I was very excited with the quality content of the questions and answers when I first looked at this site, referred to me by a friend. I love the broad subjects discussed and the level of academia. But I quickly became aware of the amount of rules and censorship happening here! It seems at first glance that questions are debated on their ability to be asked 'properly' and to follow the agreed rules of the site, much more than they are actually answered! Let's just answer the questions instead of arguing about the proper way of formulating them! It's hugely offputting. Thanks

2 Answers 2


The "quality content" you were excited about comes from the hard work of this community behind the scenes. It doesn't just happen spontaneously.

This site is brand new. It would be nice if everyone could simply jump ahead to the end game and "just answer the questions." It doesn't really work that way.

The truth is, this site is still in its formative stages. Stack Exchange veterans realize that answering these early questions — as important as that is — is only a part of the goal this early on. Please read this blog post: Asking the first questions.

The earliest questions you ask on a Q&A site aren’t about Q&A at all.

It’s All About Design

Design doesn’t just mean the obvious issues like designing the logo, or picking colors, or coming up with a name, or writing the FAQ. The very act of asking questions, answering questions, tagging, voting… everything. It’s all about design.

The users you are railing against for "censorship" are the ones who are doing the hard work of building a sustainable Q&A site. They have seen that most forums on the internet tend to break down in very predictable patterns. And they've seen that a well-run Stack Exchange site is pretty darn good at heading off these destructive patterns… but only if you get it just right.

At the top of the agenda is defining the scope and purpose of this site. There’s nothing more toxic to a community than not being able to set boundaries around it. To define what it is, and what it is not; What is on and off topic; How to handle those little technical and social foibles that inevitably pop up on every community.

These earliest questions will set the tone and topic of the site for a long time. All you are seeing is a group of dedicated users who are trying to assure that the site will be around for the long term; even if that means ruffling a few feathers while we figure this all out.

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    Thanks for your support Robert
    – Sklivvz
    Mar 10, 2011 at 22:59

At this moment, 19 out of 166 questions are closed. This means that nearly 90% of the asked questions are following the rules, and we also have a very good ratio of answered questions at 96%. So we are answering nearly 10 times as much questions as we are closing.

The rules are mostly made by the community, opening and closing questions is democratic, you only need 5 people (with the ability to close) to agree. The community here is pretty strict on off-topic and subjective questions, part of the reason is that most of the high-reputation users here have extensive experience with other StackExchange sites. We have seen the problems caused by those kinds of questions.

The important point is that Skeptics.SE is not a forum. It is not meant for discussions, it is a Questions & Answers site. The strict moderation is a positive feature, as it keeps the signal to noise ratio on the site high. Q&A sites are very good at questions that have an objective answer, they just don't work for very subjective questions and discussions.

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    I'm still not convinced but i get your point. It just seems pointless to spend so much time and energy arguing points such as the recently closed 'can we say that capitalism has failed' where people devoted all their time debating the word 'failed' instead of answering the question. Also I was worried about closing the E numbers question, just because the subject is 'too vast as there are over 300 E numbers'. Really? Can't we just answer this by listing the ones that are deemed dangerous and the ones that are acceptable? Is this such a difficult question? Mar 10, 2011 at 17:12
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    @Steph I understand your concern about the E numbers questions, that question had several problems in its initial form, but it was in the end a sensible and appropriate question for this site. And the second version of this question was asked without receiving any close votes. The capitalism question was inevitably leading to endless disussions, there is just no objective answer to it, and that is just no useful question for a Q&A site.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    Mar 10, 2011 at 23:39
  • I hold my hands up, you've convinced me. My mistake was to think that this was a debate site... Mar 12, 2011 at 11:05
  • your first argument sounds like circulair reasoning. 10% were closed, so the other 90% are assumed to be following the "rules"?
    – oɔɯǝɹ
    Mar 19, 2011 at 22:49

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