This site, despite being around for 4 years at this point has yet to graduate from beta due to it's inability to maintain a solid and knowledgeable user base in the form of "expert researchers", as discussed in this overview of meta. To enable this, I propose the following new close vote reason:
Off Topic: This question does not appear to be a research-level question in the Cognitive Sciences
This also changes the scope of the site from:
Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is for researchers, academics, students, and anyone else needing expert answers to advanced questions in the cognitive sciences.
To something more similar to what was put forth by Theoretical Computer Science SE:
Cognitive Science Stack Exchange is a Q&A site for professional researchers in cognitive science and related fields. We welcome research-level questions in: LIST
The emphasis is on the intent of this close-vote reason and scope change. Phrasing of these two things can be decided in a following proposal.
Background and Discussion
This is a re-iteration of concerns previous voiced in regards to scope, what is considered a good/bad question and how to attract experts. To summarize, this site has a lot of basic questions which are driving away the community of experts we need to thrive.
To keep the experts, we need to be empowered to eliminate these bad basic questions using the new close vote reason mentioned above, which will change the scope of our site.
What is research-level?
Heuristically, any question:
- That would could be talked about between a final year undergraduate (in other words, someone who has a basic understanding of the domain in question from an introductory course/text/search) and a professor/graduate
- Who's phrasing would make sense as an introduction or abstract in a reputable journal, assuming the answer would be part of the body of the article
However, any question under the following criteria would be rejected:
- Anything that cannot be tested: personal theories, fictional and/or hypothetical psychological situations
- Anything that would be trivial for a researcher in the Cognitive Sciences to answer
- Anything with a large number of unfounded assumptions that need to be untangled before an answer can be formulated
How to vote
These proposals have never worked before due to the decision making process being too vague. Consequently, to vote on this proposal, please follow the instructions here.
Arguments supporting this change
This is similar to various adjustments put forth by other StackExchange sites. Theoretical Computer Science, Physics, as well as Chemistry both have very limited scopes and were thus able graduate quickly. Biology put forward a close-vote for homework questions, similar to the proposed close vote reason in discouraging basic non-research level questions, allowing it to also graduate.
Potential counter arguments followed by my reply
Why not be nice to those newer to Cognitive Science and their general questions?
One of the intended purpose of StackOverflow was “to give Google something useful to point to”. However, history this purpose has proven to be unsustainable for a site such as CogSci.SE which depends on a community of experts. Consequently, I would suggest Quora is the place for newcomers to CogSci to ask their entry-level general and hypothetical questions that are not research-level.
Creating a community for CogSci researchers is impossible.
It has been previously, but this is the platform to do it on. We are able to attract experts, however they leave. I think this is similar to what happened in Chemistry. Previous to their site, there was no blogging community for Chemistry researchers, however the site is currently thriving.
It is my opinion that for the long term health of this site, we must restrict the scope and add a new close vote reason to enforce this. This will motivate current expert researcher users to stay, bring back expert researchers who have left due to frustration and bring in new expert researchers who need a forum to ask their research questions.
- Discussion and Voting ends on August 2nd 2016
- Decision Timeframe ends on August 9th 2016