I'm wondering what kinds of questions should be closed as off-topic for being self-help. Clearly, questions that are seeking a medical diagnoses are problematic. But other types of questions have been receiving close votes for being self-help as well, and I feel like they are different kinds of questions. For example:

There's no question that both of these questions are asked in a self-serving way, and the second one was ultimately rephrased and posted as a different question. However, I'm not sure that either should really be closed as a self-help question since it is unclear to me whether self-help means any kind of question that is framed in such a way as to personally apply to the asker, or if it should be treated more as a way to remove questions asking for medical and clinical diagnoses.

It seems to me like we might want to encourage more questions on this site (based on the site stats on Area 51), and I don't see much of a problem with people asking questions that are framed in a personal manner, as long as they aren't asking for answers that are specifically tailored to their situation.


1 Answer 1


As a newbie I still wish to humbly say: Great question! Self-help questions are very common on CogSci.SE and more than worth discussing.

The first question you linked I voted to close. However, actually none of the three votes now placed are actually tagged "self-help". My personal reason was "opinion based", for obvious reasons.

The other one is a good example of self-help and I voted indeed to close as such. I think in general, self-help is medical related and indeed as such unappliccable here. My reason to close is really specificity-based. "I want this" questions in a narrow sense. It is not science. It is a personal goal. Truly, he should get a personal trainer! And exactly that makes it suitable to close as self help, as far as my humble opinion goes that is.

Regarding the bigger cause: yes CogSci is small and questions are good. However, answers are too. %answered is a measure for success at Area51. Both of these questions will not be answered, ever. The first is too broad, the second too specific. The first is being closed on presently available options for closure. The second would need closure for being too specific if I you ask me. However, that option doesn't exist, and therefore "self-help" is a way out here.

  • 3
    Unclear from your post whether you are aware of this so will just clarify: closed questions do not influence the "%answered" metric. "%answered" is the percentage of answered open questions. Thus closing is exactly what we should do with unanswerable questions.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Feb 14, 2015 at 19:12
  • @StevenJeuris yep, I totally agree and that's why closing questions is important I think
    – AliceD Mod
    Feb 14, 2015 at 20:13

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