I recently felt getting too much attention from one of moderators, so I complained about it to SE team.

Response I got:


I took a careful look at the 5 closed questions you highlighted. It is a little unusual for a single moderator to close that many questions from one person. However...


FInally, I would suggest you politely ask on meta how to improve these questions. Pick one you are most interested in and ask how it could be reopened. I think you will find that most users would like to answer your questions if they were clear and focused on a narrow philosophical problem.

Question I am interested in most would be following.

Thought experiment: Argument whose life is more valuable organic or mechanical?

I would appreciate, if I could get some advice on how this question could be reopened.

  • For the sake of full disclosure, I wrote the above quoted snippet. (The typo is my own. ;) Jul 8, 2014 at 19:12

2 Answers 2


The first problem I have with the question is it doesn't define terms very well. In particular, I consider mechanical life a contradiction in terms on the order of "married bachelor". From a practical point of view, robots are tools and their value is directly proportional to their usefulness to people. People are a totally different class of entity and it doesn't make much sense to compare one to the other. Clear definitions are vital to writing an answerable question.

The second problem, which is related, is that the question seems designed to provoke discussion rather than solve a problem. In particular, you say:

I am looking for arguments that are not obvious like examples above.

If you and I were chatting at a coffee shop, this would be a pretty interesting conversation starter. But questions on Stack Exchange are not intended to start conversations, but to be answered. Take a look at the top artificial intelligence questions. As a rule, they present a well-defined scenario and ask probing questions about it. They also often build off of the work of philosophers. Consider, Could a sentient machine suffer? It references Plato, Hobbes, Locke, More, and Bentham. It's not really necessary for a good question, but it sure helps to build on the shoulders of giants.

As for reopening the question, I'd focus in one one narrow aspect of your original scenario. For instance, I'm curious if anyone has examined what role, if any, reproducibility plays in moral status. Is there a difference between an artificial intelligence that can be perfectly duplicated and one that includes some unreproducible element? Instinctually, I'd say there is, but why?

However, I think you'd probably be better off asking a brand new question with a blank slate for answers. That particular question just has too much history to be productively reopened.


If the question hadn't been closed as "unclear", I would have closed it myself as "too broad". The main problem is — as Jon Points out — that you are trying to stimulate discussion rather than get an answer to a specific question. It's ok to ask questions that are based on your own ratiocinations rather than strictly those that arise from the study of academic philosophy, but you really do need to narrow them down.

Instead of merely asking, for example

What argument human would have to present to be kept alive?

answer that question yourself to the best of your ability. Surely you must have an idea or two. That would cross off (hopefully) a few potential answers and begin to focus the real question down to a specific concept you have a hiccup with. You have some interesting ideas but they are too under-developed at this point to fit with the site's standards. Your update does start this process but you do not really go deep enough and your question remains the same.

As for clarity's sake, you would do well to improve the punctuation and formatting a bit so it's more easily understandable, as well as rephrase your story so it makes more sense. I had to re-read the question a few times to understand it because you are missing punctuation in spots. Note that if you put an empty line before a list (numbered or dashed), it will display/indent properly.

I edited the question to improve on these basic things so clarity should be less of an issue, but it still fails to fit here as a question because it is not narrow enough. Go into more detail about the updated reasons you wrote and focus the question on something you may have with those. Asking for a "list of arguments" is not what we are looking for here.

  • Thanks for the edit. I have edited question, could you please advice if I am going in right direction. Thanks. Jul 10, 2014 at 20:08
  • Definitely an improvement in terms of focus but not quite there yet. Focused enough would be to ask about one of the points you brought up that humans would say, and say, "is this a valid reason?" If you want people to come up with other reasons, use chat! Typing @stoicfury will get particular people's attention to chat if you have a particular person in mind whom you want to bounce ideas off of. It would be nice to have a more active chat in general, but alas, we are all busy folk!
    – stoicfury
    Jul 11, 2014 at 0:32

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