Many questions on this site are likely to have the same answer: see a doctor. What should we do with these questions?

Some potential options:

  • Close the questions as off-topic with a custom reason
  • Provide any information we can, but have a template for 'see a doctor' answers
  • Have a custom post notice, alerting people who arrive at the question via search to see a doctor if they have these symptoms.

2 Answers 2


To me, 1 and 3 are necessary and sufficient.

I'm not in favor in providing information at all (2) as this would let the OP think that even if it would be better to see a doctor his/her concern can be handled without.

  • 3
    Fitness has the same approach. If the ultimate answer is "You should see a doctor", then it's considered off topic.
    – JohnP
    Apr 7, 2015 at 15:12

We've faced this problem with Pets.SE.


We've discussed if these types of questions should be automatically closed, and (after about 18 months in beta) we've come to the consensus that they should be left open. We can still provide some assistance.

Sometimes the person has talked to their vet, but the vet didn't give them very detailed information or the person wasn't in a frame of mind to remember/absorb the information. One example was My cat ate (part of) a balloon. What should I do?. The pet owner remembered to watch for "strange behavior" and we were able to answer with some specific behaviors to look for.

In other cases we try to outline how serious the situation is to convince the person to take their animal to the vet, such as What can I do for my turtle who fell down three floors?

We've also given advice on how to talk to veterinarians (what types of questions to ask), such as Tightly curled over tail and strange gait.

This type of stuff is helpful, but I'm not sure if it's the right approach on a site for human health.

  • 2
    The big difference between these sites is that pets themselves aren't terribly likely to use google in place of a vet. If someone ODs on nitric oxide because they got some bad advice here, they're probably not gonna be in good shape to report back.
    – Shog9
    Apr 13, 2015 at 15:41

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