Please, take look at this question:

What is a good rule of thumb for the cost of a Postdoc, in the US at an R1 university

The first comment said that it is apparently a well known fact that the ballpark estimate is to double the salary.

The answer confirms this fact.

So apparently there is a simple, agreed upon, answer to the question.

Yet, the question is closed. Why?

Because the first comments (now deleted) wanted to know "why I was asking that." And also wanted to "teach me" that it's "worthless" to know a ballpark estimate. And so on. Of course, I replied appropriately to these condescending, patronizing comments which did not improve anything, just created noise.

People, then, closed the question, most likely out of spite.

Is this childlike behaviour appropriate?

  • 6
    "Of course, I replied appropriately" - That's not what I seem to remember ...
    – user151413
    Jan 2, 2021 at 0:39
  • 1
    You raise an extremely important point. I have found very similar strangeness on the Stack Forums. There is often a small group of heavy users who flock to new questions and scrutinize them. They often can justify their claims but don't seem to understand that when you scrutinize someone everyone loses. They come across rational but often have thousands of points on the forum which makes for lots of leeway to be police-like without concern for losing status. The cold rational personality can also be passive aggressive in such circumstances which makes the OP actively angry.
    – Ootagu
    Jan 15, 2021 at 23:46
  • 4
    @Ootagu "when you scrutinize someone everyone loses" - everybody wins if experienced users screen new answers and help to improve them. Jan 27, 2021 at 10:16
  • 1
    The intent of scrutiny matters greatly. No one benefits from scrutiny that is clumsy enough to be felt.
    – TLDR
    Feb 7, 2021 at 22:37
  • @TLDR Does scrutiny always have intent? Feb 19, 2021 at 8:08
  • @RyanJamesCarson in what I understand of common parlance, scrutiny is performed or overseen by a conscious entity, who would endow the act (or 'scrutari') with intent. I acknowledge scrutiny should probably not be conflated with forms of curiosity whose associations with trash are less pronounced.
    – TLDR
    Feb 19, 2021 at 21:08
  • @TLDR “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do”. - Mark Twain Feb 20, 2021 at 2:37
  • @RyanJamesCarson acknowledged.
    – TLDR
    Feb 21, 2021 at 17:06
  • @henning--reinstateMonica I suspect our opinions on this have crossed. Having experienced, or even simply helpful advice whether from experienced users or not is certainly helpful in the sense of having a coach to guide us; in that sense I agree with you. I have met some such people on Stack forums. What I was attempting to convey were people who have no desire to assist but rather crudely enforce rules. I have met far more of the later type of people than the former coach-oriented people on Stack forums.
    – Ootagu
    Mar 22, 2021 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


I think you have been told several times what the problem was.

In the now-deleted comments, Terri Loring wrote:

The trouble with this question is that it is location specific. In some countries the postoc will pay higher taxes and get health coverage. In a few countries, the university needs to cover the cost of health insurance and that is generally passed on to the PI. There will be variation between universities in the same country. The current question is very broad and probably will gather misleading answers.

Lighthouse keeper wrote:

It's usually a good idea to give a reason [why you are asking the question] because many questions on this site come from flawed premises, and the most helpful response is to correct the premise rather than to literally answer the question.

Finally, I wrote:

Most open/close decisions here are made by community vote, not by moderator fiat. If you edit your question, it will be placed in a queue for a reopening vote. The hard part of question-asking is the amount of detail: it should be specific enough that there is a correct answer rather than an open-ended discussion, but general enough that future readers might find the question useful. In your case, a good starting place would be to specify your country (or part of the world) and field.

Now I see that you have added a location, which is good, but still no field (even a general field, like laboratory science vs. history) and no hint of why you want to know the answer. You may feel that we can provide a good answer without knowing these variables, but the community apparently disagrees.

I replied appropriately to these condescending, patronizing comments

Let us be honest about what happened. You told one of our most respected members "haha oh lord, how can people be so anal?" You also wrote "Due to bullying and peer pressure, I have unnecessarily reduced the scope of the question. Hope you are happy now? Or should we waste our time making it more precise?..." Even in this meta post, you call us condescending, patronizing, spiteful, and childish.

This is against our code of conduct (which a moderator pointed you to). We do not allow "subtle put-downs or unfriendly language." If you feel that other members were unfriendly toward you, you should flag for moderator attention rather than responding in kind.

I will also point out that some of our members have been here for years, helping thousands of people with no reward. In contrast, you have been here for two days and have already unleashed a barrage of personal attacks. As in "real life," you will seldom be able to advance your agenda when you make others defensive and hostile.

[How to move forward?]

You did the right thing in posting to meta. Setting aside the above issues, I actually agree with you that this was a straightforward question that got "massacred." It is true that things will vary school-to-school, but I think your request for a "ballpark" for a particular country and field is very reasonable.

So, my suggestion would be that you edit your post to specify a particular field (e.g., history or experimental chemistry) and then we reopen. Explaining why you want to know would probably lead to better answers, but I wouldn't consider that mandatory. But this is just my suggestion, not an "official decision" -- we will see if any other community members respond to your post with other suggestions.


The question was correctly closed for strongly depending on individual factors. Pay, benefits, and overheads vary a lot in the US.

Some countries have pay and benefit standards set by government or union contracts. If you asked such a question about one of those countries, it might be on topic.

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