Consider Should I quit my PhD - workload, self-esteem and social life. It is hard to see how this is other than a request for personal advice. Other sites in the network try hard to channel questions away from personal specificity towards more general interest. Is that the intent here? If not, why not?

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    The title of this meta question is unnecessarily controntational towards serious people who face some difficulties. Also, the cited question is highly appreciated by the Academia community, and it has equally appreciated helpful answers. So it should have been left alone by people who are not involved/interested in that specific discussion ...
    – Dilaton
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 16:53

2 Answers 2


The question you mention was originally closed, by community vote. Then it was reopened, again by vote. Now it is closed again.

There is an existing meta discussion about this particular question here.

The current most up voted answer there (by a margin of 6) makes the following point:

It attracted, and will continue to attract, all the worst of 'personal advice' that one gets in such a situation, ranging from pet-social theories to pseudo-psychology and plain old judgment.

I voted to close the question. While I agree with aeismail that questions and answers on Academia are often more personal in nature, I do not think that applies to the post in question.

The post in question is not about a personal academic problem that is best solved by other academics. It's about a life problem, best solved by people who know the OP or a qualified professional who has met the OP. (The OP mentioned in a comment that she met with a professional and received a diagnosis.)

There are other questions here about "malaise and a dissatisfaction for one's current status as a graduate student" that are truly about common experiences in academic life (such as How should I deal with discouragement as a graduate student?) and those are perfectly acceptable here.

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    I'm one of those people who sees you through the lense of the horrible hot question amplifier. The fact that your community upvotes items like this gives a certain impression, and also probably attracts more of the same. Over on Workplace, they worked really hard to shift the dynamic.
    – bmargulies
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 11:55
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    @bmargulies The fact that your community upvotes items like this - I thought the whole idea of the "horrible hot question amplifier" was that hot questions get votes from outside the regular community that are not necessarily representative of the way the regular community would vote?
    – ff524
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 21:29
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    You are completely right, and I am completely wrong. Shame on me for assuming that all those votes were, as it were, intrinsic.
    – bmargulies
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 21:58
  • @bmarguiles: I might be mis-reading the tone of your comments/question/title (hard to say when only hearing it in writing), but what strikes me as their antagonistic and sarcastic tone is exactly representative for why some (as in, me for sure) stopped frequenting exactly the sites that are particularly active in promoting a rather controversial (at least over at math), elitist philosophy of 'being of general use.' I've come to find both sites unbearably unpleasant, not a shining example. As someone with no other contribution to ASE than this one meta question, why exactly do you care? Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 5:48

Academia.SE is inherently going to be more subjective and personal than other boards on the Stack Exchange network, simply by virtue of the subject matter we tackle here. Consequently, we allow a somewhat wider latitude in what is considered "personal." The basic guideline we have to ask is if the question can be of use to other readers. For instance, the question you've cited is a request for personal advice, but the problems described (malaise and a dissatisfaction for one's current status as a graduate student) is not specific to the original poster.

At the same time, there are four votes to close cast for the question, so not everybody agrees with this view. And that's fine—it's the way the community is supposed to work.

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    It seems to me that the majority of (newer) SE sites are 'subjective and personal', with the exception of the math and coding related ones. Consider 'Expatriates' and the like.
    – Cape Code
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 16:28
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    +1 to @CapeCode's comment. It seems to me like one could take the entire first paragraph of this answer, change "Academia.SE" to "Workplace.SE" and "graduate student" to "employee" and post at Workplace. It would be downvoted there at once. Which reflects not that the content is objectively right here and wrong over there, but that the two communities have evolved very different points of view on this. Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 12:53
  • These are acceptable to a point. If this one is driving a lot of negative reaction, then it might be better off closed or protected. There's bound to be disagreement over how to handle this. The avenue for this would likely be better suited with an actual counselor, either medical or educational, rather than a bunch of people on Academia that may or may not actually be qualified to provide responses.
    – Compass
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 16:28

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