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This topic was sparked by this posting: Is RAV4 SE higher trim than RAV4 XLE?

It's been suggested that

This question does not appear to be about motor vehicle maintenance or repair within the scope defined in the help center.

@Ben has carefully pointed out that another question, this one about Ferrari wheels, is essentially the same type of question, yet nobody suggested it be closed. The Ferrari question actually received a lot of votes.

@Ben is absolutely right. Personally, I don't care what the rules are, just that they are consistent with the goals of the site at large, and clearly communicated to all. As it stands the "goals" of this forum are NOT clearly stated at all. It's vaguely mentioned here, at the "What topics can I ask about" page...

Am I looking at this right? What do you guys think?

Who 'owns' this site, us the users, or some mysterious owners somewhere?

When you take a step back what's the big picture goal here? (My thoughts it's to allow us all to help each other with information related to cars and trucks [and sometimes motorcycles] and keeping them running!)

Gray areas:

  • Option content of vehicles.
  • Recommendations on purchasing decisions related to automobiles.
  • Historical content relating to vehicles.
  • Making things look pretty (not related to repair or maintenance)
  • Recommendations about specific suppliers of automotive parts or tools. (I had recently made a comment about the free multimeter give away program from a tool supplier that somebody took great offense to...)
  • etc...

Again I'm open, I would just request the guidelines be better written to cover the gray areas a bit..

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RAV4 Question

I see Is RAV4 SE higher trim than RAV4 XLE? as on topic question.

The OP was asking about trim levels. Certainly they seem to be engaged in shopping BUT the question was very specific about trim levels offered by the manufacturer.

I read a lot of articles online, but still don't understand. Is RAV4 SE higher trim than RAV4 XLE ? I asked two different dealers and got two different answers .

I understand SE is the sport version .

So which one is higher level?

I do not see anything in the question that even eludes to shopping advice, I do see an OP asking about trim levels. This seems very clear cut to me AND that this question should not have been closed.

Ferrari Question

This, as well, seems clear cut to me. It's of a historical nature about a component of a vehicle, a trim level if you will. It does align with the RAV4 question is of the same vein.

This topic was sparked by this posting: Is RAV4 SE higher trim than RAV4 XLE?

It's been suggested that

This question does not appear to be about motor vehicle maintenance or repair within the scope defined in the help center. @Ben has carefully pointed out that another question, this one about Ferrari wheels, is essentially the same type of question, yet nobody suggested it be closed. The Ferrari question actually received a lot of votes.

@Ben is absolutely right. Personally, I don't care what the rules are, just that they are consistent with the goals of the site at large, and clearly communicated to all. As it stands the "goals" of this forum are NOT clearly stated at all. It's vaguely mentioned here, at the "What topics can I ask about" page...

For some clarification here is link to the off-topic components that dovetail into the "What can I ask" link.

Am I looking at this right? What do you guys think?

I think you are looking at it correctly. The RAV4 and Ferrari questions are the same. RAV4 shouldn't have been closed.

Who 'owns' this site, us the users, or some mysterious owners somewhere?

We own the site. It's everybody's site. It's yours, it's mine. It's whomever has been here and all the people that will come.

Stack Exchange actually 'owns' the site but it is driven by the community, us.

When you take a step back what's the big picture goal here? (My thoughts it's to allow us all to help each other with information related to cars and trucks [and sometimes motorcycles] and keeping them running!)

Yes. Agree completely. Although, please don't minimize the motorcycles :-) Here's some additional info about the site regs.

On-topic questions

Off-topic questions

Gray areas:

  • Option content of vehicles.

My opinion, this is clearly on topic. The moment it becomes QA about what is better or cost then that changes the impetus of the question and it should be closed. Subjectivity can be your yardstick. When it's subjective it's off-topic.

  • Recommendations on purchasing decisions related to automobiles.

Yes. Off-topic. Also include any cost into your thinking on whether it's appropriate or not for the site. Cost=bad.

  • Historical content relating to vehicles.

Completely OK. On-topic.

  • Making things look pretty (not related to repair or maintenance)

Yes. How do I wax my car? How do I take care of my leather seats? How do I fix my sun bleached dash board?

  • Recommendations about specific suppliers of automotive parts or tools. (I had recently made a comment about the free multimeter give away program from a tool supplier that somebody took great offense to...)

I'll break this up a bit.

If it's shopping, not OK.

Tools - It's fine. There are lots of tool questions here. Seventy-seven at this point. Where to buy them, not ok. Which is better, Craftsman or Matco? Not ok. It's subjective.

I'd like to see what the multi-meter ruckus was about. I can't really speak to that. Without knowing anything I'll just say to you, "thanks for sharing with people where they can get a free multi-meter. That's pretty nice of you to take the time to do that."

My Thoughts

I've been watching your answers. They are awesome. Thank you for contributing AND thanks for going to next level and contributing here in meta to look for clarification. I hope you continue to post here.

There is a chat, here is a link. It's a little insane but despite all of our shortcomings in there it's filled with some really good people.

We take pride in the culture within Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair as being a friendly and welcoming place. I'm sorry if you received vitriol regarding the multi-meter question. I hope they weren't rude. For me, I find some of the other sites within the Stack Exchange network broken. Not for the content but more for the attitude of aggression that may permeate them. If find NOT NICE behavior intolerable and do my best to live by the credo of 'BE NICE' which is the first entry in the help center under the 'Our Model' section. That being said, if someone is 'NOT NICE' to you, you can always comment back to them simply by pasting the BE NICE link to them as your comment.

Glad your here. Great contributions to the site!

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Honestly, a lot of the questions don't fit the guidelines posted, yet I rarely vote them to be closed. To be fair, this is the only Stack Exchange community that directly discusses automotive vehicles. I don't see another community to discuss driving techniques, wheels, paintjobs, modifications, automotive history and car trims. Also, extra good questions most certainly doesn't hurt this community.

Shopping and law advice should remain off-topic, though. The first quickly becomes obsolete, the other is something most people here aren't qualified to answer and is unlikely to get good advice, there's a separate community for that.

In short, the guidelines should be expanded.

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In my view, the Toyota question is a shopping question - fundamentally they're asking which of the two currently-available versions is better. That's off-topic (and we've had plenty of "which car should I buy" questions closed before.

The Ferrari one is a history question - that's a bit more debatable - my gut feeling is that it shouldn't really be here, but I think it got left open because it's interesting...

In terms of your bullet points, 1,2 and 5 are all shopping advice - off topic. Making things look pretty is on-topic (as long as it's related to a vehicle!) - Historical stuff is the real question - perhaps we need a specific Meta question to decide if it's on-topic or not...

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    We've had specific Meta questions asking about historical questions ... I personally have no issue with them. History will not change, so having the information here, as long as it is based on automotive, is good to go. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Apr 26 '16 at 12:50
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Personally I didn't have a problem with the RAV4 question, as it's talking about the vehicle, not which vehicle to purchase (or could easily be made that way). The gist of the question is what does the trim level mean; is one trim level better than another. This is not a shopping question. It can be answered objectively without opinion. After all, isn't that at least part of the reason why shopping and driving techniques are off-topic? Shopping is all opinion oriented. Driving techniques are opinion oriented. There is no way to objectively quantify in either situation. To me anything related to purchasing vehicles or parts is not a gray area ... it's verboten. Just don't go there. I'll vote for closure on most any question which goes there. I also will vote to close ones which look, either with intent or feel, as a driving technique question. Every single answer which may come from it will be opinion and we need to stay away from opinion. This site is cut and dry in this area; avoid opinion whenever possible.

As far as how the guidelines are written, I believe this is up to the mods. They have the ability to update, rewrite, or clarify them as needed. Mind you, these are community driven, meaning while a change may seem arbitrary to you or I, it takes ratification from Mechanics.SE community before it can or even should be changed. Changing how we do or what we allow or even how it's written in the help pages needs to be vetted and well received. That's how they came about in the first place and how they should be looked at for the future. I agree this site is a far different place than it was when it was conceived. We allow a lot more content (questions and answers) on here than was ever thought of when it first started. There very well could stand to be a change or two made. In doing so, we need to make sure most are on board with any adjustments prior to just making it happen.

  • But driving techniques are not necessarily opinion oriented. A driving technique can be superior to another technique and an answer can be based on facts rather than opinion. – I have no idea what I'm doing Apr 27 '16 at 13:52
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    @IhavenoideawhatI'mdoing - A driving technique which works perfectly fine for you may not work perfectly fine for me. This gets into the area of "who's technique is better", which is opinion. Driving technique is an argument waiting for a place to happen. There are only going to be very few techniques which don't qualify in this realm of opinion, and those are still going to be up for debate. That's a deep dark slippery slope we don't want to entertain, IMHO. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 6 '16 at 12:54
  • Most driving technique questions I've seen are about fuel efficiency, making the vital components last longer and safety. I think such questions can be answered quite objectively, even if some are difficult. What kind of driving technique questions do you have in mind? – I have no idea what I'm doing May 6 '16 at 13:49
  • @IhavenoideawhatI'mdoing - Those questions aren't necessarily driving technique (DT) questions or can be posed differently to pull it away from being DT. DT is about, should I heel & toe in this maneuver or is it better to shift from 2nd to 3rd at this RPM rather than this RPM. Way too much conjecture. Way too much opinion. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 6 '16 at 13:57
  • I'm talking about driving technique questions explicitly. I.e. Should I coast down the hill in gear or in neutral in order to save fuel, Is it preferable not to rev my engine to the redline when accelerating if I want it to last longer or Is it safe to coast in neutral to slow down. I consider these to be driving technique questions, yet they can be answered without opinion bias. The example you provided is a bad question, I agree, though not because it's a driving technique question, but rather because it's subjective in general. – I have no idea what I'm doing May 6 '16 at 14:34
  • For example Are V8 engines better than V6 question would technically be within the scope, yet still a horrible question, as it is opinion based and very vague. – I have no idea what I'm doing May 6 '16 at 14:34
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My two cents:

Both questions just feel lazy. You could do a little more quick research and get the information. The RAV4 one is the laziest one and it does annoy me because trim levels vary from location. The Ferrari question is lazy, but it does kinda bring up a meta question about Ferrari. Still doesn't mean its within the scope of the rules.

I would just close both and be done with it.

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