My question on human physiology was closed as off-topic: Why are many unable to defecate and urinate simultaneously?

The closing reason says:

"Personal medical questions and health advice are off-topic on Biology. We cannot safely answer questions for your specific situation and you should always consult a doctor for medical advice."

I was surprised by this close reason, as it never occurred to me this question might be interpreted as personal. How would I know a priori whether a human biology question is personal or not?

For comparison, currently the most upvoted question is:

Why do I only breathe out of one nostril?

What is the characteristic difference that makes Why do I only breathe out of one nostril? on-topic and popular, but Why do we poo and pee in series and not parallel? off-topic?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm not saying your question should or should not have been closed, but the standard for questions has definitely changed over the years. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 6:18

1 Answer 1


I was the last one to add his close-vote and I'll explain my reasoning. The thing is that both defecation as well as urination are both under voluntary and involuntary control through the anal and urethral sphincter musculature, respectively. In other words, one can voluntarily decide what to do first. On the other end of the spectrum, e.g. when defecating or urination happens involuntarily, there may, or may not be a sequential process involved. The question might obtain more focus and researched content when things like this were explicitly incorporated in the question proper.

In that sense, a close-vote based on either our 'homework policy' or being 'primarily opinion-based' would, arguably, have been more appropriate, but I have chosen to represent this community instead and voted-to-close with the same reason as the other four voters before me did, namely the one currently listed.

And the linked nostril question is therefore a good example of an unambiguously stated question, as the process involved is fully involuntary (barred one is not holding one nostril closed physically ;-). Therefore, I would not close-vote the nostril post.


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