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I love the stackexchange network of websites, and use a lot of them to learn stuff. I have a problem with skeptics, though.

I'm having a hard time figuring what the site is really about. Some questions I ask are answered, others are closed within a few hours as being "off topic".

How come this is the only website with such a complicated answer to "what is off topic ?" :

"it is for researching the evidence behind claims. It is not for (...) investigating original claims.". Then what's a "good claim" ? I got this question answered with nothing more than "I read in an email that ..." !

Questions are closed with not much more explanation than "read the FAQ" (RTFM ?), and it's easy for a newbie like myself to feel discouraged.

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That citation you mention is highly notable (a quick search with Google returns almost 40,000 hits). The whole point of notability is that we don't want people to "make stuff up" and pretend it's a claim.

This other question of yours is also about a well-known myth, see e.g. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AcquiredPoisonImmunity

Finally, this other question about lifeboats: while the quote is notable, it looks like it's only intended metaphorically and not literally. In other words, it is never used in the context on planning how many lifeboats to include on a ship. On the other hand, the metaphorical sense isn't worth debating because it's so general: "One can never take enough precautions".

  • There were others that I deleted. – Manu Nov 14 '11 at 16:45
  • My question is "isn't it a bad thing that the aim of the site is so confusing for new users ?" – Manu Nov 15 '11 at 8:50
  • @Manu, it's a rethorical question. Of course it's not a good thing. However, maybe you could actually suggest improvements? – Sklivvz Nov 15 '11 at 9:45
  • change the point of the site, have a tutorial with example questions, be nicer to new users. – Manu Nov 15 '11 at 9:58
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    @Manu "changing the point of the site" is not possible (at best, another site can be opened with a different scope); "have a tutorial": we try our best here in meta, we even have a "best questions of Skeptics" question etc. the info is all available already...; I don't think we are un-nice. Closing questions is not a big thing here on stack exchange sites: it only prevents answers until the question is fixed, and can be undone by the community with 5 votes. So don't take that as not being nice, it's how these sites work. – Sklivvz Nov 15 '11 at 10:29
  • Great, there actually was an answer to my question : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Eastland – Manu Nov 16 '11 at 21:46
  • Let's try answering questions next time, instead of closing them because you don't think they should be asked. :( – Manu Nov 16 '11 at 21:47
  • @Manu evidently you completely missed the point. Of course you can have too many life boats. This doesn't make your question appropriate here. – Sklivvz Nov 17 '11 at 1:34
  • Yep, I did. Judging by the number of closed questions on the front page I'm not the only one. – Manu Nov 17 '11 at 8:52
  • Admit that it is frustrating : It was a valid claim, notable, with an answer from History. Yet it is closed because the claim can be understood metaphorically ? – Manu Nov 18 '11 at 9:23
  • @Manu: The only claim there is the one that you are making. You are deciding to take a common saying literally. There is no notability. Please try to accept my comment instead of insisting. – Sklivvz Nov 18 '11 at 9:48

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