I am still unsure why this question:

List of 2013 US National Merit Scholars

was closed.

Here's the close reason used.

"Shopping" questions, which seek recommendations or lists of individual universities, academic programs, publishers, journals, research topics or similar as an answer or seek an assessment or comparison of such, are off-topic here. (See this discussion for more information.)"

I'm sure the quote here:

Does anybody know of a list (preferably online) of how many 2013 National Merit Scholars attended each university?

didn't help things, but this appears to have been a reference request for actual data, potentially related to academia.

If anything, it could have been closed as outside the scope, but it still falls within that realm in terms of academic metrics and statistics.

So, how exactly was this defined as a "shopping" question as opposed to a reference request?

2 Answers 2


I find the line of argument in EnergyNumbers' answer (and the accompanying comments by EnergyNumbers, David Richerby, and scaaahu) disappointingly pedantic.

We don't see the same objections when questions or answers refer to NSF grants, even though "National Science Foundation" is just as unclear as "National Merit Scholarship". This is the title of an organization, hence the capital letters; you might find it self-centered of the NSF to not name themselves "United States of America National Science Foundation", but they didn't.

Since there is (as David Richerby points out) no other prize with the title "National Merit Scholar", it is hard to imagine any future internet user being confused by the question or its answer. I would vote to reopen if I could.

  • I agree. But good news: the question has been reopened. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 4:49
  • "Since there is (as David Richerby points out) no other prize with the title" Actually, I'm pretty sure I didn't point that out. If I did, the comment where I did that has been deleted; that seems unlikely, since the comments that remain all say that I've no clue what this organization is. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 10:43

You're right. It should not have been closed as a shopping question. It should have been closed for being unclear.

No country is specified. It's still unclear, and should remain closed while it is.

By the way, the question has clutter, with a sign-off and signature. When you edit a post (in this case, you retagged it), please remove that clutter at the same time as you make other edits.

  • 2
    I don't think we can still call it unclear when it's got an accepted answer saying "this is just what I was looking for".
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 2:21
  • 4
    @jakebeal a good answer doesn't stop a question being unclear. It might make the asker happy, but it still leaves the question as a poor item of record for the future
    – 410 gone
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 5:46
  • 1
    I don't understand how "No country is specified." makes it unclear. The poster isn't asking about National Merit scholars from a specific country, just National Merit Scholars in general.
    – user20284
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 20:07
  • 3
    @gragas There is no general concept of National Merit Scholars that I'm aware of. Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 10:11
  • 3
    @jakebeal The comment on the accepted answer just means that somebody managed to figure out what was being asked. But questions and answers here are supposed to be useful for more than just the asker. If a question is only clear to a few people, it can only be useful to a few people. Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 10:13
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby National Merit Scholars are people who compete to become National Merit Finalists. To become a NMF, you must first qualify as a National Merit Semifinalist by scoring in approximately the 99th percentile on the PSAT. It's a pretty big thing for high schools and college admissions. My friend automatically earned a full tuition scholarship to his university because he is a National Merit Finalist.
    – user20284
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 13:18
  • 2
    @EnergyNumbers please see my previous comment. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation awards National Merit Scholars each year, and clearly the original poster wants more information about National Merit Scholars. I don't understand how his question is unclear at all.
    – user20284
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 13:23
  • 1
    @EnergyNumbers I marked with US and removed the thank you; hopefully that deals with the unclarity concerns.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 14:03
  • 5
    @gragas There are over 200 nations. Which one are you talking about? Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 14:55
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby The only one that's overtly implied whenever talking about the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Here's an excerpt from their about page: "NMSC's goals have remained constant since its inception: -to identify and honor academically talented U.S. high school students" I'm not even sure that non-U.S. students can qualify to become National Merit Scholars.
    – user20284
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 15:18
  • 4
    @gragas You did not get David Richerby's comment. U.S.A. Is not the only nation in the world.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 9:45
  • @DavidRicherby: I can't understand why you didn't simply edit in the missing 'US' into the title (as jakebeal did), and as for using that as an excuse to close the question, that's absurd. Yes the OP should have written it in the first place, but omitting it is not a close reason. And it's silly to pretend you don't know which of 200 countries is being referenced when the top five Google hits include "The National Merit Scholarship Program is a United States academic scholarship competition..." This sort of behavior is damaging.
    – smci
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 0:37
  • @smci Because I didn't know which country was being talked about! Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 1:13
  • 1
    @smci The name is completely generic and there could be any number of countries with an identically names scheme. The fact that the top Google hits are for an organization in the US is unsurprising and doesn't necessarily mean that this is the right answer. So, basically, you're criticizing me because I didn't make an edit that I wasn't sure was correct. I'm sorry, but that's unreasonable. And I really don't understand why you're making such a big deal of this two-and-a-half years after the fact, when the issue was completely resolved at the time. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 10:32
  • 1
    @smci Dude, the question was reopened in July 2015. And, in any case, it was closed as off-topic, not unclear. I'm not interested in relitigating this completely resolved issue. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 10:52

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