As part of an answer on how to increase users' questions (How do we increase our questions per day?), Joe included an idea related to medical questions which I feel deserves some additional discussion.
Should we attempt to adjust obvious medical advice questions to be more broad and applicable? Would a set of well-referenced answers relating to (e.g.) "When do I need to worry about my child's fever" be a useful reference since it's broadly applicable, or cause more problems than it solves?
For related meta reading, please also see:
- Are questions about generic medical fundamental medical information on-topic?
- Medical questions: what is the line between on / off topic, and how should they be handled?
- do we need to avoid serious medical questions?
I think it would be worth thinking about whether we could approach these a bit differently, at least in the more complex cases. Of course, we can't offer medical advice - I think exactly one of us is an actual doctor, and she certainly can't give advice over the internet anyway - but we can perhaps approach these questions in a more welcoming way that perhaps leads to further engagement.
Similarly to the "sleep" question above, perhaps we can have a more well-defined page discussing medical issues, written from the point of view of a parent but with details helping a parent understand some of the more common medical situations they will encounter. Of course we can't tell them what to do with their child right now, but that doesn't mean we can't describe what a flu is, and what the common treatments are, so that they understand what their doctor is telling them to do - or perhaps instead of including that information on our page, we link to webmd or similar pages on other sites that cover the information effectively.
We also include some information that helps them to form a good question about medical issues that is acceptable here - we don't really cover that very well in any place a new user will find, including the Help Center. Give some examples of things we can help with, for example.
We also might want to consider allowing a few more questions on the medical side of things with the understanding that we won't answer directly with medical advice - nothing like "You should take your child..." or "You might want to take a temperature and ...", - but instead allowed to ask about similar experiences. Rather than
What do I do if my child has a fever for a week even after the Doctor said nothing was wrong, which is still medical advice, we edit the question to the reasonable,
Has anyone had experiences with their child having a fever for a long period of time while the doctor says nothing is wrong?
To a large extent, parents who come here with medical problems aren't coming here because they want a doctor - they're coming here because they're stressed and confused, and want reassurance that their child is normal. Allowing questions that are "medical advice" to instead be modified to "parental coping" might help lead them to be more engaged and get what they really need - reassurance that they're doing fine, they're making reasonable decisions, and their child's experiences are normal.