There are several questions now which are not poorly written, however they have no definitive answer. Questions like these are very easy to answer and if you are first can get some upvotes.


The answer to all of these questions are: It depends.

These are bad questions:

  • How effective is ...... in losing weight?
  • Can ........ help me lose weight?
  • Should I do ..... X times or should I do ........ to the nth degree?

I say these should be closed as off topic, they are already a large percentage of our sites current questions and some are already closed. Otherwise I will be answering the same questions over and over again, which is boring.

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  • "How effective is .... in losing weight?" is not a bad question. "How effective is fasting 1 day a week for losing weight" is a reasonable question with a mathematical solution (involving a few caveats which can be stated in the answer). Sometimes an answer will be, it depends. If so, the answerer should state what it depends on, and how those factors influence the answer. These questions are good, but answerers here can be dumb, and can't think conditionally. Mathematics is the only subject that is pure, any other area of study has answers of "it depends" so get used to it. – Kenshin Jan 22 '13 at 18:09
  • teach them how to measure it – Aequitas Oct 26 '15 at 21:12

I think the appropriate thing to do is add a general FAQ question, make it CW, cover some of the basics, and close other questions as duplicates eg:

Q: Is activity X effective for weight loss?

A: (I'm generalizing for the sake of argument here) If you're doing everything else correctly (diet, etc.), have consulted your doctor if you have any medical problems, any physical activity will help you to lose weight. Generally anything which allows you to work up a sweat and can keep your interest for > 30 minutes at a time is ideal. If you're not sure, get a HR monitor, is it in [target range]? Yes? Good! No? Find something else to do if you're worried about efficiency. Is it the only physical activity you're interested in doing? Yes? Then keep doing it anyhow. Some exercise is better than none for all around heart health and weight loss.

If you don't do this, and start closing these types of questions as a duplicate of a question involving some other activity (no matter how obvious the relationship seems to you) people, myself included obviously, will get defensive and not understand why their questions are being closed.

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  • Agreed we need some sort of a FAQ question. Maybe I should set up another meta question to get a consensus on what should be in it. As mentioned in chat, these questions are genuine and effort has been made, so no disrespect to the people who wrote them. – going Mar 8 '11 at 4:38

If you think a question is badly written, I suggest voting to close the question immediately, before people put effort into answering it. Closing it after people have put time into composing answers will cause even more resentment.

Reasons for closing a question include something that's off-topic, something that's so badly written that it's difficult to figure out what's being asked, and even something that covers very similar ground to an already-asked question.

At that time, if the question author truly wants an answer, they can revise the question to address whatever concerns the community has. That'd be the time to re-open it. Downvotes don't motivate people to edit their questions nearly as much as close votes do.

Closing someone's question may make them unhappy, but the alternative is to leave bad questions open. All sites need an audience, but they need good content first.

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If you want them closed, vote to close them.

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  • 3
    A clever answer, but that's not the point. The idea is to discuss, not provide a pointless one liner. – going Mar 8 '11 at 1:18

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