Finally I think I understand the frustration of looking for a theory based on observations and be closed as self-help.

I know questions listing symptoms, ultimately, are for self-help, but still they really want to gain some insights. They need a term to describe the symptoms, and this is IMO an on-topic question. As how Mark Twain describes this frustration:

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

So is there a way to help posters to refine their questions from listing symptoms to asking for terms?

Related: What to do with seemingly anecdotal questions but actually because of lacking of terms?

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This is a valid point, and Mark Twain's quote hits the nail on the head!

You almost answer the question yourself. One way of salvaging 'self-help' questions is by editing them into a question. This, however, does not mean that simply slapping a tag onto a question which is phrased as self-help can remain open. Two other potential concerns need to be addressed:

  1. Self-help questions are typically put on hold because they ask explicitly for actionable health information for a particular individual. For them to be reopened they need to be rephrased as a 'request for knowledge' and not a 'request for help'.
  2. The other rules of our site still apply. Very often, a self-help question also suffers from not being framed in psychology or neuroscience. There needs to be some initial research within the question which makes it relevant to these fields of science. Our minimal requirements are very low, a popular-science blog post would do. In the case of a 'terminology' question, these references would document what you have searched for, followed by an explanation why these sources are not what you are looking for.
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  • I think what you mean is to have some literature review. Making theory based on observations is already an initial search I think – Ooker Mar 28 '18 at 11:16
  • Would a link to a story to help illustrate the points be equivalent to a popular science blog post? Example: psychology.stackexchange.com/revisions/12699/1 – Ooker Mar 29 '18 at 12:41
  • This flag says asking for diagnosing term of a single person is off-topic. But it's a question asking for terms, so shouldn't it be opened? It has satisfied point 1 & 2. – Ooker Apr 2 '18 at 4:44
  • How does it satisfy point 2 exactly? I do not see any references at all. The update in turn attempts to simply answer its own question. – Steven Jeuris Apr 2 '18 at 9:37
  • can I update my question to better capture what I think? That would make your answer to be a comment rather than an answer I think – Ooker Apr 4 '18 at 6:41
  • @Ooker At this point it might be more meaningful to post it as a new question. (At least, in case what you are trying to convey is not already part of your other question related to this.) – Steven Jeuris Apr 4 '18 at 8:46
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    The major disagreement you seem to have with this community is what suitable 'sources' are, i.e., what level of initial research is expected. We do not deem personal observations 'sources'. We expect sources to be indicative of general recurring observations. Whether or not referenced sources live up to this expectation is really evaluated on a case per case basis: e.g, just placing personal observations on a blog and linking to that does not make it a more reliable source. Academic sources are preferred, but not mandatory. – Steven Jeuris Apr 4 '18 at 8:54
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    That said, if personal observations indicate a clear documented method was followed (hence making it research), I'm quite confident the community would be willing to deem such a question as sufficiently researched (even when the report is not peer-reviewed). – Steven Jeuris Apr 4 '18 at 8:56
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    We expect sources to be indicative of general recurring observations – if you can elaborate this on your answer, I think it would come close to satisfy the question I'm about to write. The problem of the question of borderline, in my opinion and experience, is that the OP had googled all terms he knew, but the results were overwhelmed with self-help articles that the anecdote became the only source "to be indicative of general recurring observations" he could find. – Ooker Apr 4 '18 at 13:33
  • @Ooker I believe I understand what you mean, but I feel this is best discussed in a separate question regardless. So go ahead, and frame what you just said as a new topic! – Steven Jeuris Apr 4 '18 at 21:56

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.

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  • I do not disagree with the closure of that question, but feel 'not framed in psychology or neuroscience' would have been much more appropriate. When this question was closed, however, this close reason was not yet in effect. Some history and when to use which can be found here; in particular, my answer. – Steven Jeuris Apr 2 '18 at 9:43
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    I down voted since this answer does not clearly attempt to address "what to do with questions asking for terms?" How exactly do you suggest we 'acknowledge' such questions? As I stated above, the question you linked to imho should definitely be closed as 'not framed in psychology or neuroscience', regardless of whether it is a 'terminology' question or not. – Steven Jeuris Apr 2 '18 at 9:51

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