Personal Finance is a subset of Money. Why not treat it as such? This is money.stackexchange.com, not personalfinance.stackexchange.com. If you want to answer questions only about Personal Finance, why not just filter your questions to those tagged as such?

Why is money.stackexchange.com only personal finance, especially when there's no better SE for other money-related questions?

Is growing the community even a goal? More members --> more answers --> more visitors --> more members --> ...

Let's say StackOverflow started as a C++ site, and shut down all questions not relating to C++. It would not be the site it is today, and it is the most successful StackExchange site.

Are you trying to help everyone, or just yourselves? There's no doubt that expanding will help more people. However, you'll have to release your greed and actually want this.

Does anyone think that you're doing more overall good by staying exclusive (to personal finance)?

The StackExchange system is the best internet resource, way more useful than even Wikipedia. The fact that there's not an appropriate place for my question is a failure of the system.

SE sites should start broad, and split as necessary. Not start narrow, and reject semi-related questions.

In a related meta Q&A, the most voted answer suggests to include any money related questions: https://money.meta.stackexchange.com/a/228/12133

I'm not a regular of this site, it was my first posting, yet I've run into topic-nazis on other SE sites (physics, math, etc). You spend more time playing police than actually answering questions. If you need a better categorization system, fix that, don't turn people away for heaven's sake.

And my last plea

This is my question that sparked this whole outrage: https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/26701/how-can-an-economy-that-indefinitely-sustains-a-trade-deficit-survive.

I'm no expert, but it seems as though our economy is on the brink of collapse, and these issues are more prevalent than ever.

Consider that the majority of the world still lives without running water. Consider that the Chinese who make your iPhones work for $1/hour. Consider that FoxConn (Apple in China) had to install safety nets around their facility to catch suicide jumpers who hated their lives.

I love to teach. I don't care how stupid or off topic the question. I don't know why so many people on these sites are the exact opposite. Condense duplicate questions, but closing marginally 'off-topic' questions? Give me a break. Just let me add a tag to the question, please.

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    I don't have a long answer, but I do have an analogy: Even doctors can't be experts at everything. A family doctor may refer some patients on to specialists, when the need requires. Our chosen area of practice is personal finance, and while there's a loose relationship to economics, we can't properly "treat" most economics questions here, because that's generally not our expertise. Dec 10, 2013 at 19:55
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    @mikelewis - Are you aware that there was an economics.SE board, and it failed? money.SE is one board in the SE family, and we actually are still in beta, soon to graduate. It seems you had the one question that was placed on hold and came here to ask about expanding the scope. The scope limitation helps keep the board focused. For what it's worth, my MBA had a finance concentration, and there are some questions that are great but not PF. I've been know to try to slip an answer in before it's closed. So, I do feel your pain, but still understand the need to keep the scope tight. Dec 11, 2013 at 0:09
  • Why the downvotes? While the OP is clearly upset, many new users don't get the reasoning behind the restrictive scope... Maybe @Mike should edit the question a little bit to make it less a whine and more "explain to me why the scope is X?"
    – littleadv
    Dec 11, 2013 at 8:36
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    @littleadv - Downvotes are always irksome. Here, I think Mike needs to focus on 4 lengthy rational responses. More discussion than most Meta discussions get. Which, I consider to be very welcoming, the DVs notwithtanding. Dec 11, 2013 at 15:51
  • Thanks for the empathy. There are countless questions on meta.stackoverflow.com along the lines of, "Why did my question get closed?", and each of these had more than 10 downvotes. These are the people who decided to speak up about it - yet questions get closed more frequently than these outcries. Finally, I found some comfort in the meta.stackoverflow.com threads that discussed how their closure policies weren't very well illuminated, and how they could do a better job. If I had a site, I wouldn't want any of my visitors to have an unpleasant experience. Dec 13, 2013 at 3:29
  • Doctors aren't experts in everything, but they all take pre-med, and they all know how to find and refer you to doctors who are experts in what you need.
    – corsiKa
    Jan 8, 2014 at 20:51

4 Answers 4


On any stackexchange site, it’s important to have most questions answered. If questions are not answered, it would be a Ghost town with lots of questions and no answers. The first thing a new user who comes via internet would see that there is a similar question he is interested in, but no answer ... over a period of time he would start ignoring the site as he would believe there are only questions here but no answers ... that's one of the problems with Yahoo Q&A free for all topic, just filter ... but no answers ...

Or a user comes in looking for specific answer via internet only to find academic answers... are again put off.

On this site, time and again we have felt that we cannot answer economic questions as we collectively do not have that skill. We may answer some, but a vast majority we cannot. Hence rather than choose to keep questions on economics that we can answer and close others, we have applied a consistent yard stick.

There was a stackexchange site on economics, however it did not make it to a full site and got closed down. Maybe there is some other place better on the internet for economics, I don't know as that is not my area of interest, maybe people read blogs or books for economics stuff ....

If labeling were to solve the problem, we could have one big stackexchange site and let labels do the segregation ... why have so many site at first place ... just like Yahoo Q&A or tons other ... way during initial days of stackoverflow, it was felt that creating separate sites sets the user expectation. So I know if I have a photography question it would get answered on photography.se, if I have a travel, it would be travel.se.

However if I have a legal question or question on "Coin Collection" hobby or on "Technology Business Analyst" or "Banking Domain" questions, sorry there is no Stackexchange site. I would have to look elsewhere, but on topics that are part of SE network, I have a guarantee that I will get an answer in less than 10 mins on any fully graduated site. I am no Microsoft Excel, however there are tons of times; I have committed my deadline because I know if I put the right question on Superuser, I will get an answer in no time.

Am I disappointed that there is no site for “Business Analyst”. Yes I AM. I tried creating one, couldn’t get support. It doesn’t mean I would barge into programmers.se and ask them to label and allow my question, as logically without understanding requirements there is no programming :). However there are some requirements around 200+ out of 28,000+ on programmers.se. So yes the site allows some requirement question, and not everything under "Business Analyst".

Like wise on money.se, we do allow few economics questions that we feel are related to personal finance; around 76+ out of 6000+ and not everything under "economics"

  • Thank you Dheer, this is news to me: The ability to answer questions quickly. This makes sense. Thank you for your reply, I am now at peace. Dec 10, 2013 at 16:21

A community that lacks focus and dedication will soon devolve into the normal flotsam and jetsam of the Internet.

StackExchange's purpose is to make the Internet better. That is a pretty big scope. We focus on making the parts of the Internet that deal with personal finance better. We dispel myths. We offer solid advice. We prepare people with FREE KNOWLEDGE to address the real world.

We are shooting to be the BEST personal finance site on the entire Internet. We want name recognition! We want radio hosts to talk about us! We want famous bloggers to participate and write about us!

We cannot achieve such goals if we don't keep our eyes on the prize. We are not shooting for normal.

So questions that don't serve the goal get closed.

While I apologize that this site didn't answer your question, the community here has made a decision about what it wants to be about. StackExchange is community powered (as you know) and the decisions are made by, and for, the community.

You got very specific answers in your post why your question was closed:

  1. Your question was academic
  2. Your question was about economics, which the community doesn't want to address

To answer your question here:

  1. The community has time and time again voted in meta to stay focused on personal finance. Business/Small Business was shot down as a topic. Economics was shot down as a topic. We once expanded to cover consumer protection issues like scams and ripoffs.
  2. The community wants what it wants.

You are welcome to ask again, at any time, to expand the scope of the site and let the community vote. We recently had discussion to clarify our position on small business and personal finance after OnStartUps.SE closed. I would say we are very open to change here.

However if you do wish to open a topic, I would suggest:

  1. A much less aggressive tone. Another point of pride in our community is a maintenance of civility and inclusiveness.
  2. Play by our rules for a while. Earn some rep where you can and prove you want to be here. Anyone can tell you are passionate and articulate; a perfect fit for any SE site.
  3. Participate in meta with constructive criticism. Consider running for mod in time. You are clearly off to a strong start there and there is extra influence with such a position.

However... declaring shame upon us for not meeting your personal whim? Accusing us of "greed" for not serving your personal needs? Questioning the motives or purpose of the community because you don't like how the community chooses to operate? If you want a break, by all means, have a break.

That all being said, I would still encourage you to participate (and abide the community) here. If you feel the need for an economics stackexchange, visit Area51, propose and gather support. Use your passion to build, not criticize.

  • To your points, I understand quality vs quantity. The question is to probe into your reasoning, WHY ONLY PERSONAL FINANCE?! I think this has to do with your reputations. You've spent many hours on the site, and you're all Personal Finance geeks, and if you expand, other people will gain reputation. Only reason I can think of. Dec 10, 2013 at 16:11
  • I won't spend time here. I don't have time to lobby Area51. I have a job to do: make a better community platform that isn't so rigid. Dec 10, 2013 at 16:12
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    @MikeLewis - "WHY ONLY PERSONAL FINANCE?!" - because that is what the community voted for and wants. I can't say it any simpler than that.
    – MrChrister
    Dec 10, 2013 at 16:33
  • How many questions do you close each month? Surely way more than the # of votes from your community. You can't argue that you're turning visitors away, and unfulfilling their needs (desires?), and I'll agree that focus helps questions get answered (more often and more rapidly). Dec 13, 2013 at 3:22

StackOverflow didn't start as a C++ site. It started as a programming site, and its scope has narrowed over the years, not broadened.

StackExchange is about experts and the truth of the matter is that you can't be experts in everything. Certainly there is some overlap between personal finance and economics, but there are obviously separate groups of experts.

Clark Howard and Dave Ramsey are personal finance experts, with different focuses.

Paul Krugman and Thomas Sowell are economics experts with wildly differing views.

We don't help anyone by being ok at everything. We help many people by being experts at personal finance.

On the topic of your particular question, I don't believe there was any outrage to speak of. The question simply wasn't on topic for our site.

  • The outrage is in my head, and you can't deny me of that. I specifically prefixed my SO C++ statement with a hypothetical "Let's say..." Your answer hasn't addressed any of my questions. Dec 10, 2013 at 1:14
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    The David is a Celebrity, an Entertainer, and a bit of a motivational speaker. He is not a Personal Finance Expert, and has proven that time after time. Dec 10, 2013 at 23:59

Just so that you don't feel your questions are not answered;

Why is money.stackexchange.com only personal finance, especially when there's no better SE for other money-related questions?
Ans: It’s because we choose to focus on personal finance. It is irrelevant if there are no better or worse site on other topics on SE or elsewhere. The goal of SE is not to corner every possible space in Internet. Joel has said this time & again.

Is growing the community even a goal?
Ans: That is definitely one of the secondary / incidental objectives; it has to be balanced with other goals.

Are you trying to help everyone, or just yourselves?
Ans: We are trying to help people with personal finance questions to the best of our abilities. We still have 100+ questions for which we don’t know the answers.

Does anyone think that you're doing more overall good by staying exclusive (to personal finance)?

Ans: Yes.

The fact that there's not an appropriate place for my question is a failure of the system.
Ans: You are entitled to your opinion. SE did not make any promise to you that there will be a place for all your questions. Try Yahoo Q&A or tons of other Q & A that are better systems to solve all your Q & A.

And my last plea; this is my question that sparked this whole outrage;

Ans: Yep great question. Forget the “our economy is on the brink of collapse” The imminent war between India & Pakistan over nuclear stuff and North Korea not falling in line, and the recent escalation of China over the islands, the unrest in Egypt and Israel are very important question that can destroy the world … so its not just "economy" but “our whole world is on the brink of collapse
But nope, we can’t answer these questions.

  • I didn't say SE had to blanket every topic, although it easily could. I develop software, and building inflexible software is irrational. Take wikipedia, why limit your platform to any specific topic? Let it grow. As for money.se.com, I still don't have an answer as to why everyone feels like it has to ONLY BE PERSONAL FINANCE. This is almost laughable in my eyes. Its because that's what YOU feel most comfortable with, yet your visitors clearly have an unaddressed need. Dec 10, 2013 at 16:18
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    @MikeLewis I hear you. If I understand correctly, you would be OK, if the site was called personalfinance.se rather than money.se ... but then its just convenience, just like Travel.se is about personal travel and does not talk about Transport industry which is a very large topic in itself.
    – Dheer
    Dec 11, 2013 at 5:23
  • I would have been happy if my question got answered, that's all. There is a HUGE void on the internet of interactive sites (like SE) where users can get their informational needs fulfilled. Its just frustrating that the one network that does this chooses to be so narrowly focused. Although, I haven't tried yahoo answers... I like how I can immediately sign in on any SE site, and get 100 bonus points :D Dec 13, 2013 at 3:24

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