I recently linked the "Academia differs more than you think" meta question in a comment on a question on the main site. And started to wonder why this question is on meta and not as a canonical question on the main site, as it contains actually a lot of content that would be (IMHO) be better suited for the main site and not meta.

So my question is: should we migrate (or duplicate) this good and informative content from meta to the main site in the form of a canonical question?

  • 6
    “in the form of a canonical question” – I would certainly opt against that part. This question should almost never be a duplicate target on the main site. If anything, every individual point deserves its own question.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Feb 9, 2023 at 22:25
  • The question is way too old to be migrated.
    – Laurel
    Feb 10, 2023 at 17:29
  • 2
    @Laurel: We could ask a CM to migrate for us. IIRC, they can easily migrate without age restriction.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Feb 10, 2023 at 19:02

3 Answers 3


Strongly agree with cag51's take. The question is almost definitionally meta, by the usual definition of the term... it's not focusing any particular aspect of academia, but highlighting the difficulty of answering academia-related questions.

For me, since it's not a question about any of the things on this list, but is particularly useful to keep in mind when answering those types of questions, it belongs on Meta.

  • 2
    it's not a question about any of the things on this list – I would rather say that it’s a question on all of the things on that list, in all fields, compared – which does not necessarily make it better suited for the main site.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Feb 9, 2023 at 22:22
  • One can certainly describe it as broad and open-ended.
    – Anyon
    Feb 9, 2023 at 22:35

This is a tough one:

  • The intent of the linked question is to remind answerers not to overgeneralize from their experience. It's less useful for askers. In fact, you could look at it as a policy, or at least a best practice.
  • On the other hand, we normally draw the line between the sites by saying that while many questions on the main site are "meta about academia," questions on meta should be "meta about the site." By this definition, much of the content in the linked question does seem better suited for the main site.

Note, I converted this analysis to an answer to avoid answering in the comments; however, this answer does not take a position either way. So, we will not consider upvotes/downvotes on this answer when deciding what to do.


After looking at it a couple times, it seems like the intent behind the original question would be categorized as meta. But the actual question as posed (under heading This Question):

In which respects does academia vary more than many people expect?

is a question which is not a meta question. It would belong on the main site topically, though perhaps violate one rule or another given how open-ended it is.

Suggestion: The question remains on meta but is updated slightly. Something like the following, though I'm by no means married to the precise wording:

What are some common respects in which academia varies that have led to overly-generalized answers in the past?

The topic-by-topic answers then seem right to me in this context, if extensive. In some ways they could each also be their own questions and answers on the main site, but maybe not good ones according to some of our policies.

For instance, I think each topic would be a "list question" on the main site. The lists seem to be worth having here on meta to signpost a specific genre of problems we encounter in the Q&A format. They're impossible to complete as standalone main site questions.

  • IIUC, your suggested change is to the wording of the question (under the "The Question" heading), not to the post title. This seems reasonable to me.
    – cag51 Mod
    Feb 10, 2023 at 17:23
  • @cag51 Correct, I'll update this answer.
    – user137975
    Feb 10, 2023 at 18:31

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