Lately I've been getting more worried about the scope of our site. First there's the problem with medical and general health questions popping up regularly and second the balance between Fitness and Nutrition.
The first problem was covered in several other Meta questions:
- What should Main (F&N) FAQ say about health/medicine questions & answers?
- Where does Fitness stop and General Health start?
- Are ergonomics on topic for fitness?
While we all agree these questions are off-topic the fact that we have to bring up these discussions means there's something wrong with our 'image'. Apparently when Google visitors drop onto our site they feel that these are the kind of questions we're made for.
I personally feel that part of this problem is caused by the name of the site. The combination of Fitness and Nutrition changes the semantics of the term Fitness. Rather than a term that's supposed to cover aspects about Sports and Exercise Physiology, it gets a very wellness-ish image.
The second problem was addressed very early on: Does Nutrition really deserve top billing on this site? Kronos summed it up that there are two types of Nutritional questions:
- Case #1: Nutritional topics are on-topic no matter their subject or background.
- Case #2: Nutritional topics are on-topic if an only if they relate to strength, endurance, agility, and cardiovascular fitness.
While are highest upvoted questions are luckily of the second type, we get a steady stream of questions of the first.
- Is coffee good or bad for your health?
- Does boiling time change an egg's nutritional content?
- Is spicy food good or bad for you?
- Is it good not to add salt to daily food
- How bad is high fructose corn syrup relative to the alternatives?
- Is better to peel an apple or just eat the whole thing?
Spot a trend? I call these questions Skeptics questions in disguise, because they mainly ask whether something is safe or good to eat. This has A) nothing to do with Fitness or isn't required for getting fit and B) makes for really poor educational value. How could someone use this information to improve their diet, if it doesn't teach them anything?
Which brings me to a secondary problem with the Nutrition tag: there are no experts. While most of the questions get decent answers, almost all of this information is second hand. None of the top users in the Nutrition tag have a professional background in this field, most of the answers are therefore based on their own experience with the topic at hand. I don't doubt that their answers are decent, but I fear they might lack some of the nuances a professional dietitian would add.
So where is this all going to? I think the site needs a serious reconsideration of its scope and image. We currently only have questions about:
- running (101) + jogging (13)
- weightlifting (65) + bodybuilding (25) + strength (43)
- workout (50) + cardio (41) + fitness (38)
- cycling (6)
- yoga (6)
- martial-arts (5)
Basically we only cover running, lifting weights and generic exercise terms, which is a pathetically small slice of all people who exercise. Rather than broadening our scope to allow every question about nutrition, I think we should be focusing on getting more diversity in the types of exercise we cover. I think this would benefit the nutrition questions as well, because these users would have different nutritional requirements than our current user base, bringing in more diversity there as well.
I therefore would like to hear your take on our scope and what should be done to solve it.