Proposal: Mind
Proposal: Cognitive sciences

What's the difference?

  • 9
    The biggest difference appears to be that Mind is in the "life" section while Cog Sci is in Science, and the Mind proposals questions are well below the standard of the cognitive sciences site (which is more for those interested in formal research, either performing it or learning from it's results)
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 23, 2013 at 16:53
  • The Mind proposal still describes being for experts. @BenBrocka I see you already addressed this in a related post.
    – gerrit
    Feb 23, 2013 at 17:43
  • 7
    Well, the blurb at the top of the proposal is a total dupe of Cog Sci. But per this post and the actual example questions, the current audience clearly isn't "expert"
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 23, 2013 at 20:05

4 Answers 4


PhysicalFitness.SE is within the scope of the category Biology.SE, but is separated, because people on physical fitness wish to apply human biology to practical matters of improving their own bodies, where as people on biology are interested in human biology for the sake of science. Similarly, people on Mind are interested in improving mental fitness and the subjectivity and their individual use of their mind, rather than general scientific principles about minds.

  • What do you mean by "the subjectivity"?
    – jonsca
    Mar 2, 2013 at 20:23
  • Well in biology, the questions are objective, about "humans". Where as in physicalfitness.SE, questions must be about problems we face ourselves in our own life about our bodies and our quest for physical fitness, and theoretical questions are off-topic. This is an example of what I mean by subjective.
    – Kenshin
    Mar 2, 2013 at 23:08
  • 6
    Fitness questions can still have objective answers. I think everyone assumes that somehow SE is just going to change philosophies on a dime for this proposal, and I don't think they are correct about that.
    – jonsca
    Mar 3, 2013 at 1:37
  • The biology of each individual is unique; biological pathways are complex and not yet objectively definitive. If they were the perfect diet pill would be available in your local pharmacy. Similarly people with various diagnoses may react differently to various prescriptions and methods of dealing with problems. It doesn't seem unfair to try to promote a vote based community around this, even if the moderation may need to be monitored carefully. Mar 3, 2013 at 10:32
  • Sounds like now everything would be "too localized" and "not constructive". So, you've essentially said yet again that the site won't fit the SE framework. To that, I would agree.
    – jonsca
    Mar 3, 2013 at 22:00
  • 6
    No, questions on the Physical Fitness site are not within the scope of Biology. Every Stack Exchange site has an expert audience. The expert audience for the Fitness site is professional trainers, and athletes. The questions there are about those disciplines. These are known, respected professions. Biology's expert audience is scientists studying the field of Biology. This "Mind" proposal has no expert audience. It is an overlap with the Cognitive Sciences site which is currently in beta.
    – Josh
    Mar 22, 2013 at 17:46
  • 3
    Furthermore, Stack Exchange sites can not replace doctors or professionals in the medical field. It would be wholly irresponsible for Stack Exchange to run a site for individuals to help each other treat conditions which should have a professional involved.
    – Josh
    Mar 22, 2013 at 17:47
  • @Josh, isn't SE for experts? Why can't there be a SE site that allows us medical professionals to provide our expertise, when there is a site for almost every other endeavour.
    – Kenshin
    Mar 23, 2013 at 0:03
  • 1
    @Chris Were it to make any legal sense to dispense advice on a site like this, are you really comfortable with the ethics of such practice?
    – jonsca
    Mar 23, 2013 at 2:00
  • 2
    May I ask what type of professional you are?
    – jonsca
    Mar 23, 2013 at 2:01
  • 4
    @Chris Yes, Stack Exchange is for experts. And Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is the Stack Exchange site for experts who study the mind. That's my point, this proposal, "Mind", is a duplicate of Cog Sci.
    – Josh
    Mar 23, 2013 at 13:08

Most all of the questions (and all of the SE quality questions) of this proposal can be asked on cogsci. Some already even have answers on cogsci. The migrations between the two sites would be impossible to determine.

Should SE start a separate Mental Fitness beta?


The field of Cognitive Science generally covers a very, very broad range of topics, including artificial intelligence, linguistics, anthropology, neural networking, and philosophy. These are not the goals of this proposed site, which is designed to focus more specifically on the science and practice of psychology as it relates to improving mental fitness and experience of life. I would say that this site is designed to be more practically focused.

  • 5
    It's still completely within the scope of the other site...that's the problem. We don't allow Java programming sites just because they're "focused"; they still fall completely within the scope of the similarly broad Stack Overflow.
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 25, 2013 at 19:07
  • 1
    I think a better comparison would be Stack Overflow to the other computer related Q&A sites. If SO was defined as 'computer sciences' it would be far too broad. I think it's more practically useful because it's bounded to programming. The topics within Mind are each big and broad and have entire fields of study dedicated to them, so I think on scope we have plenty of range without going even further afield.
    – nicholas
    Feb 25, 2013 at 21:43
  • 5
    @nicholas your comment might be valid if the Cognitive Sciences site was overflowing with questions, but it barely manages to get 1 a day. How do you expect a more "restricted" site to maintain itself? Feb 26, 2013 at 6:28
  • I find @ArtemKaznatcheev's comment to be interesting to think about. My initial impression of Mind is not to be "more restrictive" so much as "more approachable" (coupled with the SE community which tends to stand on stronger more sound and documented arguments more skeptically than many Q&A sites) but perhaps others see this differently? Mar 1, 2013 at 16:03
  • That assumes cogsci.SE isn't too unapproachable as is, which may not be the case. Broadening the scope of cogsci.SE to incorporate the "more approachable" topics intended here might do everyone more favors than splitting up the two. Seems there are some concerns here about whether this separate beta will be too "approachable" for non-experts and non-objectivity (though I agree with @jonsca in doubting that will fly anywhere on SE), so maybe both betas could be better served by moving them toward the center, rather than toward the extremes of "approachability"... Jan 26, 2014 at 12:31

I would compare them to Code Review, Stack Overflow, and Code Golf; the topics may overlap, but the questions and answers are specific to a manner of interacting with the topic. It seems to me this proposal is geared toward practical personal application; something like a "this is a problem I face, does anybody have advice" whereas the impression Cognitive Sciences gives off (whether intended or not) seems much more geared toward academic purposes.

Under-20-word proposal descriptions aside, Cognitive Sciences appears more specific to social/cognitive science students, professionals and researchers, whilst the impression I get from Mind is one for those more directly impacted or less academic (like a place where a layman can seek professional advice and the opinions/experiences of other laypeople). I see great value of a well-educated community with knowledgeable moderation, strong habits of source referencing and other academic necessities, but I'm concerned that mixing the academically purposed site with one focused on practical implementation may:

  • Distract from ongoing academic/scientific discourse when uninformed users become part of the same community.
  • Appear to be more for that purpose or otherwise put-off visitors without the academic background to understand answers regarding the broader science

An argument can be made that all people trying to learn fall into the category of students, but it's worth noting that moderation between these two approaches may require different policies.

It may also be meaningful to consider the types of users who might seek advice concerning mental conditions. Perhaps unavoidable to some extent, but I imagine someone with esteem and depression issues looking for the advice and sense of belonging/similarity to others with mental illness. So he happens upon a Q&A site via search and jumps in to a question about why someone always feels anxious about group environments and what she can do to mitigate it (thinking "I know just what you mean!") only to stumble on highly voted answers to PhD theses and negative votes on a person's personal coping technique. If the new gentleman successfully uses the same coping technique described in the personal answer and sees that "society" considers his approach to be "stupid" then I don't think the site will be able to serve his needs.


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