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This question seems to have generated quite a debate in the comments about whether it's appropriate, enough of one that it seems worth discussing in meta.

There are lots of questions (asking things like which university has a good program, which are the main conferences, what is a good project to pursue) that, at least to me, seem out-of-scope for this site. However, there are no good other venues (as far as I know) to ask them, and there are clearly people here willing to answer.

To me, an ideal solution would have this site have 3 areas. A "main site" a "meta" and a "cafe" that can deal in these other questions. Only the main site would generate reputation, and the cafe would help fulfill Lance's vision. Unfortunately, I'm guessing the software won't allow for this (right?), so we should figure out a policy of what to do with these questions.

I realize this has been discussed in meta before, but I'm still not clear what's in scope -- especially since even the moderators seem to disagree.

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    $\begingroup$ Btw, I think the idea of having a cafe is a nice idea, and we can implement it manually, i.e. we can tag those question/discussions as "cafe" or "cafe-discussion" and make them CW so no reputation is gained. Or we can add a forum to the site for such discussions. We may probably want to wait till the site leaves the beta stage before doing this. I also feel it might cause problems that I cannot predict right now. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 26 '10 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think the main argument for closing that question in the first place was that we don't want to have a ranking of universities/departments/programs/people (or other subjective rankings for subjects people are sensitive to them) on the site, and this is different from other cases you have mentioned. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 26 '10 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ Related to a cafe site, there is a Programmers Stack Exchange to discuss things which are interesting to programmers but not directly about programming (and therefore would be inappropriate on Stack Overflow). There was a discussion on Meta Stack Overflow asking whether they should provide similar sites for every Stack Exchange site, but I cannot find it right now. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 26 '10 at 23:18
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    $\begingroup$ After some searches through Meta Stack Overflow, I found the following discussion: The fourth place: Polling, Recommendations and subjective-ish stuff. I am not sure if this is what I have seen, but anyway it is related. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 27 '10 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi: That is interesting, it would be much better if they implement the feature. :) @Lev: would you like to change the title of this to something more informative like "what to do with subjective questions/discussions?". $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 27 '10 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ ps: I really don't think that we would like to see questions like "ranking of cs departments" even in the coffee house since it will probably cause reactions similar to those caused by NRC's, and may lead to a "bloodbath". $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 27 '10 at 5:38
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    $\begingroup$ I think these bloodbaths (on, say, blogs) are caused more by anonymity than anything else. $\endgroup$ – Lev Reyzin Oct 28 '10 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Lev: You are probably right about bloodbaths, using an id is helping (although the site does not require one for posting questions/answers) but I was mainly referring to the reactions from universities, not anonymous comments. (I think another factor is that we are not allowing open-ended and subjective/argumentative discussions.) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 28 '10 at 10:05
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SE is currently beta testing chat sites for some of their sites, which might be able to serve as a "cafe" once it's implemented here.

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    $\begingroup$ +1: I was just wondering why they were calling the other one "the fourth place" and what is the third one. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 27 '10 at 5:57
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We can just set up a phpbb forum somewhere on the web, and it will be good enough for a TCS cafe (and also for posting job openings, which is another current meta question).

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    $\begingroup$ If it were linked to our identities on this site, it would somehow be a lot better. It might prevent spam (which is a big problem on these boards), it would encourage us to use our real names, and we wouldn't need to create so many accounts. $\endgroup$ – Lev Reyzin Oct 27 '10 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ true! Maybe there is something doable with this openid thing. $\endgroup$ – Sylvain Peyronnet Oct 27 '10 at 21:59

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