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In the last couple of days we had some weird question: (this and this) and a question about astrology.

My gut feeling is that as the number of people using Astronomy will increase, we will get more such questions.

The first two questions are of the kind

“What if ______ ?”

already in the don't ask list.

But there could be some similar nonsense questions (allow me the rant) written in a better way. As well as more astrology questions.

Should we add explicitly that non-physical questions are off topic?

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In no way, shape, or form should astrology be on-topic.

This should be added to the FAQ to make it perfectly clear.

However, I think we should make it slightly more generalized in the off-topic list something more along the lines of:

Questions about any field that is normally categorized as "occult" (including but not limited to astrology), or any part or aspect of religious beliefs. Also, the viability of any part or aspect of the occult or religious beliefs as a field of science.

It's a bit long and lawyery sounding, but I think that if we're clear and up front on these topics, we can save ourselves some grief later.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would suggest to change that to something like "question which require occult/unscientific answers". For instance, a question like "I want to pray towards Jupiter. What is an easy way to estimate the right direction?" is a question that can have reasonable answers. $\endgroup$ – Cephalopod Sep 19 '14 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ I hate to ask, but does this site actually have a FAQ? I couldn't find one. $\endgroup$ – barrycarter Oct 9 '14 at 16:58
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To be honest this is sort of expected, that is why we have the help centre to direct people to to say " X, Y and Z are ok, A and B are not"

I would not want to say 'No non physical questions' because we do have some fantastic on-topic theoretical questions in our planetary sciences and cosmology groups.

I expect the types of questions above to be few and far between and the proper way to deal with them is to Vote to close as outside the scope of the site and maybe direct the user to the help centre to find out some more information.

For example:

Why can't light escape from a black hole?

Dark Matter Particle Candidates

Inflation cosmology: slow-roll inflation versus tunneling between two vacua

The list goes on but I think these three help illustrate the point

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  • $\begingroup$ gotcha. Can you give a link of " fantastic on-topic theoretical questions" just to have an idea? $\endgroup$ – Francesco Montesano Oct 28 '13 at 9:50
  • $\begingroup$ @FrancescoMontesano Certainly, please see in the edited examples $\endgroup$ – RhysW Oct 28 '13 at 10:13
  • $\begingroup$ the questions that you posted are physical. They're just (more or less) theoretical. And that is a big difference. $\endgroup$ – Francesco Montesano Oct 28 '13 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ To be sure we are talking about the same thing, how are you defining 'physical' questions? $\endgroup$ – RhysW Oct 28 '13 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ ehm. You get me here. I'll think about a proper definition and I'll come back (and I'm a physicist ...) $\endgroup$ – Francesco Montesano Oct 28 '13 at 14:29
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Try not to be too eager to pile on the rules before there is an actual problem. If you take every instance of site moderation as an occasion to add yet another rule, you're description is going to become very uninviting. Your help center becomes a treatise on all the ways you can go wrong on this site.

You've hosted almost 250 questions without a problem. Those two questions were asked by one user who seemed to have something else going on beyond a common misunderstanding. I don't think this calls for a broad amendment to describing what this site is about.

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    $\begingroup$ I see your point. I think that after reading a few comments here I'm satisfied with the decision about astrology, and for the rest lest decide case by case $\endgroup$ – Francesco Montesano Oct 28 '13 at 20:31

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