I was expecting that Medical Sciences.SE to be a site for people at all levels to ask on topic questions, including laypeople and students, and where they can expect that a willing expert is trying to provide an answer on their respective level; exacty how it is standard on most other SE sites.

However I received the following comment below my questions:

[...] This is Medical Sciences.SE. It's a technical, scientific site and doesn't really offer answers at a layperson level. [...]

This surprised me.

Question: Is this comment accurate and is Medical Sciences.SE solely made for experts asking experts and exchanging answers on a technical level?

I am aware of other sites on the StackExchange network which operate on expert level only (such as MathOverflow), but these sites usually have their layperson equivalent (Math.SE in this case). I am not aware that this is the case with Medical Sciences.SE.

Please note: I explicitly do not want to discuss the questions itself, which I am aware was asked in an unfortunate first person and appears to lack research. I wonder however how it can be read as asking for PMA (which was the close reason).


1 Answer 1


The tour for Medical Sciences states:

Medical Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professionals in medical and allied health fields, students of those professions, related academics, and others with a sound understanding of medicine and healthcare-related sciences. [Emphasis added]

This is analogous to MathOverflow where the tour reads:

MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians

Long before I was active on this site, and I subsequently became a moderator, it was called "Health Stack Exchange". Back then, the target audience was much more general. There were not as strict of prohibitions against asking for personal medical advice and fewer requirements for research attempts.

However, that arrangement was untenable because many answers based on no evidence or that were outright dangerous were posted and upvoted. See Moderation on Health.SE. Do we need a different model? So it was decided, together with the staff at Stack Exchange, to transition to a new name, Medical Sciences. See Defibrillating Health.SE for more discussion.

That said, if you have a question about one of the topics listed on the on-topic page that you have attempted to answer yourself and is not personal medical advice, you are welcome to ask about it here. However, don't be surprised if the answer you get is highly technical in nature and backed up with evidence from the medical literature.

You asked:

I wonder however how it can be read as asking for [personal medical advice]?

However, your question reads:

Say, I am in pain ... My dentist offers...

These statements are very clearly written about you and your medical provider. Your question is asking us to comment on you specifically. Therefore, the question is personal medical advice and should have been closed as such.

See If a question asking for personal medical advice is initially closed, but is then edited to be depersonalized, can it be reopened? for what to do about that.

  • 2
    Thank you for this very clear answer and summarizing the history of this site :) To the second part: I am surprised that the wording in first person is taken so seriously independent of the content, but I will oblige to this rule.
    – M. Rumpy
    Jan 17, 2023 at 15:14
  • 4
    @M.Rumpy We get medical advice questions virtually every day, sometimes multiple per day, and sometimes the posters know the rule and try to skirt it by phrasing the question as hypothetical. Your question appeared to me to be such a question. If you want to fix the prior research aspect, it can be nominated for reopening.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Jan 17, 2023 at 19:27

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