Before public beta starts, it might be nice to write standard answers for questions like, "What makes quantum computing better than classical computing?" or "What types of quantum computers are there?" (already written) or "What realizations of gate-based quantum computers are there?".

This will allow us to write and perfect high-quality responses to these questions, and then, when public beta opens, we can close questions as duplicates to those. Physics.SE has done something like this (especially with reference questions, and with some of John Rennie's answers) and it has worked well for them.

Thoughts? How do we want to organize something like this? What questions should be covered (they should only be foundational/common questions)?

  • $\begingroup$ ok I have just asked what is the difference between qubit and normal bits? $\endgroup$
    – luap42
    Mar 14, 2018 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ @MEE Mention it in an answer below (along with the link). $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2018 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue, ok, maybe we should create a tag [site-faq] for these questions. I don't know whether it should be possible to make it mod-only ... $\endgroup$
    – luap42
    Mar 14, 2018 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ @MEE That's a good idea. Go ahead and create that tag. It would be good if these FAQ questions are made community wiki, so that they can be later on edited by other users if required. And oh, as of now, we don't have any elected mods, so making it mod-only won't be useful. $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2018 at 20:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Should the answers be community Wikis? (I'm also thinking of John Rennie's answers to similar questions on Physics SE) $\endgroup$
    – Mithrandir24601 Mod
    Mar 14, 2018 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue created it, i dont know which kind of warning should be edited into the excerpt. #Mithrandir24601 I suppose yes. $\endgroup$
    – luap42
    Mar 14, 2018 at 20:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ We need help from the SE mods to convert these canonical questions and answers to community wiki. Normal users don't have that power. For now, compile a list of any canonical question you ask on the main site, here. We will request the SE mods to convert them to CW. As for answers: Yes. I think they should be made CW so that the other users can maintain and improve them, in the long run. $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2018 at 20:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If this doesn't get shut down soon (not that I want it to - I think it's a great idea), I think we should include the bra-ket notation and methods of QC in this as well $\endgroup$
    – Mithrandir24601 Mod
    Mar 14, 2018 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Why is that a reason to make them CW? All users can suggest edits! I think we should award good communication of widely held questions with cold hard reputation points! Oh wait, Robert already mentioned this. Well, this is important enough to re-iterate! $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2018 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Yeah, I know (whatever passes for 'old' on a less than a week old site anyway). I've seen a lot people mis-using CW and I'm pretty sick of it. Sorry if I came across to eh, 'strongly'. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2018 at 18:13

4 Answers 4


On Meta Tags

Please do not create a faq tag as a way to mark posts as somehow popular. These are called meta tags and they are explicitly discouraged by the system design.

See: The Death of Meta Tags

Tags should describe the subject of the question, not how or why it was asked.

For a quick historical background, tags were designed to describe the subject of a question. That is the purpose of the feature and how the UX was designed. But it wasn't long before folks started using tags to describe other axes than what the question was about. We've all seen tags like [homework] or [big-list] or even [subjective]… but it wasn't long before folks started creating tags to convey things like:

  • This question is too easy to be considered worthy of an expert site
  • This question needs more references
  • This question won't offend the sensibilities of a vegan user
  • This question may offend someone who doesn't like to talk about body parts
  • This question is part of an online project for Ms. Whirley's class (← No, I'm not making this up)

Sticking to the core purpose for which tags were created is one of those policy decisions that saves us a lot of in-fighting about when and how to go outside the intended use case of a feature. When folks start creating other axes to categorize content, it isn't long before someone else wants to slice it up to fit their vision of the site too (i.e. "everyone please tag questions this way so I no longer have to see them"). It isn't long before folks decide that it's too hard to tag questions while others think that the five-tag limit isn't enough.

This site is three days old, so it seems odd that your already deciding which questions are "frequently asked" or need to be marked as popular. It would be nice if I could mark my questions as somehow special, but that is not really how the system works.

And please do not ask users to mark their post Community Wiki as some sort of workaround for the problems this raises.

On Community Wiki

With the addition of the suggested edit as a way to allow more users to participate, Community Wiki has been largely deprecated as a useful tool. It should never be used to deprive an author of the reputation for their post, and it should never be used to forgive a question that otherwise would not be allowed.

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps maybe less of a tag, but more of a list of common questions that we can mark as duplicates of and insure are high quality. $\endgroup$
    – auden
    Mar 15, 2018 at 14:38
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @heather Consider this: Which questions have been asked so many times, they need a list of how to close them now? (just an example) This community is developing a strong propensity for rule making, anticipating problems before they occur in actual practice. This site is three days old — this can make a community unapproachable fast. Avid participation is great, but a disproportionate amount of legislating hypothetical problems is one of those red flags we look for, particularly when folks down-vote and reject the hard-earned lessons learned by every other site on the network. $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2018 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ in popular media, these questions come up a lot. I understand your points though - if you are afeard of this, maybe make a fresh meta post? $\endgroup$
    – auden
    Mar 15, 2018 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertCartaino I totally understand your point. I suppose the main reason that some people wanted this tag is that they know this kind of tag from meta ([status-declined], [faq ],...) and liked the idea to mark questions as community faq. $\endgroup$
    – luap42
    Mar 15, 2018 at 15:13

Don't make up questions just because you think someone might ask them. This never produces useful questions and answers.

If you have experience of people repeatedly asking a question in other venues (e.g. you're a teacher and your students ask this every year), then by all means do post that question here. But don't try to ask preemptively. The time to come up with reference questions is throughout the lifetime of the site, not during the first few months.

Be specific. Don't ask “write-the-book” type questions like “What makes quantum computing better than classical computing?”. Such questions are best answered by reading the book, not by attempting to rewrite it on this site. This piece of advice from the Area 51 FAQ is also applicable here:

Ask real, expert questions
We want you to capture the moment that plumbers feel when they look at Plumber Overflow and say, "Whoa! That's my kinda site!" On a site about plumbing, there are 200 easy plumbing questions, and they've all been asked 100 times on other sites. Don't suggest questions like "How do I unclog a drain?" Instead ask, "If you run 2.5 GPM through 50 feet of 1/2" galv pipe, how many psi will be lost to friction loss?" Remember, pro sites WILL attract the enthusiasts, but not the other way around!

Reference questions that serve as duplicate targets are useful, but they generally come after you have experience of what questions people do ask. More precisely, reference questions really tend to be about repeated answers: what answers do you (collectively) tend to write over and over again? When that happens, it's a sign that the answer should be on a reference question, which serves two purposes:

  • Exact duplicates of the reference question can be closed as duplicates.
  • Other questions that involve the same concept can be answered, but rather than explaining the concept all over again, you give a brief answer that's specific to the question and link to the reference question for the generic, in-depth explanation.

To respond to an idea raised in the comments: a reference question should not be community wiki (this was a bad idea that was abandonned, see the Future of Community Wiki). The answer should be CW if it's collaborative, and should not be CW if it's mostly written by one person. Anyone can edit a post whether it's CW or not, anyway.

Once a reference question exists, the best place to index it is in the relevant tag wiki. I've seen lists of reference questions on meta sites and they're rarely useful: the list is either too big to find what you're looking for, or grossly incomplete.

  • $\begingroup$ "What makes quantum computing better than classical computing?" I'd ask more specific questions of the question 'Is quantum computing really better than classical computing' first. :) $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2018 at 15:56

As @DanielSank proposed: a list of these questions:


List common questions in a meta post with links to the main site posts. Answers will come.


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