I ran across this questions in the Hot Network Questions: Is it discrimination to hold someone from a minority or underprivileged background to the same academic standard as regular students?

It seems to be an obvious candidate for closure to me:

  • Extremely Broad: The top answer is pretty much spot on. The debate surrounding discrimination is a subject that really can't be adequately covered in a Stack Exchange answer.
  • Opinion Based: Obviously, the issue of how to address minority disadvantages (or whether to address them at all) is not a settled matter. Even expert researchers (economists, sociologists, psychologists) hold widely differing views on the effects of different approaches to the problems.
  • Unclear: One could even make a case it's not clear what the asker is hoping to achieve by asking this question (though this is weaker than the other two reasons). Even if we could come to a definitive answer to the question as written, it is not at all clear how this would be of practical use to the OP in an academic setting. If the question is looking to resolve some legal or policy point, then clearly, they need to consult local laws and institutional policies, as these would define what is and is not allowed. If the OP is struggling with the ethics of a decision, it would be much better to simply ask about their decision directly, instead of framing it within the affirmative actions debate (although I suspect a specific, opinion based decision like that would also be off-topic). I cannot think of any other way an answer to this question could be applied to a real world academic situation. Given that the OP is relatively articulate about the issue at hand, it's difficult for me to believe there's no underlying problem left unspoken, and the underlying problem would be extremely relevant to how the question should be handled (answered or closed).

On top of these problems, the topic carries risk of being inflammatory, especially since it has hit Hot Network Questions. It's a very controversial issue which affects many people personally (both positively and negatively), so emotions tend to be high around a subject like this. (Note that this explains why it's so highly upvoted.) A moderator (wisely) protected it; I'd be unsurprising if a number of comments or perhaps even answers already had to be deleted.

As such, this question is very poor and very clearly so, at least in my estimation. I'm not the only one to hold this view; two comments mention that they voted to close it. Yet a moderator has seen it and even chose to protect it and answer it, rather than close it. In my opinion, this is the wrong action to take on the post; it's much better to close down off-topic questions as soon as possible, before they become a problem and to discourage the asking of similarly problematic questions in the future. But I'm open to the possibility that I'm missing something. Is there something about how this SE evaluates questions that I'm not aware of? Is my analysis above incorrect in some way?

1 Answer 1


Questions on Academia.SE tend to be much more opinion- and experience-based, as well as philosophical, than on other SE sites. There is often not a single "right" answer, and sometimes the answer to the question has to address the fact that the question might not be well-posed.

Therefore, there tends to be much more latitude given to questions that fit the general classes of categories covered on the site than might traditionally be the case. In this particular case, there are no deleted or hidden answers, and there are some important points to be raised (hence why I contributed an answer). But because the question is somewhat controversial, as you suggested, the question has been protected to prevent unhelpful contributions.

People may disagree, and vote to close. It's a community-driven site.


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