I've recently asked a question on daycares: Why do daycares use waiting lists instead of increasing prices to meet the demand?

The question was quickly closed as offtopic by the mods with the following justifications (taken from the comments):

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not a question about parenting. Sorry, but this is a question that really is more appropriate to a business site (which doesn’t really exist, unless Economics would consider it perhaps?)

But the question is about a subject that's only interesting to parents and causes a lot of frustration. Here in Seattle it's one of the most debated subjects amongst young parents.

This is not about parenting, even though it affects parents. It's a textbook economics question (supply/demand). Mortgage interest rates affect parents as well; we don't accept those questions here either.

While the question is inspired by behavior inconsistent with economic theory, it does not ask an economic question per se. It merely asks why daycares as a business choose to adopt a frustrating and seemingly counter-intuitive pricing policy.

This would not be a fit for Personal Finance & Money as it’s about a business not about a person. It’s not a fit here because it’s not something a parent would control - it’s just asking why the daycares do something. It’s more of a rant than a question. Both Money and Parenting would have the same suggestion: ask a question that is ‘why is the word this way’ is not a practical question. Ask ‘how can I deal with how the world is’.

But Money.SE (and many other SEs) do allow "why is the world this way" questions. For example Why do credit cards have their number and CVC code printed on them for all to see?. And Parenting.SE did allow such questions previously, for example Why do humans require assistance in childbirth so frequently?, WIC - Why aren't all jars of baby food WIC approved?, Why are there so many snaps on infant clothes?, Why is the due date different in France than in the US?, Why would a hospital not allow the recording of a baby's ultrasound video while in the lab?.

I therefore propose reopening the question.

2 Answers 2


To quote the wise and wonderful @Undo about the very issue of comparing stacks:

Just because two sandboxes both have sand in them doesn't mean the rules have to be the same.

Not all stacks have the same culture, and each community decides their own scope. That, too, is the SE model. Skeptics and Medical Sciences require that all answers have reliable sources. If you don't include one, it's deleted. Each sandbox has its own rules.

We have not allowed lots of types of questions, but new users such as yourself do not know what is and isn't on topic because, well, you're new, and haven't been in the years-long meta discussions that have formed (and can change) this site.

People see their questions as important to parenting, and want an answer outside of our scope. We understand that. And we get meta questions from such users not infrequently.

Lots of things affect children. Their illnesses and treatment options certainly do, much more often than how preschools operate. Yet medical advice is off topic. At one point before I became a moderator, it was not strictly off topic, and I answered many such questions. But site culture changes, medical questions were discussed and decided to be off-topic, and that's where we are now. What we may or may not have done before is in the past, and is not a pressing reason to allow such questions in the present.

I can imagine a similar problem:

I've been researching nutritional options here in Seattle and noticed that most grocery stores carry only a very limited amount of fresh produce, or when produce is available, it is astronomically expensive. Based on online articles, it is not that difficult to get affordable produce from overseas producers.

I do understand that it's more of a chore to do so, but why don't they import fresh produce rather than limiting the amount of freash produce or using exorbitantly highly priced produce grown in the States?

You can't argue that nutrition isn't an important parenting issue. You only need to look at childhood obesity to see what role fresh, reasonably priced produce plays in it. But why particular cities don't have markets dedicated to providing such foods at reasonable costs is off topic here.

The same is true for your question, which is of an economic (and possibly regional, but that is irrelevant) matter. It will also risk being primarily opinion based, as we don't all live in Seattle and haven't discussed this with the daycare operators.

Your question cannot be answered on this site. Please read the help section to find out what is and what is not on topic here. If you want to know wich meta posts made your question off topic, there are years of meta questions to peruse which have limited the scope of this site to what it is now for an answer.

Turning the Tide on Early Childhood Obesity
Growing Healthy Kids: A Community Garden–Based Obesity Prevention Program

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    @JRZ - Everyone wo gets a question closed or a comment deleted thinks the site is overmoderated. Moderators don't make the rules; we see to it that they are applied, that's all. I would answer medical questions if we allowed them. I don't, because I'm not going against the wishes of the community for the sake of more questions. Medical Sciences gets lots of questions, almost all of them of incredibly poor quality. Aug 23, 2019 at 0:56
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    @JRZ - As I said, it takes years to form a culture, and it's all there in Meta for you to peruse. I can't point to a specific question/answer that asks about/decides against accepting questions about economics (how daycare/preschool centers determine charges, how grocers determine which produce to sell, or how mortgage rates affect parents, and, indirectly or directly, children.) I would recommend starting with "How to Ask" in our help center to see what is actually on topic, which hopefully distills it all down for you. Aug 23, 2019 at 1:06
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    I'm a mod and a user, and in the case of this answer, it doesn't matter at all in which capacity I'm answering the question. (It didn't even occur to me.) As to "more questions is always better for a site", I disagree wholeheartedly. It depends on what one wishes for a site. Too many bad questions drive many but the most dedicated users away from a site. Aug 23, 2019 at 1:37
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    @JRZ - Oh, I see. I didn't close it; another mod did. I commented because you were being kinda argumentative. As to why a mod closed your question instead of five users? Why wait when something is so obviously off topic? It might encourage other newbies to think that that kind of off-topic question is actually on topic. There are questions that I don't close though I think they're probably off topic, preferring users to weigh in. Sometimes (to my great delight) they get exceptional answers that can help many parents.I don't see how your question would have fallen into that category, however. Aug 23, 2019 at 1:42
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    @JRZ She didn't close it. "more questions is always good for the site" I disagree, I value quality over quantity. I know of users who left because they were annoyed by questions of not so high quality. It's also a reason for me to not join some other stacks (and why I got rid of HNQ in the sidebar). "it's actually the "why do things work this way" questions that attract the largest number of viewers." We have such questions here, too, but they are more parenting-related (e. g., why does a baby act in a specific way). Not being a mod, I also think your question better fits on Economics.SE. Aug 23, 2019 at 13:55
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    @JRZ "this is a biased view" No, it isn't. It's an observation based on user's comments and subsequent deletion of their account. Also, I don't ignore the other users as I was responding to your specific statement that more questions were always better. Not that it needed to be refuted, why else would SE have quality control mechanisms like downvoting, deleting or even closing questions. So Parenting.SE is a bit of a calmer stack. That's not inherently bad. On a sidenote, we rarely get (off topic) questions of the kind you asked, so there doesn't seem to be a great demand. Aug 23, 2019 at 17:20
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    @JRZ "Your view is biased by only noticing the most offended users." Repeating a false statement doesn't make it true. You neither know my view nor what I (don't) notice. You try to make it look like my response to one specific statement was my general view on Parenting.SE. Aug 23, 2019 at 17:34
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    @JRZ - This is meta, where discussions take place. But you are pushing your opinions in an unseemly manner, accusing users with views different from your own of behaviors you cannot possibly know to be accurate. BE NICE. Please stick to the main question/answer (why isn't 'x' allowed"), and if you want to change the site's policies to be more open, ask an appropriate, new meta question to do so. You're not only a new user, you're a mod on SE. You know the policies. Please adhere to them. Remember the Code of Conduct. Aug 23, 2019 at 21:14
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    @anongoodnurse please accept my apologies. I can see how I might come off as standoff-ish. I will start a new Meta post on the internal mods site to discuss this further. I will be deleting my comments here. Aug 23, 2019 at 21:55

I think the key question to ask here is 'Will an answer to this influence the way someone parents, or is it "merely" of interest to parents?'

I agree that this question is really interesting, and the kind of question that I think might be great on https://economics.stackexchange.com/ (and if you do post it there, let me know, I'm really interested in the answer), but it's more about the business of running a nursery than about, for example, how to choose a nursery or deal with a nursery waiting list.

Regarding the examples above:

  • Why do humans require assistance in childbirth so frequently?

This is right on the edge (and might not survive today), but an answer might actually influence a parent thinking about home birth on the grounds that "well, animals do it all the time".

  • WIC - Why aren't all jars of baby food WIC approved?

Depending on the answer, this would definitely influence baby food purchasing habits.

  • Why are there so many snaps on infant clothes?

Influences which clothes you buy.

  • Why is the due date different in France than in the US?

Directly influences your expectations when expecting.

  • Why would a hospital not allow the recording of a baby's ultrasound video while in the lab?

Influences whether you get your phone out (and is a question of trust), and whether you protest (if it was illegal), but again, that topic would probably be over the edge now.

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    Here it is: economics.stackexchange.com/questions/30616/…. This is a phenomenon that affects more than just daycares. Aug 22, 2019 at 17:57
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    Also see my post on Daycare.com which discusses this, however no satisfactory answer has been produced so far. Aug 22, 2019 at 17:58
  • Here is one way how the answer may influence the way someone parents. Depending on the A, the parent who choses child care options may consider a longer waiting list as a positive/negative feature for a specific child. The A may reveal that daycares with specific waiting list (short/long) are worse/better than alternative options (nanny, stay at home parent, etc). As OP said: "Or perhaps daycares genuinely try to lower prices as much as possible to better serve their communities?" But we will never know how it influences the way someone parents, bc the Q is considered off-topic. Aug 26, 2019 at 3:36

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