I refer to this question by a new user to Biology-SE site. It was closed as being "unclear what you're asking".

It seems to me, whatever else, it is very clear what is being asked: What do the terms 'good cholesterol' and 'bad cholesterol' refer to?.

For example, the Mayo clinic has this to say about 'good' and 'bad' cholesterol:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or "bad," cholesterol transports cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or "good," cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.

Other examples of the use of these terms may be found at the following sites: HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides (The American Heart Foundation), LDL and HDL Cholesterol: "Bad" and "Good" Cholesterol and Is there really such a thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol?

What is the justification for closing this question? It is surely the type of question that this site should be trying to attract?

Secondly, why be so unwelcoming to a new user? One of the comments is 'You can't get cholesterol from vegetables', which is at best misleading (vegetables do contain cholesterol, just not very much, and plant membranes contain cholesterol), but (IMO) is also unnecessarily hostile.

One of the most popular stackoverflow questions is How to exit the Vim Editor, making up around .005% of question traffic (see here for a commentary). It has been viewed over 1.4 million times. The answer is freely available elsewhere (:help quit, from within Vim, for example), but is would seem that programmers use Google whenever they have a difficulty, and SO is the 'go-to' place. It seems to me that Biology-SE has a lot to learn in this regard.

It is surely reasonable that the OP be given a reasonable hearing, that the question be interpreted in the spirit it was asked, and that the SO community provide answers in a welcoming and friendly manner?

Finally, let's consider things from the viewpoint of a new visitor who uses Google to search for 'good and bad cholesterol' and compares the quality of Biology SE to that of (say) the American Heart Foundation. In this instance at least, we are not the 'go-to' place.


1 Answer 1


I cannot speak for the close-voters, but I support their choice.

What is the justification for closing this question?

The question is underresearched (homework), as it contains two lines: a header and an identical question body.

The question is, as a consequence of above, too broad, as it leaves the question open What is bad, what is good?

The question is, as a consequence, primarily opinion based, as OP needs to define good and bad.

So I disagree with

It is surely the type of question that this site should be trying to attract?

As it is a prime example of a question we don't want to attract here. Lastly, question views are, imo, not a proxy for question quality. For instance, the bot decides whether a question makes it into the hot list, primarily based on the post's activity in the first hour, quite irrespective of its premise.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't necessarily think that the question shouldn't have been closed, but the terms good and bad cholesterol are pretty well defined, as explained by xusr. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer - yes the question topic is of interest, as there is debate whether the old school definitions of good/bad and LDL/HDL are valid. There are notions that the old-school black-and-white distinction is more of a gray area. It's an interesting topic, but a poor question, unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ The point I'm trying to make is that a question asking for the definitions of well defined terms shouldn't be required to define those terms, as your answer seems to suggest. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 18:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @canadianer - and my point is we should be expecting at least some prior effort, instead of a one-liner. This is homework. We've become increasingly sloppy at reviewing of late and I think it's affecting overall quality of this site. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 19:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not arguing for or against that. Rather, I am specifically addressing the parts of your answer that say "it leaves the question open What is bad, what is good?" and "OP needs to define good and bad". $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ On a side note, this is not homework in the actual sense of the term. If people want to close questions because they lack research, can we finally change the text of the homework close reason to reflect its actual use? Something along these lines. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer - I know where you're coming from, but I guess it boils down to the first part --> no effort (homework), resulting in a poorly defined question. It could've been great, it's low quality now. Imo. If OP had shown some effort, telling us where they stranded and provided some background, great post. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @canadianer yes, the homework issue is something we should be targeting, good point. I'll try to talk to Chris about it. Thanks $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for looking into it. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD Just a reminder to discuss the homework close reason. :) I wonder if it would be worth opening up a new meta discussion on it? There are already several discussions from meta and I'm not sure if it's better to bump an old one or start over, given that the old ones seemed to attract interest but never caused a change. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause That seems like the only way to bring attention to it but I suspect, as I think you do too, that all that will happen is some few people will talk about it for a bit and then nothing will change. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer - I'm sorry mate, there's just too much on my plate. I'll do the best I can do get to this. Perhaps start a meta post and link to here. Plus, in the meantime, we've been using this homework close-reason for years, and it does the job. We need Chris for this too so a meta post would great. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 22:28

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