I noticed @Seanny123 has been posting questions on NEF (Neurological Engineering Framework) and answering his own questions. All 10 questions tagged NEF, as of now, are by him and most of them are answered by himself. It could be a genuine effort to studying the system, but I can't shake away the possibility that he is promoting the framework using cogsci.SE. So I looked him up, and he works in Eliasmith's lab, and Eliasmith is the master mind behind NEF. I don't see any justified reason to stop him, but I thought I would bring it up for discussion.

3 Answers 3


Please note that the below is my personal opinion, and not an official statement in my capacity as proterm moderator.

First, I would like to point out that we should be careful bringing up anyone's personal information. Although it is easy to see who @Seanny123 is, since he links to his own homepage (that has his full name) and the Eliasmith lab on his profile, he still does not use his full name as his handle. As far as I understand, he can chang his profile without any public trace, but your question has now revealed information about him publicly that he is not able to remove. Now, this might not be a problem in this particular case (although if it, Seanny123 then reply or email me or another moderator, so we can take care of this), but in general I think it is poor form.

Second -- this is an academic point and much more of a personal opinion -- I am worried that you are singling out a single other academic who is -- and I just violated my first point slightly -- is more junior than you. This can be damaging to his career much more than the NEF framework being promoted is damaging to yours.

Third, there is nothing wrong with self-promotion that is done through solid questions and answers. If you do not like the content of his answers, or don't think the questions are worthwhile or a good fit then we have mechanisms in place to deal with them. You can downvote his questions, vote to close his questions, or flag them for moderator attention. You can also provide alternative answers/questions, or -- if you really think CogSci is a good way of promoting things -- making solid question-answer pairs (they are are actually encouraged) of your own favorite framework. Our site lacks research-level or close to research-level questions, and I find any ones (even self-answered or potentially promotional) as good contribution.

The above point would be moot, if NEF was considered pseudo-science or was dangerous to someone's health or was a for-profit company of some sorts.

Fourth, @Seanny123 has contributed a wide variety of questions (54 at this moment) and answers (24 at this point). For comparison, there are only 10 NEF questions (all by him) and (I think) 8 NEF answers by him. To me, it looks like even if he was trying to promote NEF, he was balancing it well against other content.

Finally, although I cannot read his mind, I do not think that @Seanny123 is exhibiting promotional behavior. His questioning and answering seems to be much more consistent with the behavior of a student that is learning a new framework.

Full disclosure: I was previously at the University of Waterloo and have met with Eliasmith's group, although I don't think I've ever met @Seanny123. However, that is the extent of my affiliation: I was at the IQC and Department of C&O and not any of the departments Eliasmith is at, and I never published with or worked for their group.

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    Thank you for your considerate and detailed discussion. I agree with you in general. I should have been more careful on how I brought the discussion up.
    – Memming
    May 16, 2015 at 12:50

I'm backpacking through Asia at the moment, so I'll address these concerns as best I can from my mobile phone.

Am I promoting the NEF?

I would say that promotion is not my primary goal.

As Chrstian pointed out, my questions and answers are driven by a desire to document my grappling with the NEF and SPA (and using it as a reference point to investigate other areas of cognitive science) in a way that will be useful to others.

As a result of this focus, I think I am promoting the framework, but I don't see an alternative and I don't see how its harmful. Do people want ro give me suggestions on heuristics?

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    Thank you for the response. I'm sorry if I was a bit harsh in my writing, and exposed your identity.
    – Memming
    May 16, 2015 at 12:46
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    @Memming no worries, my use of a pseudonym isn't for privacy purposes (:
    – Seanny123
    May 17, 2015 at 15:44

I think the discussion is worth having, but it hasn't been my impression that he has been 'promoting' the NEF with his questions. If Seanny123 wasn't legitimately interested in the NEF, he probably wouldn't work in Eliasmith's lab. There's nothing wrong with someone close to the subject matter posting questions and answering them themselves. If he was barging into tangentially related questions, maybe then, but that's really not the case.

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