After reading the meta question General quality of BioSE questions vs other SEs I decided to try to be sure my questions focused on good, hard questions that addressed scientific principles in biology.

The first one on bio-mechanics How did the largest/longest dinosaurs hold their head and necks up? was well received and resulting in the startling answer that these extremely long necks are hypothesized to be permeated with large volumes of trapped air, so that the average specific gravity of these necks is far lower than that of modern day long necked animals (e.g. giraffe, ostrich).

The next one How can they know that they found “all the PERVs”? (porcine endogenous retroviruses) also resulted in an excellent answer where I learned about the surprisingly large fraction (8-10%) of the human genome that is suspected/hypothesized to come from endogenous retroviruses, including those that predate humans!

The third one didn't go so well. Since opioids have been in the news so much lately in the US, I decided to find out just what they are. In Wikipedia I found that

  • an opioid is that which stimulates opioid receptors, and
  • opioid receptors are those which respond to opioids.

Which looks like a circular definition. Wikipedia is wonderful, but often it is imperfect, so I decided to ask here. What is the definition of an opioid, beyond that it's something that stimulates opioid receptors?. I further elaborated in the body of the short question:

Is there some way to definitively determine if a given molecule is or is not an opioid? (Medically or scientifically, not legally).

I'm hoping for something more scientific than "if it's on this list, it is; and if it's not, it isn't."

Now I have two votes to close because it is "Unclear what you're asking." and yet no comments asking for clarification. Closing a question as unclear without any comments asking for clarification or otherwise suggestions for improvement is usually used when a question is thought to be hopelessly confused and unrecoverable. In this case I believe my question is quite clear, but if there are two users who honesty feel it's not, I could certainly address their concerns if they would just take a moment to express them.

Since they haven't, I wonder if someone could help me understand what it is about this question that makes it unclear to some, so that I can start formulating a way to improve it.

Clearly the user who posted this illuminating answer understood every aspect of my question and addressed them clearly and concisely, which makes me believe that the two close voters just want the question to go away for some reason. Perhaps the idea that the term opioid itself is unclear is unsettling to some? But close votes have to be dealt with, so advice is welcome here. Thanks!

And if you do have a clear, unambiguous scientific definition of opioid that can be applied to a molecule by anyone to determine if it is or is not an opioid, please post an answer there!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your question is not unclear, and I think you hit the nail on the head with "the two close voters just want the question to go away for some reason". $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Aug 12, 2017 at 6:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I do think it's a good question, and I think it generated a nice, concise answer. I'm guessing the votes came from people that read it as "what are opioids" without looking more closely - we get these kinds of questions a lot unfortunately, that basically distill down to "Tell me about topic X" - these are quite annoying, and probably give some people an itchy close vote trigger finger. Yours is not that, but I think that's probably the category that 2 people put you in. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Aug 13, 2017 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause Yesterday I called it reflexive down voting or reflexive close voting or just herd mentality. The miracle of SE is that it has evolved several accommodations to and defenses from "wild-type" internet users. I think learning how to write questions that don't trigger these things probably has the side-effect of learning to write better questions as well, so, it's all good. :-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 14, 2017 at 4:23


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .