8
$\begingroup$

This question already has an answer here:

A new feature of MSE is confusing me: this is "on hold". What does this means?

For instance, this topic received this label with the mention that the question is a homework. How do the voters know that the question is a homework without asking the OP?

$\endgroup$

marked as duplicate by Nate Eldredge, hardmath, TMM, Asaf Karagila, Brian Rushton Jul 14 '13 at 4:16

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The "funny" thing is that a few days ago one of the voters, Zev Chonoles, denied my tentative to label as a homework a question posted by an user who posted 4 exercises from the same book in two days. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Jul 2 '13 at 8:31
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The label [on hold] is shown on recently closed questions (within five days). After that it changes to [closed]. The changes were announced here. $\endgroup$ – ˈjuː.zɚ79365 Jul 2 '13 at 8:33
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Regarding the practice of closing with the "Homework" reason, see this thread. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Jul 2 '13 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ @'ju: Thank you. I'll try to read that page. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Jul 2 '13 at 8:36
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ @YACP: The text of the vote-to-close reason is controlled by the SE people. I voted to close using that reason due to lack of effort put forth by the OP, not because I thought it was a homework problem. That is simply the option that fits my meaning best - not perfectly. Notice how I didn't add any homework tags? Not even funny in a sarcastic way. $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Jul 2 '13 at 9:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ZevChonoles The off-topic sub reasons like the homework one are actually under the direct control of the moderators. SE only provided some default reasons, each site is free to change them. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Jul 2 '13 at 9:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist: Well, I'll open a thread on changing the wording then. $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Jul 2 '13 at 9:53
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Egad, the announcement post is still showing in the Community Bulletin as we speak. What do I have to do to get people to do the minimum of research before asking questions on Meta? $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jul 2 '13 at 11:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ZevChonoles: see (a) the thread that Lord_Farin linked to, and (b) meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9956/… Please, don't add yet another thread on the exactly same topic. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jul 2 '13 at 11:27
2
$\begingroup$

"On hold" is a metaphor from olden days of telephones, and is commonly used in some English-speaking nations to mean "waiting for service". If a telephone is connected to multiple lines, and one of the lines is active, instead of refusing incoming calls on the other lines, they can be placed in a queue where they are "on hold" waiting to be answered. HOLD was/is the label on a button on some multi-line telephones, meant to be a verb (hold the call) but used as a state descriptor when secretaries would offer to "place your call on hold" (i.e., in the Hold state). It is this state assignment that became a widely used pair of words: the project is on hold, your question is on hold, his life is on hold until the legal papers are in order.

StackExchange is also, by design or by accident, emulating some of the more cynical and telephone-specific aspects that developed around the words "on hold", where the call might hold perpetually or be disconnected, with neither outcome being unforeseen or unintentional. In that application, the use of HOLD is to appear to not refuse service, wasting the time of many callers who believe the words and stay on the line.

If SE would automatically tell OP the percentage of closed questions where an edit within 5 days was followed by re-opening and additional answers within 30 days, the posters could better decide whether to edit or abandon the questions.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I disagree with that last paragraph. (1) Good edits are not as common as slight-and-not-very-good edits, which means that the statistics will quickly tend towards not reopening; and (2) if the statistics suggests the chances for reopening are slim, it will be the cause (de facto) for people not to bother and edit their questions. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 2 '13 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ SE displays the number of characters per edit, so the data is already gathered and usable if one wants to limit the statistics to larger edits. Any statistic will suggest some improbability of reopening, because there are few reopenings and fewer that lead to new answers. $\endgroup$ – zyx Jul 2 '13 at 15:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Then why waste the time on the statistics? You can just post a comment on the closed questions. Or perhaps, if there will be more good edits, there will be more reopenings, and more new answers. So maybe instead of showing how gloom the situation is, we should encourage people to just do better? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 2 '13 at 15:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Facts are not "gloom". The rates are low, however they might be measured, and it is false communication to dangle an imaginary ideal of editing and re-opening in front of newbies who might waste a lot of time finding out that reality is usually different. Many questions will not attract interest and for all practical purposes cannot be reopened after a closing. The whole edit/reopen idea is less and less workable at higher size and velocity, and the "on hold" is a way of promoting it. As in real life, avoiding false advertising requires some disclosures, and that is not a bad thing. $\endgroup$ – zyx Jul 2 '13 at 16:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ By the way (@Asaf 's last sentence) there is nothing incompatible between releasing data and encouraging people that requires doing one instead of the other. And knowing the data can increase the effectiveness of the encouragement. $\endgroup$ – zyx Jul 2 '13 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ You write "in some English-speaking nations" -- do you have any particular regional variation in mind? I thought this was a standard English expression and never noticed a restriction to particular varieties of English. $\endgroup$ – joriki Jul 5 '13 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ @joriki, I had in mind a different notion of what it means to "hold calls" that is used in some of the same regions, plus my lack of comprehensive knowledge of the varieties of English, plus the idea that the expression might not be standard for people who speak English as a second language. $\endgroup$ – zyx Jul 19 '13 at 20:07