I'm fairly new to PH, so I can't claim to understand everything that goes on, but I'm curious about the criteria used to determine what constitutes a valid question.
In the past ten days or so, for example, there have been three questions asked about Dr. Jack Kruse. Two of them addressed his "credibility", and they remain open. One question asked about people's experience with his recommended protocols (leptin reset and/or CT) which, all things considered, would seem to be at least as important as his credibility, and it's been closed as "not a real question".
So, I'm confused about what is or is not a "real" question.
asked bySam_Knox (3804)
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on May 05, 2012
at 04:11 PM
Technically, a real question is one that ends in a question mark.
How do questions get closed and/or deleted? Many are closed by the community, meaning other paleohacks users. Majority rules, for better or for worse. If a question is a duplicate, contains hate speech, talks about kittens in a cruel fashion, etc, we moderators will delete them.
Why do some Jack Kruse questions get closed and others remain open? Nothing is black and white, except for 000000 and FFFFFF. Jack is obviously a polarizing figure. Everybody thinks that their opinion (on Jack Kruse, on paleohacks moderation, on politics, on religion, on US dietary guidelines, on the cancellation of good TV shows) should be highly valued, and this is true. But in a community made of a variety of different eaters, thinkers, and researchers (A Quilt of users, if you will) there will always be some disagreement as to what is the absolute most correct way to run things. See American politics for a macro example.
On a more epistemological level, a question is something that queries another party for an explanation of an open issue.
Paleohacks is set up in a question and answer format, which makes it tough to shoehorn important issues at times.
Questions that masquerade as statements can be be good for comic relief though. Ending a question with a question mark AND an exclamation point is optimal for comic relief.
Okay, I'll shut up now. Happy Cinco de Mayo paleohackers!
on May 05, 2012
at 07:01 PM
Let me try to give you a genuine answer to what seems to be a genuine question.
There are several things to consider. If these things are not common knowledge on the site, it is in part because the answers are not easy to find, but also in part because moderators, like anyone else, are subject to impatience.
First. When a moderator closes a question, or someone with 3,000+ reputation votes to close a question, the following menu pops up:
Why should this question be closed?
subjective and argumentative
not a real question
no longer relevant
There are a couple of problems here. First of all, there are glitches. Sometimes, for non-moderators at least, not all of the options are given. I don't know why, but I have heard this. Or if everyone else chooses one of the options, but the fifth vote chooses another option then maybe the option the fifth voter chooses will show up, but not the others -- actually I don't know how it works, but it is something like this. It's all very sloppy. Second, and more importantly: there is a limited list of options and the words are already chosen by the Stack Exchange software. If I close a question I might have any number of reasons for doing it, but at the end of it all, the only thing that will show up is "Closed as not a real question by WCC Paul." Because of this I often leave a comment to explain, but there's only so much that can do.
Second. So now you might be thinking: OK, fine, but what are the real reasons for closing? Are they just subjective?
The answer is: yes, to a certain extent they are subjective. Is this upsetting? Perhaps. Is this unavoidable? Yes.
The best way I myself have found to think about it, for myself, I suppose, is this. There is a whole lot of gray area to deal with on a site like ours. A lot of crap shows up that is obviously out of place. People selling things, people with the user name "f*ck this website" informing us how stupid we are because we don't eat whole wheat bread, people telling other people to go f*ck themselves. But in between that stuff and "you might want to try getting more sun" there is a whole lot that is hard to make a judgment on. Our response to this is simply to err on the side of deleting. If it's borderline, just get rid of it.
A similar gray area is contentious questions. It is a stated policy of Patrick's that questions about politics and religion are not allowed. But then what if the question is about the politics of paleo? Is that about politics? Well, we could debate this until we're blue in the face, but if we think it's going to lead to a contentious debate that will hurt people's feelings and distract from the purpose of the website then we'll close it or delete it. (If the "politics of paleo" example is not a good one, I'm sure you can imagine another; it happens frequently.)
So if your comment or question falls into a gray area and it is deleted, does that mean your free speech has been violated? No it does not, except insofar as the null set satisfies every property: In other words, no, because you do not have freedom of speech on this website. Neither do I.
But perhaps some people will still feel that an injustice has been done to them in some way or other. We are human beings after all. I think that is a fair reaction. The only thing I can say to that is what Patrick has often said: Don't take it personally. You have not been punished for breaking the law, and you are still a part of the community. It was just a decision that had to be made.
Third. OK, but why did that decision have to be made? Why is it so important to police this gray area and err on the side of deleting?
Well, internet communities like this one have a tendency to de-evolve into a parade of anger. Eliminating the gray area is a way to make sure this doesn't happen. It's a trade-off. Some people's feelings might be hurt because of essentially arbitrary decisions -- but as a result we get to keep this website as a real tool that is really helpful to people. (If you don't believe me on that one just look at the front page for a question asked by a newbie with about five helpful answers in response.) If contentious threads were not closed and deleted, that spirit of contentiousness would spread to the rest of the board.
Fourth. But doesn't this make Paleohacks kind of boring? Well, yes, we are "boring," in the sense that certain topics are off limits. But there are other places to address those topics. I don't visit them, but that might be because I'm boring. But I know that several members have listed other forums that are good places to discuss politics or sexuality or religion in conjunction with evolutionarily informed dieting and exercise.
on May 05, 2012
at 03:59 PM
I'm more confused by people (not you) who post perfectly awesome answers as comments. Odd.
on May 05, 2012
at 04:28 PM
Put it this way. Jack Kruse is a touchy subject. I had my account suspended for 3 days just because I made a joke in a thread about Jack Kruse that everyone else was taking oh so seriously. Be careful Sam! lol.
on May 06, 2012
at 02:14 PM
The great thing about PH is that closing a question is not a single persons opinion. It generally a number of us that mark questions as problematic and ultimately the question gets closed. In general if something gets closed it probably deserves to. I vote to close fairly often. Particularly questions that are even questionably off topic. Many never close but its just my opinion and that's not worth all that much! There's a lot of noise on PH so a little pruning is necessary at times.
on May 06, 2012
at 08:25 AM
I've also been a bit confused about what I can post as a question.. sometimes I see new research or a controversial topic treated in the news and I think it would be of interest to the PH community but I really don't want to post something like "Have you seen the news about xyz?" just to make it into a question. I find I really don't have any questions about the Paleo lifestyle/diet, it's pretty straightforward, and anyway most of my questions have already been asked in multiple different ways already and a search through the archives clears things up fine.
on May 06, 2012
at 05:52 AM
Let's face it. What Sam Knox really wants to know is, why are some of the threads about Jack Kruse getting closed?
Can we have an answer that doesn't beat around the bush, going into the finer details of how to close a topic, "gray areas" or why religion, sexuality and politics are not allowed here? In other words, a straight answer.