This is in response to my first experience on TCS stack exchange. The most complex language?

For context, I have a deep love for TCS since undergraduate studies, have a professional background in applied cryptography, but haven't specifically studied TCS at research-level beyond that.

For a hobby, I still like to think about fundamental TCS questions from time to time. So recently I posted the above mentioned question about whether we have tools to construct hard languages, which is something I simply didn't come across so far during my undergraduate studies or my PhD in applied cryptography.

Sadly, this question was rated by one of the more senior community members as "not research level".

Problem: My question about constructing hard languages seemingly has no place on stack exchange. It is too easy? for senior TCS people, but probably too specific for the general CS community. So where should I go with my question? Is there an undergraduate-level TCS community on here? Should we create one?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I actually don't think it's too specific for cs.stackexchange. I'm curious why you do? (FWIW, I'm genuinely sorry that we weren't more welcoming. I continue to struggle with the balance between keeping the site useful for its intended audience and welcoming newcomers/relative outsiders.) $\endgroup$ Mar 5 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't know before you pointed out, and I appreciate that. On the other hand, it doesn't make sense to me that I should post a complexity theory question in general computer science when there is a subspace called "theoretical computer science". $\endgroup$
    – mti
    Mar 5 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


Non-research-level questions about theoretical computer science are appropriate at Computer Science Stack Exchange. That site includes all aspects of computer science within its scope, including algorithms, complexity theory, machine learning, and all aspects of theoretical computer science. See https://cs.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic. Undergraduate-level questions about theoretical computer science are most appropriate on Computer Science Stack Exchange. It's absolutely fine to ask about non-research-level questions at CS.SE. We love questions that you are wondering about as you are studying theoretical computer science or thinking about it as a hobby. I expect those questions will fit well at CS.SE, particularly if you provide context about the motivation for the question, your thoughts, and research you've done or progress you've made on thinking about it yourself.

Before asking anywhere, I encourage you to check out our guidance on how to ask good questions. See especially https://cs.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask and https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1284/755.

Please be aware that not every question has a home somewhere on Stack Exchange. Stack Exchange is not primarily a place where anyone get get answers to any question they might have -- rather, it is primarily a place where people can collaborate to build an archive of knowledge, in the format of questions & answers. The site is populated by volunteers, who are volunteering their time to help others, and it comes with some norms and expectations and restrictions. Each site defines its own rules and policies and norms. I encourage you to make sure you avoid a feeling of entitlement that you deserve a place to ask or deserve to get answers. I expect this will help you approach things from a constructive attitude.

I realize it might be surprising that a site named Theoretical Computer Science might not desire every question about theoretical computer science. You're not the first to experience this. But the reality is that this site was created for researchers to collaborate with each other on research-level questions. Each site has its own community that it serves, and that is the community that this site serves. Names have to be short, so they can't always include all of the relevant restrictions on scope. I do realize it's not obvious. However, it is well-documented in our help page on what is on-topic here. I recommend checking out that help page before posting on any new Stack Exchange site, as it often contains a lot of relevant information about expectations for what questions are appropriate.

  • $\begingroup$ I think a more appropriate name for the TCS community here would be "Academic TCS". I haven't seen any other community so far on here that is so strict. Searching through the archive shows that this has led to much confusion in the past. $\endgroup$
    – mti
    Mar 6 at 23:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @mti, That's possible, but changing the name is difficult and rarely done on SE, so it's probably moot at this point. Anyway, whatever the name, that's how this site works. There are other SE sites that are also quite strict, but you might not have experienced them yet. I do recognize that other people have had a similar confusion and you're not alone, and it is an understandable assumption. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Mar 7 at 0:01

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