We should start a meta discussion on this. Econometrics should be on topic (there are already several questions tagged in that subject area). In my view, this question's greatest sin is that it's a bad question (i.e. not enough detail, etc.). Shane in the discussion about this question.

1) Off course econometrics has a place here, as far as I'm concerned. There's a great deal of very nice methods, questions and persons in that field.

2) But honestly, I can't see anybody in his right mind actually expect to get a serious answer on that question. It's an interesting question, but nobody's going to post half a year of research on an internet forum. Because that's what the site essentially is.

The fact that on SO a similar, even more random question appeared, makes me a bit suspicious about what the OP really wants, because he's obviously not looking for an answer. I couldn't even help thinking I've seen that kind of questions before...

Your ideas on this?

  • $\begingroup$ +1 Thanks for starting the discussion. $\endgroup$
    – Shane
    Commented Sep 8, 2010 at 21:33

2 Answers 2


As a quick response, I think that we should focus on point (2) above because I presume everyone agrees that econometrics is on-topic: what should we do with bad questions?

In my view, I could have seen that question rephrased in such a way that it could have been interesting. I was formulating an answer myself before the deluge of downvoting/close votes. I would rather have given it some time asking for further clarification. I see no evidence that the question was spam; at worst, it was a bad question. But this isn't a good way to treat a new visitor to the site.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the last sentence. You're right, innocent until proven otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – Joris Meys
    Commented Sep 8, 2010 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ +1, chill a bit, mull it over, pull back the trigger fingers, then decide. I too think this could have been an interesting question. Sometimes it's OK to go ahead and give an answer even to an ill posed question -- often, this encourages questioners (especially new users) to refine their question. $\endgroup$
    – ars
    Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 6:19

Perhaps, the earlier spam contributed to the quick closing of this particular question but as I said in my comment to that question I would vote to re-open if the question were to be edited to so that the relationship with econometrics/statistics is clear. In my opinion, the question as it stands now deserves to be closed.

Reg treating new users, there are lots of cases where new users have been treated with respect as long as their questions have been reasonable and on-topic. See this question on GPS routes as an example of what I mean.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not crazy about this -- rarely do things get re-opened and for good reason. People get offended, or feel stupid, move on, interest is lost. If someone asks a question, and it seems like it's potentially worthy even if ill-posed, then lets keep the momentum going. Give an answer, write a comment -- I think you'll find that engaging the questioners gets them to refine their questions more often than not. Otherwise they give up. Closing a question should really be a last resort. $\endgroup$
    – ars
    Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 6:23

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