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I'm curious about questions such as this one, which asks about the author of a particular academia-related quote:

Quote about recruiting academics – looking for original

I'm of the opinion that this is what StackOverflow would call a boat programming question. As they put it on the SO Meta site:

The fundamental rule is you can't just stick "for programmers" on a question to make it programming related.

My rationale for calling the above question a "boat programming" question is that it isn't about the meaning behind the quote, or the truthfulness of the quote. It's asking for the author of the quote.

Yes, I agree that the quote itself concerns academia. But that makes me question if asking for the author of any work (be it a book, poem, joke, etc.) related to Academia S.E. is on-topic. (Note: that could very well be considered a straw man argument, so please tell me if it is).

My question then is: what does Academia S.E. consider to be a "boat programming" question?

  • I still fail to see, what you consider boat academics about this. If you remove any notion resembling “for academics” from that question, it becomes completely meaningless, as you destroy the quote in question. – Wrzlprmft Jun 16 '17 at 14:18
  • @Wrzlprmft: My issue with the question isn't the quote -- it's the question itself. If the question was, "what is meant by this quote?", I wouldn't have a problem. If the question was, "why are academics best left alone?", I wouldn't have a problem. But the question is, "who's the author of this quote?". If I started posting questions containing snippets of Feynman's lectures asking, "who's the author of these quotes?", would that be considered on-topic? It's about academia, the author is an academic -- but the question itself is utterly useless IMO. – tonysdg Jun 16 '17 at 14:22
  • that could very well be considered a straw man argument – Maybe, anyway that straw man is pretty sturdy, if you ask me: If a work is specific about academics (and not about academics of a specific kind) and you can ask a question about it (that is generally fit for SE), I would consider it on-topic. Of course, there are very few such works and most potential questions about them are too opinionated or too broad for SE, but that does not mean that the remaining few are off-topic. – Wrzlprmft Jun 16 '17 at 14:23
  • If I started posting questions containing snippets of Feynman's lectures asking, "who's the author of these quotes?", would that be considered on-topic? – If that quote pertains to academia and makes sense without further context, yes. — the question itself is utterly useless – Why? It’s a known quote (at least I have heard it before) and knowing the source is relevant if you want to use that quote yourself. – Wrzlprmft Jun 16 '17 at 14:26
  • My issue with the question isn't the quote -- it's the question itself. – Sure, but why label it boat academia? If you want to discuss that question using that label, please explain why this label should apply to this question. – Wrzlprmft Jun 16 '17 at 14:28
  • @Wrzlprmft: I argue that this label applies for the same reason it applied on SO. Chiefly: just because a question concerns academia shouldn't necessarily mean it's on-topic. I guess this is largely a matter of opinion, and if such, so be it. I'm just interested in the community's opinion on this. – tonysdg Jun 16 '17 at 15:52
  • just because a question concerns academia shouldn't necessarily mean it's on-topic – That’s not the distinguishing feature of boat academia. A boat academia question would be one that is put into the context of academia without being about academia. Also, you can say that about literally every on-topic question on the site. – Wrzlprmft Jun 16 '17 at 18:56
  • @Wrzlprmft: I think, based on your comments and on eykanal's description below, that I've misunderstood what a boat X question is, hence the whole problem. That's my bad! – tonysdg Jun 16 '17 at 19:08
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Without citing things I'm just going to off-the-cuff say that, yes, we definitely do close "boat programming" questions here. We've closed a number of questions—some quite recently—for being not specific to academia but rather life/business/writing/social norms questions that apply anywhere.

That said, the specific question you mentioned was closed because it's a bad question, not because of boat programming. A very quick glance at the list of closed questions brings up two that are more along the boat programming lines:

Check the first link; there are a lot more out there.

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