As I am new to this particular site, I am sure many people may bristle at my input. Please, try and understand my suggestions are only to assist the site out of Beta.

I have been on and off SE and enjoy supporting the Beta sites. I personally do not need the support of this site, as a parent, I am extremely resourceful. However, I can see there is a lot of worthwhile posts here and that the question rate is extremely low, compared to all other Beta milestones. As my family and parenting has not been the usual course, I feel I can get some topics on the table, that have have touched people, but may be too difficult to post, for fear of the feedback. I mention this, as I am posting about, extremely sensitive issues, which will be presented on a parenting site; I understand, if I put it out there, I can expect all kinds of feedback, so am going into this, almost as an experiment to help improve the site. However, people, really needing help, can be fragile and may not return if they get an insensitive reception.

I posted two sensitive and valid question on the site:

This answer https://parenting.stackexchange.com/a/9087/4784 which offers a lot of good resources and I notice there was another answer, which seems to have been deleted (https://parenting.stackexchange.com/a/9059/4784).

However as I see it, as a newcomer with fresh eyes is this:

  • Never tell someone they are not a good fit for the site. Instead preface with something like "I'm not an expert, but here is a place you can go..." It's like this: I cannot help you, in fact your problem has no easy fix, but we can help point you in the right direction, whilst keeping one hand upon your arm to keep you in the site to contribute further on your journey. :)

  • If in doubt post a comforting comment with, perhaps a comment that a more experienced user will most likely post at some point.

  • I think users should be encouraged to NOT answer question outside of the scope of their experience.

There's a whole world of parents and caregivers out there wanting and craving supportive advice, some in extremely difficult situations; situations that may cause a lot of social shame, possibly legal ramifications. It is hard for people to get up the courage to post about things that are potentially sacrosanct (our families) I believe all parents/caregivers should be encouraged to post, this site is not meant to be a cure all, but the only way to make people feel safe in contributing, is to not send them away and to keep people from yabbering on from outside of their experience.

It's a parenting site, it encompasses many issues, some more socially acceptable than others. How are people to feel if their situation is so "complex" as to be unwelcome on the site? What message does this give a parent struggling with social isolation as the result of their situation?

To me it's logical, but I have a way of upsetting people on SE. I don't mean to, my intentions are to point out some fixable flaws to assist getting sites out of Beta.

Cheers, peace and all that :)

How you go about this, I am not sure.

  • I apologise in advance for any trouble I may cause, as I sincerely come here with good intentions, but have poor communications skills, whatever when trying to contribute in meta.. so I'm sorry, but my intentions are good
    – user4784
    Oct 6, 2013 at 9:51

3 Answers 3


I think you misinterpreted the opening text in the first answer, which I believe is what you were reacting to in one of your points:

This site may be too abbreviated for giving you the kind of assistance you need.

What the author was saying is, the folks answering your question might not have the requisite experience and training to give you an expert answer to your question within the confines of our Q&A format. While someone might be qualified, the author was also indicating that our platform is probably not sufficient to adequately provide the input you were seeking. (correct me if I'm wrong about your interpretation)

To your other points ..

Users are encouraged to contribute answers only when they're reasonably certain that the information is helpful and accurate; our voting system sees to this to a degree. While we occasionally see an answer from out in left field, most that answer are at least speaking from their own personal experience.

I wish we had more people with credentials answering questions, in particular those that would be professionally qualified to answer the one you asked. We're trying to attract those types of professionals, but it hasn't been exactly easy. A bigger mix of those folks would help ensure that answers based on mostly experience instead of scholarly knowledge are as well vetted as they can be.

While your question was fantastic, it was also difficult to answer without folks putting themselves in your position. Naturally, when that happens, you're going to hear from folks basically saying what they would do. I think that's to be expected on questions where people are likely to have or form strong opinions.

You did, however, get some pretty good answers :) Getting folks to do the following things is very hard:

  • Ask hard, personally relating questions
  • Return and ask more

We hope you do the second, because you did a great job at the first. I think your feedback was offered constructively, and seems to come from an objective point of view as a new-ish user. It's hard to capture that, and I think the majority of us do appreciate it.

  • Thanks Tim.. you saw the deleted answer, which was a doosy.. I like Mary's work here on the site, I am suggesting that it could be worded in a way to encourage the user to stay, whilst acknowledging the enormity of the problem and the inability to answer it in one post (it is impossible) but there may be other people out there who find it helpful.. I'm thinking from a google perspective it is good to cover many aspects of parenting. Any experienced and honest parent knows, it take s a lot more than some questions, answers, evern therapy sessions to make a good parent. ;)
    – user4784
    Oct 6, 2013 at 10:19
  • Anyway I rambling.. I just don't want to come in guns blazing, as I tend to do.. my personality is not very user friendly and I apologise for that. I really do.. the post could have been more succinct.. also be kind .. having said that I slammed someone asking a question on porn, but this was after having discussion with in on cogsci some time ago, and I thought his question was badly posed. But he was interested in far more than the effects of porn on children, but edited to make his post fit. sigh
    – user4784
    Oct 6, 2013 at 10:22
  • 2
    @ThinksALot This was constructive enough, I think. As long as you state some reasoning / discussion behind points you want to make, then it is an honest discussion and not a frustrated rant. We don't get a whole lot of questions every day, so really any feedback speaking to that is of interest. Not everyone will probably agree, but I don't think anyone would be put off that a new-ish user shared their thoughts, especially one somewhat familiar with the workings of the system.
    – user106
    Oct 6, 2013 at 12:52

As the poster of the "This site may be too abbreviated for giving you the kind of assistance you need," I was merely pointing out that to answer your question properly would require a lot of text. I did much research on the question, and there was no way for me to condense it into an answer that was short enough to post, so instead I was pointing you to the best resources I found on other sites. I was explaining why you were getting links from me instead of a summary. When you asked to edit my question, I immediately accepted your request.

I work very hard to be welcoming to newcomers, and I am sad that my good intentions were missed and that this was so upsetting to you. I think it points to the limitations of written communication - sometimes intention does not come through. I will try to do better.

  • I totally agree, I honestly think some of the problems are cultural differences in expressions, exacerbated by the limitations of written online communication. Frequently I try to make a point and my meaning is misunderstood. Not withstanding my own personal limitations, part of it is the cultural attitude from where I live and the contradictory way we talk. Please don't feel bad. It was just a suggestion as I can see the Q stats are low on area 51
    – user4784
    Oct 12, 2013 at 19:42

I was re-reading this post, and I would like to comment on this thought:

I think users should be encouraged to NOT answer question outside of the scope of their experience.

Valid answers may come from people's own experiences, but sometimes answers may need to come from more expert sources. Lacking in those experts, S/E encourages researched answers ("Please note that opinions shared here should be backed up either with a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally"). The person asking the question can choose amongst the research (expertise via messenger) and the experiences to find the information that is most helpful. The mix of answers seems better than narrowing the field to either experience or research.

S/E is trying to build a library of questions and answers that will be useful to not only the person asking the question but also to others who come across the site. For you, an answer based on experience may be most helpful. Another reader in the future might find value in reading expert information shared through articles and linked websites.

  • Do you think I was suggesting that people who are experts and have not personally experienced a situation should not answer? Lol it wasn't an either or it's people without expertise, which gives experience or just personal experience per se
    – user4784
    Oct 12, 2013 at 21:46
  • By this I mean expertise is a type of experience as is personal experience. Omg I'm so over trying to keep explaining every little detail. That's a huge problem with SE is the argument over semantics. This loses more visitors on SE than anything. Cheers
    – user4784
    Oct 12, 2013 at 21:53
  • 2
    With all due respect, you started the semantic conversation. You cited my answer as an example of one that pushes people away, suggested an edit where I had to claim not to be an expert (not that anything in the original post suggested I was), and then posted that users should not post outside their area of experience - a fixable flaw. I was trying in this response to explain (since you are new) that philosophically, S/E prefers a mix of experience and reference. I am really just trying to respond to the question/comment you posted. But I am done now.
    – MJ6
    Oct 12, 2013 at 22:24

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