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I have refrained from posting here to address my chronic dismay at the frequent sarcastic tone (even blatant sarcasm) on main, in response to unmotivated questions showing little or no effort. Others (many others, on many occasions) have expressed such frustration. For example, see this post.

Don't get me wrong; I find those kind of questions exhausting and irritating.

But I think it reflects poorly on the site to "stoop to that level" and try to out-do one another with the most clever sarcastic, shaming comment. And I find it sad that such comments frequently get upvoted. One of the main reasons I have not addressed that here is for no other reason than not wanting to point fingers: It would only be responsible, if complaining, for me to post a link or two to exemplify what I find troubling, and I shy away from putting anyone on the hot seat.

Again, don't get me wrong: I do find unmotivated questions showing no effort, or questions demanding a prompt, step-by-step solution, now!, to be energy-sapping, so I do not condone such posts.

But I think that the best approach here is to "kill them with kindness", so I wanted to post, on the positive side, what struck me as exemplar comments left to an OP who posted such a question see this, for example. I found both comments (as of this posting, the first two comments) very appropriately addressing the problems with the post, but also doing so in an encouraging spirit, without berating the OP. This makes clear what is expected on this site, and why, while sparing the OP from a battery of sarcastic "put-downs."

My appreciation goes to those who left the constructive comments. And I'm hoping that by putting the spotlight on those comments, as exemplar comments, others may think twice about the tone of their comments: are they constructive, instructive and encouraging? Do they do more than say what's wrong with the post by adding specific suggestions for how to improve a post? Etc., etc..

If/when others encounter or have encountered comments which they find to be constructive, instructive, and/or encouraging, feel free to share those here. They're out there, and when I see them, it helps remind me, anyway, of why I'm here!

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    $\begingroup$ The link you provide (regarding Mariano's comment) is a poorly chosen example. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Oct 7 '13 at 22:25
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    $\begingroup$ @PedroTamaroff Perhaps you could suggest a better example? (In that, amWhy is saying we should praise good comments rather than shaming bad ones. So...praise!) $\endgroup$ – user1729 Oct 8 '13 at 10:24
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Due to the volume (a few dozen a day, I think) of unmotivated questions it may not always be feasible to give a custom-tailored reply to each such question encountered.

To nonetheless practice what I preached on the treatment of new askers (no close vote unless there's some comment addressing the issues), I came up with the following "standard comment" (source):

Please read this post and the others there for information on writing a good question for this site. In particular, people will be more willing to help if you [edit] your question to include some motivation, and an explanation of your own attempts.

Using the AutoReviewComments plugin for SE, it is very easy to enter this comment under a question which one deems to have insufficient context/own effort. Just as easy as "WHYT".


Further, I think it's good to link to this thread when asking for more information/effort/etc. It may help in getting users to craft a better question the next time they have one.

With that standard comment mentioned, let me stress that it's even more helpful to make your comment specific to the question at hand. 't Takes more time, but is also nicer, clearer and more helpful.

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    $\begingroup$ I am dubious about giving people links to read. Noone ever does, so it isn't really helpful and kinda comes across as parochial ("you have to read this, this and this in order to post here!"). And it isn't as polite as just telling them what they should do. I actually think just switching the comment round improves it a lot. "Hello! People here will be more willing to help if you edit your question to include some motivation, and an explanation of your own attempts. for more details, please read this post and the others there for information on writing a good question for this site." $\endgroup$ – user1729 Oct 7 '13 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see the quality difference as clear-cut as that. I may be more positive about people following links (due to myself being willing to do such things (I even read EULAs etc.)). Also, if you're not following up on the link, then you get to the "particular" stuff, which achieves the goal as well (I have no trouble assuming that people read the entire comment). Thus, either comment is good to me; please feel free to add your version below mine on the "List of comment templates" thread. Variation is good :). $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Oct 7 '13 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729: I agree with you about the order, but the more willing part still bugs me. It’s literally true, but it’s misleading on two counts. First, some of us are in fact willing anyway. Secondly, it fails to mention that the real problem isn’t unwillingness to help; it’s willingness to make it harder for anyone else to help. It’s a pain to try to squeeze a decent answer or hint into a comment or two. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Oct 7 '13 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott You phase your second point wonderfully! Do you have a better suggestion for the "more willing" part? (Personally, I think it should be along the lines of "it is easier to help you if we know what you know". But I am better at criticising other people's writing than actually, well, writing stuff...) $\endgroup$ – user1729 Oct 7 '13 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott If you insist to read it solely in the context of me justifying close votes, go ahead. But actually I want people to realise that they can improve their question for all parties involved -- including themselves. That the volume of questions (IMO) necessitates closing those posts which score poorest in this respect is a sad fact of life. My comment wasn't designed to spare your sensibilities on that latter aspect, but rather to get the point across to the OP in a clear and in a friendly, or at least neutral, way. The posts on which I've used it testify it accomplishes that. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Oct 7 '13 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ ??? Where on earth do you get the idea that I was reading it in any such sense? I was simply commenting on the relative merits of the two versions of the comment and on the fundamentally misleading nature of both of them. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Oct 7 '13 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ "[T]he real problem isn't unwillingness to help; it's willingness to make it harder for anyone else to help. It's a pain to try to squeeze a decent answer or hint into a comment or two." This to me served as an indication that you've read the comment with coloured glasses. The comment was not intended to be about "why your post is going to be closed". @Brian $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Oct 7 '13 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ And while I’m thinking about it, your necessitates comment is obvious nonsense: if some people spent less time closing questions, they’d have more time to deal with the ones that they thought worthwhile. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Oct 7 '13 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: Since that is in fact how it is used, you’re the one wearing colored glasses: rose-colored. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Oct 7 '13 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Brian I have no interest in discussing further with you. It seems to me that you're not listening anyway. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Oct 7 '13 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: Look in the mirror when you say that. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Oct 7 '13 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Brian When I've calmed down, I will. There's always the possibility that I am wrong. Thanks for the advice. I hope that friction on this topic does not impede our getting along overall. You're still an asset to MSE. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Oct 7 '13 at 21:33

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