I have only recently come upon this stack site. While I enjoy the subject of finance, particularly investing quite a bit, I think the subject is a bit of a departure from other Stack sites I have visited. In StackOverflow or SuperUser, questions are quite objective. There may be a few ways to approach a programming problem, but in the end it's easy to see that they work (or do not). In personal finance, there are a whole slew of questions that can not be definitively answered. Particularly those questions that involve predictions of the economy or a certain investment. The thread for those question could just go on and on with no definitive answer in site. Some of these questions (where is Stock X going?) may be the most interesting to people. This seems contrary to the general intent of stack site, which is to avoid unanswerable questions.

There are plenty of answerable questions. What is a stock, what is a bond, what are the tax advantages to investment X, what is the difference between types of mortgages.

What is a good way of sorting unanswerable questions from answerable ones. If we allow 'unanswerable' questions, isn't that a departure from the philosophy of stack sites in general?


Indeed, as we move into more fundamentally "is there even a right answer?" topics, this becomes more challenging.

Some recent guidance is at




Note that the FAQ is pretty good about describing the "please avoid these obviously problematic question forms" part now at


What kind of questions should I not ask here?

You should 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. To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite _____?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use _____ for _____, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if _____ happened?”
  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “_____ sucks, am I right?”

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about _____”, then you should not be asking here. If your motivation is “I would like others to explain _____ to me”, then you are probably OK.

  • The FAQ is quite good at answering that. – chrisfs Jan 25 '11 at 2:29

If the question is unanswerable, we need to edit the question to add details that make it answerable. There is almost always a correct way to handle a situation, or a correct answer if enough specifics are known.

I just cruised the home page and the large majority of the questions are very answerable. This site is personal finance, not economics.


Finance is all about risk & reward. Once you know the risk of the product / service vs the risk you are prepared to live with, you are in position to make a (reasonably) objective decision on the reward.

I answered a question on reading a company's financial statements. The short version is "are they worth reading"?

If you risk profile is the same as Warren Buffett (and knowing his very long term success) then of course they are essential reading.

If you are looking for higher risk, short term, then there is little, if any, value in reading them.

If this site is to take off, then terms like risk will rise to the surface. People will generally learn that if they add this information, they will get a better answer.

And as @Jeff Atwood said, there is always the FAQ.

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