Welcome (former) CogSci users!

Several months ago we gave it another shot: we started a procedure to reboot CogSci to try and finally get us out of Beta. Most of us agree changes need to be made to CogSci to make it work. We have now reached a point where your input is needed to help decide on the future of Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange!

Because we noticed earlier revival attempts were short-lived and mostly failed due to the lack of an enduring community, we decided on a more long-term systematic approach. This approach involves the following steps:

  1. We completed a summary of meta: a concise outline of what the community thus far believes this site could be, and the problems we encountered.
  2. We started discussing proposals for a new target audience, scope, and site name for CogSci.
  3. We are now calling in active and former users alike (you!) to:
    1. extend on these ideas based on the overview we provided so we can
    2. implement a new direction for CogSci, decided on by the majority through democratic voting.

We hope you are willing to contribute to this discussion, even though you might not have been active on CogSci for quite some time. However, know your opinion is valued. There might have been a time where you had your own ideas on what CogSci was and what it could be and we hope to spark your interest in bringing those forward again. If you want to participate, thank you very very much! If not, we would hereby still like to thank you for your contributions to the site.

To make this process as smooth as possible and to prevent you from having to read over 200 pages of chat and posts, I will provide a summary of what has happened so far. The community review highlights three issues for which we had no clear solution and on which we need your input: (1) The expected quality of questions, (2) scope and site name, and (3) how to attract more expert users.

Question quality

We want to establish new minimum requirements for questions posted on this site, enforced by introducing a new-close vote reason. The current proposals revolve around addressing insufficient research and/or motivation.

Scope and site name

No major changes in regards to which fields are on topic were brought forward. We would love to hear arguments against this. However, we (pretty much) all agree we should find a better site name! Vote for your favorite, or add new suggestions! See also @AliceD's proposal on a new site name.

Handeling Garbage Valley

Over the many years of CogSci's existence, the amount of unanswered questions has been piling, which seriously affects our answer-percentage. ChristianHummeluhr referred to this pile as Garbage Valley, containing question which :

"might be interesting to a lay user, given a sufficiently exhaustive negative answer--an answer telling them why this makes no sense--but which are absolutely uninteresting to an expert user who would be qualified to answer them."

Here, we need to discuss how we can increase the answered percentage, by discussing how we tackle these questions (i.e. closing or answering).

Attracting expert users

We need more active (expert) users! Therefore we need to promote the website once we have decided on a new focus. If time permits (other two points have priority), we could discuss where/how to promote once the new changes are pushed through.

Call to action

We now need to take action. We have some ideas but we need a community that agrees with these and supports them. Therefore, if you still believe in what CogSci may be, join the discussion. Cast your vote, propose your own ideas and, hopefully, help us revive CogSci (which will eventually help us getting out of Beta).

Monday, July 17th, at 18:00 GMT we will organize a chat discussion to make sure that everyone is heard and can discuss in an efficient way (you can set yourself to attending for the event here). We urge you to participate so that we can make the best informed decision together. At the end of this session, the result should be a list of concrete proposals that we can vote on in the following two weeks.

Tuesday, August 1st, at 18:00 GMT we will act upon the discussion. The proposals that received the most support will become the new direction for CogSci. We again invite people to join us in chat, if people want to share their final thoughts (e.g. suggest exact phrasing of messages).

  • I will just be coming back from vacation on the 31th of July (landing at 17:30 GMT). Could we move the introduction and discussion of the new close reason to e.g. the next day?
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 9:55
  • 1
    I suggested Aug 1th 18:00 GMT for now (also created a community event and chat event). If this does not suit the majority, let me know so I can update it.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 10:18

5 Answers 5


(2) Scope


The scope of the site determines which groups of experts we do and don't want to include. Obvious on-topic topics are psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, and statistical, programming-related and methodological variants of them. A couple of less clear topics were discussed:

  • Sociology: Sociology is different from social psychology. It concerns specific cultures, and is less about generalisable human behavior. Two meta-post already exist [1][2]. This answer appeared to be a popular point of view.

  • Anthropology: Typical anthropology is typically seen as History. However, there are some psychological interesting anthropology questions.

  • Hypnosis: This topic was also mentioned briefly. It appears to gain some traction in Psychology. No decisions or proposals were made.

  • Freud et al. : Freud is by many argued to be pseudoscience, and only interesting from a historical perspective (e.g. [3][4]). However, it is argued that Freud is still very common in psychology and psychotherapy. Closing these questions as off-topic would scare away people who use it actively in the field. There seems to be consensus to just answer the questions with current scientific theories, to confirm or dismiss Freudian theories (and theories with a similar reputation).

  • Neuroscience (methodology): A while ago a Neuroscience SE was created in Area51. We wanted to include them (and everybody agreed we should include them) but they did not want to include our topics (psychology and other behavior related questions). This is an example where question quality may have played a role.


(1) Question Quality


First, we assessed how inclusive we wanted to be to laymen users. It is generally believed that only allowing high-quality questions would scare away laymen, whereas being inclusive (accepting lower-quality questions) would scare away experts [1][2]. However, no clear consensus was found among those participating in the discussion: from six votes recorded, three were for inclusiveness and three for expertise. People agreed that a new close-vote reason in addition to the typical close reasons (unclear, primarily opinion based, individual behavior and too broad) is necessary to maintain question quality, but we need to determine where to set the bar.

The two highest voted questions [3][4] and the lowest voted question [5] were checked to see if we could agree on a base level. Some ideas were "having spent more than 10 minutes on Google" (i.e. show effort) or "minimum of one reference" (i.e. initial research). The top-voted questions barely reach these standards. Accepting these questions would point toward being more inclusive. It was noted that popular questions do improve visibility of the website, and may attract experts. The answers, however, must be high-quality. There appears to be a trade-off between quality and popularity. People agreed that popular questions are good for the site and can shaped into good resources, but this requires effort by editing questions and guiding the OPs.

We agreed that a lack of initial research is reason for closure. Research, here, is defined broadly; it can also can be a logical train of thought and relevance. The following close votes were proposed. We will vote on the most popular. You can discuss and vote here.

  • The post you link to for voting does not only relate to close vote reasons but more of 'the whole package'. At this point I suggest creating a new meta post which clarifies the minimum consensus reached about expected question quality (possibly with links to example questions), and an invitation to post concrete close vote names and descriptions (one per answer) upon which can be voted until the 31th of July. The other points in the bigger meta post could then hopefully follow from there in follow-up posts after the 31th.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 9:37
  • 2
    Made some edits pointing to the new meta (and reasons) Steven made
    – mflo-ByeSE
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 17:17

(3) Site name


Cognitive Sciences is, believed by many, not a clear or popular name for our site, even though it may factually be the most inclusive. Another name is needed, but we need to follow rules from SE. See this quote from StevenJeuris:

Psychology and Neuroscience was by far the top voted name so far (for the site as it is), but was not allowed because of the 'and' construct by 'upper management'. We could still opt for 'psychology' as a shortened name (for URL purposes), and have Psychology and Neuroscience as the full name. But then again, you have to keep in mind there are people that are pushing for a narrower focus than this ... site name and new focus for the site are (should be) very much related.

The proposals were:

  • Psychology and Neuroscience

  • Psychology

  • Psychological sciences

  • Mind and brain

Despite this, many argued that Psychology and Neuroscience would be the best name. Psychology alone would not include neuroscience, since neuroscience does not necessarily research behavior. We need to beg SE to allow us this name. Prefix: psych.stackexchange.com

If this is not allowed, people agreed to stick with Psychology. The name is simple, rather inclusive and good for SEO reasons. For these reasons it beat psychological sciences. Mind and brain sounded too non-scientific.


(4) Garbage Valley

In order to tackle garbage valley we need the close vote. We agreed on lack of initial research. Research is defined broadly; it can also can be a logical train of thought and relevance. The discussion for exact implementation will take place here.

With this new close-vote, people believe there will be consensus more often. No problems achieving five close-votes are thus foreseen. The close vote allows us to close old and new questions more easily.

It was thought to be useful to encourage people to check the review queues. It was not mentioned how, however.

  • Also: wanted to encourage folks to check their review queues (as part of this)?
    – mflo-ByeSE
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 17:19
  • 1
    Small update: within two days, we went from 83% to 85% answered! I think we had a great sprint closing old questions and I also see we are vigilant on the new questions. Keep up the good work! :) Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 5:46

(5) Attracting expert users

Due to elapsing time, this topic was not discussed. It is an issue for later. Achieving improvements over the first four points may already have an effect.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .