Every now and then, we close questions pertaining to a single individual as 'self-help' questions. This can be quite confusing to the OP if they do not need the attention of a medical profesional. For example, see this latest question (emphasis mine):

What the point of this forum if we can't ask question about personal behaviour ? I thought psychology applied to people (the subject could be me or someone else doesn't make difference). Must be wrong though. I'll ask how to restore my table next time. For now, I'll go spent a ridiculous amount of money to visit a psycho and satisfy my curiousity as advice. Ridiculous

For this very reason, I previously argued we should use 'not framed in psychology or neuroscience' for such questions instead:

Second, I feel the self-help close reason is used all too often to close questions just because they are about "the behavior of an individual person", regardless of whether or not the OP is seeking medical help—arguably the main reason this close reason was introduced. Historically, the close reason obtained wider use to allow closing sub-par questions for which no suitable close reason was available. We have one now! I suggest to use 'not framed in cognitive sciences' for these anecdotal and personal questions instead.

Three topics for discussion:

  • Do others agree on this?
  • How to deal with similar questions that do get closed as 'self-help'?
  • Should we perhaps rephrase the 'self-help' close reason to narrow down its scope now that 'not framed in ...' is put in place? Any suggestions?
  • 2
    Aside from discouraging users from seeking medical advice on a public forum, one other reason to close questions about individuals is that we prefer questions that others might benefit from. While it's nice to have the "not framed in ..." reason as a catch-all for bad questions, it is arguably not very descriptive about what is actually wrong with the question or how best to fix it (if that's viable). The self-help close reason makes it clear that questions should at least be generalized - sometimes they can be salvaged this way.
    – Arnon Weinberg Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 1:55
  • 1
    @Arnon Maybe we can consider a third close reason? Individual being one (I agree with your argumentation), and making self-help more focused (this incident was not the first).
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 7:56
  • 1
    For now, I've edited psychology.meta.stackexchange.com/q/502/7001 to cover non-self-help questions closed as self-help. We can certainly consider another close reason if it makes things clearer.
    – Arnon Weinberg Mod
    Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 2:26

2 Answers 2


I think we could make better use of the "not framed in," but I think the example question was closed correctly as a individual/self-help question: the person was basically asking for a diagnosis (i.e., "Is it something known?" ~= "Does my situation have a name (diagnosis)").

There have been similar discussions about this on MedicalSciences.SE, https://medicalsciences.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/974/out-of-scope-please-identify-my-observed-phenomenon-and-other-plausibility-qu for example.

At least for Medical Sciences, it's been mostly decided that anything that looks like asking for a diagnosis is off topic, even if the question is bent to try to not talk about an individual (for example, if they try to make it hypothetical..hypothetically what if someone, maybe a male 54 years of age, is experiencing shortness of breath...).

  • We could also clarify that the 'contacting a medical professional part' is entirely optional (linguistically it is, but as demonstrated by some responses, that is not always clear). Alternatively, maybe we should just introduce a third close reason (equivalent of old 'too localized'). We might be better off linking self help questions primarily to potential points of contact (such as the question asked by the recent suicidal user), where the current 'self-help' meta post is still relevant, but not that 'to the point'.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 8:02
  • 1
    We agree both are off topic and should be closed, but by posting this I simply wanted to highlight they might not be optimal. On one hand we are afraid to close a suicide post, on the other hand people that simply express curiosity get redirected to a doctor.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 8:05
  • @StevenJeuris Yeah, I just feel like it's already pretty clearly stated: "If you are concerned about a potential medical issue, please seek the advice of a medical professional." It is the second sentence of the close reason (rather than the first), and clearly states if you are concerned about a potential medical issue - if they are not concerned, no need to seek medical attention. Possibly we could append something to the first sentence to mention broader applicability as an asset to a question.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 15:19

I agree with @BryanKrause.

Looking at the closed questions in recent times, apart from Does it something known? which you highlighted, the latest closures for "personal medical advice" includes

With the exception of possibly Why do we feel the present moment has already happened? being closed for lack of research ("not framed in,"), the others are clear cut personal medical advice being sought.

With the exception, there is the sentence

But when I try to remember it, nothing's there, no memory at all.

We don't know if that person actually had been at the place or had the conversation before and forgot it. And with that we don't know if there is any reason why the memory might be repressed through Psychogenic or organic amnesia or other forms of repression. Therefore, I think that it is one of those grey areas which made me go for "personal medical advice" for OP safety sake.

I personally think that the "not framed in" close reason is used where necessary which may be able to be a little more used but if so I think we are getting there. The more the new members see this close reason, the more they will be inclined to flag for closure using this reason, and later vote when they have the privilages to with reputation.

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