This question How can I cover costs without enraging the community? doesn't seem to me to be about site moderation. This seems to be more of a business model question. Is this on-topic here?

Note, I did try to check the What types of questions can I ask here? section in the help, but it's pretty sparse for the time being, and doesn't really give much guidance.

I don't have a bias either way, I'm just asking to clarify the intent of the moderators.se site. It seemed off-topic to me, but it does fall within the scope of building, administering, managing and cultivating digital communities, so I'm asking for discussion/consensus.

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    I think we'd need to have a few questions of this type and see how well they mesh with our goals before we could officially say they're on- or off-topic. With little thought, it's hard to imagine how "business decision" questions could really involve the community, which is the focus. The specific question, though, is about how to introduce that decision to the community without them becoming enraged.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 4:48
  • Note, after having the sample question explained, it's not really a "business decision" question, but I'm leaving the post just so that it's covered in the "what's in scope" discussion during the formative stages of the site. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 11:58

4 Answers 4


I think it is pretty borderline. I do think that the argument can be made that moderation involves holding a community together and getting finances for a community is part of that. If it was more asking about how to best monetize a community, I think it would move in to off topic, but if it is asking how to cover the cost of the community, I can see the argument that that is a moderation issue. Without dealing with financing the community, the community would cease to exist.


As the asker of the question, I suppose I should speak up.

I feel this particular question was not about making a business decision, but about how to get the community to support the need to cover costs of community infrastructure. I'm not asking if I should add ads to the site or add a donation button. Instead, I am asking how to approach the community and explain that this isn't cheap.

Money does strange things to people and introducing the need for money in a community that is not used to needing money is going to cause community discussions. I think this is very much a part of "cultivating digital communities." It's a problem that many communities face and approaching it correctly can make or break the entire proposal.

  • That makes sense! With that distinction more clear, I think your question is definitely in scope. I'm accepting AJ Henderson's answer instead of yours only because he clearly says "If its X it's off-topic, but if it's Y it's on-topic." I think it better answers the question on where the line is on "business decision questions", but again, the example question IMO is clearly on-topic, and now that you've explained, I see it's not a "business decision" question in the first place. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 11:55

I think there are two parts to this.

The first is the business decision on whether monetisation is necessary. This may or may not be a moderation issue, depending on whether moderators on a community are also responsible for its finances (not always the case).

The second, if the decision is that it is required, is the way that monetisation is implemented. I think this is a moderation issue.

Through effective moderation and management, such as informing members of the reasons, effects and scope of the change, you can avoid a lot of issues that result from typically difficult or controversial changes.


One of bigger points of the Area51 site definition was Community Building, and at one point it was even suggested that should be the name of the site.

I believe questions about creating a community from scratch, or expanding the community-related features of a site (including monetization) should be on-topic.

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