Let's start thinking about ideas for canonical Q&As!

The community gets some questions over and over again.

This is a signal that we aren't answering the question as effectively as possible, or linking together effectively enough all of the existing material on the site that does answer it.

In these cases it would be optimal to have a high-quality question and answer which we can point people to.

What questions do you see getting asked repeatedly, maybe in a bunch of different variations?

Note an answer to this post should have at most one question as its 'summary question' but should attempt to substantiate the basis for its necessity in terms of linking to at least three existing questions that seem to be variations on the specific issue at concern.

  • 2
    Another aspect is "canonical answers", it is acceptable/desirable to go to questions that have several partial answers and consolidate them into one complete answer meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7008/…
    – Dave
    Oct 30 '15 at 15:46
  • Another question about canonical questions is whether they should be on the main stack or the meta ... also should we wiki answers?
    – virmaior
    Dec 2 '15 at 2:30
  • Agree with the wiki idea @virmaior I think aggregating canonical content would be a huge benefit. Will provide an Answer with some thoughts on approach ..
    – sourcepov
    Dec 11 '15 at 13:38
  • I have seen accumulation content .. call it aggregation .. among communities done well, usually with a wiki, but it takes time and some work to flesh it out. With philosophy being both a broad and deep domain, knowing where to start could be a challenge. I propose using heavily used tags as a clue, and take 3 or 4 of the major ones (epistemology? metaphysics? logic? Kant?) as starting points. It is essentially a compilation process. I have also seen it viewed as content curation. The Q&A format of SE is an excellent way to generate content, but even with ranking, it can be in
    – sourcepov
    Dec 11 '15 at 15:15

Perhaps it's time for a canonical identify-the-fallacy question.

When I see a question of this type, if I don't know the answer by heart and have time, I take Wikipedia's list of fallacies. It usually gives a good result. If that little work results in a good answer, the question should not have been asked; not enough research has been done.

However, maybe not everyone knows where to look. That's why I would propose a canonical question along the lines of:

How do I find out what fallacy something is?

An answer should contain pointers to literature (on the web or elsewhere), and ideally an explanation of the different types of fallacies (formal, informal, etc.; as on wikipedia) that the OP can at least determine the broad category from the canonical answer itself.

I don't consider myself capable of writing the answer, and also I will soon be away for some weeks, so feel free to take this idea and put up the question - if you do, please put a link here.

  • 3
    I've always been curious why people were so obsessed with finding a named fallacy for whatever situation they've been put in recently. Do they actually change their approach in life based on knowing whether a fallacy is named or not?
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 4 '15 at 23:56
  • 1
    I suspect they might enjoy employing the name of a fallacy against others in discourse to sound more correct. "Tu quoque" sounds more authoritative than "calling me a hypocrite doesn't mean I'm wrong".
    – commando
    Nov 8 '15 at 19:48

I have just edited someone else's question to make it canonical:

How do I check if two logical expressions are equivalent?

This answer is just here for reference and possibly discussion.


Another one in need:

the impact of QM on free will ...

also more generally, we need guidelines for how to manage questions that mix muddled science and philosophizing.


It seems like we need one for validity and soundness.

We reinvent the wheel nearly on a weekly basis here.

Here's a new one:

INUS conditions for invalid arguments


Also in need of a canonical:

The Gödel question (at least the general one)

Godel's Incompleteness Theorem

Do Goedel's incompleteness theorems have any consequences for epistemology?


I hadn't thought of it until Is it ethical to give/donate/sell placebo pills marketed as "miracle" pills, if people actually get better?

but we do need a canonical question for "ethics." Specifically, we need a post somewhere laying out basic ethical theories and what's wrong with asking "is it ethical" without qualification.

  • How do you propose to fit this in a reasonably scoped question? Perhaps for the "is it ethical" questions a meta question dealing with that would be more appropriate? Then we can comment with a link to that question, and put the question on hold until it is refined.
    – user2953
    Jan 27 '16 at 13:57
  • 1
    Yeah, I'm thinking a meta question that kind of lays out why this type of question is a problem. Particularly, that we can help clarify what specific philosophies think about certain problems, but that we cannot resolve what is or is not ethical in the real world within the scope and bounds of an SE.
    – virmaior
    Jan 27 '16 at 22:57

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