I asked this question What are uses of red spruce (picea rubens) by humans in a wilderness, primitive, or frontier setting? and have more like it in mind. Before I post more questions like that, I want to ask: is this sort of question acceptable?

I think the answers are appropriate for StackExchange format: a definitive and objective answer, in relatively short form (like a list).

The questions like this could be somewhat endless, that's why I ask here on meta before 'opening the flood gates' so to speak. I have specific flora in mind that came up from experience though, so I think these could be useful flood gates to open.

For example, the next question I have is like the above one but about small diameter (1-6" DBH) American beech. I find many of these in the forest, sprouting from root suckers due to beech bark disease, and given it is such a hard wood I wonder if there are already uses of it (or reasons not to use it) that the TGO.SE community can make me aware of.

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    You can only ask so many questions on a certain subject in short timeframe or people will start complaining and trying to shut that subject down. Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 4:17

1 Answer 1


You speak about "opening the floodgates", and a categorical yes to your question would do just that. Thus, there has to be a reason for asking such a question, and your "to be used by humans in a wilderness or primitive or frontier setting" doesn't quite cut it by itself.

The question you asked about red spruce did show research and was well thought out. But someone could ask a much less well thought-out question about, say dung beetles, citing the possible use of their product "to be used by humans in a wilderness or primitive or frontier setting". And so on, and on.

But if an OP were thinking of a specific use or several specific uses, and elaborated on those uses and in that process showed some research, and asked whether, and if so, why and specifically how, species X (or whatever) was superior to other similar species, then I it would be OK. At least until the site became inundated with questions of that form that did not show motivation or thought or research.

So, thanks for asking this meta question which can help set up the parameters for a new class of questions without "opening the floodgates" to mediocre copycat questions.

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    Why does there have to be a reason other then the pursuit of knowledge to ask a question? We are BUILDING A LIBRARY Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 13:20
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    @James Jenkins Just as there are trivial answers, there are trivial questions. I elaborated on this in response to your comment. The OP himself is wary of "opening the floodgates" to questions some of which will undoubtedly be much less well thought out than his red spruce question, which I thought was good.
    – ab2
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 13:45
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    I should have said in my comment 'to ask a Good question'. I think you are I are in about the same place here. Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 14:24
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    Thanks for the feedback. All that makes sense to me as well. Since these are easily mass-produced low-quality question types, I'll be careful to keep them high-quality as I put some out there. Next one will be a test to that, since I'm starting out with very little knowledge of how A. beech is used (which I want to learn more about).
    – cr0
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 15:31
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    Also, from Meta.SE: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/158809/why-are-shopping-list-questions-bad, referencing e.g. Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!. Generally, questions asking for lists should be avoided.
    – user15958
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 12:48
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    @Jan Doggen Good point, and worth putting in an answer.
    – ab2
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 13:33

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