Encopresis, I'm at my wits end? Does anybody have suggestions?

This question is clearly seeking medical advice, and one of the answers is clearly providing medical advice.

Why is there such a lack of consistency around something that should be very simple?

  • That one topic seems to have a harbor here. I don't understand it, but it's something that rather regularly gets asked about here. I've gotten to the point of just reading it to make sure it's about pooping and not some other crap and then leave it to those who are unfortunate enough to have to deal with it. Nov 11, 2014 at 4:02
  • 3
    I almost close voted that question. I waited to see what the community thought, and when I saw comments (clearly other people were not close voting it), I answered it. I will go as the community goes. But please keep in mind that some advice which doesn't seem to be medical advice (Why-don't-you-just-leave-the-poor-girl-alone? type advice, is, in fact, medical advice. Nov 11, 2014 at 4:05
  • 1
    "Why is there such a lack of consistency... ?": Because (in my personal opinion) there's no particular logic behind our ban on 'medical advice' and no clear definition of what constitutes 'medical advice' (as opposed to child development advice, first aid advice, behaviour advice, mental health advice, etc) on this site. We discussed this in some detail here: meta.parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/718/… but the status quo prevailed, for that discussion at least.
    – A E
    Dec 8, 2014 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


This question is clearly seeking medical advice.

I disagree. The OP stated that they ruled out physiological causes, and is explicitly asking "does anybody have suggestions how to get her to start pooping in the toilet regularly?"

one of the answers is clearly providing medical advice.

The medical advice in the answer you are referring to essential boils down to "here is some background information so you know what expect, but you should contact a professional medical specialist". It then goes on to provide very good advice about what behavioral actions to avoid.

That, to me, falls on the acceptable side of the types of advice we want to see on this site.

Why is there such a lack of consistency around something that should be very simple?

Remember that this is a community run site. So far, no one in the community, including yourself, have voted to close this question. Additionally, the question has only been open a relatively short period of time, so I'm not sure what type of inconsistencies you are referring to.

  • 1
    While I think Dan is asking because he's trying to find out why the community so quickly closed the water-warts question but hasn't made any effort to close this one, and I think the discussion is a good one to have on a less-obvious question than that one, I can't agree more with the last part. Close vote is how you express your opinion that something should be closed - it's not wrong to ask why others didn't vote that way, but if you think it should be closed, vote first, ask later if you're unsure. You may find others agree but are hesitant to be the first close vote.
    – Joe
    Nov 10, 2014 at 20:09

I thought a similar thing when I read the question. A few notes:

  • The fact that an answer was to some extent medical advice doesn't necessarily imply the question is bad. As long as the answer isn't venturing into the realm of liability, which I don't think it was, it's fine by itself, and as long as that's not the only possible answer, it's not relevant evidence of the question's lack.
  • At least for me, I tend to be okay with questions that are:
    • Common parenting issues
    • Not urgent or life-threatening (generally)
    • Not asking about specific treatments
    • Asking for suggestions from other parents facing a similar issue
    • Asking for help understanding doctors' advice (but not asking for a 'second opinion')

That question was borderline, and honestly I was tired when I read it so I didn't take any action at the time. I think overall it mostly falls into what I consider acceptable in the list above, because it wasn't asking for a second opinion, but seemed to be asking for help from parents with experience with the issue (though that's not specifically mentioned).

I do think it's a good question to discuss, because I don't think we've fully resolved what exactly is a valid question. In the long run I'd suggest we come up with a FAQ question/answer; perhaps a few of us should meet in chat sometime and work out a candidate, and then have folks vote on it (or a couple of candidates). Having a FAQ question/answer to point to would be very helpful when new questions come up on medical issues. We might also need Tim or one of the other SE employees to advise us with the official legal line, where that may lie.

What differentiates this from the original water warts question to me was the fact that it didn't ask to second-guess doctor's advice, which that question did to some extent; and this question didn't ask about specific treatments, which the water warts question did.

  • 1
    I like how you express this. My view differs only slightly. I'd say, though, that listing out the different treatments and methods tried for a medical condition and then asking for other alternatives does enter the medical realm even if it does not specifically mention it in medical terms. anongoodnurse's answer, also, was the best I've seen on that topic. Nov 11, 2014 at 4:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .