Rules for r/explainlikeimfive

Rules that visitors must follow to participate. May be used as reasons to report or ban.

1. Be Nice

Posts & Comments
Reported as: Being uncivil

Stay respectful, civil, calm, polite, and friendly. ELI5 is a forum for people to request help understanding complex concepts, and share explanations, without fear of judgement. Don't insult people or their good intentions, in a post, comment, PM, or otherwise, even if a person (or another subreddit) seems rude or ill-informed. Remember the positive spirit of ELI5.

This includes plagiarism - acknowledge your sources!

2 All submissions must seek objective explanations

Posts only
Reported as: Not seeking objective explanation

ELI5 is not meant for any question that you may have. It is meant for simplifying complex concepts.

Notably, posts will be immediately removed that ask for:

  • Information about a specific issue (personal experience, legal advice, medical questions, relationship advice, etc.)
  • Subjective or speculative replies
  • Straightforward answers or facts
  • Recent/current events
  • Religion/Politics
  • Hypotheticals
  • Questions about reddit itself, including reddit help.
  • Whole topic overviews

3. Top-level comments must be written explanations

Comments only
Reported as: Not a written explanation

Replies directly to OP must be written explanations or relevant follow-up questions. They may not be jokes, anecdotes, etc. Short or succinct answers do not qualify as explanations, even if factually correct.

Links to outside sources are accepted and encouraged, provided they are accompanied by an original explanation (not simply quoted text) or summation.

Exceptions: links to relevant previous ELI5 posts or highly relevant other subreddits may be permitted.

4. Explain for laymen (but not actual 5-year-olds)

Comments only
Reported as: Not layman-accessible

Unless OP states otherwise, assume no knowledge beyond a typical secondary education program. Avoid unexplained technical terms. Don't condescend; "like I'm five" is a figure of speech meaning "keep it clear and simple."

5. ELI5 is for factual information, not opinions

Posts & Comments
Reported as: Soapboxing, arguing

All comments must explain, ask about, correct or address facts. Trying to change someone's opinion or influence them with yours is not appropriate.

If you are not able to submit, discuss or correct factual information without implicitly or explicitly involving your personal view on the matter, do not post.

6. Loaded questions are not allowed

Posts only
Reported as: Loaded question

A loaded question presumes a controversial or not obviously true statement as fact. "ELI5: Why was Obama the president when he wasn't born in the US?" is loaded. "ELI5: The controversy about where Obama was born" is a non-loaded way to ask about the same topic.

If your question boils down to: "Why isn't this thing I believe (or is self evidently true) the case?" your question is loaded and belongs in another subreddit.

7. Search before posting; don't repeat old posts

Posts only
Reported as: Didn't search first

To avoid duplication, search for your key words, not your whole title. If you found only explanations that weren't clear on your point, explain that, and state what you're still trying to understand.

You can read more on our reposts policy here.

8. Don't guess

Comments only
Reported as: Guessing

If you don't know how to explain something, you don't need to reply. If you have a partly educated guess, only comment on the parts you are sure of.

9. Don't try to trick the bot

Posts & Comments
Reported as: Evading the bot

If the automatic moderator removes your post, read the whole message it gives you, and follow its advice. It's there to help, not to be evaded — evasion will result in a ban.

10. Posts must begin with "ELI5:"

Posts only
Reported as: 10. Posts must begin with "ELI5:"

This is meant to help identify ELI5 posts on the frontpage or /r/all or any other collection.

Moderation decisions are ultimately left up to the discretion of the ELI5 modteam. Do not try to find loopholes in the rules and sneak through them. Above all else, respect the spirit of the subreddit.