If a question is asked that (in good faith) has to do with physics, but the actual answer ends up being that the assumptions that led up to the question being asked were wrong in a way that had nothing to do with physics (and thus the answer had nothing to do with physics), should the question be deleted?

A lot of people felt that this question I asked had nothing to do with physics, enough so that it's currently closed. I had been wanting an answer that would tell me more about Bell's Theory, but worded my question in such a way that many people thought I was suggesting an alternative strategy to the CHSH game. I've edited it a couple of times (most recently just now) in an attempt to clearly state what the actual question was.

However, the answer turned out to be that I had made a mistake in calculating the effectiveness of my strategy, and that it wasn't better than the one used in the original. It had nothing to do with a restriction in Bell's theory like I thought it did when I posted the original question. So ultimately the answer was "User's error" and had nothing to do with physics.

So should I just delete it, or should I keep it alive so anybody else that makes the same mistake as I did can see it and not bother asking the same question?


2 Answers 2


This is just my personal opinion, informed by experience, but not a reflection of any official policy: I don't think there are any circumstances under which the original poster of a question should feel obligated to delete it. And there are very few circumstances under which a question should be deleted at all; in those few cases, the question very obviously never should have been posted in the first place. When that happens, one of us moderators will delete the question directly, or the system will take care of it (e.g. if a question gets enough spam flags).

So as far as I'm concerned, you can delete the question if you want (and if the system will let you), but you shouldn't feel like you have to do so.

Other people may think differently.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice. But just out of curiosity, since you suggest that this is the ''personal opinion'' of a moderator and not the ''official policy'', it seems to suggest that the two are different. So, what is the ''official policy''? (I mean, what actually transpires?) I add that this is not a jab on Physics.SE policies, but just out of curiosity, since I'm new. :) $\endgroup$
    – 299792458
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 7:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @New_new_newbie there isn't an official policy on this, as far as I know. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ I agree. I think that even if a question (asked in good faith) ends up being off topic, allowing the question to persist allows for other people to have the information later on. Maybe they had the same problem/question and didn't realize. Even things like "User error" provide valuable feedback to people who make the same mistakes. $\endgroup$
    – jkeuhlen
    Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 2:17

I'm not going to address your specific situation, but will answer the title questions directly.

Should a question whose answer ends up not having anything to do with physics be deleted?

Yes, but ...

There are certain questions which look naively like physics questions, and questions like that are going to get asked again and again. In those cases we want a high-quality clear and definitive answer to point askers to.

My favorite category of these is questions about color and about certain optical illusions. In many cases the answers are really biological or brain-science related, but naive askers will very often ask them on Physics SE because "light is physics".

  • $\begingroup$ I think this is the most-correct answer. We have many questions that are scientifically naive, and this is expected. Better that we maintain a high-quality Q&A page that can be the target for dupes (and especially as the core system improves and auto-detection of dupes perhaps becomes more sophisticated $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 13:25

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