The Parenting site has variable quality moderation on questions seeking medical advice or on answers providing medical advice. Here are some examples:

Encopresis, I'm at my wits end? Does anybody have suggestions?

Clearly seeks medical advice, with an answer clearly providing medical advice. The question would require considerable re-writing to make it on-topic.

baby reflux problem

Seeks medical advice but was closed as being a duplicate.

Parents' experience of leaving water warts (molluscum contagiosum) untreated?

Seeks medical advice, but spawned a meta question about whether non-medical medical advice was allowed. In other words, can we allow people to post bullshit because we know that's not medical advice. Should home remedy "medical questions" be allowed?

New born seems to be spitting up entire meals. Should I be worried?

This is the type of question that causes problems. "Is it something I should be worried about" can only be answered with "we can't give medical advice. See a doctor if you have any concerns". Some people would add "here's what the English National Health Service / US Centre for disease control / etc say about that illness".

That question was mentioned in a site-self-evaluation and people thought it was a good question - valuable to the site.

I bring these examples to the main meta site because I'm not having any luck on the child site and I'd appreciate some feedback about whether my concerns are valid or not.


1 Answer 1


There are no network-wide rules about medical advice questions as far as I know. There could be certain legal issues with users providing medical advice, but I'm not qualified to judge those and I'm not aware of any case where SE intervened for this reason. I'll leave judging the legal issues to SE.

There are site-specific rules on medical advice, I'm a moderator on two sites that often deal with those and have certain policies to handle them. On Biology we simply prohibit medical advice and health questions. Those are not a useful question type for our site, they are not all that useful to other people, tend to be difficult to accurately answer over the internet, and can be extremely problematic if users provide questionable advice.

On Skeptics we also deal with a lot of medical questions. We don't really allow advice questions, but we do allow medical questions that are asked in a general manner. Our primary way to avoid bad answers is that we require references for every answers, and we remove answers that don't follow this policy.

There are a lot of fuzzy areas around medical advice that might not be all that problematic, especially on a site like parenting. Anything that looks like diagnosis or treatment advice would be problematic in my view. But questions more on the periphery can be fine.

I generally think that a policy on backing up answers with references is necessary if you allow medical or health questions. Otherwise there is a substantial risk that dubious advice gets spread on the site.

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