It looks like most sites have boilerplate text for the "don't ask this", but given the recent discussion involving the "too localized" flag, I thought we may want to consider adding some text about the scope of the site. I like EpiGrad's description of appropriate questions:

You should not ask "a question that will help only me," but rather "a question that will help people like me." If your question is so limited as to be useful only to you, consider broadening the scope so others can learn from your question as well. As a general rule, if you're asking about a particular institution, course, or journal, it's likely your question is too limited in scope. Try to extract the fundamental question from the specific problem at hand.

EDIT: Incorporated wording from Charles's comment below.

  • @charles - revised wording, comments? – eykanal Feb 26 '12 at 20:54
  • @aeismail - revised wording, comments? – eykanal Feb 26 '12 at 20:54
  • Sounds good now, thanks for the edit :) – user102 Feb 26 '12 at 22:47
  • @eykanal If you want people to be notified of your comments, you should post in response to their answers or in the same comment thread that they appeared in. See here for more info. :) – Adam Lear Feb 27 '12 at 0:25
  • @AnnaLear - Thanks for letting me know. It's odd that the failure is silent; it shouldn't be. I just posted to SE Meta about this, please let me know there what you think about the suggestion. – eykanal Feb 27 '12 at 2:40
  • @eykanal I updated the FAQ with the wording in the question here. There's no way to edit the "What kind of questions should I not ask here" section, since that is the same across all SE sites, but I included it with its own header. Let me know if you'd like me to change it to something else. – Adam Lear Feb 27 '12 at 4:53
  • @AnnaLear Thanks for updating the FAQ, the header for this part looks good, and it's actually nice to have a separate section about this kind of questions, and to keep the standard "What kind of questions should I not ask here" section, which is also relevant. – user102 Feb 27 '12 at 10:10
  • @AnnaLear - Thanks for updating, that should work fine. – eykanal Feb 27 '12 at 13:35

What about:

You should not ask a question that only you can benefit from the answer, but try to generalize it as much as possible. Academia SE aims at building a community and a base of knowledge rather than a simple Q&A service, and your question should be broad enough to help other people in a situation close to yours.

For instance, do not ask "I'm hesitating between course A and course B, which one should I take?", but rather ask "I'm interested in working on this topic later at a research level, and I have the choice between a course that deepens my knowledge on this topic, or a course that is quite different, and broadens my horizon. Unfortunately, I cannot take both, which is the best way to deal with this problem?" and then you can add some specifics about your context.

Just a rough draft, and I'm open to any edit/suggestion but I think it's worth mentioning at least that the point should be to help building the community and the base of knowledge.

  • I'm a little hesitant to add actual examples of questions to the FAQ. There are so many categories of questions that you have to worry about how well the example generalizes. That being said, I like how you phrased it, so I'll wait to hear what others think before passing judgement. – eykanal Feb 23 '12 at 15:09
  • 1
    @eykanal I agree that giving a concrete example might create some confusion, maybe we could try to find more generic example. For instance, "if you're talking about a particular course, or a particular journal, then it's likely that your question is too personal. Try to extract from your concrete example the core problem of your question." – user102 Feb 23 '12 at 15:27
  • @CharlesMorisset: Your last statement there is a good principle—and I like the extraction suggestion! – aeismail Feb 23 '12 at 15:58
  • @aeismail - I updated the text in the main post, what do you think? – eykanal Feb 27 '12 at 2:20
  • @eykanal: I made a few more changes to make the meaning clearer. I think this version is good to go. – aeismail Feb 27 '12 at 2:50
  • @aeismail - I like it, thanks. – eykanal Feb 27 '12 at 2:55
  • @aeismail I also like it, thanks! – user102 Feb 27 '12 at 10:15

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