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I asked this question about what events lead to Freedom Hosting disappearing from Tor.

Someone has voted to close it as off-topic, which I don't mind; but given that we're fleshing out the exact nature of this site I decided I'd open a discussion on whether questions like this are on topic for our site. I don't believe this fits in with the existing discussions around legal issues, configuring software etc.

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Considering that this site is for questions about Tor, I'd say a question about what events led to Freedom Hosting's disappearance might be considered on-topic, considering that you did mention that Freedom Hosting was a part of the Tor network.

However, the issue I see isn't really whether or not it's on-topic but instead that it's a question about a current event or a specific moment in time. The best Stack Exchange questions are about a real, actual problem you're facing; instead, this question may very well lead to speculation and debate. This doesn't by itself make it a bad question, it just makes it tough to fit with the Stack Exchange Q&A model.

It's best to not think of this site as a discussion site or a replacement for other forums and resources out there on Tor. This isn't a place to discuss news, current events, or announcements; instead, look at this site as a place to find expert answers to problems you face.

Hope this helps! :)

  • Considering that social outreach and education questions are likely to be on-topic, and these are not likely to have/receive "expert" answers in the technical sense, maybe the scope can be more accommodating? I would have agreed with this answer entirely had I not read this answer by Robert. He seems to suggest a rather different direction than just the expert technical questions, and I think that would be the opinion of the CM Team as well. – asheeshr Sep 29 '13 at 1:42
  • Keeping that in mind, such questions are likely to be more discussion-y than the usual SE questions, but they can still be answered with specific and accurate answers by quoting sources and/or asking directly from the source. This happens quite frequently on other Q&A sites, whats stopping us from going down that path? Yes, we will have to actively work towards ensuring that spammy and speculative answers dont drown out the good ones, but I think thats a reasonable trade-off for incorporating an almost different class of questions. – asheeshr Sep 29 '13 at 1:45
  • @AsheeshR - The main difference I see here is that this site seems more technically-oriented than about soft skills, and if it tries to be everything, then the people who are coming here with real, actual problems to solve may get drowned out in all the noise. In short, it's easier to succeed by doing less. Now, on The Workplace SE and Project Management SE, we do take a lot of softer questions, but that's because the topics themselves are a "soft topic". Hope this helps! – jmort253 Sep 29 '13 at 1:48
  • But you're absolutely right that questions that can be answered with facts, references, and specific expertise are exactly what SE is about, but I'm still not so sure speculative questions, ones that don't involve real problems, are a good thing, especially in the private beta... – jmort253 Sep 29 '13 at 1:49
  • Hmm interesting views. I guess part of my motivation for asking it was that given how the news spread through the Tor community like wildfire, I decided that asking it early was better than not asking it. As for whether it's on topic, I don't personally see a problem with speculative questions per se (see SciFi.SE for numerous examples), as long as there can be references cited - news articles and developer statements etc. – Megan Walker Sep 29 '13 at 15:54
  • I also feel that this site, if it limits itself to hard technical questions, may die a slow death - there's only so many ways to ask "How does feature X work", "What does message Y mean" etc. In my opinion, Tor itself isn't a big enough or fast-changing enough project to maintain a good activity level if it sticks to hard technical questions. We don't have new features being added every week. We don't have a huge code base with a large variety of programs built on top (yet?). – Megan Walker Sep 29 '13 at 16:11
  • Freedom Hosting was huge, accounting perhaps for a third of active hidden services, according to comments by grarpamp on tor-talk. And it had been operating for years. There's no guarantee that the events that led to its disappearance involve "hard technical questions". Maybe it was just human error, hubris or whatever. But whatever went down, it has been a huge problem for many in the Tor community. – mirimir Oct 1 '13 at 6:50
  • I would call it on-topic. "What actually happened?" is a legitimate question and while the topic is maybe about a current event, the answer should (could) be useful down the road too. That said, answers of the form "I found a news article and told you what the article says" are crappy answers (because the goal of news articles is to get you to click on them and their ads, not to give you clear correct facts -- but that is another topic entirely. ;) – Roger Dingledine Oct 1 '13 at 12:01
  • How could we know what happened except through news articles and websites? If we could get transcripts of the Irish court hearings, that would maybe be less crappy. But we'd still be getting an incomplete, and perhaps biased, account from FBI Supervisory Special Agent J. Brooke Donahue. More will come out eventually in court, so maybe it's best to wait before discussing this. – mirimir Oct 3 '13 at 3:17
  • @mirimir - Tor Chat would be a good place for such discussions, not the Q&A portion of the site. Where Stack Exchange provides value is that answers are posted in response to questions, and the answers that are most correct are voted to the top. Stack Exchange really isn't fit for things that involve discussion/debate, but chat is. With that said, a question on that topic could work if it's actually posed in a way that elicits facts, references, and doesn't delve too far into discussion or debate. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Oct 3 '13 at 4:21
  • In that case, the question should be dropped until we have facts. – mirimir Oct 3 '13 at 22:42

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