https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/12173/what-should-i-keep-in-a-metaphorical-sock-under-the-mattress and others appear to be a genre of question that want to discuss financial collapse, perhaps including hyperinflation, perhaps not. Similar to "what to invest in if the world ends" or "When the dollar loses all its value, what will we use as currency?" Are these questions of any value or is there agreement to vote to delete, quickly?

4 Answers 4


These questions are non-constructive by definition. Not only that they're biased and are in effect seeding that same panic they're attributing to the "mainstream media", but usually they tend to trigger responses which are basically ultra-right pro-anarchy manifestos, and not actually factual responses.

I agree that these questions should be declared as non-constructive and closed.


I may be somewhat biased as I provided a high scoring answer to a "what to invest in if the world ends" question. However, I do agree that most of these questions have very little value.

That said, I think we should not rush to close and delete a question just because it asks about such a topic. I think it should hinge on what practical value the question has. One issue I readily see about this is that the practical value depends on the answers that the question garners.

For example, the question I am talking about brought out some important ideas:

1) Hedging against a total collapse of the system requires that we think about what would have value without the system.

2) There are practical limitations to what we can store, and protect, indefinitely.

3) It requires "out of the box" thinking, since we are basically talking about the destruction of the box.

Now, I do have some concerns about the hypothetical nature of such a question. However, we can not completely avoid hypothetical situations in personal finance. When we look into the future, it is all hypothetical until the future becomes the present.

Thus, I want to urge some caution so that we do not respond in a knee-jerk fashion to questions that can bring out important, practical ideas useful to planning our personal finances.

  • 1
    Agreed that end of the world scenarios have very little value. I do believe, however, that there are plenty of historical examples of failing currencies and financial systems - many of the examples just within the last 20-40 years - that hedging against those type of events is legitimate.
    – Muro
    Commented Dec 3, 2011 at 3:49

I believe these questions are relevant. The questioner in the referenced question does not believe there will be total economic collapse but believes there will be some severe financial unrest and he would like to know how to prepare for that. History has shown that this is a legitimate concern with many episodes of crashes, currency collapses, hyperinflation, and severe economic downturns.

As far as bias...yes, everyone is biased. By labeling someone as having a pro-anarchy bias implies that the only correct position is pro-oppression (i.e. pro-government). I'm sorry I'm not as enlightened as others on this site in being so "unbiased".

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    My question was to clarify the intent of the FAQ. I understand (and was looking to re-affirm) that certain questions that are purely opinion are not appropriate for SE. The very fact that littleadv sees 'pro-anarchy manifestos' as resulting from these questions is less an ad hominem attack than it is an observation of the path these dialogs take. I suppose there's no solid line between the questions regarding depression economies vs the 'end of world' hyperinflation scenarios I reference, in which case the vote to close is democracy in action. Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 14:57
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    "government = oppression" is exactly the bias I was talking about. You're stating it as a fact, yet it is just an opinion, rather marginal, very radical, and most certainly far from the mainstream (unless you consider Fox News and the Tea Party mainstream, which even in the US they're not).
    – littleadv
    Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 21:00
  • "Oppression: Prolonged unjust treatment or control." When someone forces me to hand over my money against my will I believe that meets the definition of unjust treatment. This is not opinion....this is fact based on the definition of the word oppression. I realize my views are not mainstream and are considered radical in a world awash in people who believe government is necessary. I should know since I used to be one of them. However, this doesn't make my view any less valid.
    – Muro
    Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 22:41
  • "However, this doesn't make my view any less valid." Agreed, and there are many places to discuss such opinions. And my question, again, was regarding the intent of this forum, how such questions are to be treated. There are places where it's ok to question Christ's divinity, and places (real or cyberspace) where such discussion is simply not permitted. My understanding of this SE board is that it's not a place for political discussion, or radical views. Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 22:58
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    They're valid, but they're views, not facts. What you consider "unjust" vast majority of people consider just and normal, and you admit it yourself. You think that you'd be better off in anarchy where the strongest survives, but most of the people don't consider themselves strongest, and would like to survive too. So for them, just is where they get a chance to survive, not you get a chance to crash them at will.
    – littleadv
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 18:33
  • @littleadv, At one point a vast majority of people considered slavery just and normal. I'm not sure who I am crashing at will or would be crashing at will. Anyways...I think we all agree that Armageddon questions have little value but questions relating to currency collapses, hyperinflation episodes, bank runs, are all relevant since these have all occurred in the past.
    – Muro
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 18:58
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    @Muro - again, you fail entirely to see the difference between opinion and fact. The SE sites are Q&A-based, where the answers should be based on facts. Answering based on opinions leads to discussions, there are forums for that, but SE is not a forum platform. Hence the point of removing such questions. I know you want to make your opinion heard and believe that driving paved roads is slavery. The point is that here is not the place to do so.
    – littleadv
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 19:23
  • I have no problem seeing the difference between opinion and fact. Governments are oppressive. That is fact by the definition of the word oppressive. Some of the questions on this site lead to opinionated answers. Are all of those questions deleted? JoeTaxpayer's answer (money.stackexchange.com/a/9191/1229) injected a bit of JoeTaxpayer's opinion.
    – Muro
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 19:39
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    @Muro - Didn't notice any opinion leakage there. Of course if you feel that things like "staying within the law is good" is an opinion, not fact, than maybe I need a dictionary. Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 22:08

I refer to the FAQ when I close questions. Specifically:

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?”


  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if __ happened?”

And very rarely

  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “__ sucks, am I right?”

Most of the financial collapse questions fall into one of the above categories (every answer is equally valid is a good catch-all). I'm alright with specific questions like: There is discussion of Greece leaving the euro-zone, how should I evaluate the risk of Greek government bonds? or other similar, specific questions that aren't open ended and hypothetical.

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