At the moment, the main problem of cogsci seems to be the lack of active users (only 48 users with 200+ reputation points). One reason for this could be the focus on researchers and practitioners, because researchers are often taught to solve their problems alone, rather than asking someone else, and practitioners sometimes lack the academic background to ask appropriate questions.

By including students into the target audience, the site can possibly attract a much larger user base, which is more likely to need (academic) advice than, for instance, researchers.

Of course this extension would come with a price: the quality requirements for questions will probably have to be lowered, because students often know a phenomenon or problem, but do not know the correct name or technical term, which effectively hinders them to do the required initial research.

On the other hand, such questions are easy to answer and students are likely to benefit from such a quick help.

(1) Should the target audience of CogSci extended to students too?
(2) Are there important reasons not to extend the audience?
(3) Which changes would be necessary to adopt to the new audience (welcome message, FAQ, etc.)?

  • IMO a quick FAQ change should be all we need for now; it's a pretty quick and minor change.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 21:32
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    This is absolutely no change to our site. Of the questions we get, most are student level (and below!) questions. Commented May 23, 2012 at 23:08
  • @ArtemKaznatcheev: But it would change the way how to deal with such questions. Instead of closing them because of lack of initial research or NarQ, you would rather explain why and how to improve them. Improving the question would be part of the answer. (Like when you give a seminar: there you would never say, "Hey, that's a stupid question" but instead what an appropriate question would have been.)
    – H.Muster
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 6:07
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    The FAQ already mentions students, but I think the welcome message is more prominent. the blurb in the stack exchange list is also an issue. Commented May 24, 2012 at 6:12
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    @H.Muster we seldom close as NARQ now-a-day. It seems to usually be reserved for questions that are answered very quickly by google, are so vague that you can't even dig a question out, or are very contentious questions where the author did not invest the time in a careful phrasing. Commented May 24, 2012 at 16:35

2 Answers 2


I think students have always been welcome in theory. However, there has been a rationale that if we keep advertise the site as one for researchers and practitioners, that will set the right tone for the site.

I'd be happy for the welcome message, FAQ, and About page to include a reference to students.

As you say, at this point, we need more users and questions. On Stats.stackexchange.com there are a few homework style questions (perhaps 5%). It's not a big problem.

Also, we can edit questions to improve them. And I think we should actively do this when it comes to poorly asked or framed questions.

  • On the main site (stackexchange.com/sites#) it says: "Cognitive Sciences Q&A for practitioners and research professionals of the cognitive sciences". As a student, I would not feel very welcomed...
    – H.Muster
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 6:03
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    I dislike that tagline for several reasons. I think there are three components: (a) the site name; (b) the list of people (I like "students, researchers, and practitioners") ; (c) discipline description (I like "cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience"). Commented May 24, 2012 at 6:10

As a new user who doesn't have expertise over cognitive science, I can feel that I am not welcomed. As a matter of fact, because I am not the target audience, eventually I will leave this site. Same thing happened to me in Fitness and Nutrition after I found out that they only welcome questions about fitness.

I asked a question which was closed as expected. I was told to google it or search it in wikipedia. Okay, I can search google or wikipedia, but what is the point of this site if the people direct me other way instead of answering the question?

If we need a scientific way of asking and expecting objective question, I think this is not student level or "Anyone else" as stated in the FAQ.

Cognitive Sciences - Stack Exchange is for researchers, academics, students, and anyone else needing expert answers to advanced questions in the cognitive sciences.

Now I found the wiki page for both fear of falling and acrophobia. I think there is not enough information to distinguish the symptoms. For example, if a person was directed to a visual cliff and is having fear, there isn't enough information to distinguish the cause of the fear. The fear could come from fear of falling or acrophobia. Who knows? This is what I am trying to understand.

  • And the comment sounds like "Ask in scientific way or I will punch you in the face!"... Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 2:07
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    Your question was closed not because it lacked initial research, but because it was phrased as a self-help question which we have a policy against. The reason I made the comment about initial research when you rewrite is just to encourage you to look into the question more to phrase it as a scientific as opposed to self-help form. I did not intend to discourage you from participating, I just wanted to let you know the scope. Join us in chat or read/vote on existing questions if you want to know more about this site. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 2:46
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    My vote to close was based on the self-help aspect as well. Unfortunately we are not equipped to advise individuals in any capacity. I think if you edit the question to be more about comparing the characteristics of the two conditions, it will be fine and we can reopen. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 3:05
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    And the comment sounds like "Ask in scientific way or I will punch you in the face!" I'm very sorry you felt that way, but no one was meaning that as any form of a threat to you. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 3:06
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    The site is okay for students as well. But students still have to follow the FAQ like everyone else. This was a textbook too-localized question which would not have been acceptable on a Stack Exchange site regardless of scope.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 3:13
  • @ChuckSherrington there's no possible way anyone could have read that comment in that manner.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 11:10

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