Have a look at this thread:

What are the reasons for and against wearing a bicycle helmet?

This thread was a bit of an experiment, put up when the site was young and still finding its way. The idea was to allow the community to vote on various reasons for an against wearing helmets.

I think it was a very worthwhile experiment. However, in my opinion, this question has failed to produce any kind of clarity or consensus as to the issues involved in bicycle helmets. (In particular, the reasons against wearing helmets are under-represented.) It's also more of a discussion than a question-answer page.

What does the community think of this thread? Most importantly:

  • Has anyone found it useful?
  • Is it a muddled mess?
  • What should we do with this question? Close it? Keep it open?
  • How can we make this question better?

I'm making this question CW; please add any other questions I've missed.

**Actions taken so far: **

  • Gary.Ray's answer is now undeleted--by freiheit. It's a good summary, but doesn't fit with the rest of the thread.

4 Answers 4


It's a muddled mess. A significant part of this problem is the "one reason per post" in the question, which doesn't really work well on this platform. It's not really useful, though it is definitely related to a practical question people really have about riding a bicycle (it's a less subjective version of "should I wear a helmet?"). Because it's a real question people really have I'd rather not close or delete the question and would rather we fix it.

I think we should edit the question and remove the "one reason per post" part.

My vote is that we then:

  • Protect the question. If it keeps getting low-quality answers we can lock it, but protecting is less drastic.
  • Undelete Gary Ray's answer
  • Convince Jay to accept Gary's answer because despite ignoring the format it's really the best answer. In fact, it's probably the best answer specifically because it's ignoring the format.
  • Delete the anecdotes and other things that aren't really answers. Try to get it down to one page. Maybe also delete answers that are already covered.
  • I'm going to protect the question for now. Personally, I like your first proposal. Do you want to split this into two answers so people can vote for them individually? May 13, 2011 at 2:43
  • 1
    @NeilFein: it's split now
    – freiheit
    May 13, 2011 at 16:32
  • well, this is why I prefer "one longer answer that explains things and recommends a few options, make your best case and convince us" rather than the magical, doesn't-really-work "only one item per answer". Plus the latter is a bit like a List of X.. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/57226/… May 14, 2011 at 8:21
  • Just did a little sweeping and vacuuming--I deleted some of the anecdotal answers, and merged two together that were similar. Any other answers look ripe for deletion or merging that I missed? May 19, 2011 at 3:34

There is some useful content in here, especially some links to hard data.

However, I don't foresee any more good answers appearing any time soon. There may be more brilliant things to say about this question, but the chances of them appearing are much lower than more bad answers.

Can we protect the question, so it is still available but doesn't make noise? Link to this Meta, in case someone says "I have a great answer to add"

  • We can protect it. Users with <10 rep won't be able to answer or comment. It would stop anecdotal answers like this one. (Sorry, don't meant o pick on that particular user.) May 12, 2011 at 4:30

I'd lock it, and suggest we normally leave it locked. The answers there now cover all the important points. If someone does pop up with a brilliant contribution they can accumulate 4000 rep and unlock it themselves, then relock it when they're done. I'm serious - someone who can add usefully to that question is likely capable of finding the rep pretty easily.

I am tempted to undelete Gary.Ray's answer because it is a good summary. I'd upvote it, even.

IMO you will not find clarity or consensus on this issue. Full stop. There are strong arguments on both sides, and they are not compatible (science vs emotion). It's a religous discussion in that sense.

It's also not a discussion I'm willing to have in general, let alone try to write a definitive answer for. And this site is supposed to be about definitive answers. It's not "yet another discussion board for endless arguments about topic X". There's any number of those places for people that need to vent.

  • Gary.Ray's answer is quite good, but it doesn't fit with the rest of the thread's format. One of this question's problems is that it's so disorganized, it's had to clean anything from it. What do people think of editing a version of it into the body of the question itself, as a kind of summary of the issues, a table of contents, even? May 12, 2011 at 5:45
  • 1
    @Neil: I think that accurately summarises the problem with the question from a technical perspective. The technical answer is to delete the question as not appropriate to this site. But the social problem is that the question is likely to be asked again, to which the answer is to have one here that we can point people at. To me, the only form of the question that might work is "Please provide a summary of the helmet issue", to which the answer is one like Gary.Ray's.
    – Мסž
    May 12, 2011 at 21:50
  • The problem with the wiki answer is that it's incoherent because the wikification of a Q&A format doesn't really work, there's no overall editorial control. I don't contribute to community wiki answers for that reason, although at this stage I don't delete my answers to questions that get wikied.
    – Мסž
    May 12, 2011 at 21:51
  • I'd have to check on the timing, but I think this question is left over from before SE made it harder to make a question CW. May 13, 2011 at 2:39

Alternate proposal that I can't quite decide if I like more or not, but suspect is the less popular approach:

  1. Write two new answers that incorporates all of the reasons given in the answers. (perhaps use Gary's answer as the starting point). One for, one against.
  2. Delete all other answers.
  3. Also delete most of the comments
  4. add a comment asking people to unlock, edit the one answer, and relock.
  5. lock

Slight alternate: protect instead of lock and still encourage people to edit the one existing answer instead of adding a bunch.

Less drastic approach: Roll up all the short answers into Gary's answer (and delete). Leave the few more complicated answers alone.

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