We have a relaxed off-topic policy for Purim Torah. It is documented here and here. The context of this exception is

silly parodies of real Torah discussion - could be a worthy exception to this expectation

I think that some users have been abusing this relaxed standard to replace "silly parodies of real Torah discussion" with "something silly written in question form."

I think that there should be guidelines to what is valid Purim Torah tender. I think this is important in order that Purim Torah does not get watered down with low quality questions and detract from the fun and overall quality of this category.

Questions that seem to follow the thought pattern of "Sticking broccoli in your nose is silly. How can I turn that into a question instead of a statement?" should be closed as off-topic and not a real question (and downvoted, but that is of course always up to the voter). Questions that are just a forum for a bad pun should also be off-topic. These are not Purim-Torah - they are just silliness.

I think that questions that are devoid of one of the following three components should be put under review:

I hate to turn something that is meant to be light-hearted and fun into something bogged down with rules, but for the sake of saving the fun I think it is necessary.

  • 2
    This is going to be hard to implement. Probably easier to just ignore questions that don't look interesting for 2 weeks. It's not that long after all.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 19:16
  • 7
    @DoubleAA One thing we should consider is applying some sort of quality filter at the end of the season and deleting, not just closing, everything that doesn't pass.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 19:21
  • 1
    If not for anything else it should for sure disallow heresy. Watered town is one thing. But heresy? That's not my cup of tea. . Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 19:23
  • @IsaacMoses perhaps we could use the standards suggested here, and then have a committee (mods, trusted users, or whoever volunteers) go through the list and vote on what to keep. But I still want to prevent them from being asked if we can. It really does partially ruin the fun. Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 19:28
  • 2
    @YeZ, I think mod application of communally-accepted objective (as much as possible) standards would be much preferable to some special, unelected cabal for this purpose.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 19:30
  • Comments are not good for narrowing down details. Extended discussion with examples etc. now has a dedicated chat room.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 5:30
  • A followup question: meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/3836
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 20:16
  • Having positive criteria of what counts as a permissible joke is creativity siffling. I'd upvote if only the negative criteria "something silly written in question form." (or more) were utilised
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jan 31 at 0:04

5 Answers 5


I like the criteria in the question. To reiterate:

To be valid Purim Torah on Mi Yodeya, a question must have at least one of the following three components:

  • A mis-application of a Torah principle
  • A mis-interpretation of a Jewish text, be it Tanach, Talmud, or some later writing
  • A "distinctly Torah style (e.g. Gemara/Rashi/Tosafot-formatted) analysis of some secular issue."

I suggest that questions that fail this check be closed as off-topic. Rather than trying to manage a fourth custom reason (which we only need for a few weeks a year), just choose "other" and type a comment. Or if some other close reason applies, like "unclear", use that. The point is to get them closed, and the community can help with that. (That said, my proposal allows mods to act unilaterally too.)

Then, in the spirit of DoubleAA's answer, questions that aren't fixed should be deleted. My proposal:

  • If it's downvoted and not fixed within 48 hours (excluding Shabbat), a mod can delete when it's noticed. (If it has no answers the Roomba will delete it eventually, but this expedites cleanup of bad questions.) I'm allowing more time than DoubleAA did because they're already closed, which limits the damage, but if people think 24 hours is sufficient I can go along with that.

  • If it's not downvoted and not fixed by the end of the Purim Torah season, mods should delete it before the mass closures. (If it's bad, people should express that with votes. If it's just "meh", there's no need to take extraordinary action.)

  • If it gets fixed and reopened, it becomes a normal Purim Torah question -- win!

Of course, the community is always free to delete posts outside of these parameters, should that seem warranted.

A comment asks how the presence of answers, upvoted answers, or upvoted self-answers would modify this. My inclination is to say it doesn't matter; if the question should be closed under these rules then people should close it and not answer it. We might lose a few good answers, but those answers stand on no foundation, so how valuable are they for the site? (If they're that good, maybe they can be applied to an on-topic question, which anybody interested could ask.)

The guidance from SE on deleting closed questions includes this:

Off Topic: Almost always delete it.

Off topic usually says "This shouldn't have been posted here in the first place." So, for anything not about topic [x] or the off-topic reasons, just let it burn!

If that's the guidance for regular questions, I would expect the approach to be even stricter for things like Purim Torah that are tangential to the main purpose of the site.

(Note: I don't think we wholly follow that guidance for other questions, nor am I saying we should. This post is specifically about Purim Torah -- which, I should note, I love when it's well-done or at least not so far afield that I wonder why it's here.)

  • "If it's downvoted and not fixed within 48 hours (excluding Shabbat)": also excluding such things as the first two days of Pesach if they should occur during PTIJ season.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 18:28
  • @msh210 how is that possible? PTIJ season ends a few days after Purim. Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 18:55
  • @MonicaCellio, I was just getting into the spirit of things.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 19:47
  • @msh210 see Rashi's comments to mishenichnas adar marbim b'simcha Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 3:42
  • @yEz (the reference, for those wondering, is to the last Rashi on amud 1 of Taanis 29) Good point, but that doesn't mean MY's PTIJ season extends that long. :-)
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 4:05
  • @msh210 but perhaps we should still sing the jingle until then! Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 4:13
  • @yEz perhaps you should post an answer to judaism.stackexchange.com/q/35180
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 4:18
  • @msh210 judaism.stackexchange.com/a/66069/4794 Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 4:27
  • @yEz I might regret asking this, but...what jingle? Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 4:30
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio ooooooh misheh misheh misheh misheh misheh misheh misheh misheh misheh nichnas adaaaaar! (x4) Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 4:30
  • 6
    @yEz I hope you know that I counted to make sure you had the right number of "misheh"s.
    – Daniel
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 14:53

To help maintain PTIJ quality, perhaps the following should be implemented:

A mod imposed limit of X (open undeleted) question-posts per person per season. (X=5?)

Any question with a net negative score after Y hours is to be deleted by mods. (Y=12?)

This would encourage users to post their best material only and remove anything making people unhappy. The point of PTIJ is to have a good time after all.

  • Other suggestions for (X,Y) are welcome in the comments here
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 23:11
  • I agree with the above idea. I think the numbers could be tweaked, but they are reasonable. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 0:50
  • +1. I suggest that net negative questions should be deleted after Y hours if there are no answers with at least N net upvotes (e.g. N=3?).
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 2:02
  • Also, to give questions a chance to hit the busy part of the day, maybe Y=18? Unless the question's net score hits below some threshold (e.g. N=-3?), at which point it should be deleted much sooner (Y1=0 hours? Y1=4 hours?). (Sorry if the algorithm is getting too unwieldy).
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 2:08
  • By the way, can mods write a script that would automatically implement such an algorithm, or would implementation have to be manual?
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 2:10
  • If the checking frequency can be reduced to once per Monday, then pretty much any criterion could be coded on SEDE.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 4:34
  • 2
    @Fred WADR the goal here is to just make sure that PTIJ isn't spoiled by too much bad stuff, not to catch every meh post. Something simple should be more than sufficient.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 4:55
  • @Fred AFAIK implementation would be manual.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 4:55
  • 3
    I like this idea with X=∞ and Y somewhere in the range 12 to 24.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 7:23
  • 2
    I originally upvoted this answer, but upon further consideration I disagree with the first point. If someone is coming up with really great PTIJ questions, there's no need to limit them. They help to dilute the bad stuff.
    – Daniel
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 14:54
  • @Daniel Perhaps this should be left to the moderators' discretion. So someone shouldn't be allowed to flood the site with tons of 0-score or 1-score PTIJ questions. But if someone is consistently posting questions scoring above 4 or 5, why limit them?
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 0:20
  • 1
    @Fred Daniel, perhaps further the limit should be X question posts per person that are A hours old and have score below B.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 0:52
  • @DoubleAA Sounds good to me, but is that practical for you on the implementation side?
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 0:54
  • @Fred Anything mod imposed is a pain for the mods I suppose, but hey we volunteered to look at flagged spam all day.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 0:57
  • 2
    @DoubleAA we volunteered to look at flagged spam all day.And I thank you for it. :)
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 0:58

I really hate the rules idea, although I recognize and agree with the underlying issue in the question. I think a canonical answer of what elements make a good Purim Torah, together with a statement that the community can vote to close as unclear any questions that substantial deviate from from those elements, should really do it. No mod enforcement for simply that reason. If a question is really out of hand, it will get mod attention for something else (say offensiveness, for example). Otherwise, the community will have more guidance about what to vote down and ignore than "whatever I think".

Some initial suggestions (although take these as examples - I would rather the above proposal be the one voted on in this answer, not the specific examples, change them if they bother you and you otherwise want to upvote the suggestion, and let's start a different answer (or question) to actually gather the canonical list).

  • Is subject to multiple potential answers
  • Uses a Torah principle as the basis of the question
  • Uses an established analysis pattern found in Torah as the basis of the question
  • Uses anachronism and/or deliberate misreading to misapply a Torah principle to a time or circumstance.
  • Uses a (preferably popular and community recognized) secular idea and assumes its presence in Torah

I wonder if people are hesitating to close bad PTIJ questions because no close reason applies, per se.

There actually exists a Purim off topic reason. (See eg. whats the diffrence) It's usually activated by the mods just after Purim, used, and then deactivated.

Perhaps we should activate it for the whole season, and users would then feel comforatble closing bad PTIJ questions with it. (Once closed they can either sit that way or maybe be removed by the mods.)

  • 2
    I think those are two different use cases. After Purim we close PT questions because they are no longer on-topic, and the reason says it's because they're PT. Poor PT questions in-season should be closed for the reasons that make them poor questions -- unclear, off-topic (questions still need to be otherwise within our scope), etc. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 18:38
  • Also, as an implementation note, we have to (temporarily) deactivate another reason to bring the PT one in, so I wouldn't want to have to do that for a couple weeks. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 18:40
  • @MonicaCellio I thought we could have 4. We can double check. Also I think we can ask for extras if we need. SHoldn't be too hard for SE to up it to 4.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 18:52
  • @MonicaCellio Either we could have two such reasons (bad), word the one to make it ambiguous enoguh (fine), or just use the later one and not worry too much about it / delete any questions closed under it.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 18:53

(Expanding beyond the immediate scope of the question as per here)

I think that questions which are only Purim Torah, as opposed to just a random question, because they are tagged as such, should be closed and deleted. There are some very high-voted examples of this, but "What does halacha say about math" is only Purim Torah because it was tagged that way. If it wouldn't be tagged as such, I don't think there is anything Purim-y about the question. You could ask the same question as a serious question and it would just be random and unmotivated, but not flawed.

(I am not suggesting this to be applied post-facto, although I wouldn't mind if it was. But for the future...)

  • So judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/56134/… is no good, then. (Just to pick one. There are many others like it.)
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 13:30
  • 1
    @msh210 I know there are many. I think it should be the "burden" of a PTIJ question to be clever, not just random. As an aside, if that question were ever so slightly tweaked to ask along the lines of "I know that Halacha mandates recipes and cooking methodology, as per these halachos about matzah. So what is the halachic way to make hamentaschen?" then it would be in the ballpark (and slightly funnier, IMHO). As it is, that question is already halfway there. As opposed to some other questions, which are purely just poor, random questions sneaking in under the protection of PTIJ. Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 17:36
  • Yeah, but that math question was great, because it had a great (simultaneously posted, I think) PTIJ answer. I think that if we adopt something like this, we should allow for questions like those, as well.
    – MTL
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 6:37
  • @Shokhet The math question happened to get lucky and attract a number of good answers. There were quite a few questions this season that were of the same quality of question and did not attract good answers. They detracted from my simchas Adar and I want them obliterated. But a PTIJ question which is just an excuse for a PTIJ answer also seems like bad policy and can lead to very poor questions being asked. Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 19:35

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