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I've talked with the moderators (as foreshadowed), consulted the rest of the community team and listened to users on meta about the difficulties faced by a site called "Health". The general consensus is that we would be better off with a site like the proposed Medical Sciences site. Unfortunately, that proposal failed to get sufficient support. Fortunately, we can re-orient this site to be more like that ideal.

Let's follow the precedent set by Software Engineering. They were previously called Programmers, but found that name and implied scope too broad for the sorts of questions they hoped to field. We asked for two things from the community:

  1. A description of the new scope.
  2. A new name that more accurately reflected that scope.

I'd like to propose Medical Sciences as an answer to #2. The idea would be to make questions technical, academic and generalized. This isn't so different than what Robert suggested, but maybe a bit more formal.

For instance, I woke up this morning with a charley horse. In order to avoid that happening again, I'd like to ask on the site:

How do I prevent getting a charley horse in the morning?

Instead, the new scope would require me to ask:

Are there preventative measures for frequent leg muscle spams (i.e, charley horse)?

If I ask the first question, it could be edited into shape or closed. Either way, answers won't appear to be specific medical advice, but rather making existing medical knowledge more accessible.

How does this sound? How would you define a good scope for this site?


EDIT

This discussion is back on the table. Let's continue to move forward with our ideas on how to improve this community!

  • 3
    We could use the MedicalSciences Area51 scope as a reference. Furthermore, this is another meta thread with examples. Because we would have similar information in both places and this is the same process, should we close the older version as a duplicate of this? – Narusan May 4 '18 at 17:46
  • I have an answer to your charlie horse question! Drink potassium! Pour potassium chloride (salt-substitute - NuSalt is one brand) into water and drink it before bed. Tastes like coconut water (which is another alternative as it has lots of potassium too). Cramps go away in about 2-3 minutes. – Chloe May 24 '18 at 16:27
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    Could we get an update on how this is going? I doubt that we‘ll get more input here at meta for the new scope, and the current one has a pretty high consensus. What are the next steps? – Narusan May 28 '18 at 17:34
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    I'm going to repeat Narusan's request for an update. It's been 60 days since this post and nothing visible has happened. – Carey Gregory Jul 4 '18 at 2:23
  • 2
    Now 90 days. Should we just give up and close shop? – Carey Gregory Aug 10 '18 at 0:51
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    Your non-answer is apparently yes. – Carey Gregory Aug 14 '18 at 1:47
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    Your "office chat" has been frozen for inactivity and you've not responded to this thread in over 90 days. Your "burnout" has obviously overcome you and stackexchange apparently doesn't pay you enough to recover from said burnout. Fine. The site is dead. – Carey Gregory Aug 15 '18 at 1:50
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    The update is that I'm calling in some help from my team. I'm not convinced that this proposal will help and the repeated requests for updates have (paradoxically) reduced my confidence. If the site is dead because I'm not responding, it's beyond help. I wrote about the Dreaded Drama Triangle before going on vacation and I refuse to play the role of rescuer. I've unfrozen my room if you'd like to chat tomorrow. – Jon Ericson Aug 15 '18 at 3:14
  • Nope. We're done. – Carey Gregory Aug 15 '18 at 4:08
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    I should add that the site being dead isn't the problem. It seems you don't actually understand what the problem is, and I take your comment above to indicate that you don't plan to follow up on what you said in your question despite the fact that the community did as you asked. I find your response disappointing, to say the least. – Carey Gregory Aug 15 '18 at 18:09
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    Jon, you might want to take a look at this question and in particular the most recent answer from LangLang and the ensuing comments. We, as a community, are rather disappointed with your and SE's response. We tried to help ourselves and all we got from SE in return was excuses, delays, and blame. Either take action or just close Health. At least then you'll be able to say you did something. – Carey Gregory Aug 21 '18 at 1:47
  • 1
    Well, @JonEricson, another three weeks have gone by and the site is still mostly closed/closing requests for personal medical advice. Where's that help you said you called for? SE's silence is deafening. – Carey Gregory Sep 6 '18 at 1:20
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    Hello everyone. First let me apologize for Jon's absence. He's been pulled away on a few other internal projects and has had to be careful with his time. However, I've offered to take this from him. So, let's get this moving again. What's the next logical step that we need to take? – Juan M Sep 7 '18 at 16:26
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    @JuanM Great to hear. Thank you for doing this! How long are you around today? Maybe our main chat is a better chat option just for the beginning... – Narusan Sep 7 '18 at 17:19
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    I'm in there now. :) – Juan M Sep 7 '18 at 17:38
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For convenience, I'm quoting the Area 51 proposal as suggested by Narusan in comments.

https://area51.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/27306/definition-and-scope-of-medical-sciences

Definition

MedicalSciences is a site primarily directed at 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.

Scope

If your question is about...

  • clinical guidelines
  • disease prevention and management
  • human physiology and pathophysiology
  • pharmacology
  • diagnostic and prognostic methods
  • public health
  • research

… then this is the right place to ask.

Often asked off-topic questions include

  • medical advice for yourself or others
  • any other personal advice
  • diagnosis requests
  • treatment recommendations
  • second opinions

Questions which could be seen to be on-topic but is best suited elsewhere

  • questions regarding psychology, psychiatry or neurology
    (see Psychology.SE for that)
  • fundamentals of biology or chemistry
    (see Biology.SE and Chemistry.SE for that)
  • questions about cooking, nutrition and diets that are not directly connected to medical treatments
    (see cooking.SE (Seasoned Advice) for that)

Please see a healthcare provider for any individual health advice; such questions will be closed here.

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

If your question is not specifically on-topic for MedicalSciences.SE, it may be on topic for another Stack Exchange site. If no site currently exists that will accept your question, you may commit to or propose a new site at Area 51, the place where new Stack Exchange communities are democratically created.

  • 5
    Thank you for putting this here! +1 – DoctorWhom May 5 '18 at 3:13
  • 4
    @DoctorWhom Thank you for writing it. – Carey Gregory May 5 '18 at 4:27
  • 1
    What about excluding nutrition, because these questions don’t lead anywhere?... – Narusan May 8 '18 at 20:27
  • @Narusan-in-coma And most of them belong in Cooking anyway. – Carey Gregory May 8 '18 at 23:03
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    @CareyGregory - No, their scope wouldn't accept a lot of them, quality concerns aside. However, I can see nutritional science being on topic, just not some of the quack cures types of questions. An example might be something like "How do I compensate for poor vitamin absorption in a patient with an ileostomy?" and such like. – JohnP May 10 '18 at 16:32
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    As a reference, Fitness was originally fitness/nutrition, and then we dropped nutrition except as it relates to an ongoing fitness program. Similar wording might be needed here. – JohnP May 10 '18 at 16:44
  • I‘m wondering: Should I edit this post to make a change in the proposed scope along the terms @JohnP suggested, or copy the entire body, tweak it a bit and post it as a different proposal? – Narusan May 10 '18 at 20:00
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    @Narusan-in-coma I'd say keep it simple and just edit this one. – Carey Gregory May 11 '18 at 0:25
  • @JohnP The 'nutritional science' part seems intriguing. But where to draw the line exactly? Should we ask a new meta-Q just to flesh this out in more detail or is the current formula sufficient? I tend to feel it is not. – LаngLаngС May 13 '18 at 11:53
  • @LangLangC There already is a thread.Take a look at the stats I posted in my answer to this question. Diet and nutrition questions are a huge problem here. Frankly, I would like to see nutrition questions very strictly limited. Being "directly connected to medical treatments" leaves a lot of wiggle room for people to ask things like "are bananas good for chemo treatments." – Carey Gregory May 13 '18 at 14:58
  • @CareyGregory That thread is for our old self. For our future self I would think it a good idea to either toss nutrition entirely (with me not really being a fan of that option) or better define the restrictions on that topic (=remove as much "wiggle" as seems feasible) / i.e. "to medical treatment" needs more specificity? – LаngLаngС May 13 '18 at 15:50
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    I think nutrition is a key part of Medical Sciences. (even if nutrition is greatly overlooked by most physician training programs). I think we should just apply the same "quality" requirements on nutrition as on other questions/answers. – Franck Dernoncourt May 14 '18 at 0:12
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    Diagnosis is also a key part of medical sciences. @FranckDernoncourt Being part of the topic a site deals with doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be on-scope. // As of now, the quality requirements seem to be met. Most questions about nutrition are gonna be "is this healthy" etc., which are too-broad, asking for personal-medical diagnosis or opinion-based. The link to a medical treatment ensures its quality and substantiality. – Narusan May 21 '18 at 21:05
  • Is it worth mentioning current medical research? Also, if we're at it, and making a more professional limit in the scope, how do we stand on IRB or board questions? I feel we should make them off topic, but clearly state that. Coming back, mostly by accident as I got a new phone, I still see a sea of personal medical questions. – Atl LED Jul 6 '18 at 14:08
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    @AtlLED - Latest medical research is covered in the first bullet point list. As for IRB or board questions, I personally would say that generally they would be off-topic. Questions on research ethics etc. should be directed to a relevant IRB. – Chris Rogers Jul 12 '18 at 22:44
2

Stealing from the a different answer

MedicalSciences is a site directed at professionals in medical and allied health fields, students of those professions, related academics, and others with a sound understanding of healthcare-related sciences.

This sounds great in principle, but are there enough people to actually support such a site. How are we (and I only loosely include myself in this group) going to reach out and find new members. I think it is important for the scope to not only include what we want, but also to result in a viable, lively, fun, and informative community. The whole proposal seems very narrow.

As a member (and mod) of the academia.se community, I would think that expanding the community to include potential students (e.g., questions about med school prerequisites) might help expand the potential user base.

Similarly, there is nothing listed about medical devices and I am not sure pharmacology includes drug development.

None of these suggests might be the best way to expand the scope, but I think a much wider scope is helpful. A site with 10 active users is not really viable in my opinion and would not provide the critical mass that I would want to join.

  • A nitpick with a devilish grin: you have joined already! – While I share your concern for the dangers of a scope too narrow to a certain degree, we arrived at that point coming from the insight that HealthSE is currently not well defined and very possibly just too broad. Your suggestions are in scope from my view of affairs and I guess we should edit them both (if you have more, bring them as well) into the base of the former area51-proposal above. – LаngLаngС Jun 18 '18 at 22:13
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    There are only 10 active users on this site BECAUSE the scope of Health is too broad. Many people come, but nobody with professional knowledge (including students) sticks around. Imagine if on academia no matter what you did, >80% of your questions were clearly homework questions, random musings and speculation, or questions with nearly zero attempt to answer it themselves - and therefore things that either need to be closed or dramatically edited to even be remotely answerable. Professionals and advanced students would become exhausted trying to keep up with it all, burn out, and leave. – DoctorWhom Jun 19 '18 at 1:19
  • 2
    We actually DO WANT STUDENTS to be a part of this community - as I thought was clear with "students of those professions" - so we should perhaps discuss whether we need to make it even more obvious? Some of our best answers and highest activity are from pre-med students who exhibit professional-caliber research skills. – DoctorWhom Jun 19 '18 at 1:22
  • @DoctorWhom I am not sure broad is the problem as much as the scope including things that people do not want to answer. I guess I wasn't sure if undergrad psych students and students aiming to get into med school in the US would be welcome. – StrongBad Jun 19 '18 at 1:29
  • I try to think of it how I would have approached the site as a pre-med or med student new to Stack Exchange. I remember when I was studying for the MCAT and the USMLE steps I was wishing I could find an online professional/academic caliber community to ask certain questions. I remember finding and joining BiologySE soon afterwards, and watching HealthSE grow/fall. If the site goes the way most of us hope it will, I would've read the scope and looked around, seen that I need to invest some effort into writing a well-informed well-phrased question, and given it a go. – DoctorWhom Jun 19 '18 at 1:36
  • @DoctorWhom We used to have a post explaining the scope of MedicalSciences. I wonder where did that go? Was it deleted? I think you formally owned it so only you can go looking for it. – Narusan Jun 19 '18 at 16:11
  • @Narusan was it in Health meta or in MedicalSciences? Having trouble finding it... – DoctorWhom Jun 19 '18 at 19:05
  • The only requirement we have is "a sound understanding of the natural sciences" (the "lowest" part of professionals) This site should not be about user's health problems. In order to be able to talk about medicine in general, you need to have a certain background. Much as like on MathOverflow, they won't teach you the basics of algebra and equations. The tool set and understanding doesn't need to be large, an understanding of scientific texts will be sufficient. – Narusan Jun 20 '18 at 15:35
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Look at the existing content here. Would the idea of posting alongside it appeal to professionals? I don't see why.

Nuke the site from the orbit. If there is a large number of health professionals eager to participate on Stack Exchange, Area 51 will demonstrate that.

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