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.


1 Answer 1


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
    Commented Nov 14, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 9:45
  • change the point of the site, have a tutorial with example questions, be nicer to new users.
    – Manu
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 9:58
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 10:29
  • Great, there actually was an answer to my question : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Eastland
    – Manu
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 21:46
  • Let's try answering questions next time, instead of closing them because you don't think they should be asked. :(
    – Manu
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 1:34
  • Yep, I did. Judging by the number of closed questions on the front page I'm not the only one.
    – Manu
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 9:48

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