What is one domain or example question that you consider to be off topic? (Please post just one per answer.)

Return to FAQ index

  • 3
    You guys had some reasonable on- and off-topic questions defined in the definition phase for this site - taking some of the arguments made there (even if those arguments are nothing more than, "I'm basically voting down every question that I can only imagine being asked by a man with a bong in his hand"), fleshing them out and applying them to questions being asked now would be a good start... – Shog9 Jun 8 '11 at 3:16
  • 5
    I think that the phrase "I can only imagine this being asked by a man with a bong in his hand" definitely needs to go in the FAQ or the close reason text somewhere... – Cody Gray Jun 8 '11 at 4:52

Legal questions should be off-topic.

(There is, I suppose, a philosophy of law, but it would probably start at a much higher level than copyright.)

  • The link doesn't work – Niklas Aug 18 '11 at 21:12
  • Questions about teaching philosophy should probably be on topic; those about job prospects for majors should probably be off topic.
  • 5
    there are job prospects for philosophy majors? – machinaut Jun 9 '11 at 3:05
  • @ajray: You could teach? Or do basically anything. You have a degree in liberal arts. It's really no more or less useful than, say, a degree in history. But that should definitely be off-topic here. – Cody Gray Jun 9 '11 at 6:04
  • @ajray: Rants about the absence of job prospects should be off-topic, too. – Phira Jun 9 '11 at 8:34
  • questions about the meaning of life are off-topic
  • zen koans are off topic (anything starting with "if a tree...")
  • 1
    What is the sound of one hand closing a zen thread? – Phira Jun 9 '11 at 8:36
  • 3
    Ka-Ban! Yes? I'd say that Zen koans are on topic if they are questioning elements of zen philosophy. Smart-ass questions, however, are right out. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 9 '11 at 11:26
  • 2
    I think koans are on-topic, but their answers are off-topic. – Jon Ericson Jun 13 '11 at 16:44
  • 1
    Questions about the meaning of life are off topic?! Are you kidding? That's what philosophy's all about!! – Jez Jun 22 '11 at 8:29

I'd say that questions like this are off-topic, whereas actual questions related to logic and reasoning are on-topic.

  • 2
    Can you go into detail on why that question would be off-topic? – Shog9 Jun 9 '11 at 19:18
  • 2
    I can see how that question, reformulated, could be decent. It's just a bad question right now though... But yes, explain your reasoning, please. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 10 '11 at 0:31
  • 4
    Ehh, for a counter-example, look at this question. It basically asks exactly the same thing: "who said x?" But it asks it in a much more coherent, well-thought-out way. That's what we want to encourage. There's no reason to ban this type of question in general, at least given that it's obviously something said by a philosopher.... :-) – Cody Gray Jun 10 '11 at 10:17

Any question that would not even be considered for a undergraduate exam should be off-topic here.
For example, those questions that:

  • display no domain awareness whatsoever (have you done any research? ANY?)
  • are too broad (which is almost certainly a consequence of not understanding the domain)
  • require, due to their scope, more than a thousand words to answer
  • 2
    While I agree those sorts of questions are off-topic, I'd also encourage all of us to consider using comments (or in some cases answers) to correct the askers. Lack of domain awareness will be common, but sometimes a small nudge toward getting the asker to do research could very well convert a bad question into a better or even great question. – Jon Ericson Jun 13 '11 at 16:51
  • We don't need another MathOverflow – Lie Ryan Jun 22 '11 at 0:38
  • I like your restrictions, I don't like the reference to undergraduate exams. I don't think they match, and I dislike the exclusionary "you have to be an undergraduate" implications. (See discussions on Area51 on allowing only undergraduates to a site, etc). Get rid of that, and you'll get a +1. :-) – Lennart Regebro Jun 22 '11 at 6:56

Beginner cogito style questions are off topic, e.g.:

1 How do I know I'm not a brain in a jar
2 How can I be sure I'm not dreaming?
3 Do I exist?

  • Erm, I can't tell if you're for or against this... You should take a position and post that as your answer. – Cody Gray Jun 9 '11 at 11:21
  • @Cody you're right it's just two sides not a third "I don't care" – Chris S Jun 9 '11 at 15:10
  • 2
    I believe that they are on topic. – vanden Jun 12 '11 at 6:28
  • 3
    I think those questions should be on-topic, but the many duplicates we are likely to see in September should be redirected to a canonical set of questions. I.e, we should only answer them once. – Jon Ericson Jun 13 '11 at 16:46
  • They may be on-topic, but they are obviously poorly formed and fall into requiring 1000+ words to answer. – mfg Jun 22 '11 at 19:31

There should never be any more questions under either the zombie or the apocalypse tags.

  • 6
    Actually zombies are a really fascinating thought experiment for free will... But it does have to have philosophical content beyond "a man with a bong asked this" – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 11 '11 at 0:58
  • @Brian is quite right here. Zombies are invoked in many thought experiments about not just free will, but also philosophy of mind. – boehj Jun 11 '11 at 8:33
  • I was considering allowing an exception or two for the apocalypse tag. ;-) Can we at least agree to no more conjunctions of those two tags? – Jon Ericson Jun 13 '11 at 16:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .