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Further to Can the About page be improved? I suggest adding something like the following content to the page.


The purpose of this site is to question whether notable claims are true. In general any question of the following form is on topic:

[Reference to notable claim] says, ["quote from the notable claim"]. Is this claim true?

The subject of the claim can be almost any topic: science, pseudo-science, advertisements, quotes, etc.

For further details see:

The following are a few examples of some well-phrased questions:

  • Example 1 (to be supplied)
  • Example 2 (to be supplied)
  • Example 3 (to be supplied)

The following are off-topic on this site:

  • Questions whose subject is not a notable claim
  • Answers which don't include references.
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In general any question of the following form is on topic

I disagree with this blanket statement because it's false, for example:

The Bible says, "God created the universe". Is this claim true?

Is clearly not on topic here, as any other metaphysical/belief question" "Was Hitler a convinced Catholic?", "Does Al Gore endorse environmentalism for his personal gain?", etc.

Also, we don't need any claim source. A claim needs to notable, but that's it: a source may or may not be useful. In fact, in the case of very notable claims, a claim source might be worse because it may not be really representative of the wider claim.

Finally we certainly don't need a quote from the claim. Sometimes it's nice, but it's certainly not compulsory (or sign of a good question at all).

Some times we might have two claims (claim and counter claim). They might both be notable. Again, it's fine to have a single question.

In other cases, decent notability sources might simply not be available - that's fine as long as the claim is notable.

So, asking a question should be allowed with a much broader range of formulations than you imply in your post - it worries me to focus the community to look for a specific formula instead of understanding why we need notability and null hypothesis.

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  • Do you want to leave the About page as it is now? Suggest any addition? – ChrisW Dec 13 '13 at 16:44
  • Rearching how to incorporate this answer, I see that the God topic isn't mentioned in FAQ: What are the attributes of a good question? nor in FAQ: What makes an answer good on Skeptics.SE?. By searching for 'teapot' I found your answer to What constitutes reasonable evidence for questions with an impossible negation? in which you claim that such questions shouldn't be allowed, and ... – ChrisW Dec 13 '13 at 20:54
  • ... your answer to Do ghosts exist?. Do you think it's worth having a short addition to the About page? Are God questions a big enough problem that they're worth mentioning on the About page? Should my suggestion above be a) Dropped entirely b) Made longer (e.g. to exclude God) c) Made shorter (to rely more on the FAQs and not even try to be definitive in itself)? – ChrisW Dec 13 '13 at 20:57
  • @ChrisW longer answer now – Sklivvz Dec 13 '13 at 21:08
  • How do you demonstrate that a claim is notable without a source? – user5582 Dec 13 '13 at 21:12
  • How do you demonstrate what the claim is without a quote? – user5582 Dec 13 '13 at 21:12
  • @Articuno Just picking at random: "Do polygraphs (lie-detectors) work?" is a notable claim, which doesn't need any example to be valid. – Sklivvz Dec 13 '13 at 21:16
  • You seem to confuse the need for references in answers for the need of notability in questions. They are not the same thing. We can give people the benefit of the doubt. – Sklivvz Dec 13 '13 at 21:18
  • @Articuno When argued that topic before the popular opinion (voting) was fairly clear. – ChrisW Dec 13 '13 at 21:22
  • Oh okay, so when is an "off-topic because this is a non-notable claim" close-vote appropriate? – user5582 Dec 13 '13 at 21:27
  • Also, FAQ: Must all questions be notable says: "if one person shows up and disputes the claim (leaves a comment, or flags for moderator attention) - then it's the responsibility of the asker (or your friendly neighborhood editor) to dig up a real, verifiable source. After all, if it's actually common knowledge, then there should be some reference to it out there". – user5582 Dec 13 '13 at 21:28
  • @Articuno, does it say that every question must have a notable reference? Forcing everyone to source their question would be see as downright hostile to new comers and askers. Please avoid doing so! :-) – Sklivvz Dec 13 '13 at 22:00
  • @Sklivvz I really try to be polite about it. I have an auto-comment set up that I use when I doubt the notability or specificity of a claim: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/18638/… – user5582 Dec 13 '13 at 22:02
  • @Articuno furthermore, asking that an example of the claim be given does not (a) restrict the claim to that example necessarily or (b) imply that the form proposed by Chris is ever required at all – Sklivvz Dec 13 '13 at 22:02
  • @Sklivvz How do we know what the claim is then? How do we know that the version that the person is asking about is notable if there is no evidence that anyone believes the claim they're challenging? – user5582 Dec 13 '13 at 22:03

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