I might be wrong, but I have got the impression on MS users are divided in two main cults:

  1. One side stricly against any type of "Economic" questions like this one: Who creates money? Central banks or commercial banks?

  2. and another side quite against "Day by day money chores" questions, like this one: https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/15505/can-i-save-money-by-making-my-own-clothes

I'm not a moderator, or a big contributor to this community, but don't you think time is come to clarify once for all what type of questions could be asked here?

Don't you think it's realy unfair to all users (which means ourselvs) not to clarify this once for all?! Users take time to answer to questions, and then they get frustrated by seeing them getting closed.

See for instance the answers at the 1st question by Muro and KeythS. It definietly took time for Muro and KeythS to think about answers and write them down, isn't it frustrating to see it closed then?

In the same way for the 2nd question it definietly took time by duffbeer703, jdsweet and Steven to answer, and then it was closed!

My personal POV for a possible solution is to simply accept each other cult and allow both.

In this community there could be people more interested in economy and other more interested in day by day money chores. I don't see how one subject could badly affect the other, as long as there are users willing to answer both type of questions, and it seems there are!!!

Talking about both Economy and Money chores simply expands a bit the interests in this community.

At the end of the day aren't both Economy and Money chores "Personal finance and Money"?!

Couldn't then both these type of questions just live in this community one next to the other?!

Disclosure: both questions used above as examples were not posted by me, nor answered by me, so I have no interest in having them being re-opened or kept closed.

  • I don't think that your "two cults" theory is completely correct: note that JoeTaxpayer and littleadv, both prominent participants with very high reputation on money.SE, voted to close both questions. I think the first is definitely off-topic and should remain closed; the second is barely on-topic but I don't feel strongly enough about it to ask for a re-opening. In other words, I am definitely a member of one of your "cults" and nearly a member of the other. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 14:19
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    @Dilip Sarwate - I disagree with you, littleadv, and joetaxpayer in regards to the first question. I believe Muro answers it quite well and it is very much a valid question. Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 19:44
  • "Academic questions about economics or questions about economics that have no bearing on personal finance" - The first question was clearly academic/economic. If with the economics site shutting, the FAQ is expanded, that's fine, but by the current definition, it's off-topic. It takes 4 to close a question, that's the rule for closure. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 1:50
  • @JoeTaxpayer: I really struggle to see why interesting questions about economic should be closed. Don't you have the feeling that chasing away economic questions, and even worst opening to questions like the "clothing" one, will slowly pull the main subject of this site to pathetic questions like: "Will I save more money by eating cheaper fresh onions or by buying cans of beans and store them in my kitchen?"? Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 13:36
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    The pathetic question you suggest is off-topis as well. Your issue isn't with me, it's with the FAQ. If we agree the question in discussion is "economic" we can agree to continue the discussion to expand the FAQ. With my background, I'm happy to include such questions. At present, I run the risk of spending too much time writing a brilliant response only to have it closed. Perhaps I wasn't clear, I'm agreeable to expanding the FAQ. Not agreeable to continuing the debate that the question discussed wasn't currently on-topic, with current FAQ. We should go back to the "expand scope" thread. Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 14:06
  • I have nominated Who creates money? Central banks or commercial banks? to be re-opened since I feel it is not off-topic. Is anyone else on board? Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 23:54
  • @KirillFuchs: actually the point of my question was not to re-open one or two questions or to start a fight about the specific questions I posted (they wer only examples). My question is a way to see if the community agrees in expanding a bit the definition of Money.Stackexchange by adding something like what it has been suggested by MrChrister: "Specific macro or micro economic issues that have a direct impact on day to day..." Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 17:12
  • @MarcoDemaio I understand, I didn't vote to re-open based on this discussion I voted to re-open because it is relevant and add valuable content to the site. I posted a link to the discussion on re-opening it as it might apply. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 18:12

5 Answers 5


From the FAQ

If you have a question about:

Personal investing and asset allocation
The financial aspects of homebuying
Best practices for saving for retirement, education, and other goals
Strategies for creating and sticking to a budget
Strategies for earning and saving more money

...then you've come to the right place - we want to help you!

It could be argued (as you are), neither of those questions fit into this definition.

I agree you have a case for expanding the definition a bit, and I think you should make your case.

Lets Edit the Definition...

If you have a question about:

Personal investing and asset allocation
The financial aspects of home buying
Best practices for saving for retirement, education, and other goals
Strategies for creating and sticking to a budget
Strategies for earning and saving more money
**Specific macro or micro economic issues that have a direct impact on day to day investments for the retail investor.**

I think the question about where money comes from is one of those fundamental issues that once understood on a broad level, makes a personal investor a little bit more savvy. How money is created will let an investor make better evaluations of the markets and the politics surrounding the markets. If investing is really just educated guesses, then I feel that sort of education is important.

Perhaps the clothing question could be rewritten to explain the trade offs and opportunities costs that will allow an investor to quit doing a silly thing with a sunk cost and manage money with great goals and possible rewards.

The reason I can see to NOT edit the definition to include basic macro economic literacy, is that stack exchange isn't supposed to be a resource for basic information. Can we edit the site definition to explain what we think users should already know before posting a question here?

What Users Should Already Know

Before posting, please know that we expect you to already understand the following concepts.

The concept of opportunity cost in markets
The major points of capitalism on a macro level
What a credit score is
What the major markets of the world are

On and on. That is just a 5 minute brainstorming session. We can write up good tag wikis for the things users should know and reference them in the FAQ.

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    How is Can I save money by making my own clothes? not a question about a "strategy for ... saving more money"? Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:27
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    @DilipSarwate - okay, I could be willing to accept it is. But since there was question in my mind, perhaps the site definition in the FAQ should be updated to more clarity. Lets suggest updates to the FAQ. Feel free to edit my post here as much as your please.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 20:30
  • @MrChrister I like the idea to add "Specific macro or micro economic issues that have a direct impact on day to day..." I did not understand the reasons you say it's not good to add it. Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 18:49
  • @MarcoDemaio - I am waffling. I can see it both ways. Somewhere from the stackexchange blog I remember reading these sites are for EXPERTS, and experts should already have the basics down.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 19:23
  • I am open to expanding the FAQ. The creation of money was (in my opinion and others) currently outside the scope. The clothing question opens a Pandora's Box, in my opinion. If it's considered on-topic, you will see a flurry of discussion of every thing one can make vs buy or pay for vs DIY. Lawn care, painting, cooking, etc, etc. And again, if the FAQ is expanded, maybe these limitless questions would find some interest. IMHO, the clothing question should be re-opened, and turned generic, i.e. turned into a pay vs DIY question. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 13:36
  • I think the question about where money comes from is one of those fundamental issues that once understood on a broad level, makes a personal investor a little bit more savvy. How money is created will let an investor make better evaluations of the markets and the politics surrounding the markets. This is why the line in the FAQ pertaining to economics questions is worded the way it is. Because such questions are supposed to be on topic. The difficulty is deciding where to draw the line. (@joe I'd like you see this as well.) Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 7:24
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    Also, we're not supposed to be avoiding simple questions. We're supposed to be encouraging interesting enough questions to attract and keep people to make for a viable Stack Exchange site. Generally, these types of questions tend to be the advanced questions. However, we shouldn't be scaring away the novice either. On a practical note, the chances of putting together a good list of a lowest common denominator basic knowledge requirement are not good at all. That is an even tougher nut to crack then working out this one question in the FAQ. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 7:30
  • George - as I read Mr Christer's answer, it seems this may be considered "basic macro economic literacy." At this point, I'm open to whatever democratic process will put this question to rest. Honestly, I prefer a conclusion, whether I agree or not, to this ongoing dialog. Maybe the "5 votes to close" need upping? Both questions had 5, and still sparked this debate. There will always be some who will disagree with a group's decision. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 16:02
  • @joe Agreed, we do need some clarification. This is something I've been expecting to revisit ever since we first discussed it. I'll be posting a meta question about it soon. I'd like to take some time to read over some of these comments, gather some thoughts and generally try to organize the effort somewhat. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 16:01

Your question is timely, as I was thinking of inviting a discussion of adding clarification to the FAQ. With the economic board shutting down, I am open to expanding the range of questions, in which case the first question might fit. Dheer nailed it on the second one - there are too many variants of the DIY question, and before it was shut down, I considered a re-write to something broader, "how do you decide when to DIY vs pay for an item or a service?"

Whenever a number of people are involved, there will be differing opinions. An FAQ can't address every issue, but the guidelines can use a bit of expansion/clarification. Even then, the voting process here should suffice, although your point that someone can put effort into an answer only to find it closed later is well taken. Tough situation.

A recent question (on pricing tickets for a drawing) was off-topic, yet I found it interesting enough to try to get more details from the OP. I saw a bit of an update from him, along with a comment that my own answer trying to start the discussion was of no value, and then the thread was shut. My inclination would be to avoid (answering) questions that are even close to the line of off-topic, and continue to vote with my gut. Not all questions will strike us the same way.


Both the questions need to be closed. The first one although interesting, is purely economics question. If we see the questions asked last year we did have some economics questions [that we felt obliged to answer and keep], however after economics.se was launched, we directed those there. It was good that we could have a personal finance site. Since now the economics.se is closed. Does it make sense to encourage economics topics? I am not too sure. I think we should keep it off. The best we can do is answer as comment, so that the asker is not dejected and gets something.

There is no merit in second question. Should I stitch my own clothes, or cut my own hair, cook my own food, do my own household work, or tons of other things ... there is not just cost benefit calculating is also not very easy. We can have tons of question where efforts are done to answer it, but is it really helping someone? Further in case of clothing, why not just try once doing it yourself, max you lose if few tens of dollars if you get it wrong, if you get it right, there is nothing like it. I mean why spend collective time on hours when something can be tested by yourself in less time without much downside.


I find it quite amusing that questions related to the composition and creation of money are not welcome on a site designed to help people make decisions with money.

It would be like having a carpentry Q&A site where someone asked "When constructing a house, does it matter what material is used to create the nails?". That question would be closed since something labeled as a nail shall be recognized as a nail and the quality of the nail is irrelevant. Nails could be made of little cotton pieces of paper with pictures of dead oppressors but that does not matter - they are still nails. This site fails to recognize that the QUALITY of money is just as important as how to invest, save, or spend said money. In that regard, it is very important to know the composition of the money you use as well as how new money is created.

In regards to DIY versus purchasing an item: I do not have a strong opinion on this one. These questions would be beneficial if an answered appeared where someone actually attempted the DIY and summarized their methods, tools, and cost. I think it is going to be hard to get those answers on a finance website.

I essentially use one question to determine if a question is appropriate for this site:

"Will the question and corresponding answer cause me to change how I invest, save, or spend my money?"

Money composition and creation questions are relevant to what I do with my money.

  • I was about to create a post but, you took the words right out of my mouth. Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 19:37
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    "When constructing a house, does it matter what material is used to create the nails?" - Muro I can actually see how carpenters would find such a question off-topic on a site dedicated to the design and building of homes. To them, it's a given that the nails are the right quality. I'd find myself ignored as a 'newbie' on such a board, and be told to come back when I was serious about house building. (This is why analogies strike me as almost always failing, the money creation question was covered for me in a graduate economics class, and has merit, just not 'personal' finance. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 13:46
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    So a person interested in personal finance is assumed to have taken a graduate level economics class to understand how the money they use is created? I would also have issues with a carpentry site that does not care about the quality of construction materials.
    – Muro
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 14:19
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    Ug. Let me put the question back to you - "economic" questions are off topic here. Not my choice. But the current state of this board. Where do you draw the line? The question, as it stands, is not "personal finance." I'm going to quit the analogy discussion as it's a tangent to an analogy that fails anyway. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 22:16
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    I thought the analogy was working quite well but we can drop it. From my answer above "Will the question and corresponding answer cause me to change how I invest, save, or spend my money?". That is the question I ask myself to determine if a question is on topic. For example, I find this question off topic because it does not relate to my personal finances in any way but yet this question is not closed: money.stackexchange.com/questions/5060/….
    – Muro
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 12:24

I would disagree.

Anything related to economy is relevant to your personal finance.

Take a look at gold standard. If government use gold as money then everyone will just buy and hold gold and no body will invest anything. That's because the amount of gold is constant while our economy is expanding.

However, further study shows that it's what people do anyway whether government use gold standard or not. Also people horde land, etc.

In fact, I do not quite understand whether having gold standard will do any good or bad to economy. It'll be just a different standard. Obviously my libertarian friends do not like government arbitrarily manipulating interest rate. But if government do, can we ride the wave?

So understanding something simple as gold standard or bitcoins is very important for your personal finance decision.

Hell, if anything, you should be able to ask, "should I sell drug?" and see how politics come into play of your finance

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