This question was recently posted and put on hold as off-topic:

And it is off-topic as a Q&A on SU. It did attract a fair amount of interest, though.

While it is off-topic, the purpose has some value. We do get a lot of beginner spreadsheet questions. Many of the posters lack the fundamental concepts and vocabulary, so it is difficult for them to research a solution before coming here. The idea of this Q&A was to be a basic resource to get people started in finding a solution on their own, or at least being able to do some initial work and then present an appropriate question.

SU has a pool of definitive answers for common questions, the purpose being to avoid reinventing the wheel every time those questions come up. It might be useful to have some beginner-level resource information to serve a similar function, but at an earlier stage.

This Q&A was an attempt to start such a resource for Excel. There are other common topics that might benefit from something similar. The question is where, if anywhere, would it fit on the site. The site Q&A is not the right place.

We do have help resources--how to ask a good question and the like. That might be an appropriate place for resources of this kind that we can point questioner's to as an initial step.

  • Would this be consistent with the site's function and would that be an appropriate place for such a resource?

  • As a practical matter, is there an existing mechanism to enable people to create and maintain a community wiki resource in the help area?

  • SU isn't really about beginner question I must have missed the memo on that
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 5:02
  • @Sathya - Site definition: Q&A for computer enthusiasts and power users. I suppose someone could be an enthusiast and a beginner. I'll edit the wording.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 5:06
  • Also Help reference posts don't work. Everyone wants a help reference, nobody wants to maintain one. Have a look at the existing CW. Tag wikis have plenty of space, nothing wrong with using those for help references. That's what Stack Overflow does
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 5:10
  • 1)The CW isn't readily accessible (like tab access), you have to find the stuff with a search, knowing how to do the search. 2)The posts are there because they are already definitive. How much maintenance do they need? 3)Those posts are all on-topic Q&A. A free-form reference like the one started would be off-topic. Even one broken down into a collection of specific questions would risk downvote/closure as being theoretical rather than actual problems.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 5:22
  • 1. I presume you mean tag wikis. Clicking on the tag brings up the info & you can edit it. 2. Software updates tend to break existing workflow. Look at Win 7 -> Win 8, Office ribbon change etc etc. Who'll update them? 3. No, help reference posts go into the too broad category.
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 5:24
  • And that's why I said tag wikis are the best place for this..
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 5:29
  • @Sathya - Didn't think this kind of subject matter tutorial would be appropriate in a tag wiki; I thought those were just to provide background info on the tag. However, I see your point about the need for maintenance. Wouldn't there be the same issue in a tag wiki (which would imply that there really isn't a good place for it)?
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 5:39
  • 1
    We get a great deal of spam about Excel also. Its hard as a relatively new member to tell the difference. The amount of real people, who need help with a problem within Excel, is a great deal smaller then most people realize. As for learning reference material.... This isn't a forum. What works on a forum doesn't work with Stackexchange websites. This is a concept from a forum community where people create threads to catch new people up so they don't ask the same question over and over.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 12:29
  • As @Ramhound said, the number of people who need help is small compared to the amount of questions. On top of that, the number of people who need new help is even smaller. The number of duplicates in excel is pretty high considering the total number of questions. I can't count how many times someone is looking for the word "pivot table" or "vlookup" - a tag wiki would be a great place for canon - but, I'm not about to do it. Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 12:54
  • While we try to avoid having an answer to the same question exist in multiple places ( i.e. the concept of duplicates ) we want people to ask the question and get an answer. We also want them to verify its not been asked before but that is a separate goal.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


I'll move the gist of Sathya's comments to an answer, because it pretty much answers the question.

  • If it were to be done, the tag wikis would be the place to do it.

  • If it were done, it would create a need to maintain the information, which is a problem because people don't do it.

  • Out-of-date information doesn't reflect well on SU. Keeping learning and reference materials current is outside the scope of the site. Ensuring that such material is current would impose new resource requirements.

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