Not all users neglect the FAQ, and those that don't can still be mislead by it since unfortunately we inherit the generic SO template as Knight correctly pointed out in a comment to a question of his which got closed.

@Chuck Please accept my apologies if i have misread the FAQ. It says "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face". This is an actual problem I face and I would appreciate any suggestions or answers.

This can definitely be misinterpreted and we should be able to change it somehow. Of course the point still holds if you interpret "an actual problem" as "an actual research problem".

  • 1
    IT really means "in the topic area", in the context of this site that should really be taken to mean "research/etc problems you face", but I guess it's less clear what it means here compared to SO
    – Ben Brocka
    Dec 17, 2012 at 14:55
  • I would also like to suggest adding a section for how to answer a question, i.e. backing up claims by citing sources, etc.
    – Jeff
    Dec 18, 2012 at 19:32

4 Answers 4


The moderators of the site can edit the What kind of questions can I ask here? section of the FAQ, the part above

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

I propose we add to this section a What questions are not permitted here? section, where we list self-help and other medical advice questions, as well as questions that do now show good initial research effort.

As an example, see the seasoned advice FAQ. The Arqade FAQ does this also, but I personally prefer the formatting of Seasoned Advice's FAQ.

I believe we should do this very soon as the number of self-help questions are increasing. I created a question Why was my self-help question closed as off-topic? which I believe we should link to in the main FAQ.

  • Agreed, but I wouldn't call it "What questions are not permitted here?". That's just a duplicate of the following section "What kind of questions should I not ask here?". Better to distinguish more clearly as Seasoned advice did: "What about other food-related questions?".
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Dec 17, 2012 at 14:59
  • @StevenJeuris yeah I see your point. I made the answer Community WIki so anyone who wants to can improve my wording!
    – Josh
    Dec 18, 2012 at 13:22

I suppose the issue is whether we should elaborate our FAQ to clarify what makes a good/bad question. In particular, quite a few person-specific self-help questions get asked and closed. An addition to the FAQ perhaps linked to a meta-thread could explain what is and is not on topic.


Perhaps it would be useful to add an explicit blurb (how saucy) like this:

Self help questions like "How can I overcome (disorder)" or "I have these symptoms, do you think I have (disorder)?" a not on topic on this site. Please consult a professional. Users here may or may not be professionals but none of us are here to diagnose or treat patients.

  • This is good, but I think we have the opportunity here to deal with multiple issues, like initial research as well... and other sites have had success with adding another bulleted list to the first FAQ section, so that's my thinking of what we should do.
    – Josh
    Dec 18, 2012 at 13:19
  • @JoshGitlin well this could go in a bulleted list. We don't really have a short and sweet initial research statement though, do we? What else is missing?
    – Ben Brocka
    Dec 20, 2012 at 15:07
  • +1 I even think something like this should appear whenever someone wants to open a question.
    – user1196
    Mar 19, 2013 at 22:43

I think that many self-help or self-reflective questions bring up extremely interesting topics. We should not discourage them. Much research is sparked by some kind of personal relevance. That is not a problem in itself.

What we need is that people step back from their personal experience, (1) adopt a more general, detached perspective, and (2) do some, even very basic initial research.

I think this site should not be limited to experts, but we can expect laypeople to at least use a search engine to properly grasp their subject and develop a question that can be understood and answered.

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