Relatively frequently on this site there are questions of the general form "How do I learn X knowing Y" (X being things like "Quantum Mechanics," "General Relativity," etc and Y being things like "lots of math," "no math," "some physics," "no physics," etc).

I generally don't like this questions since they go against the principle of "only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page."

However, these questions do have some value. Perhaps a community wiki tag would work?


On one hand, these questions aren't about specific physics concepts, so I agree with you that having a large enough proportion of these questions does diminish the usefulness of the site. On the other hand, the questions themselves are useful to the people asking them, and perhaps to others who come along later. And they're not as chatty and open-ended as some other questions that show up from time to time.

Let me say just this: community wikification does not give a question license to be inappropriate anymore. Either a question is on topic and constructive, or it isn't. (Having a certain tag also doesn't make a question appropriate when it otherwise wouldn't be.) And in fact, we don't actually make questions CW anymore, except for the rare possible case where a question's content is actually going to be "community owned" (whatever that means).

Concerning these questions, I'm not really sure what to do. As long as they come in small enough numbers that they're not significantly displacing more substantive conceptual questions, I don't really have a problem with them in general. But we can always decide to close on a case-by-case basis, and perhaps have stricter standards for what sorts of "learn X knowing Y" questions are acceptable than for other questions.

As always, if you think a question is off topic, vote to close it and/or flag it.


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