I am volunteering in a French association helping migrant people who want to take their studies up again get through the administrative difficulties. Many volunteers are good-willing people but not experts, often lacking knowledge when it comes to giving advice (administration and legislation are complex matters, even for native people). More generally, having precise knowledge about migrants' rights, what they can do, and how to do it, is of great importance for anyone willing to help, as they can't necessarily access this knowledge themselves.

A resource on SE would be extremely useful for this purpose as it would centralize the precise knowledge that volunteers and migrants, who can access internet, could use. Questions would include:

  • Can I apply to college with/without a refugee status ?
  • How can I get this form ?
  • Can I be arrested if I go to this administration ?
  • Where can I learn French ?

I wondered if such a project could fit into SE policy and asked so on area 51, where I was redirected to this community and Law.

I saw indeed questions about refugees here (less specific though), but also that not everybody likes that. To my mind, bringing my project here could potentially cause two issues :

  • If this was to work, many non-expats people would come here to talk exclusively about legislation and administrative matters for migrant people, which could lead to a kind of entryism.
  • At least at the beginning, this will be nearly only about France (because people I would talk into coming here would be French).

I'm getting far ahead of what is reasonable to expect here: at this point, this is only my idea and it is very possible that my folks don't like it and never use SE. However, I find it good and will try to make it happen. If I was to succeed, would such a project be welcome here or would it be off-topic?

2 Answers 2


As usually stated we'd like to create an environment that is both helpful and is within the boundaries of what is usually allowed on the StackExchange network. Me personally I am okay with any question that looks a valid problem faced by expats. My usual check is to see if a "local" would have the very same problems or not, and even if it looks like it's not really expat related (e.g. a local would have the same problem) I refrain closing at least for a while - as weird local customs and regulations can actually lead to extra problems for someone not accustomed to their new place as well.

However recently because of our very low answer rate we did a check on our unanswered questions and closed the ones that did look either off-topic (based on the above criteria), or either in the too broad or opinion-based categories, as the latter types are not not a good fit to any of the StackExchange network sites, including ours.

Looking at your questions none of them seem off-topic, so are definitely welcome here. The only question that might be a bit problematic is the "Where can I learn French?" one as that might be a bit too broad, but depending on the actual question it might still be okay. So no problems there.

Let's see your concerns:

  • You said that some of your experts who would come to the site (hopefully) answering questions are local, which is not a problem, if they can properly answer the questions. Having people more on the legal side is also not a problem, as a fair amount of our current questions do fit in this category.
  • Having questions around France is also okay. If you check our current tags you can see, that the UK has around 700 questions, while France lags behind with only around 200, so extra questions in those tags would probably be useful. Also we do lack information especially tailored for refugees, as most of our questions are from / for voluntary migrants.

As a start you could probably check our list of questions in the France tag and the list of questions in the refugee tag.


You or anybody can certainly ask these questions. But if you are wanting specific resources set aside just to handle matters regarding your topic, or to ask questions which clearly do not meet our guidelines, I don't think we will be very receptive or very useful.

For one thing, we just don't have a large enough number of volunteers (everybody here is also a volunteer) to manage and administer such a resource. Another thing is that technically, we don't actually own this website. It is owned and operated by a Stack Exchange Inc., a for-profit corporation. It would really be up to them to designate and set aside such resources, or make it possible for us to do so.

It is true that this website has become a de facto stop for immigration questions in general (life is funny like that). There is obviously significant cross-over of the topics, and many of the moderators and active particpants happen to have a broad and diverse amount of knowledge on immigration, as well as a lot of experience on how to research such information. Many times just knowing how and where to look is more useful than knowing the information itself, especially as immigration rules and laws can change with the wind. That's probably why you're looking for a central resource. It's a dynamic topic to say the least.

We have, in general, been receptive to refugee questions of all types and will usually get around to answering them at some point. However unlesss you also plan on also pointing knowlegeable people here as well, there will be questions that will go unanswered, or not be answered for a long time after asking. Any traffic you direct here will have to include some people willing to dedicate their time and experience to this site and those topics.

  • Thank you ! There are also very knowledgeable people in volunteers, whom I plan to point here indeed.
    – Vincent
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 8:28
  • "this website has become a de facto stop for immigration questions in general (life is funny like that)" -> That's probably because questions can be closed when "it's not about an issue a local wouldn't have as well.". I guess this partly explains why immigration is one of the most common topic here, since many non-immigration questions that expats would ask can be closed under that reason. Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 4:50

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