I saw this question an wondered why it was closed as the reason:

closed as not a real question by Michael Dorfman, stoicfury♦ yesterday

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. See the FAQ.

Doesn't fit at all, as the question was clear and could be answered perfectly, but different answers would be correct, just depending on what ethic you let your answer depend. A good answer would be an analyses of the ethical question by referencing to different ethics and then make a sum up.

I don't just want to only address this closing, but address others as well, as I do see a lot of closed questions, which in my opinion weren't unanswerable or inappropriate, and I fear that this could harm Philosophy SE if every question which somehow seems "not quite perfect somehow" is closed down, as Philosophy just exists because people started to ask questions which somehow seemed to be out of line or ridiculous. For example Socrates did go around in Athens asking "How do you know that ... ?" and founded "modern" Philosophy doing this.

As a conclusion I would state that there is a urgent need to be more open to different kind of questions, as long as they are ABLE to be answered in a philosophical way or by a or many philosopher. I do know that this is a Q&A site, and therefore questions have to be answerable, but I wonder why questions do have to have just one correct answer as it is indicated by the closing I see going on.

A few more examples to underline my statement:

this one for example may have a bad wording, but the heading did point out in what the author needed an answer. And as the question could be answered by quotes and reasoning done by feminist, the closing reason "not a real question" does not apply.

this one, also did state quite a clear question which might be somehow on a line between psychology and philosophy, but as some comments said, it does fit as the question is related to Freud's theoretical work.

this one is another example as the question was answerable, even though the answer was pointing out different philosophers points of view, and the closing reason "not constructive" is a no-fit as this question seemed to rumble in the mind of the author and he wanted it to be answered in a philosophical way, but maybe not a special philosopher but by a sum up of different philosophers which somehow thought about that topic.

  • I will try to respond more fully, but a few quick reactions: please note that closure isn't, or doesn't have to be permanent. Mostly these are closed because OPs had not provided enough details on their context and motivations for the question for us to reasonably frame an answer. We do make a point of reopening questions if the poster has made some effort to provide these.
    – Joseph Weissman Mod
    Dec 2, 2011 at 17:34

2 Answers 2


I just want to reaffirm that closing isn't permanent. You are free to revise your question to make it acceptable for the site. Both Joseph and I encourage revisions to questions we close, and we leave comments on every question we close with an explanation why we closed it. Most of the time we also provide pointers as to how to improve the question to make it acceptable. If you address those issues (or at least try to) we'd be more than happy to open the question, or help you refine it more as needed.

Personally, I strongly dislike closing questions, and it pains me to see a bunch of closed questions on the front page. But poor questions are poor questions, and we only have two options: close them or edit them to improve the question to make it acceptable. If you could look at the moderation records (mods only, unfortunately), you would see that I actually edit more questions than I close, as much as twice the amount. But some questions are just so poorly formed that they are irreparable without knowing the author's intent, usually because it is not initially clear from the question what exactly the author is trying to ask.

Even with all the effort spent revising questions or helping question authors with pointers as to how to improve their questions, a lot of people don't end up revising their closed questions, which is why the questions remain closed. There's nothing we can really do about that. :(


I was one of the people who voted to close that particular question, and I still don't think it is a very good fit for this site.

Remember that this is not a place to do philosophy, but a place to ask questions about philosophy, so asking open-ended questions which can be answered philosophically (such as "Is it ever permissible to lie?") are discouraged, whereas factual questions about philosophy (such as "For Kant, is it ever permissible to lie?") are encouraged.

In this case, the question was incredibly open-ended, and the example case was not nearly narrow enough to be helpful.

The question about prostitution wasn't even close to grammatical; it was so poorly framed as to indicate a lack of seriousness on the part of the questioner.

The Freud question was borderline for two reasons; one is that it is about psychology (and not philosophy proper), the other is that it is asking us to judge a one-sentence condensation of Freud's thought, which seems an absurd task.

The Locke/Hobbes question is currently open.

  • 1
    This answer is exactly on point. Paragraph 2 is particularly key here, and I think a lot of people make that mistake. We are trying to encourage chat use more, and there it would be fine to talk about / "do" philosophy.
    – stoicfury
    Dec 5, 2011 at 19:22
  • why are broad questions bad, as long as it is clear in what context it is asked? I mean what if you don't want your question be analised in context of a specific ethic but a couple one, to get some kind of overview?
    – Sim
    Dec 5, 2011 at 21:25
  • 2
    It's just a policy to have questions with a definite answer as opposed to many possible answers. The system only allows one answer to be correct, so if you ask open-ended questions, and 5 people answer differently (but correctly), there's no way to indicate that all of them were correct. The idea behind this Q&A site is that it can be a repository for people to find information; questions they have with specific answers and not a confusing mass of questions with an unclear set of answers. If you have more than one distinct question, create more than one distinct question/thread! :)
    – stoicfury
    Dec 6, 2011 at 19:49
  • 1
    @Sim: If you want to get some kind of overview of a subject, your best bet is an encyclopedia, not a question & answer site. There are a number of very good encyclopedias of philosophy freely available online, and the coverage of philosophy in Wikipedia isn't bad; those would probably be good places to go to get an overview, before returning here with specific questions. Dec 6, 2011 at 20:06

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