Speaking in response to this question, How often is Google Patents updated?, and specifically Robert's comment on it, I'd like to see the help center updated to include that questions about specific tools are allowed.
Stack Overflow has a similar clause:
software tools commonly used by programmers
And I can imagine something like that on here. We currently say:
Prior art for a US patent application, whether anyone knows of any that might exist, or whether something you’ve found would qualify
US patent law or the patent approval process
Specific aspects or interpretations of a particular patent claim
I suggest either the addition of a four section, or perhaps an amendment to the second, to make it read something like:
- US patent law, the patent approval process, or tools commonly used in researching patents (Public Pair, Google Patents, etc.)
Or something to that effect. We could risk the infamous tech support issue, but I don't really get the impression that most people who post off-topic things here read that page, and we can always adjust it later if there's a lot of misunderstanding.
To be clear, of course, this really isn't a big deal given the current status of Ask Patents: we don't get a ton of these types of questions, and few of us non-CMs who do our work to moderate day-to-day probably have already seen that post, will see this one, or won't see the /help/on-topic page being updated. But it seems like a good idea, on principle.