We have basically three classes of geoscience questions here:

Specific Geoscience Questions

General Space Questions Directed at Earth

That is, types of questions that we very frequently ask about space objects that happen to be directed at Earth.

Questions about Earth that Involve Other Astronomical Bodies

It is easy to see why the latter category is deemed on topic, because it involves other astronomical bodies. The middle category is somewhat more difficult. Especially the "perfect sphere" question, which really seems like it should belong in geoscience. The axial tilt question is of a lot more interest to astronomy.

The first category is the one that seems like it should be off topic. And in the case of the last question in it (Why is the Earth's center still hot after millions of years?), we have almost enough close votes from the community to close it (4 out of 5). Yet somehow the other two still managed to pass relatively unchallenged and got a number of upvotes.


So here's the central question:

What stance do we take on geoscience questions?

If they are to be generally excluded from the site, how do we divide those that we include from those we don't?


If you came here from a weird question on Astronomy, an explanation is in order.

We have decided to allow planetary science as a topic on Astronomy.SE, which makes perfect sense. However it brings up the problem that Earth science is a special case of planetary science. Now when one thinks of geoscience they often think of geological questions, questions that frequently apply to other planets. However, geoscience in the broad sense encompasses all Earth science (just a fancy term for any science that studies stuff on Earth). This is a problem because there are a lot of Earth science questions that we probably don't want here. There are milder cases (do we want plate tectonics here?), but there are also stronger cases (cockroaches...seriously?). We need to somehow draw the line between geoscience we allow and geoscience we don't. That way users don't get confused when their question is frowned upon.

I started my campaign of weird questions on Astronomy to draw attention to this issue. So if you are here, please leave a comment or answer of how you think we can draw the line.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Earth science, unless directly related to phenomena observable on other celestials, Solar system in general of which Earth is a constituent part, or as an origin of observational astronomy where its movement, local and global phenomena might affect observations and measurements in any way, is off-topic on Astronomy but can be asked on Physics now or Geoscience once this Stack Exchange site proposal reaches public beta.

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It appears that the community has decided that all geoscience questions are on topic based on the retraction of close votes from the post that initiated this question:

Why is the Earth's center still hot after millions of years?

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For questions about things specific to earth, geology, life sciences etc., many of these "off-topic" kinds of questions are not really off-topic; no matter how off-topic it seems, they usually are just badly worded good questions of the form:

How would this be different on a another planet/system/space, with features XYZ?

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The problem is that in many cases these questions are not answerable because they are too speculative at the present. Yes, sometimes rewording is needed and should be done. That might be a good thing to incorporate in our final policy. –  called2voyage Nov 15 '13 at 17:29
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