This is a first step into an attempted reboot of this community: Rebooting Cognitive Sciences: a Suggested Approach

As messy as meta is, through an organized community effort I'm hoping to collect and structure the key issues which have been plaguing this site over the years, as well as construct a backlog of past decisions which have been made in order to direct the community. Such an overview serves two purposes: (1) it creates an agenda of problems that need to be addressed and (2) it can be a stepping stone for new users to pick up were others left off, outlining why past decisions were made.

This being a scientific site, consider it a 'systematic review' of meta, albeit less rigorous. For an initial draft where this is based on, consult the following mind map which was co-constructed in chat.

This review has now been completed, and incorporates most of the key issues from the past.


Question Expertise

What constitutes a good/bad question on this site?

Self-Help Questions

Are questions explicitly or implicitly motivated by self-help concerns within the scope of our site, and what should be done about them?

Attracting experts

How do we attract and retain experts which are capable of answering questions, not just asking them?


Which fields of study can ask questions here? How to deal with overlap with other sites?

Site name

We have noticed our site name might lead to confusion on what this site is, what new name should we use?

Clear suggestions

Edit salvageable self-help questions

Redirect self-help questions to support groups

Promoting CogSci.SE to gain a knowledgable user-base

A close reason for no initial research

Name with prefix: e.g., "Cognition: Psychology and Neuroscience"

  • Addresses problem: Site Name
  • Since SE does not want us to use 'and', we could agree on a singular prefix for the main name, and a more elaborate description which follows.
  • Music: Practice and Theory adopts a similar approach.

Allow purely technical neuroscience questions

  • Addresses problem: Attracting experts
  • A deviation from the general rule 'it has to apply to the mind' could attract these experts which currently have no place to go to.

Community decisions (i.e., should be )

Close self-help questions as off topic

A clear authoritative post to where this decision was made seems to be missing. Instead, we have some indications of this scattered throughout the site. We should probably set this up and link to it from here. I linked to the close reason for now.

Custom off-topic self-help close message

Specify self-help questions in the FAQ

Close too broad questions, and guide them to be more specific

  • Any input on how to better structure this is welcome as well. I'm not the biggest markdown expert. Anchor hyperlinks for one, would be worthwhile.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 15:36
  • 1
    The simplest (and therefore currently best) solution would be to have all interested users focus on the concerns that are important enough to look up for them, and post an answer. Rather than attempting to design a structure before we know what there is to structure, the OP can then be used as a place to gradually consolidate the content of those answers. Then, we distill them into decision items, and make separate questions for them, at a managed pace--maybe 1-2 decisions per month. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 16:36
  • This is also more inclusive for people who aren't long-time Meta users/are not acutely familiar with the backlog, I think. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 16:38
  • I guess I want to say I don't expect anything in particular, but if I did, it would be this: we need to figure out what decisions need to be made, first and foremost. What to do is secondary until that happens. Use Steven's format in your answer for topics and problems you think are important; I wouldn't write concrete recommendations or options just yet, but if you do, be explicit about what parts belong to your problem description, and what parts belong to your solution proposal. That's what I'm gonna do, at least. Iterate, iterate, iterate, then iterate some more. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 16:44
  • Once these categories stabilize we can also assign tags to the identified questions.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 19:06
  • 1
    In regards to, "This is also more inclusive for people who aren't long-time Meta users/are not acutely familiar with the backlog": the point is exactly to make any user familiar with the backlog (hence a review). As I said I want to "to voice the opinion of those that since might have moved on". This site is more than the currently active users, we need to respect that.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 12:34
  • Agreed. We don't need to make extra efforts to retain users who are already active, after all. They presumably won't go away while we're improving. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 12:36

6 Answers 6


What constitutes a good/bad question on this site?

(this includes 'too broad' since I believe they overlap)

Individual cases


Attracting experts (?)

  • 1
    I do not recall whether the following has been discussed before, but one thing I started doing is being much more open to new users who give indications of possibly being experts (e.g. only an account at CogSci, no other networks). The last thing we want to do is scare them off just because they might not be familiar with the network. Personal guidance here could be key in retaining them. (Not to say you should not always do this, but it is worthwhile considering next time you leave a comment which could be interpreted as hostile by someone not familiar with the network.)
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 8:31

Answer Quality

  • Is this list complete, or an ad-hoc selection of a few related posts?
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 16:31
  • Ad-hoc. Just figured it may deserve it's own topic, because I couldn't place artem's and my question and I saw some more answer-focused questions. I'll make it more complete this evening. Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 16:37

Self-help questions

Individual cases

  • Since the decision was already made to close self-help questions, we can start compiling a single authoritative Community Wiki question/answer. This can then be much more easily maintained and communicated going forward. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 9:51
  • @ChristianHummeluhr I believe Why was my self-help question closed as off-topic? is what you are looking for. Quite certain it is also linked to from the close reason, and it is tagged faq. Self-help questions were one of the early decisions we made as there was a big enough community to decide on this and the opinion of closing them was quite unanimous given the possible consequences of not doing so.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 9:54
  • Here's my current complaint about how the self-help close message is applied. There are cases where a person posts a question amounting to something like "I did X. I'm curious about X." This almost always gets at least a few close votes if not actually closed because the person includes some kind of personal anecdote. My opinion is that we should close under this banner when the answer would be localized to the individual. But if the question has an anecdote to motivate it, that's fine with me. It probably even makes the question a bit more understandable.
    – Josh
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 2:37
  • @Josh Could you post/track examples of this? I would agree that is fine, but I thought it is mostly applied when a question is quite clearly inspired by getting help, i.e., guidance on what to do. E.g., this is not closed as self-help.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 6:49
  • 1
    I voted to leave this open, for example: cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/13002/…
    – Josh
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 12:46
  • @Josh I closed it because of this "She's becoming very anxious over this". This to me gives the impression they are after a diagnosis in order to provide help/information/prescription. It is an interesting example though, and would definitely be useful to bring up during a discussion in the future when we revisit this issue.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 12:50
  • It's clearly about an individual, and it's right on the border of what I would consider acceptable. Looking back, maybe it's more appropriate to close. But if there was another question that said "I've noticed that my friend Joe always wants to continue working on projects that he's put a lot of time into but seem to be doomed to fail. Is there any cognitive disorder that could explain this?" then I don't think we would should close because a general answer about the sunk-cost fallacy would be appropriate to describing behavior like Joe's.
    – Josh
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 12:51
  • Yeah, I agree that the question I used as an example seems to be looking for a diagnosis and that makes it more of a problem.
    – Josh
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 12:52

What is the of our site? Which topics are welcome?

(excluding the topic self-help, as that is an obvious sub-topic which we acted on)

Individual cases


New site name

  • This is the least of our problems. Enough people find the website and usually post relevant questions. Let us worry about this after having decided on the scope. Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 20:13
  • @RobinKramer The purpose of this overview is to list recurring problems over the past four years. ;p This has been a major problem in the past as will become clear if you read through the different posts, all on the same subject. However, I fully agree scope is more important, it could even influence the name in case it changes drastically. Both, however, should be on the agenda.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 20:49
  • When I have time I will distill the key problem points and add them to the main post to clarify what the exact problem is (as we should do with all listed issues).
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 20:50
  • 1
    Absolutely true, I just wanted it to be last on the list, which explains my down vote ;) I do think we should start discussing the key problem points soon so we cán put it in the main post. (I already started on my own in the chat ) Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 20:51
  • Although I'm also working on the other issues, @StevenJeuris what is the state of this? Was the original vote for "Psychology and Neuroscience" seemed to have majority vote, but then you left the suggestion to switch it to "Cognition" in the chat for some reason?
    – Seanny123
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 1:57
  • @Seanny123 We requested a change but given both (1) the 'and' in the title (or '&'), and (2) a seemingly indecisive (too small) community, the community team didn't act on it. A bigger community is hopefully addressed by the suggested approach. My suggestion to resolve the ampersand issue was to use: Cognition: Psychology and Neuroscience.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 8:38

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