field don´t work correctly

Change input background color and text using Script Editor

Here's another: The 'Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0' provider is not registered on the local machine

2 Answers 2


As a Moderator, I agree with you, but I would like to inform you that we close the question in the following cases:

  • We are absolutely sure that the question is off-topic.
  • If we're not sure it's off-topic, so we let our valuable members decide that by raising the flags.

Regarding your examples,

let me take the first one because I already answered it :)

In this question, I checked the question as a normal SE Member and made sure that the user is working on SharePoint. where he needs to overwrite a style for a SharePoint class using CSS in Script Editor Web Part.

I know the answer and I can help at the same time the question is not flagged as off-topic and in my opinion (as SE member), it's not clearly off-topic based on the OP description So where's the issue why not help?

In this situation, if anyone knows the correct answer, and he can help! Do you think he will not answer it? I don't think so because our main goal is to help the OP. and you already do that at How to set custom DIV error message using JavaScript

Also at this question, Change input background color and text using Script Editor

Although this question is clearly off-topic, you have tried first to help the OP before raising your flag! After that you have raised the flag, So I checked and close it because your flag was valid!. In my opinion, what you have done is proper.

If the question is not clearly off-topic for you and no one raises a flag for this question as off-topic and you already know the answer so you should provide it! and I think this what did in all the above examples.

But This not means I agree on answering the off-topic questions, but it should be clearly off-topic and in case you find any off-topic question. please don't hesitate to raise your valuable flag and we will check it and take the correct action ASAP based on the SE rules.

Finally, the SE sites are created to help others. it's the main goal of all SE sites. and it's also our goal.

And The off-topic flag is not just created to close the question but it's considered as a type of help. where we raise this flag to inform the OP early we can't help you on this topic and guide him to ask his question at the correct place to get an accurate and quick answer.

  • I think you are missing the point of pushing something off-topic. It's to push the question to something more suited in another site, for searchability and organizational purposes--I guess in my opinion. I believe that's how SE was designed.
    – Mike
    Sep 8, 2017 at 15:31

tldr; Let the community decide, engage with the community and offenders, and link to and improve our help center.

The examples you provided show an interesting cross-section of questions/answers on/off topic. I see questions that are:

  1. Loosely-related to SharePoint
  2. Independent of SharePoint
  3. Not even remotely related to SharePoint

Here a few suggestions:

Engage users

As M.Qassas♦ mentioned intervention is the best, first step. I believe asking What are you trying to accomplish in SharePoint? will get the asker to understand the goal. If the goal is to get SharePoint to do X or do Y in SharePoint, I would consider on-topic (even if it's a programming or CSS question).

Wait for community feedback

Allowing members of the community time to comment, vote, flag, answer, or even link to a duplicate or related question will help in deciding what to do with the question easier (for a moderator). Let the other users help you in your moderation activities (just be sure to give the flag some thought and don't close too quickly).

When waiting is not enough

When the community is not seeing off-topic questions, moderators and other well-to-do users should engage with the users to teach them about the rules in our lovely help center.

Improve the help center

Perhaps the help article is not clear enough. Perhaps it should be expanded or another article created with an explicit black list of topics? That should be opened in another meta question.

Adopt a list of heuristics

Another suggestion it to create a list of points that determine if it's on-topic. Specify how off-topic a question can be before it violates our standards.


Whenever you come across a potentially off-topic question or answer, reach out to the user to determine their goals. If the goals are aligned with SharePoint, suggest they search or post elsewhere before taking action.

Wait for the community to weigh in on questionably asked questions. Their feedback will make your decisions easier.

If you believe the community is unaware that a question is off-topic, engage with them in a teachable momement to explain what it means to be on topic.

  • Thanks for this. It's half the battle getting the question on the right site, the other half is seeing users ignore the fact that it's off topic and answer anyway.
    – Mike
    Sep 9, 2017 at 15:03

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