Are question about identifying potential mental disorder based on the description of behavior and internal feeling on topic here?

The reason for that post is the post on another SE: https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/119646/offensive-language-behavior-from-co-worker-in-online-game

The asking person have confessed cyber-stalking a coworker and enjoyed making him more and more angry until the victim has responded with violent rant. Now the AP asks about the opportunity to use cherry-picked words from that word to hurt his victim in his workplace.

The real intentions of the AP are unknown, does it makes him fun hurting people, or it was an attempt to take over the victim's position etc. But if we can assume, it was for fun, would it be on topic of that SE to ask if such behavior is a symptom of sadistic or psychopatic personality?

Or there's too much speculation involved and we should abstain from asking such questions?

  • what does AP stand for? Did you mean to use OP?
    – Ooker
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 8:02

2 Answers 2


Short answer
Don't ask.

The majority of the questions closed here, and across the SE network among the scientific sites are the dreaded self-help questions. These are closed on this site with the message:

[P]ut on hold as off-topic by John Doe et al. This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

"Questions about the behavior of an individual person are off-topic. If you are concerned about a potential medical issue, please seek the advice of a medical professional. For more information, see Why was my self-help question closed as off-topic?." – John Doe et al. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

As often as not I follow up with a personal comment like:

Welcome. We're sorry to hear about your experiences (problems, issues, whatever). However, we do not provide counselling, therapy or otherwise personalized care of any kind. We are a scientific site and we encourage questions that are interesting for this community at large and that can be answered with material founded in the scientific literature.

Self-help questions are a nightmare and about half my time as mod is sucked up by questions like this - bluntly put: don't ask.

  • Would it makes sense to extrapolate the question and ask what mental disorder are typically diagnosed by stalkers? I assume they are subject to obligatory mental health diagnosis after capturing them so there should be enough material to study. I'm not looking for help, but want to satisfy my curiosity (which haven't killed any cat yet).
    – user2550
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 20:05
  • 2
    @DanubianSailor - If the Q is not an anecdotal report and you can generalize it to make it interesting for this community at large, it's fine. Make sure to add some prior research, as 'what's the scientific name for X', or 'what psychological disorder is Y' are often opinion based and vague. Not every phenomenon has a name, not everything has a diagnosis - it remains dangerous territory.
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 20:44

I used to push this problem much farther than this, but at the end of the day I still couldn't receive a satisfactory answer. See:

I know I'm not receiving a satisfactory answer doesn't mean the given answers don't satisfy most users here. Somehow there is an invisible barrier that however a novice frames a question the expert will most likely see it's unclear.

Also from my answer in the big meta: Come Take a Look at our New Contributor Indicator!:

A novice cannot have the perspective of the experts to see why their questions are unclear, yet however hard the experts explain the novice cannot understand it, to the point of satisfaction. I think, if the experts see that the only way for the novice to understand is to gain more knowledge and experience in the field, then at least they should say so, so that they can at least stop wondering what's wrong with them.

But I know one thing: if you just pick a textbook on the field and read, your question will be much clearer immediately.

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