How do I ask a good question?
We’d love to help you getting answers. To improve your chances of getting an answer, here are some tips:
- We care! And that is why Health.SE cannot give individualized medical advice or diagnosis for multiple important reasons! Such questions will be revised or closed.
- Avoid including your symptoms, situation, or background – that crosses into individualized diagnosis and is not needed or even distracting for a generalised answer.
- Asking whether someone has a certain medical condition is similarly off topic.
Focus in on a clear topic, be specific!
- Ask yourself:
- What is the health topic at the root of my question?
- What do I really want to know about it?
- How can I phrase it to address the health topic itself, rather than an individual situation?
- Ask something that can be answered in a few paragraphs, not too broad. (You can ask additional questions separately!)
- As a rule of thumb: If you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer. But if you give us details and context – that is not from a personalised medical request but a result of your research effort on a question of general interest – we can try to provide a useful answer to you and everyone reading along.
Make it relevant to others
We like to help as many people at a time as we can!
Make it clear how your question is relevant to more people than just you, and more people will be interested in your question and willing to look into it.
Search, and research before posting a question
Have you thoroughly searched for an answer here on Health.SE or looked online in reputable sources before asking your question?
Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!
If you are waiting for an answer and learned something new that is relevant, feel free to update your question with the new information you've found via editing it.
Keep an open mind
The answer to your question may not always be the one you wanted, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. A conclusive answer isn’t always possible. When in doubt, ask people to cite their sources, or to explain how/where they learned something. Even if we don’t agree with you, or tell you exactly what you wanted to hear, remember: we’re trying to help.
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Edit 1 (Narusan):
- Removed the be-specific section because this will lead users to include personal medical background (to make a question more specific) and thus off-topic. We hardly have any questions that are too broad, so I decided to remove this section for good.
- Changed the Be-on-topic section into a list and included the two main reasons why questions are off-topic. However, this section still needs work.
Edit 2 (DoctorWhom)
- Revised off-topic section by clarifying phrasing, rephrasing, and changed heading to directly address advice. Otherwise people may assume their "health" q is on topic and skip it (I probably would have). Moved it to the top since it's our #1 close reason.
- I applied your bullet point changes to all - easier to read!
- Added more specific advice on how to frame questions (important and missing, IMHO) including touching on "too broad" without suggesting clinical context (which you were 100% right about, Narusan).
- Added reputable resources link to search and research. People sometimes don't even google it.
Edit 3 (DoctorWhom): Polished to be more concise and easier to read.
Edit 4 (Narusan): removed bullet point of first paragraph
Edit 5 (michaelpri): some small changes
Edit 6 (LangLangC): Re-added redundancy to make some connections and reasons clearer and easier to grasp while hopefully addressing the reasons that have previously lead to the exclusion of some points. Just a proposal. Hopefully useful. Please revert if you disagree.