Should Stack Exchange be considered like a school/academic environment (legally)? Would that qualify it a for-profit or non-profit university/school?

Would academic qualifications/standards help? There are clearly many people of good repute (and good reputation scores) who qualify their educational background as important (when grading people for moderation, for example). Is that a valid learning/teaching dynamic to qualify, according to the law as, some sort of teaching dynamic.

Is Stack Exchange a school or, as Catija rephrased, are there "aspirations towards accreditation" as an educational institution of some kind?

As Wizard reflected on their Accepted Answer, "the only relation is that both have students, teachers, and management, and they all take part in sharing knowledge. Can you give more relations?" (Martin helped define a few missed relations.) Please help us define/spreadsheet the (legal) relations between each.

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    "Should Stackexchange.com be considered like a school/academic environment (legally)?" according to which jurisdiction?
    – VLAZ
    Jan 23, 2021 at 16:01
  • @VLAZ Well SE is American correct? And I am American (with birth certificate) as well. So is that the jurisdiction according to the definition? Jan 23, 2021 at 16:02
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    There is a lot about you as a person that is in no way relevant to the question. Please clean it up.
    – Luuklag
    Jan 23, 2021 at 16:08
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    @Luuklag Feel free to edit yourself if that is your judgement. I would not have asked the question if not for why and how I am asking the question. I only wrote 3 paragraphs total, 1 about my experience with SE/Quora as a School, feels relevant. Jan 23, 2021 at 16:10
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    I'm not sure why you think you're being graded on your grammar - while people may edit your posts to have correct spelling or grammar, that doesn't mean you're being "graded" on it - we just expect posts here to be easily readable and incorrect spelling and poor grammar decreases readability. Having posts edited has absolutely nothing to do with being a school. Please update your question to focus on one question.
    – Catija
    Jan 23, 2021 at 16:18
  • @Catija Am I allowed to request somebody edit to reflect their commented judgements? So others can read that is the reason, somebody else felt that made the question better. Even though there are certainly questions that drop a line about reasoning which pass. Jan 23, 2021 at 16:21
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    This is your question - none of us here can understand what you're truly trying to ask, so if you want an answer to a question, we need a focused question that is supported by some amount of effort to explain yourself clearly. Since you're conflating two separate things, we can not focus on addressing your actual concern unless you clarify what you actually want to know - do you want to actually understand whether this platform has any aspirations towards accreditation or do you want to have a discussion about when editing is appropriate or the expectations for spelling/grammar in posts here?
    – Catija
    Jan 23, 2021 at 16:25
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    There is only one thing I would like to say. SO is an encyclopedia, not a school. Jan 23, 2021 at 16:33
  • @Catija Is it relevant to you now? Or should I just drop all "I" statements? Jan 23, 2021 at 16:34
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    Your reaction to comments cannot be tolerated. Jan 23, 2021 at 16:36
  • @newQOpenGLWidget Sorry, it's stressful having people write several judgemental comments instantly while being heavily downvoted not upvoted here, for the record. Jan 23, 2021 at 16:38
  • You can comment on my answer by clicking "add a comment". Jan 23, 2021 at 16:48
  • I think @Catja read my question as reading "aspiring to accreditation" so I added that part, does it not help then? Maybe that should have just been their comment/answer maybe? (Replying to +new_QO meta.stackexchange.com/questions/359915/…, sorry not sure to reply to +C or +n here.) ...oh and sorry +Catja I said "for you" I shoud have said"for us", trying to fit in the 5 minute comment edit period is stress Jan 23, 2021 at 17:19
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    I have been an educator, working in a school/academic environment. I'm also a moderator on Stack Overflow. I see no commonalities between the two, other than "people ask questions". Of course, that's also true of my current workplace, which is a for-profit technology company. So I really don't know what you see as the parallels. Everyone asks questions everywhere. That doesn't make it a school. I cannot understand what you are trying to say in your middle paragraph. I cannot determine how to parse it. All I can say is that we're not teachers, and we don't grade anyone. Jan 24, 2021 at 6:15
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    The answer seems to say that there are no commonalities whatsoever. That you accepted that answer made it even more difficult for me to understand your question! Jan 24, 2021 at 13:51

2 Answers 2


Let's keep it simple. In the below, Stack Exchange users who ask questions are school students, Stack Exchange users who answer questions are teachers, and Stack Exchange moderators/staff are the school principal and administrative staff.

School Stack Exchange
Teachers teach first, students ask questions later Students ask first, teachers answer later
Fresh students are not expected to start with existing knowledge Even fresh students must have prior knowledge
School manager and staff don't take active part in teaching Manager and staff take active part in teaching

Those are more than enough to conclude that Stack Exchange is very far from being a school/academic environment and will never be.

  • I wish that table was part of my question, I think that is what I was thinking about. Jan 23, 2021 at 17:15
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    I agree it is sometimes far from a school, but I think it could sometimes be described as a school/educational. O:) Jan 23, 2021 at 17:16
  • @prosody-GabVereableContext Described as a school? Why? In what sense can it be described as a school? Jan 23, 2021 at 17:16
  • @prosody the only relation is that both have students, teachers, and management, and they all take part in sharing knowledge. Can you give more relations? Jan 23, 2021 at 17:17
  • At that point I think that is part of the q (I am curious, I do not know maybe, is that okay at this point? Or is me not going further going to ruin the question?), and maybe was thinking/hoping others might be able to help define how it relates to being a school. Otherwise I can try to reply myself but I am writing alot here and that does not always go well, being brief might help me greatly to be frank, I would rather turn the issue to others to explore. I mean an "Extended School/Q&A Table Version" (vs "Simple") could go towards addressing gaps between what defines/supports each system? Jan 23, 2021 at 17:32
  • @prosody not sure what you mean, if you mean you want to post such a table but with more details then sure, by all means you have the right to post it as new answer. Jan 23, 2021 at 17:40
  • I could try to integrate your "Simple School/Q&A Table" into the primary question, and ask others to help with an "Extended School/Q&A Table Version" (vs "Simple" put in the question) to go towards addressing gaps between what defines/supports each system? That would be another question, or good to integrate here? Your table is excellent for delineating to start. Otherwise keep the current dynamic, and then I might hope others reference your table, it might help? I mean are there multiple questions, accreditation, being like a school, how like a school? Given votes so far, biased towards 1 q. Jan 23, 2021 at 17:47
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    @prosody-GabVereableContext you are understanding SO so wrong, Jan 23, 2021 at 18:04
  • @newQOpenGLWidget There is nothing right about comparing a Q&A site filled with academics with a school environment? Or mentioning Stackexchange/Quora advertises itself as a place to learn? Jan 23, 2021 at 19:56
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    @prosody-GabVereableContext Again, you are understanding SO wrong. Jan 23, 2021 at 19:57
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    You missed one: 'Teachers are paid a salary to compensate them for answering the same questions over, and over, again, even though a trivial Google gives the answer, SE contributors are unpaid volunteers who are sick of being asked to teach Computers 101' Jan 24, 2021 at 1:30
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    Ooooh...another one: 'Students who persistently threaten and abuse teachers can be excluded from school. SE users who threaten and abuse curators can likewise be excluded, but can trivially change their identities, re-enroll and continue the abuse' Jan 24, 2021 at 1:39
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    and...... 'Students who claim discrimination on grounds of race/religion/sexuality can have their allegations investigated. SE users can claim any feelings of victimhood they want and be believed without evidence' Jan 24, 2021 at 1:52
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    I am accepting your answer, in great part/debt to @MartinJames helping define other relations (and realistically worried about the Extreme Voting disturbing/shutting the question before it will get appropriate responses). Thank each of you for really working to spreadsheet the differentials. I would be humbled if there was enouragement for Martin to either (A) Continue commenting with great examples. (B) Edit the/Shadow's answer with their entries or (C) Make their own answer (burrow and cite the table here) to go further. Jan 24, 2021 at 2:37
  • @new QOpenGLWidget: Can you elaborate on "understanding SO wrong"? E.g., what in particular? Jan 25, 2021 at 11:07

No. SO is not meant to be a school, nor is it a school right now.

There are clearly many people of good repute (and good reputation scores) who qualify their educational background as important (when grading people for moderation, for example)

There are two things wrong with this sentence. First of all, I don't see the connection between moderation and educational background. Second of all, moderation is not "grading" people. The main reason we edit posts and ask for clarity is because SO is meant to be an encyclopedia, where questions and answers are meant to help people.

For example, if a post has poor grammar, no one will be able to understand it. Hence, people improve grammar to help people understand.

And, if a question is confusing, we ask for clarity, because if the question is confusing, it is less likely to help people.

So, to answer your second question, no, moderation is not a "grading system".

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    Can we ask to focus on the title question and not me specifically? The school issue is why I bring myelf into the question, but it's a school/education question, I am not asking to talk about me (or how I am being graded specifically), I did not ask about me in the title. Jan 23, 2021 at 16:49
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    @prosody-GabVereableContext My answer does not contain any details about you. Jan 23, 2021 at 16:51
  • Edited meta.stackexchange.com/revisions/359915/4 to not be about grammar and be about accreditedness. Jan 23, 2021 at 16:54
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    @prosody-GabVereableContext What is your question? Jan 23, 2021 at 16:55
  • @prosody-GabVereableContext also, you didn't mention accreditedness? Jan 23, 2021 at 16:57
  • Good call, fixed, I cut the 3rd and 4th but only need to cut one, damn, the votes/instacomments are stress/pressure, and I need to do it all before it gets flagged and I can not edit again (all ten comments and 10 votes in under 1 hour so far), eek. Jan 23, 2021 at 17:00

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