I'm currently researching gear for backpacking in Alaska (kind of cliche but I'm hoping to visit the location from the Into The Wild movie). Backpacking in Alaska is quite unlike any of the other 49 states due to the heavy presence of grizzly bears, so naturally I'm researching my options for self-defence. While researching, I came up across an old question: Which gun should I use on the trail to protect myself against bears?. I've added a bounty to reward a very useful answer that helped me choose the optimal handgun to purchase for my trip. However a mod promptly put it on lockdown with the following description:

I have taken off the bounty and locked the question for 'historic reasons' on request of a user, as I agree with their arguments. It does not reflect the site as it is now and it is a controversial topic.

This begs the question:

  1. Why does it 'not reflect the site as it is now'?
  2. Are 'controversial' questions now banned from the site?


4 Answers 4


When flags come up for old questions I consider whether the question would be left open if asked today.
To me, that question with its request for more information from OP and several heated discussions in the comments felt 'wrong'. Not bad enough for deletion but not fitting the site anymore.

This kind of 'does it fit' is subtle and hard to explain. Some people do not seem to feel whether questions fit all.


I flagged the Q for moderator review.

As TGO has matured, (a) standards have gone up and (b) knowledge has accrued.

As for standards, 7 years ago it might have been OK to ask a question about "bears", ignoring the fact that there are several species of bear, which differ greatly from each other in behavior and the ease with which they can be deterred or killed. By the standards of today, the Q should have specified the species, for example, black bear, grizzly, polar bear. The type of gun needed would be different for black bear and the other two, and probably different for grizzly and polar bear. (See one of the comments in the second link.)

As for knowledge, to take just one example, see What Does Training to be a Polar Bear Guard Involve?. Notice the rifles. No handguns. True, you weren't asking about polar bears, but that goes back to the standards of detail we expect now in a question. There has been other, more recent material about bears and guns on TGO which obviously the Q in question could not benefit from.

My suggestion is that you review the bear/gun material on TGO and ask a new question if nothing already said satisfies you. For example, there is a question about professional guides, guns and grizzlies

I gave links to two questions because I could find them easily, but there are others.

Finally, as to controversial, I can't answer that. It is not knee-jerk anti-gun, but I don't know what it is. Personally, I would not entrust my life to statistics and bear spray in Alaska.

  • There are only 3 types of bear in the US: black, brown and white. Are you saying one should ask 3 different “which handgun do I need?” questions for each type of bear?! I don’t imagine the answers would be any different given that all 3 bears are of roughly similar weight, though they differ in aggression towards humans. The .44 specified by Sean Wilson would work against any bear out there. Jul 25, 2021 at 5:08
  • I am saying that the question in question did not contain enough information to give an answer, unless the answerer made a bunch of assumptions. IMO, it would be possible for you to ask a new question specifying brown bears, Alaska, your skill level with guns preferably against live predators, your experience with bears, and possibly the location within Alaska, and acknowledging the pros and cons of bear spray. This sounds like a lot of work, and a long question, but it can be concise. As for anything that would work against brown bears would work against black bear, true, but overkill.
    – ab2
    Jul 25, 2021 at 16:46

Both @ab2 and @WedaPashi have covered the main reasons - it is just not the kind of question that works here. It's overly broad and opinion-based, it's kind of asking for a shopping recommendation, and it is both location based and probably time-blind (ie over time the recommendations may change)


I'd strongly suggest to take this answer as from a user than a moderator. The only reason which justifies closing this question (or keeping it that way) from my perspective is, that I truly believe that this isn't the real question.

Why I am putting more emphasize on real part is, tomorrow people can frame hundred such question in regards with dangerous animals starting at snakes and may end-up at sharks. That is not the place where we would want to end up.

I mean I am okay with having questions that asks about avoiding bears or any other such animal species when outdoors. We can go on and be mature about best practices to be followed when such animals are possibly around, but asking for a particular weapon for a particular species, I think its not where we want to go as a community.

  • Nobody uses guns to protect themselves against snakes or sharks (well a few crazy people might but I digress). Thousands of people carry them every year for self protection against bears. It’s not a fantasy question Jul 24, 2021 at 15:45

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