Here's what I see:
- In general, the current (spoken) opinions (link) seem to be that we should try and avoid a Stack Exchange bias, though most of the users here are moderators of Stack Exchange sites, and also that we shouldn't make questions and answers overly specific to Stack Exchange sites. I agree with these opinions.
- At the moment, there is at least one question that I know of where the answer might not be particularly useful for the asker. The specific example I have in mind is here: Should I do anything to protect, or even privilege, minority opinions on my site? A look at the profiles of both show that one is an SE mod (thrice over, in fact) whereas the other is not an SE mod, but likely a mod of a different community.
To be more specific, the person who asked the above question is an SE mod, and the issue presented in the question (large and slightly antagonistic factions, where one dominates the other) is also one that I have an interest in, being an SE mod of a religion site. The question was asked in a way that is broad and general, and pretty much avoids being biased towards Stack Exchange (so far as I can tell). The answer does have good points regarding potential ways to resolve the issue, but also has a good deal regarding modifying the voting system. Now, I know that SE mods (of individual sites) can't do anything about how the voting system works, but other non-SE sites can. So, in that sense, that answer is useful at least in part to a wide audience.
But, and here's the core of my question, should we be concerned about whether an answer is useful to the person who asked the question? On the sites I frequent, there is a guideline/rule that stipulates that answers must fit with the question. To give a specific example, on Christianity.SE, a Catholic answer to a question asking for a Protestant perspective would actually be considered "not an answer" because no matter how well-written and sourced the answer is, it's an answer to the wrong question. To give another example, on Math.SE, an answer involving calculus or other high-level math on a simple algebra question would likely be considered unsuitable, a bit overkill, and frankly, probably unhelpful. To give yet another example that many people should relate with, on Stack Overflow, questions rooted in one programming language should not be answered with a solution in another language, and it is often similarly unhelpful to try to "help" someone who has an issue with a program by suggesting they use a different program instead.
One way to go about this on this site (Moderators) could be to encourage people to reveal in some way what their background is. One benefit of this approach would be that it would, I think, help with "translation", so to speak. If I, an SE mod, ask a question and get an answer from a moderator of, say, a phpBB-style forum, then I will likely have a better understanding of how their answer answers my question, and in what areas.
Another approach would be to continue asking general questions and answering in general ways. The problem I see with this is that a plethora of subjective questions is not exactly conducive to helping a site thrive. Rather, objective and clear questions are the way to go. If our questions and answers remain general and broad, the worth of questions and answers will be more subjective, and hence more subject (ha) to being affected by popularity.
Personally, I would rather askers and answerers make it clear what background they're asking and answering from, and be welcoming to non-SE mods. I want to see productive, interesting, and reasonably objective questions and answers, and I think that would be helped, rather than hindered, by knowing where askers and answerers are coming from.
Alright, fellow moderators and users...what do you guys think?