What is the source for the supposed "sound of hell"?

This question asks, and gets an answer for, the question:

what is the origin of this sound?

Is this type of question on topic? If so, has it always been?

Specifically, I'm asking about questions that instead of asking whether a notable claim is true or false, these are questions that ask for an explanation for a particular observation.

3 Answers 3


There are 25 open questions whose title start with "what is" and only six closed ones.

So, yes, they can be on topic -- of course the form title doesn't necessarily imply being on topic or otherwise.

Have they have always been on topic? Yes, about half of them are from 2011.

For example: What is the original source of "Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power."? is from 2011 has 45 upvotes and is not closed as off topic. It seems quite similar to the example you give.

  • @nomenagentis we don't necessarily determine whether claims are true or false, but we look at the evidence. "what is the evidence behind x" is clearly on topic. Every question on the site can be rephrased as a "what is..." question.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 22:43

I firmly believe that is question is off-topic. Starting with this argument:

There are 25 open questions whose title start with "what is" and only six closed ones.

Irrelevant to back up your template from questions from 2011. There are questions from 2011 that are pure theoretical research and some with no notable claim. However, we're in 2015 and new standards have been enforced.

Our GOLDEN question rule is that:

Questions must be about a notable claim

Furthermore, this question:

What is the original source of "Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power."?

is dissimilar to this one:

What is the source for the supposed "sound of hell"?

The quote question can be reformed as "Did Oscar Wilde say this quote?" since is notable claim attributing the quote question to Oscar Wilde.

An answer to this question would be finding the source of the quote.

The hell question has a notable claim saying that the hell story is true, be the hell story has been already debunked on skeptics.

An answer to this question would be finding out if it is true or false or unanswerable. Not necessarily finding out the source of those sounds.

This question "What is the source for the supposed "sound of hell"?" already links to another question that shows that the "alleged hell story" is false, but yet the OP is curious to know the source of those sounds.

To give you example on how this sounds. It is like me asking this question:

Question: Who is behind the twitter account that predicted the World Cup results?

Question Body: Hello skeptics, I know the story is false "Did the Twitter account Fifndhs predict the exact World Cup results ahead of time?" but I would like to know who is the owner and person behind this twitter account. Although, we know the story is false, there are 25 questions that start with "who is" and are on-topic so please keep my question open.

PS: Please ignore the "notable claim" rule.

  • 1
    I appreciate the effort, but I don't think you are giving a realistic analysis of the facts here. "What is the source of the sound of hell" is the same as "Is this the sound of hell", which has a claim and asks if it is true. "What is the source of this quote?" is the same as "Was this quote said by X?". Your answer is thus basically debating semantics.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:32

I, personally, don't much like the "sound of hell" question, and I am nervous about it being used as a template for future questions. My personal opinion is that questions that have a specific claim, and ask if the claim is true, is a better form than "What is this?" questions.

However, my personal opinion is not enough to make the "what is" questions out of scope.

I once tried to turn my personal opinion into a hard-and-fast, empirically-supported bit of advice for the site FAQ. Unfortunately, I didn't get the clear picture from the data I was hoping for. The data wasn't strong enough to force me to reject my personal opinion, but was strong enough to stop me from pushing my opinion as a recommendation.

  • 1
    I don't really understand your point. This is more than the "sound of hell" question. The OP is asking if questions like these "What is the apparent object in Holmes's Loch Ness video" are on-topic now. They are clearly off-topic on Skeptics Stack Exchange, unless I have been delusional for two years. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 11:36
  • 1
    The Loch Ness question is a new question, following the template of the Sound of Hell question, which is exactly what I was concerned about. I don't like either of them. It isn't clear that they are off-topic; I wish they were. (Of course, I'm not accusing you of being delusional; that's a false dichotomy.)
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:05
  • 1
    Both questions have a very obvious claim. Let's not confuse the form in which a question is presented with its content. I strongly object forcing our users to formulate questions with a specific structure. It has no value beyond pedantry and is actually hostile to new users (or clique-y). On the other hand I'm all in favor of keeping questions about notable claims.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 14:34

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