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We should amend the FAQ to strongly recommend or gently demand that people asking about routines or picking exercises explicitly state their goals. In fact, it's probably a good requirement for nearly all questions.

It's getting old to go through the same dance in the comments with every user. A gentle stated reminder to remember a nicely worded section of the FAQ would at least slightly reduce the number of questions where the community is asked to make a judgment in the absence of the relevant context.

("Questions" in meta don't have to be titled as a question, do they?) (Please re-tag as necessary--I'm not sure this is really a feature request...)

  • Any suggestions for the exact phrasing? – Ivo Flipse Jul 17 '12 at 16:17
  • @IvoFlipse Counter-question before I can answer...which section would it go in? It kind of belongs in fitness.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask, does that sound right? – Dave Liepmann Jul 17 '12 at 16:23
  • We can only edit the first part of the FAQ, but highlighting the point you're proposing and then stating a counterpoint can be done. – Matt Chan Jul 17 '12 at 16:24
  • @MattChan Thanks for the heads-up about what we can change. I don't understand what you're saying about highlighting and counterpoints, however. – Dave Liepmann Jul 17 '12 at 16:33
  • The team prefers it if we don't change other parts of the FAQ unless we have some special reason for it. I think the current influx of vague questions would be enough warrant to have it changed, but we have to come up with a good phrasing – Ivo Flipse Jul 17 '12 at 16:38
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    @IvoFlipse How do we move ahead with this? It always gets fuzzy at this stage...when do we say "the community agrees" and make the change? – Dave Liepmann Jul 20 '12 at 18:08
  • I just have to wonder about people who don't necessarily have a goal other than "get in shape", they know they're supposed to be fit, but don't know anything more than that. – Robin Ashe Jul 21 '12 at 0:19
  • @RobinAshe Excellent point. My first response is that these people would do well to create or critically examine their goals, but what's the best way to do that? – Dave Liepmann Jul 21 '12 at 3:48
  • @DaveLiepmann I think to be able to define goals they'd need to first need to know what the possible goals are. They'd then need to know some general info to be able to decide what their goals should be. If we ask for definite goals someone with stiff hamstrings could be asking what stretching program they should do to loosen their hamstrings, which would actually end up being the wrong question to ask and could leave the user frustrated with conflicting answers. – Robin Ashe Jul 21 '12 at 5:28
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    @RobinAshe but there are several ways to provide them that insight. The preferred way on Stack Exchange would be to have one canonical posts, which helps users make up their mind and from there ask more specific questions. Any basic/vague question would then be closed as a duplicate of the canonical question. But the user is obviously free to edit his question to be more specific after reading the canonical version and have it reopened. – Ivo Flipse Jul 21 '12 at 8:06
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    As for how to continue from here @DaveLiepmann, I don't think anybody knows. I've seen this happen on countless SE-sites by now and there doesn't exist a clear cut process for this. The best possible solution is to wrap up all suggested changes and turn them into one big change that the team can then consider to implement. – Ivo Flipse Jul 21 '12 at 8:10
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I might amend that slightly, to the following:

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question. If you're asking about a particular workout routine or exercise for yourself, please be sure to tell everyone your training goals. The amount of details you can provide will result in improved answers.

I do like Dave's addition as it stands, however.

For context:

  • the rules of a sport a purchase recommendation nutrition unrelated to exercise, such as food safety, nutritional needs for children, etc. trainer certification -- it’s for professionals, but not about the profession wellness, general health, medical advice and injuries unrelated to exercise

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

If you intend on asking about a particular routine or exercise for yourself, please be sure to tell everyone your training goals. The amount of detail you can provide will result in improved answers. It is also possible that your particular question has already been answered, so look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

  • I find myself saying this frequently in comments. Good idea. – Dave Liepmann Jul 20 '12 at 18:08
  • Darn, I can only edit the FAQ up until that line "Please look around". So whatever changes we make needs to be added before that. Do you have a suggestion on how to incorporate this answer (feel free to copy other parts of the FAQ to provide some context) – Ivo Flipse Jul 23 '12 at 20:10
  • @IvoFlipse - Added a phrasing suggestion. – JohnP Jul 23 '12 at 20:38
  • @IvoFlipse - You edited the FAQ, but I included the sentences about looking around as an example. Now the FAQ states that sentence twice in a row. This portion is duplicated: "look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question." – JohnP Jul 24 '12 at 20:20
  • Ah, I see. Should be fixed (or rather left out) now – Ivo Flipse Jul 24 '12 at 20:31
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Where to say it

Let's put our change in the top section. It's the most-viewed and most obvious place for it to be seen.

Phrasing

One way to say it in the FAQ would be:

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question. If you're asking about a particular workout routine or exercise for yourself, please be sure to tell everyone your training goals.

My addition is italicized. (I don't think it really should be, I'm just doing so for contrast.)

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    What I was trying to say earlier is to have an additional statement to say something like, "Don't ask a vague and general question," and provide reasoning why (too vague or general, no context, won't produce useful answers). It might help to give an example question or point to a meta discussion with good/bad examples. I know there are some old meta posts with examples around here. It's something we can revisit and can also serve as a site-evaluation. – Matt Chan Jul 17 '12 at 16:54

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