For the purposes of this thread,

Mi Yodeya is not a Rabbi and practical questions must be taken to one's personal Rabbi.

While our policy in general is to close psak-seeking questions and only reopen when it's no longer psak-seeking, I feel that the sensitive, and, frankly, c"v life-threatening nature of the COVID-19 pandemic demands a stronger response to such questions. The last thing we – or anyone – needs is for someone to think they can ask here as they ask a Rabbi (with medical expertise!), pose their question in such a way as to game the system – and then die. As the Sifri writes: if someone is supposed to die, don't let it be through your hands.

Is this something we should be worried about, and if so, how should we deal with it? Should there be a distinction between both types of questions I've outlined above?

Remember, voting on Meta is different. Upvote or downvote with proposals already posted to show your consent or dissent, and of course you can post an answer to this thread with your own idea!

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    Not fully-baked, so not posting as an answer yet: How about inserting a special "we're not your rabbi or your doctor" disclaimer into all C19 questions? – Isaac Moses Mar 25 '20 at 19:13
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    @Isaac Also a good proposal! – DonielF Mar 25 '20 at 19:32

All questions which could be pertinent should have a disclaimer attached to the bottom. Possible wording, open to suggestions on improving it:

This question deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please speak with your doctor and Rabbi before following any advice discussed here.


No disclaimer is needed. We already have one in the top-right of the main site, and that's sufficient to let users know that they shouldn't be coming here for practical advice. Our regular RFP rules are enough; we don't need anything more aggressive, even under the circumstances.


My proposal:

  1. All C19 questions must be closed immediately as psak-seeking, even if phrased in the third person or as a theoretical, unless it's obvious that the question cannot possibly be practical (ex. Declare a leap year due to coronavirus?). If the question can't be generalized, then even if the OP is asking theoretically, someone might come to rely on that thread, to one's danger.
  2. Any C19 question can be reopened, and certainly asked initially, after this pandemic passes (Be"H soon!).
  3. All GP questions should be judged as usual for the normal psak-seeking flags; while the same risk still holds for such questions, the risk of someone trying to game the system or rely on us for help I think lessens if the post isn't directly about COVID-19, and the usual rules should remain in place.

This discussion only applies to possibly practical halachic C19 and GP questions. Non-halachic questions (ex. Purim 2020 Skype megilla leining recommendation) and obviously theoretical questions (ex. Declare a leap year due to coronavirus?) do not fall under this proposal.

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    As I said in the question, it's your prerogative to downvote to reflect your dissent with this proposal. But may I ask why? – DonielF Mar 25 '20 at 19:32
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    1. I don't like the idea of treating questions that are explicitly not RFפ ("phrased in the third person or as a theoretical") as if they are. 2. I don't think that the C19 and GP categories outlined in the question are well-defined. I voted against this answer before your edit to the question, when you moved two example questions from C19 to GP. Apparently you realized (and I would agree) that those two questions weren't generalized, but could be generalized, which puts them in GP as you defined it. ......................... – b a Mar 26 '20 at 12:00
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    But the first remaining question could also be generalized to other diseases (as demonstrated by the fact that it's marked as a duplicate; if the duplicate question didn't exist then it would be GP). And the second remaining question is definitely not generalizable, but it's so far from RFפ that it would be ridiculous to close it as RFפ (it's not asking what to do, even in a theoretical case; it's asking a "why" question). And so, it seems, following the strict sense of your C19/GP distinction, it's hardly possible for there to be a question worth closing as RFפ that isn't already clearly RFפ. – b a Mar 26 '20 at 12:00
  • I don't think the fact that a question is about a current event makes it a request for psak. We don't have a policy restricting questions about current events. – Daniel Apr 3 '20 at 18:31

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