As a beginner of this site, I saw several comments and questions in confusion of scope in Quant SE site. I've read What is the scope of Quant SE?. But the list of accepted answer is mainly concentrating on finance side. As far as I understand QF, I can say QF is a combination of finance, statistics, and programming used in financial industry. And in my opinion, most of questions in this site fall in this scope better.

Question: Can I use this scope instead when I ask or answer a question in Quant SE?

Update: The scope turned out to be interesting discussion as participant issue. According to chrisaycock, pro term moderator of Quant SE, a non-quant, who is not living for QF - according to his definition, should not post at all. He went further and suggested any post should be in Ph.D level.

Although I have Ph.D in statistics, I am not aware of a way to discuss in Ph.D level so forgive me. Assuming his opinion represents the policy of this site, I'd say it's quite different from other SE sites. But I am not going to argue that. My question is why were people like me allowed to be here and to waste people's time including mine in the first place? If you guys want to be so exclusive, why not just create a career-verified and password-protected site for yourselves?

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    $\begingroup$ @Taeshung -- It is not that QF is a "member's only" club, but we're focusing on specific, answerable questions. Here things are less black and white because quantitative finance is a developing field, but I think the community is tolerant of questions on the margin and gives feedback to improve these questions. Subjective, argumentative questions meet similar resistance on other SE sites. There are many forums for discussion and dialogue and we are trying our best to carve our QF's niche for questions that a quant would come across at work. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ @richardh I fully understand your point which feels quite different from what the moderator claimed. After all, I want to be a more reader than questioner/answerer in this site anyway. Thanks for your comment. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 3:50

2 Answers 2


Taesung, I have to disagree somewhat with @chrisaycock's interpretation of the FAQ, particularly as it relates to your questions on the site thus far. The real purpose of the "doing QF for a living" litmus test is to be able to easily reject clearly off-topic questions. The main difference between Quant.SE and many other SE sites, such as SO, math.SE, stats.SE, and even physics.SE, is that no one thinks they are "aspiring to" professional-level programming, math, statistics, or physics when in reality no professional would agree, but there seem to be many people who seem to think that using a simple moving average crossover qualifies them as doing "quantitative finance." For these folks, there already exists another SE site, money.SE, devoted to personal finance and those looking to learn the basics. Hence this site is for people who are already conversant in a number of topics considered to be the basics of quantitative finance. IMHO it is ok for an aspiring quant to post questions here, but it should only be after they have attained enough background to understand the majority of the questions and answers on the front page. What we are decidedly not looking for here are "dilequants."

As for the PhD issue, I have a PhD (in economics) and it seems you do as well, so perhaps that is not an issue for you specifically, but I do think this site would also welcome informed questions from professionals with a master's degree such as MQF, MFin, etc. I've also met several people with only a bachelor's degree who have read more finance journal articles than I have, and I believe their participation would be welcomed as well.

Looking at the questions that you've asked thus far, I have to admit that they are close to the edge of the scope of the site, but acceptable in the end (particularly after some editing), and I did up-vote each of them. The main redeeming feature of your first two questions is that you did a bit of your own research before coming to the site, then you asked for additional sources and references. I've done that myself. As for the C++ question, I think the question itself is quite valid, and the early answers were good, but then things seem to have gotten out of hand with people who are clearly not quants contribution to a "debate" with no mention of why C++ is important to finance. BTW, I think that a practicing quant could be interested in the question if he is the boss and is deciding what to use for an essentially new trading operation.

  • $\begingroup$ I have to disagree somewhat with @chrisaycock's interpretation of the FAQ. Um, I was the one who wrote the FAQ. I wrote it when I became a moderator after all of the back-and-forth about what was considered on-topic. Feel free to read the old Meta questions about scope from when we defined the site. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 3:50
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I understand that, but nevertheless, I think you are being too harsh on Taesung, for the sake of growth and increased participation. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 12:35

I suggest you read a lot more than just that one post. After a lot of back and forth on meta and in the comments, the founders and early moderators settled on the litmus test that if the asker is doing QF for living, then it's probably in scope. We had to settle on this because we didn't want to exclude retail traders who use quantitative techniques for their livelihood.

You are correct that QF is statistics, programming, and finance. But consider this question:

What language/database/hardware should I use to build my infrastructure?

Someone who does QF for a living would just use whatever his boss tells him to use, so it immediately fails the litmus test.

This question is also really broad; what are the specific needs of the person who asked this question? It's probably broad because the person who asked doesn't have any experience. Again, it fails the litmus test.

There are numerous other questions that we'll close, like general book recommendations or the how-do-I-break-into-the-business type queries. It's not that we're against career advice, per se; it's that the type of person who asks a question like that is simply not a quant. And we don't want non-quants asking non-quant questions on the Quant SE.

Consider your own question about the prevalence of C++ in the industry. Most experienced quants aren't going to waste their time with something like this. I'm actually surprised @vonjd wrote anything at all; certainly many of the other responses to your question came from people who aren't even in the industry! And when we have people outside the industry trying to answer a question like this, the results are purely speculative (ie, junk).

Michael Pryor once said while we were still defining this site that a non-quant should not be able to understand any of the questions on the front page. That's also a good litmus test. The other SE closest in spirit to what we're trying to do is Theoretical Computer Science. Their FAQ explicitly states that questions are expected to be PhD-level issues. Many of the top users on Quant SE are also PhDs, and we expect the same quality.

So to answer your question: no, I don't want you to use any scope definition that even remotely invites non-quants to offer their useless opinions. Your questions should be so specific to quantitative finance that anyone who isn't an expert should feel unwelcome.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you suggesting non-quants should not post at all? I can understand answer should be from quant. But question too? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Taesung Correct. Non-quants should not post on the Quant SE. Do you think non-programmers are allowed on Stack Overflow? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Well I wonder your opinion is for all in this site. If so, I have to question why you even allow others to come here in the first place. I don't intend to debate with you but SO allows non-programmers to learn their way to programming. Does Statistics SE disallow non-statistician and non-Ph.D.? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ one subtlety; we do allow people who aspire to be programmers on Stack Overflow -- the relevant question is "are they putting in the requisite effort to convince us they really want to be a professional programmer?" $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeff Perhaps I overshot in the comparison to SO since there are plenty of people who have to write code during their day job even if they aren't developers by career. It's probably the same thing with Cross Validated since there are many users of statistics who aren't career statisticians. But I can't think of anyone who uses quantitative finance without being a career quant. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ There are quite a few folks out there who have a day job but are quant traders at night. I can think of a handful that I personally know. These are not your typical punter either. They are real quant traders, just not full-time and don't yet make a full living off of it. I would not want to see this class of contributors discouraged from joining this community, especially since Quant Finance is already quite niche. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Louis You've been on this site for one day and you're already making demands?! Granted, your contributions so far have actually been significant, so I'm willing to cut you slack. But it doesn't make a good first impression. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ @chrisaycock I don't recall making a demand. I think if you were to re-read my comment you would agree. It's fine to disagree, I was simply providing an alternate opinion that you're definition of who should be contributing might be discouraging rather qualified potential new community members. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 22:32

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