I put a question on site A, where is was closed (on hold currently) as off topic and belonging to site B. So I posted it to site B, where it was again closed as "off topic, should be on site A".

How to resolve this? While the nature of the issue in question might be either medical or linguistic, I don't know that until I get an actual answer.

The questions:

(health) https://health.stackexchange.com/questions/5341/why-is-salt-being-referred-to-as-sodium

(english) Why is salt being referred to as “sodium”?

  • My instinct told that the question might be suitable on Chemistry, if they have tags like [history] or [terminology], but I'm not sure (not an active user over there) – Meta Andrew T. Apr 6 '16 at 11:33
  • I think people are less keen about history-of-chemistry questions these days on Chem.SE. That said, I'm surprised they didn't choose our site. I'm much more inclined to say it's on-topic on chem.SE. – M.A.R. Apr 6 '16 at 11:42
  • 1
    Giving this second thought, and chatting a bit in Chem's chat, I think this question wouldn't be any less on-topic on ELU than in any other SE site. Those guys like to close questions and I think you should bring this up in their meta. – M.A.R. Apr 6 '16 at 11:49
  • 1
    It definitely doesn't belong in health. It appears to be totally on topic for English. From the help center: "Word choice and usage" is on topic. I'd ask on their meta why your question doesn't apply. – user1228 Apr 6 '16 at 12:34
  • You might want to use the answer box for that comment @Won't – rene Apr 6 '16 at 12:44
  • @rene meh, otay. But that's about the specific situ, whereas this kinda hits on the general case--what to do when in limbo. – user1228 Apr 6 '16 at 12:45
  • @Won't sure, but from there it is just a few steps to a general case answer ;) – rene Apr 6 '16 at 12:48
  • If both sites have closed the question as off topic, then clearly the question isn't on topic on either site. Not all questions are going to have an SE site that they can be asked on. – Servy Apr 7 '16 at 16:52
  • 3
    I love the expression, "intersite limbo", so much I'm tempted to take it to area51 and start it's own stackexchange. We rehabilitate lost questions and find them a good home. – candied_orange Apr 7 '16 at 23:28

In the general case, when you're unsure whether a question belongs in one domain or another, just ask in chat on one of the sites, before posting your question. People there should be able to help you formulate your question, and guide you as to where it belongs.

In this specific case, it seems to me that the actual question you care about does belong on Health.SE. The question just needs some radical editing.

I think your underlying question is something like:

I notice that on food labels, instead of listing the amount of salt present, they list the amount of sodium. Is that because the health risk of too much or too little salt intake, derives entirely from the sodium? That is, is the chloride not really relevant to health, it's the sodium, and there are other sources of sodium in food in addition to salt? Why is "salt" referred to as "sodium" in nutrition facts (on food products) and similar documents?

As it happens, there are indeed linguistic and chemistry aspects to your question too, and a good answer should pick up on those as well as the health element.

  • In my opinion the (possibly wrong) speculations (the first and second question you added) would just add "unclarity". Also the first sentence just reiterates what the actual question says. Although the original question implies "sodium" refers to "salt", which might not be true. As I said here, due to initial comments, I decided to take the question to ELU and left health to be closed. (not necessarily the best decision) – David Balažic Apr 9 '16 at 22:09
  • As the ELU question is again on hold as off-topic, do people here agree it belongs to health.SE? Or to some other site? – David Balažic Apr 13 '16 at 12:42

It is not on-topic for EL&U. (Pardon me while I take umbrage.) It is not about word choice and usage so much as it is about food labeling practices, which are not on-topic on our site.

That said, your question in its current form also does not show sufficient research for EL&U word choice type questions. At minimum, you would need to define each term that you find confusing and explain why you are having trouble understanding the difference between the terms.


In a general case I fully agree with EnergyNumbers' answer. Another solution would be to flag your own question and ask the moderators to check if it would be more suitable for another (suggest which) site, and if yes to ask them to migrate it.

However, in this case:

A. The OP repeatedly refuses to do research. At health SE they even don't edit to include links provided for them by other users in comments; on EL&U the question is heavily edited by other users to add research.

B. The OP refuses guidance how to make the question more on topic for the site where the question is already posted (on health SE provided by me)

C. The OP doesn't know what they want. Are they interested in health implications of omitting chloride from the sodium-chloride name? In etymology of sodium or usage of the word sodium? Whether there is a rule or historical development that shows if and why would a chemical name be shortened from sodium-chloride to just sodium?

How can we answer a question when the OP doesn't know what it is that they want to ask?

  • A. There was only one link posted that refers to elementary school knowledge. I don't see how that helps. If someone doesn't know what salt is, how could he possible give a useful answer? Also, I took the advice "this belongs to ELU" and left the question as is (to be closed). on ELU they added the OPs research (that IMO does not really add much value) and some minor wording edits B. see above C. yes they do. The question is clear. The answer might be not, so maybe that confuses some readers. – David Balažic Apr 9 '16 at 22:03
  • @David - The basic recommendation on SE is that you try to do some research prior to posting the question and to include this research into your question. You failed to do that repeatedly - no wander your question is closed over and again. As for A - your unclear and imprecise question led people who tried to answer it to believe that you don't posses what you call "elementary school knowledge" and it's not their fault. I don't see how your "A" answers your ignoring my advice on health SE. We can't read minds. If you want a clear answer, you have to articulate your questions clearly. – Lucky Apr 10 '16 at 8:27

It definitely doesn't belong in health. It appears to be totally on topic for English. From the help center: "Word choice and usage" is on topic. I'd ask on their meta why your question doesn't apply.

I've left a comment on the question @-ting at one of the closers making my case. They may explain nuances I'm not catching, or they may agree and vote to reopen.

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