The "Has man walked on the moon question" seems to have received many philosophical answers. This includes some of the highest voted answers: 1, 2.

In my opinion, this is one of the worst possible threats to this site - much worse than philosophical questions. The same answers (with minor tweaks) could be used to answer a hundred different questions. No one wants to read the same philosophical arguments over and over again.

Agree/disagree and if so, what is the solution?

  • 4
    I placed comments on those two posts pointing them here Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 3:23
  • Should this also extend to comments? No point in letting people badger answers with comments that can't be addressed in the answer since the comment is of a philosophical nature.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 5:33
  • 1
    @Adam: I think that the rules regarding comments should be a bit more flexible
    – Casebash
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 5:51
  • @Casebash It'll be interesting to see how that plays out...
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 6:40
  • the involuntary hypnotism question skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/504/… also suffers from philosophitus . The upvoted answer ignores the basic scenario of the question and meanders from the concept of free will to hypnotism as computer hacking. Can a hypnotist make someone cluck like a chicken in a situation where they definitely would not desire to do so? No one ever answered, but I did offer an experimental approach to how one could answer the question (or what kind of research to look for) and was downvoted.
    – Paul
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 1:48
  • 1
    Didn't the moon question eventually work itself out? I mean, we have the man/fish/man dreaming at "4" as I write this, but the accepted answer is well on its way to +100.
    – Paul
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 2:02
  • @Paul: If you see an answer that does not answer the question, please downvote it and consider flagging it in extreme cases. Don't spam meta about it, however.
    – Borror0
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 2:07
  • @Paul: The moon question sorted itself out mostly because there's a large number of deleted answers. :)
    – Borror0
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 2:12
  • @Borror Seems like it would be nice if the deleted material were available somewhere else (but not under answers) as examples of what not to do... perhaps anonymized. I'm aware thats a pretty big change, though.
    – Paul
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 2:16
  • @Paul: The man/fish/man dreaming answer is there for you to read. It's a great example of what not to do, as made clear by its 16 downvotes (which are unfortunately counterbalanced by 20 upvote).
    – Borror0
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 2:38

6 Answers 6


Downvote them. It is the only solution.


I'm considering another answer:

  • Downvote them, just to be sure.
  • Flag them as "not an answer."
  • If appropriate, we'll delete them or convert them to comment.

Upvote if you agree. If this reaches the top, it'll be our policy in the future.


I agree and I think the correct response is to down vote them.

  • Good thing we have consensus among the moderators about a practice that will have the a effect of discouraging participation on a beta site. People hate downvotes with a passion uncontested, and I'm guessing that it sours them inordinately on participation. This is an empirically verifiable conjecture. Got any metrics, Jeff?
    – msw
    Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 15:53
  • 2
    @msw If Skeptics emerges from Beta with sky-high participation numbers and is simultaneously filled with philosophy and opinion then it hasn't achieved its purpose either.
    – Nicole
    Commented Apr 18, 2011 at 21:07
  • We'll cross that bridge when we get there. So far, I think that we are getting good answers.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Apr 18, 2011 at 21:19

Diversify your approach and try to educate the people whose answers you downvote or discard.

I believe this engagement does occur, but could occur more often, and I just want to stress that this is part of the answer.

Otherwise, your noobs just have a bad experience. The majority of those having a bad experience will probably just leave. A solution along the lines of "work would be great if it weren't for all these annoying customers" won't build a great site. And, a minority will become ultra annoying.

  • +1 for the "work would be great if it weren't for all these annoying customers". I wonder if you totally grasp the high risk of making this site failed because of too radical policy. Been downvoted is no fun. Been downvoted without "friendly" (or educational ;-) comment is even more damaging.
    – Rabskatran
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 8:53
  • @Rabskatran: I'm also aware of the risk of this site failing because it loses focus. I was around for the arguments about programmers.se, and I posted on the atheists site a day or two before it was closed. I think it safer to err on the side of closing questions and downvoting bad answers, at least during the beta period. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 3:11
  • I totally understand the situation. The take off of this SE site is surely one of the most difficult to manage .
    – Rabskatran
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 8:14
  • @Rabskatran & @Paul: I thought it was obvious that leaving a comment is strongly advises except for repeat offenders or if someone as already left a comment. Personally, I always leave one unless I know it's a waste of time because the user does not care about quality. Do you think I should edit my above answer to reflect this?
    – Borror0
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 15:29

The question of "what qualifies as evidence" is intrinsic to every single answer here.

Of course, you and I agree on the definition of evidence, but for many potential readers this is a point that does need to be made repeatedly.

It is far too easy to dismiss a bunch of like-minded individuals patting each other on the back: now that you have already formed a well founded opinion on the value of creationist "evidence" you can dismiss it out of hand with as much of a chuckle as moon hoaxers, pro-pathogen advocates, flat earthers, homeopaths, chiropractors, etc.

In so far as stackexchange is read much more than it is written, no, you don't need to see a treatise on evidence, but J. Random Googler just might.

  • This is really important. What does qualify as evidence? For people passing by for the first time it may not be clear. I stumbled upon this SE half by accident and got myself in a bit of strife right away because I asked a question concerning skepticism but it was inappropriate for this site. I've since committed to the philosophy SE. (I enjoy this SE by the way.) Basically what we're dealing with at this SE is a 'weak' skepticism. And that makes sense to me now having read some questions and some meta. 'Strong' skepticism should be left to the philosophy SE when that gets off the ground.
    – user2466
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 6:04
  • Comments like mine above always look horrible. For the record, what I classify as 'weak' skepticism is almost certainly of more pragmatic value than the 'strong' version.
    – user2466
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 11:13

The question you give as an example is, by its terms (“concrete-solid proof”), demanding an answer that addresses the philosophical problem inherent in such a question.

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