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There's a question posted that initially appeared off-topic because it asked about where to incorporate: Is there an ideal state in which to incorporate in the USA?

While this is a question that could be served by the OnStartups community, could incorporating as a freelancer or self-employed person be something that would come up as an actual freelancing/self-employed problem? Do freelancers or self-employed people oftentimes incorporate in states or jurisdictions they don't live in, such as how a startup might? I've never thought to do this, but is this something people do?

If the answers to these questions are "yes", then we should recognize that some questions posted here may overlap somewhat in scope with our neighbors at OnStartups. This is not a bad thing nor should it mean the questions are off-topic. However, we should ensure that the question applies to freelancers or the self-employed.

If the answer is "no", then this is likely to be off-topic here.

In the example I link to, the question is about finding the best state to incorporate in as a small business. Many freelancers consider themselves to be a small business; therefore, is this really off-topic? How can we edit this post to make it more on-topic and justify reopening it?

In short, the litmus test for determining whether or not a question is off-topic or not isn't "is this on-topic on site X?". Instead, ask "is this a problem that a freelancer or self-employed person would have?"

From the FAQ:

Freelancing Stack Exchange is for self-employed and freelance workers.

It may also be helpful for us to define what the difference is between a freelancer, someone who is self-employed, and a startup. Does a small business fall into the freelancer/self-employed category? What criteria must a small business have in order to be considered in the same category as the self-employed/freelancing crowd? Answering these questions will help us better determine the scope as well as how to tailor certain questions to fit that scope without changing their meaning.

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It may also be helpful for us to define what the difference is between a freelancer, someone who is self-employed, and a startup.

Dare I confuse this valid question further, by throwing consultant and contractor into the mix.

In many respects, a start-up is (usually, and unless it is your own start-up) a different can-of-worms from a freelancer/self-employed, especially if/when employees are involved.

In the context of this site (as I see it) a freelancer/self-employed/consultant/contractor is (most likely) a one-man-band, working for themselves, selling their skills/knowledge.

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Indeed, we need to have a definition of what is on-topic here, instead of saying it is on-topic elsewhere and voting to close.

I don't think that startups and freelancers are too similar; I wouldn't find myself making a startup any time soon, but maybe if i met other like-minded professionals, there is probably a possibility that I may form a startup with them. If this was the case, I would be more likely to visit OnStartups and ask questions about this.

As Andrew says, I think this site is mostly for one-man-bands (with or without contracts/agencies)

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Do remember as well, part of the SE mentality is to have some overlap of on-topic items; as an example, from SuperUser, we get questions about Linux/Unix, Ubuntu, Apple, and even some Programming and Server Administration; 95% of them are on topic for us, but still have a separate Stackexchange site to stick the questions. Over there, if it's on topic on SuperUser, it's on topic and can stay; the original poster can flag their own questions for migration if they are not receiving enough attention on one site, so long as they are also on topic on the destination site

  • Absolutely. As I mentioned, the litmus test isn't to ask "Is this on topic on site X". Overlap isn't bad, but it's important to know what is on topic and what isn't on topic. But if you're asking a question in the context of a startup on a freelancing site, and we've decided that a startup isn't the same thing as freelancing/contracting, etc, then this isn't overlap, but blatant off-topic. For questions that do overlap, I think it's key to edit them to bring them more into our community, lest people get confused and vote to close because overlap clouded the fact that the question was on-topic. – jmort253 May 24 '13 at 5:54
  • So, if startups aren't the same as freelancers, what do you make of that question I linked to? – jmort253 May 24 '13 at 5:57
  • You're going to hate this answer, but I know nothing of incorporating, as my freelancing never got that far. In Canada, I just register as a business and collect the GST on all my services; it didn't matter what province we said we were registered in. I don't know what the difference actually would be with startups, so I'm going to need to do more research into that part – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA May 24 '13 at 6:07
  • I just looked on Startups, and I think maybe it's better suited there, but I would still say to let it stay here, at least for now – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA May 24 '13 at 6:10
  • lol, no I don't hate the answer. I'm in the same boat myself. I've never thought to incorporate before. I did google it and came up with this: freelanceswitch.com/the-business-of-freelancing/…. There are benefits ot incorporating as a freelancer. With that said, I'm happy to leave that question closed as off-topic, especially now that we're more clear on what a freelancer is and isn't, and since it does seem to be asked from the perspective of a non-freelancer. – jmort253 May 24 '13 at 6:16
  • But edits/clarification to change the perspective to that of a freelancer would of course change my opinion and cast a reopen vote, just to be clear. :) – jmort253 May 24 '13 at 6:19
  • You are free to edit! Hint hint :P – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA May 24 '13 at 6:19
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    Maybe not tonight. But it's definitely on my mind! :) – jmort253 May 24 '13 at 6:20
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I would propose two aspects to deciding this:

  1. Is it relevant to freelancers/consultants/contractors who are largely working independently?

  2. Is it asked with this audience in mind?

Examples of things I think should be on topic:

  1. When should I look at forming an LLC?

  2. How should I compensate for my business not being very large?

Examples of things that might be in the gray areas are:

  1. Should I try to form a formal business partnership with another consultant?

  2. Should I hire an employee for [non-service-delivery job] or contract to another business?

  3. I have my own LLC. How do I account for payroll since I am my own employee?

Examples of things that would clearly be off-topic would be things like looking for seed money, approaching investors, looking for talent to hire, and much more.

  • The grey areas are of course things we'll need to consider on a case by case basis. These are great examples that will help us identify what questions might need some editing to make them fully on-topic and what questions would require closure. – jmort253 May 26 '13 at 6:56

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