I am posting this question because a community moderator has placed a historical lock on a question I answered.

As background, I am a new contributor to this beta site (found it via HNQ one day), but I have extensive experience on StackOverflow both answering and moderating user content.

I previously became aware of your community's strong suggestion (requirement?) to demonstrate research. The research requirement problem is a struggle across the network. As an aside, I am not sure how someone without medical training could really research the question.

Your site has clear guidelines recommending against answering off topic questions. The meta question linked focuses mostly on medical advice, which you certainly don't need to convince any healthcare professional about.

However, I answered the question because it is:

  1. Relatively clear
  2. Not specific to an individual's health factors (although I admit there are some some strangley specific time frames)
  3. Potentially useful to future visitors
  4. Interesting

In my opinion, questions that are clear, are answerable with facts and have lasting value should be on topic. Obviously it is not my place to change your community.

I assume the historical lock was applied due to previously decided consensus. The historical lock is an extremely blunt instrument of moderation. It prevents votes and comments on the entire Q&A. In my experience, this is best applied to questions of historical value that are at risk of being deleted.

I ask this because, what if my interpretation of the research is incorrect? Perhaps one day a true expert in radiocontrast might stumble across my post, or perhaps new research refuting it will become available. The historical lock would prevent them from downvoting or commenting.

Thus, in this case, I believe closing the question (or editing it in some way to make it on topic) is the better choice. The Q&A is not at risk for automated deletion because it has an upvoted answer.

In summary:
I believe questions that are off-topic due to lack of demonstrated research with answers of potential lasting value should be historically locked only if they are at clear risk of deletion to preserve the ability for other users to vote and comment.

  • 3
    I disagree that someone without medical training can't research that question. The bar is set very low for prior research. Basically, if they simply googled the question we'll accept that. Didn't find anything? We'll also accept that. Just tell us what you searched for and why it didn't answer your question or what you didn't understand. So my criteria is often to google their question myself and if I find answers in the first 10 hits, I know they didn't even do that much.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Jul 1, 2021 at 23:23
  • @CareyGregory I apologize that I complicated this question with that sentence, my Meta question was intended to focus on the drawbacks of historical locks versus closure.
    – Ian Campbell Mod
    Jul 1, 2021 at 23:27
  • I understand what your intent was, I just wanted to get that little matter out of the way first. You make some good points about the historical lock and I'll think on it more, but I want to wait to see if there's other community input first. The reason I locked it rather than closing it is 1) OP didn't respond to my comment in a timely fashion, and 2) you wrote a very good answer that was upvoted and accepted. But you make a good point that if closed it won't be deleted because of your answer. I'll wait for further input.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Jul 1, 2021 at 23:32

2 Answers 2


There seems to be no interest in this question in the community, so I guess it's up to me.

I agree with you that the historical lock is too blunt an instrument in cases like this. I've unlocked the question and closed it instead.


In answer to your question on whether all questions with lack of research should have historical lock applied, I would say definitely no.

All questions would need to be assessed for lock on a question by question basis.

I agree with you and @CareyGregory that a lock was not required for the question you highlighted, but those where there are no answers provided should be closed because, as you pointed out, locked questions do not get deleted.

There is no benefit to having hundreds of unanswered off-topic questions clogging up the question list, so they ought to be deleted automatically by the system when the algorithm set has been met.

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