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  "Soft" questions

+ 9 like - 0 dislike

What is the atittude here concerning "soft" questions? I'm thinking of questions that are maybe not directly research level physics, but interesting to the community. For example, questions on career advice or how to deal with referees. On MathOverflow such questions regularly lead to discussions on whether it is appropriate or not.

Personally, I think such questions can be quite interesting and helpful, and probably this site will be more approriate than physics.SE. Then again, such questions tend can be argumentative or too much dependent on the individual (i.e., the asker is better off asking, say, a professor that (s)he knows).

Are such questions not welcome at all or is there place for decently stated questions?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
asked Sep 16, 2011 in SE.TP.discussion by Pieter (550 points) [ no revision ]
I'm all for soft questions, as long as they are on-topic (like your examples). To be honest, I mostly find these types of questions the most interesting.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
related [blog post](http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective/)

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Such questions were allowed with the tag [soft-question] on CSTheory, and I don't think it caused any major problems, since it is easy to filter out. I'm all for soft questions too, as long as they make up a relatively small fraction of the total site.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

2 Answers

+ 5 like - 0 dislike

I think the de facto, if not de jure, policy on Math Overflow is to judge soft questions post factum, i.e. if a "borderline" question turns out to be popular, with good answers etc., leave it alone, otherwise take steps towards closing. This is a sound policy, IMHO. As long as soft/argumentative questions remain a small fraction of all questions, I see no problem with them.

Another type of questions are "advice/career", like How important is it for one on the job market to have thought about suitable REU projects?. These are more controversial, but I think we shouldn't ban them outright - it's better to keep an eye on them and if a question deviates too much from the usual Q&A format, close it. As a side note, appearance of such career questions shows that some kind of public forum for discussing academic and career matters seems to be in demand

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 18, 2011 by Marcin Kotowski (405 points) [ no revision ]
+ 4 like - 0 dislike

As I've stated in the comments, I'm a big fan of these. I was thinking about this meta today and decided to make a short list of (in my opinion) good examples of Soft-questions found on MO. I'm posting this as an answer merely to not open another thread.

The reason I want to post this List is because I am hoping that in the long run, there will be an aquivalent Physics version of this.

(Do note, these are very very soft)

I've actually learned alot from these 5 threads, even though one might assume they are meant as pure fun & games. For example, I didn't understand quite a few of the jokes, so I read up on the specific subject, got it, laughed and it stuck.

I understand however that this is a touchy subject. But judging from the meta-comments above, I think others here would like to see these some time down the road as well (Once there are enough users to actually populate these CW's).

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 18, 2011 by Michael Kissner (230 points) [ no revision ]

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