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Is there an expectation that questions posted should be factual? I've noticed a relatively new user who consistently posts questions based on contradictory claims. The questions therefore are clearly fabricated.

I've flagged a couple of these questions, but the user has not been removed, and most of the questions are still active.

These claims include the following...

My daughter is 14.

and

My children range in age from 3 to 10

and

I am recently divorced and have full custody of our six children.

and

I can't afford to send all my four children to private school.

In the most recent question she claimed to be a widow with only 1 child. That question however was removed.

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    In all honesty, I find that someone stalking an individual user and compiling details of private information they posted is far far far far more of a major problem than someone posting inconsistent questions, as long as the questions taken individually are legit and of OK or better quality. I was a victim of a far milder case of such stalking and it was one of the major reasons I chose not to utilize Parenting.SE anymore. – user3143 Mar 10 '16 at 4:08
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    @user3143 That isn't what happened here; multiple users flagged these questions for the same issues, and the mods had already been taking note anyway. I try to be sensitive to the issue of respecting users (comments like "I find this unbelievable" or "you must be making this up" in other cases are one of my pet peeves), and try to ameliorate it if I can; I'm sorry you had that experience. – Acire Mar 10 '16 at 11:10
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"Is there an expectation that questions posted should be factual?"

Sort of. From What types of questions should I avoid asking:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

Generally, that's interpreted broadly. Users don't need to have actually encountered a situation yet (for example, I can ask a breastfeeding before giving birth in order to plan ahead), and have also asked on behalf of others (for example, asking on behalf of a friend or relative). Sometimes users change details to obfuscate their identity, or leave out things they aren't comfortable sharing, or even to make themselves look better.

Just because a question is hypothetical doesn't mean it is automatically a problem.


"most of the questions are still active"

Parenting (and all StackExchange sites) aren't just about helping the OP; they function as an archive of questions, thereby providing fast answers to other people who have a similar question. Interestingly, How To Ask could be read to imply that a hypothetical question (if asked well) is useful for the community.

Make it clear how your question is relevant to more people than just you, and more of us will be interested in your question and willing to look into it.

So removing questions depends (to some extent) on whether is there potential value to somebody else in the questions. At some point a divorced mom who wants to change to a different discipline style from corporal punishment may visit the site, read the imaginary question, and potentially find a useful answer. The OP lying about their own situation doesn't affect the content of the answers.


All that being said, a question still needs to be asked well to have value and members of Parenting.SE should treat other users with respect. Not only does this include a reasonable background description, but it also needs the OP to be engaged in the process: answering clarifying questions raised in comments, providing feedback to answers, and accepting the best one. Repeated failure to properly engage in the process is a bigger deal in my opinion than whether their question topics are fully based in reality, because it's devaluing the thoughtful answers being provided.

"the user has not been removed"

Account deletion is generally reserved for spammers or extremely abusive users. For less serious rule infractions, deletion is a last resort. I'm not going to get into the details of this case unless the user in question wants to discuss it.

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    Perhaps the questions are valid questions, but (to paraphrase an old TV tag line) the facts have been changed to protect the innocent. In other words, if I had a parenting question, I could see myself fudging the details for the sake of anonymity. I might have twin boys age 10 and a girl age 8, and but I might say that I have twin girls and a boy. So long as changing such details don't change the heart of the question, I wouldn't have a problem with that. Just theorizing. – J.R. Mar 8 '16 at 21:51
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    @J.R. Agreed. The issue with this particular user was that the stories were so different as to be all over the place. The question then becomes one of what the community expects in the advice to ask about a problem you're actually facing. :) – anongoodnurse Mar 15 '16 at 3:34
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No, there isn't an implicit expectation that 100% of the content of questions is factual. Theoretical questions can be acceptable, plus some users may want to deliberately change the actual facts a bit in order to preserve their real life privacy (it can be scary sharing the intimate details of your life, particularly in areas where you feel like you may not be parenting as well as you think you could be). Some users may even post multiple questions on behalf of, or as if they were, various other people that they know or interact with. These are all perfectly valid, so long as the questions meet all other criteria for quality.

I'm going to copy Robert Cartaino's answer about seeding questions, as I think it directly addresses this question:

-- Begin Quote:

"Seed questions" become harmful when folks come to believe that the author doesn't really care about the answer; or worse, the author doesn't even need any help at all! I wrote a blog post about this cited below, but worth a full read:

From Your New Site: Asking the First Questions …

Seeding the Site

I was a bit put off by the context implied by “seeding the site.” The word seeding suggests to me that we’re coming up with questions just for the sake of asking questions. My concern is, if people feel that the author doesn’t really care about the answer, the whole exercise would likely be perceived as a waste of time. …

The downside is that those hypothetical questions tend to be somewhat pedestrian for an expert Q&A site. When put on the spot to post content, we’re likely come up with uninspired questions that anyone would ask. And they’ve all been asked 100 times before on every other site on that subject.

One of the motivations driving this site the belief that you are helping others. Folks love to help others… but folks do not want to be given homework assignments or busy work.

If you have particularly interesting information to share, it's okay to share your knowledge, Q&A-style. If you have a particularly intriguing question asked out of genuine curiosity; that's okay, too. But I would stop short of flipping open that book of oft-asked questions to start seeding the site here.

So ask about problems you actually face. Encourage others to do the same. When you encounter obviously "seeded" questions, always moderate for quality. Questions with little effort or research should be closed with helpful guidance. But try not to let it devolve into endless interrogations of the author. They're likely just trying to help the site in good faith. But we have to continue to attract the experts we need… and the best way to do that is to keep the quality on that front page high.

--End Quote

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