Some time ago, Ben Norris proposed here on meta that we update the help center text to be explicit about what not to ask. That proposal currently appears to have the community's approval. Several other SE sites explicitly describe what not to ask in their help center text (e.g., Mathematics, Judaism, Physics).

This meta post is for gathering feedback on what, specifically, should be included in this "what not to ask" list.

Currently, the help center text states:

If you have a question about...

  • Life as a graduate student, postdoctoral researcher, university professor
  • Transitioning from undergraduate to graduate researcher
  • Inner workings of research departments
  • Requirements and expectations of academicians
  • University-level pedagogy

... then you're in the right place!

I propose to change that last part to

and your question is not

  • Academia-specific off-topic type 1
  • Academia-specific off-topic type 2
  • etc.

... then you're in the right place!

What Academia-specific items should go in that list of questions not to ask?

Update: the list of "what not to ask" has been incorporated into the help/on-topic page and the tour.

  • 1
    I think it would be better though to avoid an overly long sentence with two lists and instead append a sentence after “... then you're in the right place!” starting with something along the lines of “However, if your question is:”.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


I propose to add the following text:

and your question is not ...

  • Undergraduate-specific, such that it could not apply to graduate or post-graduate academicians
  • Asking for a university, journal, or research topic recommendation (a "shopping question")
  • About preparation for a non-academic career ("What graduate degree will help me get a job as X?")
  • About the content of your research, rather than the process of doing research

... then you're in the right place!


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