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This post is written for new users of the Writing - Stack Exchange (or Writing.SE, for short) - especially those who have just asked or answered their first question and have been surprised by the feedback.

First, welcome!

We hope you find Writing.SE enjoyable, interesting, fun… and not too daunting when you first arrive.

What is Writing.SE?

Public Domain

Writing.SE is very different from many online forums (such as mailing lists, bulletin boards, and the commenting systems on blogs.) It is also somewhat different from many other websites in the Stack Exchange family, such as Stack Overflow, that you may be familiar with.

As a result, the Writing.SE community can appear to be a little hostile to new users. Many first-time users — perhaps even most first-time users — are surprised when their contributions are judged against an unexpected set of standards. I urge you not to be disheartened by this. Have a look around, and you will quickly understand how we work. We hope that you will soon learn to appreciate the value that these standards bring in ensuring that the content you find on Writing.SE is very high quality.

What is Writing.SE For?

Writing.SE is a Q&A site for writers and about writing. Our Q&A format makes our content clear and straight to the point — and the best, most helpful answers rise right to the top!

We're a great site for questions at any level of expertise — whether you're setting pen to paper for the first time, or a seasoned pro tackling a thorny problem.

However, our focused format is also a limitation: Not every request for help will work well as a Q&A. Some topics are discussions that don't need a single "answer"; sometimes people need help editing a piece, not a formal Q&A; and so on and so forth. Questions the community finds a poor fit for the site will be closed.

My question got closed - what does that mean?

Questions often get closed. This does not mean the question has been banished forever. It's an opportunity for the community to improve it; wherever we can, we want to have the definitive questions and answers on a subject. Learn more about closed questions.

If you disagree with the closing of your question, you can leave a constructive comment or edit that shows why your question deserves to be reopened. If the community agrees, your question may be reopened. Learn more about reopening your question.

My question isn't a good fit on Writing.SE, is there another place to ask it?

Sister sites are sites on related, but different topics. A few questions might straddle this site and one of our sister sites. Your question may be migrated to one of these sites if it is off-topic here, but would fit in there.

  • English Language and Usage - Questions specific on the use of the English language, such as grammar, punctuation, and other technicalities should be asked here.
  • Law.SE - For questions about the legal aspect of issues such as copyright, publishing, and similar.
  • History.SE - A great resource for research questions about historical details, large and small (specifically not covered here on Writing)
  • Linguistics.SE
  • Literature.SE - Questions asking about existing pieces of literature belong here.

I'm confused, where can I learn more?

It is highly recommended to take the tour upon arrival. There is also a wonderful help center which will hopefully hold the answers to all of your questions about Writing.SE. If still confused, it is totally welcome to ask a question here on Writing.SE Meta, regarding questions or concerns about Writing.SE.

I love Writing.SE! How can I help?

  • You can ask good questions.
  • You can answer good questions (especially ones with little or no answers).
  • You can improve questions and answers through editing.
  • You can flag inappropriate material.
  • You can promote the site online.
  • You can participate in chat.
  • And most important of all, be a good user! Being nice and respectful to others is essential. Make sure to follow the code of conduct.

Conclusion

If you haven't come across a Stack Exchange site before, Writing.SE may seem a little alien.

However, if you hang around for a bit, you will see we take legitimate questions very seriously, and we will likely impress you with the quality and thoughtfulness of our answers.

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  • Yoinked from the lovely, welcoming intro page at Skeptics.SE. This page is a WIP in a very early stage; I'll be working on this over the next few days. Please feel free to contribute, or suggest what should be focused on.
    – Standback
    Jul 12 '12 at 10:17
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    I don't like the image. There is one smiling. Jul 12 '12 at 11:09
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    "The lone smiley-sphere, oblivious to the ruined lives of the morose spheres surrounding it, prepared to gleefully skip along the street." Jul 12 '12 at 16:09
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    I just assumed he was gloating over their abject misery.
    – Standback
    Jul 12 '12 at 16:13
  • Isn't it supposed to mean that Writers.SE is the only smiley site?
    – justkt
    Jul 12 '12 at 19:07
  • @Standback - You scamp, you. (he said, while smiling.) Jul 13 '12 at 1:18
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    I think he is the one who got published..... Jul 25 '12 at 14:27
  • Why is History a sister site? (Just curious.) Jul 26 '12 at 1:22
  • @NeilFein: Serves me right for working on a draft in public :P
    – Standback
    Jul 26 '12 at 4:52
  • @nai54 your amendment "Your question may be migrated to one of these sites if it is off-topic here, but would fit in there" is incorrect: migration is limited to the SE sites formally identified by Writing.SE, and as far as I know (perhaps a mod can correct me if I'm wrong) is impossible within the SE system for any sister site we haven't specified. Apr 15 at 8:29
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    @ChappoHasn'tForgottenMonica I am pretty sure that mods have the power to migrate anywhere unlike us regular users. I have brought this up several times on meta before. See my question and F1Krazy's answer here: writing.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2369/…
    – Nai45
    Apr 15 at 14:25
  • @Nai54 ah, I stand corrected! (and I upvoted your more recent question on adding Lit and Law). I'm perhaps overcautious about migration because I often see a comment suggesting a question might be better on EL&U when I know (as someone who has cast over 2,000 VTCs on that site) that it would be swiftly closed there too, e.g. for "lack of research". Migrating bad questions simply shifts the problem (and the work) to another site – which is why, as F1Krazy notes, SE puts so many hurdles and considerations in the way of it. Apr 15 at 21:20
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There are some tags on English Language and Usage that people might find particularly useful:

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