There was recently a question from someone new who came just to ask about the 'obvious moon hoax'. I wouldn't be surprised if this has come up a bunch of other times. @Mark Bailey tried to save the question by doing an extensive edit on it to bring it in the bounds of the reasonable, but there was very little chance the OP would ever have accepted that edit. The fact that the community zapped that question with all their might may have discouraged him from re-posting that question framed as an issue with the public perception of space exploration. I tried to encourage him to do that through some supportive pinging from TildalWave, but he seems to prefer to let it go.

I once answered a question about the appearance of the lunar lander, about how to answer accusations that it looked makeshift and was therefore fake. The question got a lot of traffic and votes.

Now, I understand that that is a double-edged sword. The more traffic you have from the idly curious, and the more they vote on answers, especially when they are likely to not have the technical expertise to evaluate them, the harder it is to maintain quality. All the same, in a perfect world we'd have the tools to manage that traffic without sacrificing quality. In fact, that is the ultimate goal, isn't it?

So what if we seeded a question about how we know the Apollo landings weren't a hoax (though I feel a little icky even saying that)? It could defuse such questions in future by giving us the option of referring them to the other question and then tidying them away as duplicates.

It could perhaps be criticized as too broad. At any rate, do we want to go there?

Edit: Skeptics' handling of the question is here. I found the second answer much more convincing than the first, until I read that one I wasn't too impressed. So we could refer askers there. I imagine such questions will still trickle in and sometimes meet standards.

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    $\begingroup$ Might I say I saw the title of the question and I'm disappointed that this question is about the moon-landing hoax, and not about the wonderfully delightful moon hoax? $\endgroup$ May 26, 2017 at 7:35

4 Answers 4


Too late for "do we want to go there?" We already did. See . And the community hath spoken! That said, questions do have to follow our prescribed qualitative requirements and be on-topic. Otherwise, personally, I have no objections. As you can see from linked tag's list, some of those questions became rather popular.

However, the question that you mention began as a long-winded statement with no clear question to answer. It had a hallmark of a question that would solicit prolonged discussion and several close reasons (Unclear what you're asking, Too broad,...) are specifically designed to address that. If we had a Not a real question close reason (which we used to), reviewers would likely opt for that one.

And about the suggested edit, while it was great in comparison, it identified several standalone questions so it could be closed as Too broad, if it ever was approved, since it substantially changed author's intentions, which is another of the prepared suggested edit reject reasons:

clearly conflicts with author's intent

This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner

There is also another point, one I fear more than any other and was my reject reason for the suggested edit - that OP whose first contribution was that bad that it received 14 down-votes, not a single up-vote, and all five of community review close votes needed to put the question on hold within 10 minutes (!!!), started gaining reputation, and with it site privileges, entirely off the work of others. For OP with no clear intentions, that obviously didn't read even our introduction that each new visitor to the site sees at the top of the page, nor read instructions for asking new questions, that each member asking fist question sees, that's to me a scary thought.

Instead, I would suggest that @MarkBailey, author of the suggested edit, posts new questions identified in his edit as standalone ones, so they can be properly addressed and we settle this hoax moon landing business in as clear and productive way as possible. If Mark doesn't want to post those questions, then I'd encourage those with access to his revision (anyone over 2k site reputation) to do that instead. What better way to teach than by example, huh?


There are several issues at stake here:

  1. Highly experienced SEx.SE community members (with first-hand experience) may be fed up with "moon hoax" questions. Encouraging nuts to post more "hoax" drivel may actually drive competent answerers off-site to fora where "hoax" posts aren't tolerated at all.

  2. Stack Exchange has a dedicated nut, crankcase, and debunking site - Skeptics SE. I'd rather let Skeptics handle conspiracy theorists than lower quality here at SEx.SE.

  3. I don't feel that cheap SuperCollider (tm) (a.k.a. Hot Questions' list) drive-by views and votes are urgently needed. Of course, this is just a personal opinion, yet I have the impression that this community is growing at a healthy sustained pace (hint hint nudge nudge - "when do we graduate?").

  • $\begingroup$ Our stats on Area 51 have a 'Needs Work' category for number of questions per day - currently 4.5, which is the highest i've seen it since i started checking. 5 is 'Okay', 10 is 'Excellent'. We have 1.7 answers per question which is viewed as 'Okay'. They'd like 2.5. Whether these measures should really apply to SX is an interesting question, but i assume unless we are green across the board for a while, they won't let us out of beta. Link Then again what do i know. I just wanted to say. $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Apr 22, 2015 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ @briligg - these numbers seem to have almost no impact on graduation - some sites jump the queue, while some linger on in beta... Quantserve metrics may be much more meaningful. $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2015 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ We had exactly this problem at a site where I am a mentor (Kim's job here. Kim, I'll trade salaries!) We tried multiple times to allow "beyond the mainstream" physics discussions could ensue. It did not work. The kind of people attracted to that nonsense kept repeating the same tired points and were immune to logic and reason. We were losing the high quality contributors and starting to see spam. We finally said "no more nonsense." And it worked. The traffic dropped, but not a lot, while the quality of the discussions, the questions, and the moderation improved vastly. $\endgroup$ Jul 20, 2016 at 0:08

I am not an experienced SEx.SE member (ha), but very dedicated conspiracy people can put a lot of 'umpf' into refuting things. Even a long, thorough, balanced response to shut their argument about the moon hoax will result in them finding an iota of error or even a grammatical error in the response, in order to refute the rational argument.

Next thing you know, Space Exploration at Stack Exchange is being used by the conspiracy people as a tool to show 'faulty science', when in fact it is not. Don't feed the trolls; let them form a coherent, reasonable question on Skeptics.

Obviously, this is just my two cents.


Firstly, I would like to point out that there was no moon hoax.

Secondly, I can't think of anything worse than attempting to put up mock questions that purport to be about any hoax. Any real conspiracy theorist out there would spot it a mile off, and use it further "proof" of the conspiracy. Besides who among would want such questions forever to be on our list of questions asked?

So I think let people ask whatever they want provided the question meets our minimum standards. Then treat such questions with respect, explaining carefully and clearly why the answer is as it is. Then the community should vote up the clearest bestest answers.

If any condescension is shown, it completely nullifies the rational explanation and leaves them with a negative impression.

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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't call them mock questions. It can happen that someone wants help on how to respond well to someone who does believe it was a hoax. Or someone has been exposed to some argument that is confusing and they want to sort it out. The question linked to is just such a case, Joe, the OP, made the point it is people who aren't sure that we are trying to reach. I think this can be done without any sense of condescension. $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Apr 22, 2015 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ @briligg The kinds of question you describe here are fine: they are genuine questions. I'm concerned with attempts to create questions as though the writer were a skeptic. $\endgroup$
    – user8406
    Apr 22, 2015 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ That's really hard, @andy256. You have to turn your brain off. $\endgroup$ Jul 20, 2016 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ @David I turned my brain off once ... $\endgroup$
    – user8406
    Jul 20, 2016 at 0:09

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