From time to time folks ask us to identify the source of an odor. This task is nearly impossible through the internet, so should these questions be off topic?

2 Answers 2


My thoughts:

  • How to solve a known smell problem is on topic.
  • Techniques a homeowners can use to track down the source of a smell could be on topic (but only needs a single question of which all others would be dups).
  • Asking "what is this thing I'm smelling" I'd recommend as off topic for not having enough information to answer.
  • 5
    Can we add a custom close reason? "Off topic because we can't smell it from here.".
    – Tester101
    Feb 17, 2015 at 16:35
  • That would be an excellent idea :) Feb 18, 2015 at 23:15
  • 1
    What if someone asks, why does my drill battey smell of tcp? the reply - it's the smell of lithium the battery has a leak, is better than... i can't smell it form here, and closing the question. many similar questions. Feb 22, 2015 at 21:15
  • @ufomorace in that situation, they are asking about the smell of a specific object, they aren't searching for the source. The problem questions we have are from people that sometimes smell something funny for a second when walking down their hallway.
    – BMitch Mod
    Feb 26, 2015 at 20:45
  • There's alot of people that go overboard when making questions off topic, best to just mark down silly questions and let that guide the forums. and block only the very silly questions. questions can't be categorized as "of a type" however they can be rated for sillyiness: ) Mar 3, 2015 at 16:05
  • I don't think people ask questions like this to be silly, they just aren't thinking through the problem from the perspective of someone that isn't there.
    – BMitch Mod
    Mar 3, 2015 at 18:55

No. Let the community decide whether the smell can be discerned from the description--if not, treat it as you would any question with not enough information to answer.

  • 3
    I think we've had enough smell related questions, that we can either close as "can't smell it from here" or a duplicate.
    – Tester101
    Feb 19, 2015 at 16:02

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