This question asks if an own-goal counts for a hat trick. It originally was tagged , although that was edited out. And in association football, the answer is basically, "mostly not" because a hat trick is not an official statistic. But in other sports, the answer is different. For example, in hockey, the answer is a clear no. Both hat tricks and goals are official statistics and an own-goal is not a goal for the defending player.

It seems that there should be a policy. If the policy is that cross-sport questions are allowed, then either an answer should have to cover every sport, or answers for any sport should be allowed. If answers have to cover every sport, then every answer to that question is defective. One is only for association football. The other two are probably describing a specific sport, but we don't know which, as they don't say or give references.

Personally, I would consider an "any sport" question where the rules of the sport matter to be overly broad. I think that the correct response would be to restore the original tag. Then people who answer would know that answers are expected to reflect association football rules and can be held to that standard. As is, my answer with citations was downvoted for being hockey-specific. Why aren't all the other answers downvoted with the same comment for being association football specific (or so vague that it's not clear)?

Either the behavior is the same across all sports (presumably the claim of the person who removed the original tag), or it isn't. If it isn't, then without a specific sport, it's too broad. If it is, then an answer from any sport should do, because all the other sports will follow the same pattern.

Please remember, that for some of us, association football is that sport played in high school that other countries (without the benefits of professional gridiron football, baseball, or basketball) play professionally (the US has pro soccer, but it's a minor sport, well behind the NHL). It's not obvious to someone like me that a hat trick is used as a term in association football. But it's quite a common term in ice hockey with an official definition.

Really, I feel trapped right now. I answered a question in good faith that was missing what seemed obvious points to me. Now, if the question had been tagged football, I could see the response that I received. But since it wasn't, I still think that a hockey answer was perfectly legitimate. Certainly from my perspective, as legitimate as the association football specific answer. Which is, after all, wrong about ice hockey. Because it claims that a hat trick is not an official statistic, but in hockey, it most certainly is.

I shouldn't have to feel like I could step on a land mine with any answer. If that question is supposed to be association football specific, then it should be tagged correctly. Then if I accidentally made a hockey answer, at least I'd be able to think, "Oops, my bad." But as is, I feel like it's your bad, for downvoting my legitimate answer or for removing the football tag. Or both.

In my opinion, unless a statistic is truly sports-agnostic (e.g. winning percentage, although hockey has different rules for that too), all statistic questions should have to be tagged with a specific sport. Because the answers will rely on the specific definition of the statistic in the sport.

  • 1
    Given the answers below, it seems that answers responding for a different sport are acceptable. It would be preferable to undelete a good answer that does thi, if you are interested in doing so?
    – Nij Mod
    Oct 4, 2021 at 23:37

2 Answers 2


I think this can be done in a reasonable way for different sports, based on the precedent set in other stacks.

The best example I have is law.se. There, answers are jurisdiction specific, and not only are the questions permitted to ask about any jurisdiction, but even if they ask about a specific jurisdiction, answers are permitted in other jurisdictions - this for the purpose of making the q/a more useful to others (if someone comes across the question and thinks "what if this was asked for my jurisdiction").

What they do is put, at the very top of the answer, the tag for the country it applies to.

In Rugby Union, a hat trick is defined as a player scoring three tries in one game.

I think this is a good way to organize things. I'd rather not have four copies of the same "what is a hat trick" question; it's better to have just one. This improves searchability (with many copies, one for every sport, a search will likely return the wrong one - especially for sports with similar names, like rugby union and rugby league, or football - and while we could sort of force a link between them, that's messy and only possible if we update each new question with all of the past questions' links.

Instead, just one "what is a hat trick" question, and answers for each sport.

I also don't really like having a single answer cover all possible hat tricks - that's far too much! The answer could be ten pages long. Instead, this finds that balance of letting each answer be reasonably scoped, while still having a way to have answers for each sport.

As far as accepting answers, I think we don't worry about that - the recent change to pinning means it's not really very relevant anymore, and it's fine that some answers will sort differently and a user might have to hunt some. That's the point of putting the tag up top - it makes it really clear what the answer is talking about, and easy to scroll about to find the one applicable to you.

  • As for the answer OP posted - I think that is an excellent example of how this should work, as it was a much better answer than the accepted answer for that question (which is not entirely true; hat trick is at least somewhat well defined, having an entry in the dictionary!).
    – Joe Mod
    Sep 29, 2021 at 0:04

all statistic questions should have to be tagged with a specific sport

I think this is a very good starting point; the question you've highlighted is (in my opinion) not a great question for all the reasons you've stated. I'll update the tag information to include this.

I would still however argue that your answer was not a great answer to the question: Stack Exchange has always had run on the principle that answers should attempt to be a complete answer to a question, not a partial one where you have to refer to other answers to get the complete picture. As the question doesn't specify a sport, a good answer would attempt to give an overview of how hat-tricks are defined in a selection of major sports, not just refer to one sport. This is to avoid the situation where we have something like this:

  • Answer defining "hat trick" in football (or noting the lack of official definition)
  • Answer defining "hat trick" in rugby union
  • Answer defining "hat trick" in rugby league
  • Answer defining "hat trick" in field hockey
  • Answer defining "hat trick" in lacrosse
  • Answer defining "hat trick" in ice hockey
  • Second answer defining "hat trick" in rugby union
  • etc

This leaves no real way for the poster of the question to choose one answer to accept - all the answers are equally valid.

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