A fairly common requirement is to be alerted to changes/updates on a web site. There was recently a question from someone whose job was submitting proposals, and the client due dates were updated on the client's web site. They wanted to ensure that these changes weren't missed. They also followed certain forums and wanted to be alerted to new posts. They were looking for some form of alert (email, desktop message, etc.), when there was a change to a specified web site. Personally, I loved this question and would look forward to as many answers as possible.

The question got an answer or two and then was tagged as a duplicate of another question with 5 answers. Great, 5 answers. I clicked on the link and found that the question and its answers had been deleted. I flagged the problem ("duplicate" of a non-existent question). The flag got marked as helpful. Fantastic, now I might get to see the other answers. Instead, this question was also deleted. (link: https://superuser.com/questions/856317/how-can-i-be-alerted-to-updates-or-changes-on-a-specific-website)

I'm trying to understand why this subject is apparently off-topic.

  • It isn't a request for online services, although that might be one logical source for a solution.
  • I would think something browser-based could be a solution. It might be as simple as an existing browser add-in or feature setting.
  • It isn't a shopping request, although software recommendations would not precluded.
  • The solution could be a script.
  • There might be numerous different possible solutions, although for this type of question, the more the better. That doesn't make it overly broad; the question, itself, is quite focused.

It seems to be within the definition of a hardware/software question, and not substantively different from questions routinely handled here. It's a common, real-life problem involving a computer-based task and the solution is likely to be software-based. What makes this collection of questions off-topic?

  • Can you add a link so we have some post to discuss specifics about?
    – slhck
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 23:30
  • @slhck - Done. Forgot that I had a link even though the question was deleted.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 23:45

1 Answer 1


They're not exactly on topic, but they are out of scope.

They're too broad because that could be solved in any number of ways given the very lax prerequisites and there being no understanding of what attempt currently isn't working.

They're also questions that ask for any and all, basically a tools request. Software recommendation.

Could be browser based, could be a script, could be an online service, could be selecting a preference box on their forum account, could be making use of the RSS feeds, could be paid, could be free.

  • A good portion of questions are looking for a tool to solve a problem. If there are many possible ways to solve the problem, that's a good thing. Not all problems involve trying to make a specific thing work, so what has been attempted isn't always relevant. On this type of problem, the OP may not know where to begin looking for a solution. If they do and find something that isn't ideal, that can narrow the scope. However, even that may leave many possible solutions. Scope has to do with the nature of the problem/question, how narrowly it is defined, not the range of possible solutions.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 3:41
  • Would this be better as a collection of different questions, each looking for a different brand of solution: email notification, desktop alert, something browser based, something script based, etc. The task is the same and parsing types of solutions would just lead to a glut of essentially identical questions. Is that preferable? Is SU just a fix-it service?
    – fixer1234
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 3:42
  • That's not preferable either. SU isn't just a fix it service, but it also isn't a place to collect all sorts of answers. It's here to collect the definitive answer. And that type of question doesn't have it.
    – random Mod
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 3:59

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