This question was caused by the question, What are some examples of controversial themes in psychology?.

The author has engaged us extensively about this question, which is by a researcher in the field, and for a study they are working on. They went to considerable lengths to engage us, clarify the question and give examples of what they were looking for (upvoted by multiple people), and edited it so encourage answers based on examples and evidence so as to make it valuable for other readers. They've now indicated in comments that they're abandoning the question, which I can completely understand.

I don't think we should be repeatedly badgering new expert users about details like whether an answer technically allows for 'bad' answers in edge cases. How could new users possibly anticipate what quality of answers a question might engender without being familiar with the site? If people actually give bad answers, we can downvote them. In edge cases like this, where the user is clearly asking in good faith and with sufficient motivation, but the question isn't readily captured by our close reason taxonomy, we should be lenient.

Generally, if an edge case question clearly indicates what constitutes a sufficient answer, and that a sufficient answer is of no more than a few paragraphs and references/based on credible sources, then it is a sufficiently clear and narrow-scoped question. Questions should not need to have single complete answers.

Edit: Artem noted in his chat with the author that "there is a camp of people on this site who think that absolutely everything has to be backed up with references to papers. I am not of that camp, and want to promote and more fluid sharing of expert opinions and hunches". I fundamentally agree with this, but am in that camp because we lack a system for making that happen without inviting in a lot of pure speculation. Finding a way to resolve this case that allows the question to stay would be a step in this direction, I think.


2 Answers 2


My proposal was to allow for these expert opinions and state-of-the-field answers, but require some connection to the literature. Part of being an expert is possessing a ready command of the literature, so I don't think that is an unreasonable constraint on the ability to fluidly share expert opinion. In the case of this question, acceptable answers might include pointing to the BBS journal with examples, as Artem did in the comments, or they might reference particular papers discussing a controversy. I would be interested to read such contributions from experts.

Example answer.


An alternative could be to create a few tags (e.g., [state-of-the-field] and/or [expert-opinion-request]) that imply the question is somewhat special, much like [reference-request] allows for shorter answers than usual.

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