Historical note: The FAQ was pulled in to populate the on-topic page. So my answer is mostly about the current state of that page, which is like but not really an FAQ as such. Also, I'm not fully up on the history of the site, so I'm probably missing important background. Finally, I'm a rookie Community Manager, which is why I have an interest despite never actually participating in the site before.
I'm not a fan of the way this reads to someone new to the site. Let's take a not-so-hypothetical example. I'd like to know how many home runs Adrian Gonzalez has lost by playing in Dodger Stadium since being traded last season. Reading though the on-topic page, I'm pretty sure the question would be off-topic since "Sports SE is not your research assistant". Also I'm worried the question might be construed as "futuristic" or "opinionated". The current text doesn't help me figure out what do do next.
If I follow the link, I can get an incomplete list of on-topic question categories. But it's not clear to me if my question fits those categories. The closest is "Theories and explanations of sports phenomena", I guess. As a user of a number of Stack Exchange sites, I'm pretty sure I could find a way to ask the question in a productive way, but most newcomers probably can't. The help page isn't really helping them.
As it stands, the text reads a bit too much like the "What Stack Overflow Is Not" post. I didn't like that post because it just read like a listing of all the bad behaviors that had been observed rather than a tool to help people ask better questions. The sort of people who ask crappy questions are also unlikely to read the /help pages. So it kinda seems pointless to concentrate on slapping the wrists of people who ask bad questions.
One way to reduce the amount of negativity would be to drop the commentary:
Who is the better [team/athlete/etc]?
"Is Tim Tebow better than RG3 or Russell Wilson?
Opinionated questions may promote debate and diminish the credibility of Sports SE
Why not just include the bold sentence? That way the entire list could be:
- Who is the better [team/athlete/etc]?
- Who will win the [sporting event/award/etc]?
- Questions whose answers are easy to find elsewhere.
- Fitness, or Outdoor activities.
- Medical advice.
I made a few wording changes. I could be wrong about the meaning of "Requests for sources/research". If you have a meta post explaining why any of these are bad questions, you can throw in a link on the relevant word. Also, I'm not sure about Bicycling and Martial Arts. It sounds like the competitive aspects are on-topic here.
Finally, I wonder if discouraging questions is the right approach at all. As I see it, there are two strategies for avoiding bad questions:
- Preemptively discourage them, and
- Edit bad questions into good ones when possible.
The stats suggest y'all are struggling more with getting people to ask questions in the first place rather than fighting off junky questions. So why not encourage folks to ask the questions they have and focus your efforts on fixing up the ones that don't meet your standards but are salvageable?