I understand that questions asking for medical advice are off-topic (as discussed in this meta question) and therefore should be closed.

However, from what I got, there is no clear definition of what a medical advice is. Therefore, I have asked this question to seek a clarification on that close reason.

Now, there's a question that may come up: how should one handle questions that do not objectively fit a closed reason (such as the definition of medical advice) or that may cause doubts if it does or not?

Note that I have used the medical advice here, but the approach may well be generalized to other closed topics.

  1. Should it be given the benefit of the doubt to the user and leave it open?

  2. Should one ask the user for clarification and proceed upon that?

  3. Another approach?

I do see value on the 2) one as I see it will make the community more friendly to new users.

  • 1
    I believe we are as friendly as we can be to new users. It is down to the new users to understand how the site works. That is what the tour in each SE site is about. The comments with meta post links and closure reasons are there as extra pointers to enable new users to understand. Policy is made by the community and not one person. I refuse to comment any more on the matter. If you don't agree on a policy, you can propose changes to policy by answering the relevant meta post(s) on the subject in order for upvotes and downvotes to be registered for a community census to be obtained. Feb 22, 2021 at 16:14
  • As a new user, I see space for improvement and that is why I asked this question. However I respect your belief. Feb 22, 2021 at 16:18
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    There is already a built in "other" category. When you select "Community Specific Reason", there is a choice for "Other - provide your own comment".
    – JohnP
    Feb 22, 2021 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


From @JohnP's comment, I found out that, in this community, there's a Flagging category "Other".

Assuming that one comes across a question that doesn't necessarily fit, continuing with the example, the medical advice option, I would say to flag as "Other" and indicate that one is not sure if it fits the medical advice category.

And when one, with access to the flags, comes across that, it would be great to know that someone would act upon that and comment in the question to ask for clarification on the goal of the question.

I understand that people may see things differently, which makes it important to clarify specific terms that are relevant to understand the actions, in this case Flag/Close reasons (once again that is what one is seeking with this question).

And even if there is clear definitions in place, people may still err, and, for this, patient is advised.

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    I don't close questions if I'm unsure if they're asking for medical advice, and the other mods don't either. In those cases I usually just post a comment asking for clarification. The author is then free to reply to clarify or (preferably) edit the question to clarify. But when I see a question that I'm reasonably certain is asking for medical advice, I close it immediately. The author is free to post a comment asking why and I or one of the other mods will explain. [cont]
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Feb 22, 2021 at 22:43
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    But editing the question and having it reopened generally isn't an option because all that accomplishes is disguising the question. People do this frequently: they edit the question to make all the pronouns third person, refer to themselves as "the patient" and so forth, which misses the point of the policy altogether. The only way a reopen is going to happen is if the OP can convince a mod (or five regular users) that we misinterpreted the question. So I don't see what using the "other" category accomplishes, and it will likely just lead to more disputes.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Feb 22, 2021 at 22:53
  • @CareyGregory there's not a standard definition approved by the community of what a medical advice is, therefore, anytime one sees it fits their own definition, one flags/votes to close. But with the definition in place, if one is unsure, this is my suggestion on how to approach those questions. Feb 26, 2021 at 8:09

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