Today I saw "How companies choose earnings release dates, & effect on Implied Volatility".

Who cares?

I mean, obviously some people care, and it's a worthwhile question for these people to ask in some forum. But is "Personal Finance and Money" that forum, or is this question more about "Amateur Stock Trading For Fun And Profit"? Is it sufficiently uninteresting to our target user that it should be closed as offtopic?

Similar questions:

and plenty of others, especially under the 'options' tag, some of which may or may not have possibly been migrated from the (closed) economics stackexchange.

  • Yes most of these are offtopic or boarderline cases. I did'nt vote to close, as I dont remember reading them. Good topic for discussion
    – Dheer
    Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 17:35
  • @fennec: I'm clueless, I thought the one asking about "trading in linux using python" did not have anything to do with this site, but it got +9 votes, so probably it does have something to do wuth this site. Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 19:08

5 Answers 5


I don't see why we should rule out questions about pricing of options, volatility, etc.

Individual investors can and do purchase options. Some knowledgeable retirees may employ covered-call writing to generate income from stock positions. Investors looking for protection of an underlying position in the face of market uncertainty may buy put options. etc.

Just because an investment or trading strategy might be considered more advanced or esoteric should not make it off-topic for this site, IMHO.

While I accept there are likely more buy & hold, low-fee oriented investors currently participating here than active traders trying to "beat the market", I think questions about securities or strategies that one could implement in their own personal trading or investment account should be valid subject matter.

Perhaps you should clarify the line it is you intend to draw? If you're referring to, say, "traders", tell us ... how do you define their activity clearly and separate from what "investors" do?

  • Working a part-time job in retirement is also something someone can do to boost their income in retirement, but advice about the specifics of that job aren't necessarily a personal-finance question. Fancy stock trading topics are similar. I'll agree that the line is hard to draw; I suspect that one place it begins is where you seek specific ways to extract above-average returns from the stock market. Then it's more about how markets work, and less about how their general characteristics affect your personal finances.
    – user296
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 18:06
  • 2
    "extract above-average returns from the stock market" ... a slippery slope .. and simplistic, ignoring both the concepts of risk-adjusted returns, and the existence of multiple markets. "Fancy" ... a subjective classification. Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 19:02
  • Yes, it is simplistic. That is indeed a defect of my suggestion. But because of difficulties drawing the line, do you think that all attempts to draw any line should be abandoned? Would you be willing to entertain any question about investing, the stock market, the economy, corporate finance, and business, by virtue of indirect impact on a hypothetical retiree's schemes to obtain income by day trading? Should we include the full range of investing topics discussed by the likes of, say, The Motley Fool?
    – user296
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 0:33
  • Why not? I've been a Motley Fool subscriber for years. Got started with their basic Stock Advisor newsletter (for entry-level investors in individual stocks), tried out their Options newsletter a few years later and ended up making a ton of money that significantly impacted my personal finances/outlook. Personal finance is personal finance, regardless of how wealthy the person.
    – Jon S
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:09
  • 3
    One line I would draw, is any financial topics that necessarily involve other people, i.e. either finance advisory for clients, or technical questions around the design and implementation of high frequency trading software (which is best served by quant.stackexchange.com), or any trading strategy that involves pooling large amounts of money (i.e. outside of simple partnerships).
    – Jon S
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:14

I think they should, a persons stock accounts are certainly a big part of their personal finance and all forms of investing or hedging play a big role.


Anything that uses the phrase "high frequency trading" is definitely out of scope for our site, and would be better for Quant SE. No one is going to effectively do HFT as part of personal finance. There are many reasons for this, but the most straightforward is that it isn't feasible, in terms of required infrastructure. It might even be irresponsible to encourage people to believe otherwise. Yes, there are special cases of very wealthy individuals, but they should get advice on this elsewhere than here, rather than from us.

"Algorithmic trading" is less clear-cut. I realize that the particular question (it was the last on the list in the question here on meta Money) was asking only about a test platform, but the fact that the question was so specific, wanted Linux, Python, whatever else, is rather localized.

Second consideration about algorithmic trading: While it isn't necessarily high-speed, it does require expensive/specialized resources. We might want to consider whether it is likely to be a realistic endeavor for any small individual investor. I found this page (it is a web site mentioned by one of the answers to that Linux-related algo trading question, from Carnegie-Mellon Stats dept, not sure if a student or staff). Take a look at the suggested configuration, and the recommendation for maximum latency time for algo trading. Maybe that is feasible for some users of this site, I'm truly not sure.

Given changes in financial markets of late, perhaps it will be more realistic in the future, even if it isn't now. I'm not saying that that thought makes me happy! I'm merely mentioning it as a possibility, depending on evolving regulation etc.


Today's questions "what is long" or "what is a straddle" seem so simple that I'd expect the person to first google or look to wiki to find an answer.

I'm less against the advanced trading than I am against the simple definition questions. Although, I suppose we can answer, get them out of the way, and when they repeat, just close as duplicate.

  • Simple is relative to the person asking. If you are new to a subject the most fundamental concepts can be a foreign language. Google searches contain great info but at times can be difficult to understand and they might need someone to dumb it down for them or provide a clearer example. Perhaps a solution would be to provide a "simple question" tag. I would also like to add finance is a poorly taught subject in public schools even in many colleges(opinion) so I think a forum for simple questions needs to exist. Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 18:41
  • 1
    Points all well taken. In some cases, subjective I suppose. However the group agrees to handle is fine by me, a tag for basic definition or similar can work. Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 19:32
  • I agree that simple is definitely not a problem - finding answers to simple questions is great, and often I appreciate seeing the "best of" and "in depth" type of answers I'd find here rather than what I'd find on Wikipedia or Investopedia.
    – Jon S
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:16
  • 1
    The underlying problem you already hit right on the head, though - seeing the same simple questions repeatedly seems to be against the foundational principles of stackexchange. i.e. question is asked, answers are identified, additional answers that add value can be added to same question over very long timeline, and mark dupes as dupes pointing back to the "canonical" instance of that question. Banning/closing these questions doesn't actually solve the irritation (our wishing that newbies would look for that canonical question/answer before they ask it again, i.e. RTFM).
    – Jon S
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:18
  • Doesn't closing a question as dupe ding the asker's reputation? If not, perhaps a (light) penalty of -1 for that would address that concern.
    – Jon S
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:20
  • 1
    @jdsweet - a way of merging the new into the existing would be the ideal route, no? Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:35
  • Yes, the new questions become synonyms perhaps. I know at Y! Answers, when someone is asking a question, the system does a search to pull similar seeming questions in an attempt to answer asker's Q on the spot. Depends on specificity of question how useful that is.
    – Jon S
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 17:14

I don't think the advanced trading questions are on topic for this site. I think the simple questions are on topic, but some line needs to be drawn between personal finance and the details of trading. The techniques of trading are a topic that has spanned many tomes and has many professional or vocational practitioners, as such it's not really a personal finance question.

On the other hand this raises the question of how do we tell what's advanced and what's not, which is a difficult line to draw. I don't think we should simply rule out options as that is a fairly common tactic for individual investors. However there is obviously a line between that and "Algorithmic trading in linux using python" and "Difference between Black-Scholes, Binomial models and Market price in European index options?". These are highly specific questions that I doubt individual investors will be asking. I also think that we want to stay away from the line with Quantitative Finance.

In summary, we obviously aren't saying "all trading questions are on topic" so the question is really, where do we draw the line?

  • 1
    So long as an individual can do the advanced trade legally, then the question is valid for personal finance. Off topic questions would be things people simply cannot do without being a large institution or regulated industry. I don't understand half of them, but the equation questions should stay I think.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Oct 13, 2012 at 5:18
  • I just read your answer, C Ross. I don't know what constitutes a comprehensive drawing of the line, but I just wrote up two suggestions. I am of a similar mindset as you, in that I think there is a definite scope for this site. Advice that applies to a professional investor, even a sole proprietor, could be very misleading to an individual managing their own personal savings, especially if just starting out in life, career etc. Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 19:56

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