Example question: What makes a personality of rapid anger outburst?

At a glance, one can see that question lists an extensive number of symptoms, which easily be classified as self-help looking for clinical advice. However, the OP does form a theory for this, and explicitly asks a confirmation for it. For me, this is enough to make it different. It's essentially the same by replacing women to female rat.

Is this kind of rejection some form of a biological defense mechanism by which a woman pushes an unsuitable mate out? Is there a more scientific term I can use to look up this behavior? What makes a personality of rapid anger outburst?

The observation is very specific. It has numbers ("15 seconds or less from baseline to angry", "up to 3 hours to flare up again") and details that quite private/pertaining to specific cases ("can occur within days of having sex"). However, if one has some knowledge on borderline personality disorder, they can easily see that all these details are general symptoms of the disorder. The reason it sounds too specific because the disorder is less likely known. As far as I remember it, only 2% of population is diagnosed with the disorder.

Question: if a question does have an assumption and asking if it's correct or not, is it still a self-help question regardless of how specific the symptoms are? **If not, then why cannot asking if the assumption is correct or not "de-specifies" the question?

3 Answers 3


short answer
The linked question is self-help imo.

An excerpt from the linked question justifies, imo, a closure because of self-help:

  • Very rapid onset (15 seconds or less from baseline to angry) and long duration (up to 3 hours to flare up again)
  • Does not want to be touched and actively rejects attempts at physical comforting
  • pushes the man out or continues the episode till the man can't take it any more and leaves
  • Poor recollection of what happened during the episode later
  • Likely to occur after 1 month of cohabitation, and can occur within days of having sex

These details scream "I am a self-help question", because they are way too specific to be describing a population at large.

This is not at all to be just nit-picky, or because we just love to enforce regulations and rule this site, nor is it just to bully people of our site. On the contrary, enforcing general questions make them interesting for the community at large. Questions are not just for yourself (self-help). Those are typically hit-and-run questions that are not interesting for most of us here or people 'out there'. We wish to attract new people and keep our current community involved and interested. Self-help questions do nor foster those spear heads. On the contrary, they repel science-minded folks and attract people seeking comfort, self-help, self-diagnosis or simply a place to vent frustration or experiences. This is not the site for those kinds of purposes. There are other sites for that. Reddit and Quora are much more lenient for example.

  • I'm sorry, but I fail to see how this addresses my question: "if a question does have an assumption and asking if it's correct or not..."
    – Ooker
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 20:15
  • It answers your title: Are questions looking for a theory based on observations self-help?
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 20:15
  • A question title forms the abstract of your question post. The fact that it apparently does not reflect your question in this case may tell you something about the kind of questions you tend to ask :)
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 20:16
  • I see. Does the site focus on the interest of the most of the community? In other words, if the same structured question asking on homosexuality (which is actually in 4% of population), will it be on-topic?
    – Ooker
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 20:22
  • On your last comment, I honestly don't understand what you mean :(
    – Ooker
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 20:23
  • I've read my question again, and I cannot see how the title doesn't reflect the question body. If women is replaced to female rat, then it doesn't slightly sound to be self-help anymore.
    – Ooker
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 12:10
  • Overall, I believe the discussion on whether or not this is self-help is irrelevant, as we now have the more suitable 'not framed in psychology or neuroscience' close reason by which it would also have been closed.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 10:02

This started as a comment, but then got too long... First off, completely agree with @AliceD. Here's my 2 cents:

I think ultimately it is a judgement call. Many people vote: so 5 other people agreed this is "self-help". In essence, the "community" has judged the question to be off topic, so thus the question was closed.

I actually don't like the name "self-help"... the tag reads in the close menu: "the behaviors of a specific individual are off topic". Thus, as you get quite "specific" about a case (or individual, or whatever), it brings the question closer and closer to being closed under the "self-help" tag (which, again, is just a quick term for any questions about individuals). The "not nice" answer I always wish to give is: "maybe you're just weird!". Maybe the individual was just weird. Maybe the rat was just weird. Etcetera. If I get the inclination to write this response, I tend to vote to close it under "question about an individual" (aka "self-help").

One concerning thing I want to address in your question:

"However, if one has some knowledge on borderline personality disorder, they can easily see that all these details are general symptoms of the disorder"

Yes, but they also could not be. For diagnosis, one must look at the individual as a whole. This is why Web-MD doesn't hand out prescriptions: average/common symptoms may indicate something else on an individual basis. This is why we don't do the same, but instead recommend individuals to see a professional. Ultimately, you seem to be asking for a diagnosis (even if of a "hypothetical" situation); CS does not do that.

There are lots of reasons for the above. You mentioned "the tip of the iceburg" in your answer (which you seem to have identified as the "correct" answer). This is the whole reason we frown on such questions: there is a whole iceburg of an individual that someone is trying to describe in a few sentences. This doesn't yield quality answers, and this can yield incorrect answers. A professional who works with the individual is necessary to make an accurate decision.

  • I know, hidden inside the question, it is a question for diagnosis. I just realize that maybe making assumption and testing it (by asking the client more question) is diagnosis itself. Maybe the iceberg in here is way larger and more complex than in Health SE, where self-diagnosis is prohibited too. I think the whole reason we want to avoid this is this sentence: "average/common symptoms may indicate something else on an individual basis". Do you think that if the question somehow proves that it definitely doesn't indicate anything on an individual basis, then it will be welcomed here?
    – Ooker
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:04
  • Hmm: interesting question. I think for me, questions come down to specificity. Compare it to demographics: if I collect such specific demographics that I can identify an individual, then I usually can't publish a study. Similarly, if a question has a vast amount of detailed information about a specific case, I may view it as the behavior of an individual (even if it is focused on generics (like demographics)). :) As to the question of "when do we cross the line?": I think there is definitely a gray area here!
    – mflo-ByeSE
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:24
  • :) This is such a hard area to play with, because there is another side to this (e.g., "why do people get angry" is far too broad to be answered). Because of this, I certainly understand the frustration of "I'm being told to give detail, and I gave a ton of detail!" Perhaps someone more eloquent than I can better explain the Goldilocks zone of information for questions.
    – mflo-ByeSE
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:29
  • @Ooker Sorry for not tagging earlier. Another consideration is this: answering questions of "why" an individual (person, rat, case, whatever) does something (was it biology, was it a troubled childhood, etc?) are really tough, because it is such a case by case basis. This may be a starting point for writing those questions that don't indicate anything on an individual basis. Another consideration is that a question like "what diagnosis would you give?" may be closed down as primarily opinion based (doubly so for the word/implication "diagnosis": again, we try to avoid those questions).
    – mflo-ByeSE
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:35
  • When collecting data for demographics, how to you know when it's enough to be able to publish the study? Is it simply "you know it when you see it"?
    – Ooker
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:48
  • @Ooker :) Not enough time in chat: but it goes to identifiability in demographic (for instance, if I'm studying teachers, and get their school, department, gender, and age (not to mention race, years teaching, etc), I know who that teacher is. Thus if I publish an "average" for that combination of demographics, I have broken confidentiality. It's a loose parallel, but similarly in questions that get too descriptive, they become of limited general use.
    – mflo-ByeSE
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:56

This is a question asking for term, but no-one realizes it.

The question in question does give extensive initial research and links, but it is still self-help because perhaps all the sources the OP found not couldn't help him know why they weren't what he needed. This is very frustration, and I think this is where one can start thinking they are helpless.

While the burden of making it clear is on the OP, acknowledging that what they are looking for is a term will significantly change the mindset of both sides, and the question will suddenly become clear and on-topic. The solution is to acknowledge that what you really need is a word to google.

What to do with questions asking for terms?

  • What research (beyond unverifiable personal anecdotal observations) and which links are you talking about exactly?
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 10:03

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