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A question about the word "portfolio," a common term in personal finance, was asked this week and closed:

Is “folio” an acceptable contraction of “portfolio”?

A reason given for the closure in a comment was that "it's an English usage question."

English is the standard language on this site, and so all of the questions about terminology here will result in a discussion about the meaning of English words. Are questions about personal finance terminology on-topic?

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    Asking whether a contraction is acceptable requires defining in what context and to whom... I think any native speaker will at most have problems with it once if you take a moment to clarify, unless it conflicts directly with another use of that word in that context, so my personal reaction is "you're overthinking this". – keshlam Dec 16 '16 at 21:47
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I don't think it's a thoughtful question, so I start with that bias in favor of closing it. I think that other terminology questions would be on-topic here, but only for words that have a special meaning in finance. I think we would keep a question that actually asked for clarification on what a portfolio is, but how we abbreviate words isn't really a personal finance topic.

As an interesting aside, I asked a question on the english language site about synonyms for the word "default" because all of widely available references offered only synonyms for the finance-related definition of the word, and I was looking for synonyms of computer term (selected by default, rather than defaulting on a loan).

  • Thank you for the support. It was with these thoughts in mind that I offered my 'close' vote. Of course, as a mod, the vote forces a close. I try my best to close only the questions that are clearly off topic as an early voter. But when I see it in the queue, and there are 2-3 members that put it there, I'm more likely to issue the close. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 16 '16 at 23:28
  • Thank you for your answer. The question received lots of "close" and "keep closed" votes, so you certainly aren't alone in your view of this question. I'd like to remind you, however, that "not a thoughtful question" isn't a close reason. If it is on-topic, not unclear, not a duplicate, not too broad, and not primarily opinion-based, it is supposed to remain open. – Ben Miller Dec 19 '16 at 3:39
  • I was looking at my voting stats. It looks like I vote to close about 46% of the time on my closure vote reviews. I haven't voted to close or keep this question closed. After considering the discussion here, I probably will down-vote it if it is reopened. I agree in the end that we shouldn't probably close every bad question, but I have also been somewhat reluctant to pull out the down-vote in any but the most egregious cases, it's probably time for me to be a little more liberal with those. – Nathan L Dec 19 '16 at 15:03
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I don't think the question is a very good one, but I think it is technically on topic; the tag has a reasonable number of good questions and I can't see any clear way to differentiate them.

As a moderator and as a user I would prefer to have bright lines for deciding the on-topicness of a question even if it means that some bad questions are on-topic - we can always downvote those. Other discussions show that drawing clear boundaries is often hard, but I think we can do it here and I'm happy with where the boundary lies.

My views aside, the question has received 6 votes to close it or keep it closed in review, and 1 vote to re-open it (which has since aged away). You can consider me in the re-open camp too, but I won't cast that as a vote as it would be binding.

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    As the caster of the closing vote, my thoughts were clear, but this answer, and Ben's, make the issue of 'gray' clear as well. 5 members are welcome to reopen with no objection from me. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 17 '16 at 12:26
  • +1. My reopen vote is the one that aged out, so I cannot vote again for a couple of weeks. @JoeTaxpayer Perhaps I'm not as knowledgeable as some, but I didn't know before answering what a folio was, so I learned something from this question. It's not the greatest question ever, but it is about personal finance. In any case, I won't lose any sleep over this question if it stays closed. But we seem to have a culture on this site of closing questions that are on-topic, just because the questions are not good enough, not thoughtful enough, too easy, etc. I'd like to try to change that. – Ben Miller Dec 19 '16 at 3:32
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    By the way, I realize that mod is a largely thankless job, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the mods, and in particular the two of you (Ganesh and @JoeTaxpayer), for the hours you put in to make the site a better place. I realize that meta questions like this can be a pain, but I think the discussion is helpful to perhaps get everyone to take a second thought before hitting the Close button. You can expect an occasional meta question like this from me in the future. Sorry. :) Merry Christmas! – Ben Miller Dec 19 '16 at 3:34
  • @BenMiller - Thank you for the kind words. These meta questions are fine, members who wish to participate are welcome, or they can ignore an individual question. JohnFx and AlexB are mods as well, and chose to abstain from these two discussions. I do think that a larger discussion is in order, one to clarify/tighten up the wording of the On Topic list. Long term, it's the members who help curate that list, and decide on whether something should be on topic here. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 19 '16 at 10:56
  • On the flip side, we can use this format, meta to discuss a post-mortem on questions. What you'll find is there will rarely be consensus. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 19 '16 at 10:56
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Yes, questions about used in personal finance are on-topic, and there is nothing in our on-topic page that excludes questions about terminology.

The fact that a question could be on-topic for another Stack Exchange site does not automatically mean that it must be closed here. There is overlap among sites, and perhaps when an OP chooses a site to ask a question, he is looking for the perspective of a certain group of experts.

In the case of the example question, perhaps the OP was not looking simply for a dictionary definition, but whether a term is actually used in personal finance, and therefore wanted the perspective of personal finance experts. My answer to that question attempted to provide that, and future answers might do an even better job. In my opinion, the question should be reopened.

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    Agreed that terminology is on topic. In this case, the question was basically "is this a word in finance?" and the answer (yours) was "no". My thought on closing was that we discuss terminology for finance and money related words, and we have many, some of which produce a lot of discussion surrounding their meaning. In this case, a quick search shows what you discovered, it's not in common use other than a company using it commercially. That said, you are welcome to start the re-open votes (there are none right now) and it will go with no Mod objection. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 17 '16 at 14:20
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    "... perhaps the OP was not looking simply for a dictionary definition ..." In my view the way the question is phrased is too abrupt. There is no background or context. One can make a reasonable assumption as to what OP is asking. However in this case there is nothing much to make an assumption. I can ask 10 such question, is PoFo, ProtF, PFolio, and so on acceptable contractions. Question is to whom and in what context? PFM on uses of this site would stand for Personal Finance and Money, for someone else it would mean Portfolio Management and yet something else for some one. – Dheer Dec 19 '16 at 4:07
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    @Dheer - there's a wonderful feeling when another member articulates one's exact thoughts. Yesterday, I pondered whether to post, "Is take a schnitzel a financial term?" I hear Cramer on CNBC use the phase all the time. In context, it means to take a loss. I was afraid my point would be lost, and it would be unprofessional, so I passed. But your answer addressed my thoughts exactly. We answer 'actual' terminology all the time. A quick search shows no use of Folio (or schnitzel, except for this one guy) as used in finance. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 19 '16 at 11:05
  • IMHO, Nathan's wish to avoid answering questions destined for closure applies to this one. And again, we have the need to members to decide how to handle gray. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 19 '16 at 11:06
  • I don't know that I'd consider "too abrupt" to be off-topic. It sounds more like Unclear What You're Asking. – Brythan Dec 19 '16 at 17:39
  • @Brythan - At the risk of going down the rat-hole - Dheer's "too abrupt" is a better reason than my own. My closure should have been better stated with something like "please provide background to this question, such as examples of where or how it's been used in the wild." money.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask states "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." In this case, Ben's answer was, essentially "no". OTOH, we discuss actual finance words all the time. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 20 '16 at 0:19
  • As MrChrister said in an excellent post: "We can't all be Hemingway." While this is not a great question, short questions requiring short answers are not necessarily off-topic. If they can be answered, which this one can, they are not "unclear", either. And imagining several questions that are worse than this one does not make this one bad. – Ben Miller Dec 21 '16 at 15:16

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