We have a few questions tagged on the site, and most of them concern issues that come up during gaming. Only one of these questions actually pertains to health in game (the type that's represented by our beloved logo). There was recently a short discussion concerning potential liability in giving answers to these questions, but this didn't cover whether or not these questions were considered off-topic.

I think that we need to examine whether or not these questions are within our site scope. Early on in the beta, we decided that we would avoid questions concerning legality because there are several issues regarding not only liability, but also being too localized, and therefore were outside of what we could reasonably cover in scope. I feel that health/medical issues also suffer from these same issues.


Problems with allowing medical questions

  • Legal liability - We have already determined that We Are Not Lawyers. We Are Also Not Doctors (aside from @badp). We do not have expertise that would trump consulting an actual medical physician.
  • Subjectivity and localization - What may work to ease gaming sickness symptoms for one person may not work for another. There are far, far more variables concerning health and the human body than compared to even shopping recommendations or game rec!
  • List of X and inaccurate voting problems - As tzenes noted in comments here, a big problem with health questions is this: people will vote for things that they think have worked (regardless if it has) or sounds like it might work (without even trying it); as a result, the quality answers do not float.. These questions tend to invite "one solution per answer" type answers, which people then vote on based on what they think will work, regardless of actual experience. Drive-by votes then tend to favor older answers and the ones that already have the most upvotes, and lead to a divide that is not based on quality, but rather opinion polling.
  • Prone to lead to extended discussion - These types of questions usually involve asking a lot of questions on the answerer's part. Do you have proper lighting? Do you adjust your monitor brightness at all? Does it happen when you do X but not Y? etc. It's already been established that the SE system is not ideal for discussions and we don't really want extended discussions taking place in back-and-forth comments. We are not a forum, and these questions are often best suited for forums.
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That question you linked in the first part really shouldn't get the [health] or [energy] tags... I've removed them. –  Oak Mar 23 '11 at 18:53
    
Isn't this the dry-eye question? Not that it changes your point, I think ... and it provides another example of the questions you're talking about. –  Dave DuPlantis Apr 27 '11 at 20:57
    
If this recent question is off-topic, shouldn't we also be closing the other examples you list (and the question in my comment above)? –  Dave DuPlantis Nov 14 '11 at 22:17
    
Regarding your "inaccurate voting problems" bullet - how is that different than technical-support or strategy questions? –  Oak Apr 15 '12 at 5:20
    
@Oak - That is the reason those questions are/can be problematic. –  user9983 Apr 16 '12 at 4:36
    
Both implicitly, and most times explicitly, the first and foremost answer is to "consult your doctor". Note that some of the medical questions regarding video games have answers that involve the video games, for example suggestions to change the FOV or resolution. –  rlb.usa Apr 17 '12 at 15:59

2 Answers 2

But these questions concern problems gamers have. Doesn't that mean they belong here?

Given the problems that I listed above, I feel that they are well beyond the scope this site can cover. Wanting to know what video card is best to play Crysis 2 on your system, where to download a ROM of Pokémon Black, what other cool tower defense games exist are also issues that we have determined are unreasonable/undesirable for us to deal with.

Yes, health/medical issues that can come up often in the gaming community, but do they belong on this site? My answer to this is no. Therefore, I think we should consider health/medical questions off-topic for the site.


Note: This was posted over a year ago and I've been requested to add this as a separate answer for voting purposes. I did recently comment on the fact that I feel we should focus less on blanket bans and more on weighing questions on their own merits. However, I do still feel that there are issues with questions, most especially the "list of X" and inaccurate voting problems.

If we decide to keep them on topic, I think we need to scrutinize them more heavily and/or take steps to try to prevent those issues.

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We have a similar approach on Fitness. Its probably to simply "not go that way" and have them see a medical expert –  Ivo Flipse Apr 13 '12 at 21:31

While I agree that we are not doctors, we do answer questions.

Legal questions have the same problem of legality; we still do our best in reading the EULAs and understand what they allow and disallow.

I disagree that this kind of question is subject to the second and third question; while what works for me might not work for you, the question aren't asking for what's one favourite way of handling with health trouble, but with what's worked for them. This is a signal of good subjectivity.

Proneness to discussion is also not a problem — actually it's even valuable here, as the lack of expertise means only peer review can actually validate our experience: «yes, I tried this too and it works!»

In short I don't see the need to actively disallow them. We don't want to encourage them, perhaps, but I'd rather err on the side of lenience on topicality issues.

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At first I wanted to agree with you, because we've tangled dangerous topics before, but the subjectivity point, might be a bridge too far. One of the problems that was inherit in game-rec (yes, I'm bringing that back up), was that the voting scheme was disproportionate to the value. In the case of health questions, people will vote for things that they think have worked (regardless if it has) or sounds like it might work (without even trying it); as a result, the quality answers do not float. –  tzenes Mar 24 '11 at 16:20
    
@tzenes One thing is bad vs good subjective, another thing is on vs off topic; don't tangle the two. –  badp Mar 24 '11 at 16:23
    
@Badp you're going to have to be way more specific. In the case of game-rec, all valid answers should have had the same number of votes. In the case of health, the number of votes do not correspond to the "best" answer. Though these aren't the same thing, it is an excellent reason not to want health questions: Inaccurate Voting Schemes. If you want to characterize that as subjective or off topic, I don't particularly care, but it is a problem. –  tzenes Mar 24 '11 at 16:26
    
@tzenes Um, I still fail to see why health questions are more subject to this than, well, any other kind of question. –  badp Mar 24 '11 at 16:29
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@badp I think you're focusing too much on the word "subjective" and not enough on the phrase "Inaccurate Voting Scheme." I put it in bold for a reason. Regardless of what semantics you want to use, bad voting schemes are bad. –  tzenes Mar 24 '11 at 21:25
    
@tzenes Again, I'm not seeing why we would be inaccurately voting on health questions more than legal questions. The problem with voting on game-recs is you're voting on items on a list; that's because you're running a popularity contest; that's because you're asking a bad subjective question. Bad voting is a result of bad subjective. –  badp Mar 24 '11 at 21:49
    
@Badp I listed to specific reasons why: In the case of health questions, people will vote for things that they think have worked (regardless if it has) or sounds like it might work (without even trying it) –  tzenes Mar 25 '11 at 1:44
    
@tzenes How is that different from my upvoting posts for games I do not own? –  badp Mar 25 '11 at 11:10
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@badp if you're upvoting on games you know nothing about, then you are just adding random noise. I would classify that as a problem (as voting is supposed to increase the signal to noise ratio, not reduce it). I suppose there is nothing that stops you from doing that, but the assumption here is that people are gaming experts and voting with that expertise. Conversely, we're not health experts, so it can't be assumed we're voting with medical expertise. –  tzenes Mar 25 '11 at 12:14

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