The following questions seem to be on topic and some are highly upvoted:

IEEE vs ACM membership
Is Academia.edu useful?
ResearchGate: an asset or a waste of time?
Is the Encyclopedia for Life Support Systems (EOLSS) a legitimate source?
How are scholars supposed to use LinkedIn?
Do graduate schools pay attention to joining Phi Kappa Phi or other honor societies?
and we have a whole tag for questions about such as:
Do you let Google Scholar index popular science articles, conference abstracts, etc.?

According to this meta discussion, questions about the reputability of individual journals, publishers or conferences are not on topic.

In closing and commenting on this question, Mod ff524 expands this policy to also apply to websites and large US national or international membership organizations, which I think are different and should be treated differently. Are they different? Should they be treated differently?

If we're limited to one general question, why even have a tag for or etc.?

  • I didn't say that I was expanding it to apply to all websites and large membership organizations. I said I believe it applies to questions about individual honor societies. You are misrepresenting my statement.
    – ff524
    Dec 30, 2015 at 20:55
  • 3
    One thing that grates on SE users is when users cherry pick a few example questions as justification as to why their question is a good fit. It is much better when users explain why the specific question is a good fit.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 30, 2015 at 22:05
  • I could explain why I think the question is a good fit: that the subject is broad and covers the experience of many academics (esp. grad students) at least in the US who may be receiving invitations and wondering about certain aspects of this particular group. See my answer to this question as well. I also don't think it was cherry picking- it was a few minutes finding several examples that seemed to be enough to illustrate the point. Anyway, this discussion on meta is meant to be about the general rule, not any specific single application of it.
    – WBT
    Dec 31, 2015 at 0:24
  • Further @ff524, I was attempting to interpret your actions, not represent a statement you made in words, in my verb phrase "expands this policy."
    – WBT
    Dec 31, 2015 at 0:36

3 Answers 3


I didn't say that I was expanding this policy to apply to all websites and large membership organizations. I believe it applies to questions about individual honor societies, including your question asking about the legitimacy of a specific honor society.

For questions of the form "Is honor society X legitimate?" "Do graduate schools care about membership in honor society X?" "How to specify membership in honor society X on my CV?" and "Does membership in honor society X carry any professional weight/recognition?" I believe the rationale here still applies and they should be asked and answered in a general way as stated in that answer.

The question Do graduate schools pay attention to joining Phi Kappa Phi or other honor societies? is a general question (see "or other societies") that happens to give a specific example in the title. The most upvoted answer on that question gives advice about honor societies in general.

Regarding other instances of questions about specific professional associations, websites, etc. I think it's worth evaluating them on a case-by-case basis. Services like Google Scholar, ResearchGate, and Academia.edu and associations like ACM, IEEE, AMS, etc. are very different from any individual honor society with respect to the magnitude and reach of their impact on the academic community.

As a rule of thumb, I think if you can rephrase the question to ask "about X and other things like X" without it being ridiculous, then you should. Asking a question about "ACM or other huge academic society and publisher for computer science" on the other hand sounds like asking about "Holy Grail or some other famous cup" (to borrow a great phrase from Pete L. Clark). I don't think we need to generalize to the point of ridiculousness.

I'll also address

If we're limited to one general question, why even have a tag for or etc.?

Because people may ask different generalizable questions about these topics. If you look at the four existing (open) questions in , you will see that there are multiple general questions asking different things.


I am with ff524 on this one. To me, one useful rule of thumb for "too localized" is if we could easily end up with an array of near-identical questions that differ only in the subject. This could happen if we encouraged questions about individual journals ("Is journal A legit?", "What about journal B?" etc.), and the same is also true for individual honour societies. This is no real danger for the likes of Google Scholar or ACM. There simply are not all that many of these systems or organisations out there. This is, I think, also what Pete meant with his "Holy Grail or some other famous cup" statement.

I do agree that not all of the questions that you cite above are great questions - I would have no issue with some of them being closed. However, SE is not case law - just because you found one or more comparable examples that kind of slipped through (and not all that you mention qualify, in my opinion) does not mean that your question also becomes fine. I agree with closing your question.



If it were an organization or site limited to one specific university/local chapter, then it might not be useful to enough people to warrant Q & A here.

However, I think ff524's rule that "we generalize questions to provide answers that teach people how to judge for themselves any journal, university, honor society. etc." is too broad, limiting questions and answers to only those too broad to be useful for the specific question being asked.

General assessment questions are helpful, but specific ones about sufficiently large organizations or websites should also be permitted, as evidenced by the reception to the questions linked to above (feel free to expand the list if you know of other examples beyond my quick search).

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