We have one question at the moment which asks How should one explain Tor to a non-technical audience?

I see a major problem with such questions. They can be asked and re-asked many times by making minor changes and each could be reasonably argued to be "unique" in itself.

For example:

  • How do I explain Tor to [any non-CS] majors?
  • How do I explain Tor to my local community? [In a country where free speech is restricted]
  • How do I convince my parents to use Tor to protect their privacy?

And many more. While they will have almost similar answers, anybody asking such a question could easily argue otherwise. This can turn out to be (really) problematic.

So, should such questions be on-topic?

  • Why not? When they search on Google they might find such an answer on their first page of results if it is any good.
    – SDsolar
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 4:25

2 Answers 2


If someone were to search Google for "What is Tor?", I certainly would like them to find this site. Conversely, someone asking about Tor having their question closed as "off topic" would be seen as somewhat… odd, and probably a bit user hostile. Don't be short-sighted saying that the information can simply be found elsewhere as a reason to close a question asked in good faith.

This looks like a good candidate for what we call a "canonical answer" — something that is likely to be asked many times — where you make a concerted effort to do everything you can to overkill it. Don't just answer with a hyperlink to some other discussion group somewhere. Write a detailed, step-by-step, ultra-clear guide with screenshots, examples, or whatever else you need. Help us have the best possible answer to this question. It's a healthy win-win way to redirect all future questions on the subject to that one awesome answer… rather than shutting it down as somehow "off topic."

If your concern is that the question can be asked (and answered) in various contexts, part of creating an awesome "canonical answer" is to formulate the question to be clear, well-asked, and generally applicable to anyone looking for that information.

  • Bingo. I agree totally.
    – SDsolar
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 4:25

I think this sort of thing is well covered by the documentation on torproject.org and should be considered off topic here.

These sorts of questions are broad, open ended, and often don't have any good answer. If people do ask this sort of question, they should be pointed to chat where hopefully people will be willing to help them with their specific case.

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