In order to limit the number of "non research level" questions asked on cstheory (that cause annoying downvotes/see-the-FAQ comments/migration/closing), I think that a good idea would be to add a short but visible subtitle under the "Theoretical Computer Science" to underline the scope of the site, something like:

"CSTheory site is for research level questions in theoretical computer science, see FAQ for more details. If you have a non research level question (undergraduate/graduate student level) please consider to ask it on Computer Science cs.stackexchange.com first".

And/Or it could be added just before the "title" field in the "Ask question" form. Now there is a box on the right, but it doesn't mention the "research level requirement" and in that position it looks more like an advertisement box (i.e. nobody will ever read it :).

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    $\begingroup$ a "hard problem" to surmount .. if the group hasnt stabilized after ~2 yr of activity, maybe its time to realize the phenomenon is not due directly to written "descrs" or "advertising" or "guidelines" etc as pointed out somewhat in the thread cited by tsuyoshi. in other words, no matter what the FAQ says or what kind of verbal tweaking is done there, these questions will always appear based merely on the name of the group, stackexchange's inherent design criteria of openness that allows new users with entry-level rep to immediately ask questions, etc. maybe efficient migration is an answer? $\endgroup$ – vzn Oct 21 '12 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ Why are we getting more off-topic questions? $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 21 '12 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ I recently noticed some on stackoverflow are still suggesting that non-research level questions be asked here. $\endgroup$ – Joe Nov 1 '12 at 18:41

Although I am guilty of using the phrase “research-level questions” again and again, it is not at all clear whether “research-level” really describes the current scope or the desirable scope correctly. I once suggested “research-oriented” as a more honest description of the current criteria, but this term has not been used often. There are too many discussions about the appropriate level of questions; see this for example.

I think that it would be ideal to settle the issue on the scope first and then state this scope clearly in the website. However, in reality, I do not think that this will happen any time soon.

Just in case we decide to put some words about the scope, another place to consider is the placeholder text of the Title textbox on the “Ask Question” page. It is currently

what's your theoretical computer science question? be specific.

and it might be changed to something along

What’s your research-level theoretical computer science question? Be specific.

with “research-level” replaced with an appropriate word as necessary.

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    $\begingroup$ like "research-oriented" as looser... from many meta threads, ppl here generally seem to believe mere terminology will solve the problem. but there is no further descr of what "research level" really is and significant disagreement even by the experts on a precise borderline. and realistically it is quite ambiguous in many cases. in some cases it is not easy to a priori discover how well understood-wrt-theory a posted question is. some questions benefit from some "curation" of asking users for further clarification, converting it to a better formal/mathematical descr/clarifying it, etc.... $\endgroup$ – vzn Oct 21 '12 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ There is no need for a precise line for the scope of the site, the existence of a gray area is a good thing, and that the goal of these meta-discussions has not been to define a clear line. And not having a black-and-white line for the scope doesn't mean we should allow everything posted here. This site started with the intention of being a TCS version of MO and that obviously means we do not intend to allow questions that are below some level. I think it is clear from the meta-discussions that except less than a handful of users everyone else agrees that undergraduate $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 27 '12 at 6:06
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    $\begingroup$ level questions are off-topic. Using some description to explain the scope of the site is important, however the description doesn't need to be a sound and complete statement with no place for error. As long as the scope is defined in terms that at least have a significant positive effect on the people who read it in understanding what this site is about and what this site is not about then the description is useful and should be kept. Obviously if at some point we come up with a better description that reflects the scope more accurately we can change it but until then we should keep the $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 27 '12 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ current one. If someone has a new better description they should post it and we can discuss it and eventually adopt it if there is enough support. Criticizing the current description of the scope without proposing a better one is not a constructive criticism. As an analogy, it is like saying that classical Newtonian physics is not completely accurate and criticizing it for its short-comings without proposing an alternative. Obviously other experts also know that there are inaccuracies. (These comments are not directed at Tsuyoshi but general for people who keep criticizing the scope.) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 27 '12 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ ah! comparison of the TCS.se scope with newtonian physics! amusing there dude! the scope is very broadly defined in the FAQ and its truly amazing how much "scope wars" traffic can be found in meta over the yrs [but maybe this is typical of stackexchange sites]. agreed some questions are clear cut black & white off scope based on being covered in std textbooks but many are not. actually the site has many built in mechanisms for collaborative scope selection ie voting, question closing etc.... to a large degree scope is interactively defined & continually evolving based on what is upvoted.... $\endgroup$ – vzn Oct 27 '12 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ or rather it should be said the FAQ defines the scope both broadly as many possible areas of CS, but then also very narrowly as only conversations of interest that can happen between nonundergraduates in CS (grad students/Phds)! so the scope itself has always been a bit "bipolar" if you ask me.... the latter defn is what seems more problematic to me. because eg a talented undergraduate can know more than some grad students, and sometimes-extreme specialization of topics mean many grad students do not have a "standard" background of knowledge etc... $\endgroup$ – vzn Oct 27 '12 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ oh yeah and the FAQ starts off saying the scope includes questions that can be discussed, but in meta the moderator(s) and/or others emphatically reject the use of the main site for "discussion"... lets face it, its a scope designed by a motley committee & therefore unavoidably ambiguous & near-contradictory in practice.... & probably further discussion would not fix this... have some ideas on other wording, but am sure no one here wants to hear them, wink :p $\endgroup$ – vzn Oct 30 '12 at 1:05

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