# What's the point to put/keep "On Hold" a question that has already an accepted answer?

The title says all.

For example, this question has two answers, one accepted. I don't know exactly how this happend, but now what's the point to keep it "On Hold"?

• Retagged as it has nothing to do with moderator action. Furthermore, the community probably is using this to send a message: that questions of a particular sort is not welcome in the form it was posed. While it may not be useful for the current instance, it may still be a good learning experience for the OP or other future users. Oct 8 '13 at 15:51
• Alternatively, when it is in the review queue you have to physically look to see if there is an accepted answer. Oct 8 '13 at 15:53
• In the example, only the last close vote came from the review queue. This is a question that got two answers in 5 minutes and was closed in 28 minutes. It's likely that some/all of the close voters knew that there were answers on the question.
– zyx
Oct 8 '13 at 18:21
• I will openly admit that whenever I see a question such as the one linked - which deserves to be closed - I vote to close, whether there are answers or not. The question doesn't belong on the site as it is, IMO. But this is no worse than people who answer questions, without first checking if they really deserve answers. As @zyx said, that question was answered in the first 5 minutes. Why aren't we asking why people answered the question in the first place?
– user641
Oct 9 '13 at 8:20
• @SteveD If I would have done what you say (and surely this is the right question, in the end), then my question would have received tones of downvotes and closed quickly. This is the way how things go on this site.
– user26857
Oct 9 '13 at 8:38
• @SteveD That is a worthwhile questions, esp since the answerers have $\approx 25$K rep each. Oct 12 '13 at 16:41
• This question is a splendid example of a closure that makes no sense whatsoever. At least the fifth close vote was cast after the OP and I had had a substantial exchange of comments that clearly showed both that the OP was willing to work. It also substantiated the initial admission that ‘I am quite stuck’: it’s unrealistic to expect someone displaying that level of confusion to have done any reportable work. (Comments preceding the closure go down at least through Struggling to find something.) Oct 16 '13 at 5:47
• Providing a hint for a question that is no tagged as homework is not the same as giving complete answers. Oct 17 '13 at 0:16

I notice one of the more obvious reasons is missing from the answer list.

Marking such a question as "On Hold" indicates that (a sufficient part of) the community finds the question inappropriate as is.

This is a critical information if we have any desire at all for users of the site to be aware of what the community finds inappropriate. Leaving such questions open -- or especially reopening them -- sends the diametrically opposed message: that the community accepts such questions, even if the downvotes show that it doesn't like them.

EDIT: This answer is in response to the original question of whether having an answer obviates reasons why a question should be put on hold. Arguments about whether there is ever a reason to put a question on hold are beyond the scope of this answer, and IMO, are quite off-topic for this meta thread.

• "Sufficient" seems to be an awfully small number. Oct 12 '13 at 1:05
• The number of answerers of problem-only questions is much higher than the number of users active in closing questions, and is almost certainly higher than the number of meta users who have upvoted calls to discourage such questions. Including upvoters and posters of that content, I'd imagine the number who have in one way or another approved of such questions outnumbers the meta voters by quite a margin. The MSE and meta populations being different, and no poll having been done on the MSE main page, opportunities are ripe to claim your own personal preferences as a mandate for the site.
– zyx
Oct 12 '13 at 1:29
• I hereby claim my own personal preferences as a mandate for the site. Oct 12 '13 at 5:21
• @zyx Arguments by numbers are not a good idea here. We could also say that there are more people who post full solutions to homework problems than there are people who expressed their disagreement with such practice on meta (especially if we take votes into account). This doesn't mean that full answers to homework should be endorsed. IMO there's nothing wrong with an "elite" deciding what is and what is not appropriate (the "elite" being the meta population). Oct 12 '13 at 8:39
• @Andre: "Sufficient" is tautologically defined to be the adjective that fits in that paragraph. Re: the specific question linked in the OP, the part does not appear to be sufficient -- although the example is unlikely to reflect the typical opinion, as questions linked from meta appear to behave quite differently from those not.
– user14972
Oct 12 '13 at 10:38
• Arguments by numbers are not a good idea here. <--- Exactly my point! Especially arguments based on a selected subset of the numbers, such as meta vote counts, restricted to threads from one time frame, but excluding earlier and later discussions where the vote outcomes were different; and ignoring the larger MSE user base, or the fact that Leave Open votes do not counteract Close votes in the Review queue, or the small number of users casting most of the close votes.
– zyx
Oct 12 '13 at 14:17
• (The extensive discussion between zyx and me that was previously here has been moved to this chatroom.) Oct 17 '13 at 11:28

I was the first one to vote to close the question. I noticed the question and noticed that this was a statement-only type of question. I then posted a comment asking for the OP's own thoughts on the problem. After I did that rschwieb posted what I considered a better(nicer?) comment also asking the OP to include "the partial work that you've done so far". I then deleted my comment because I thought rschwieb's comment said it better.

At the time of my close vote there were no answers. From what I remember I also believe that the second close vote came before any answer had been given. The OP then at some point did include more to the question. But the added was simply: "I have tried for a whole day but still no way to compute it out. Thanks a lot". This hardly counts as providing the partial work that the OP has been doing. This, to me, suggests that maybe the OP really just wants us to do his/her homework. Or it at least shows that the OP does not want to provide the partial work. So, I think a closing is appropriate.

Also, I don't see the existence of an answer as proof that the question is appropriate. If it was, then one could force a question to remain open by simply posting an answer. The point with closing a question isn't just that no answer can be given, but that (for whatever reason) the question doesn't fit/isn't appropriate for this site. It is my opinion that closing a question for no effort can be done whether or not there is an answer.

Also, if enough people in the community want to reopen the question, then I suggest that they cast a reopen vote and submit a post in the reopen-Meta-thread.

I notice that the OP has several questions that show no effort. And I notice only one other question that has been closed for no-effort. With several questions and even an answer from this OP, this person seems interested in participating and contributing to this site. Maybe it would be good if this person would begin to show work in questions, and I hope that this closing will help that.

• An alternative take: that OP's profile lists a full name, age, location, and academic affiliation (sort of) corroborated by the simplest online searches. Top search hits include some long mathematical writings elaborating things that were posted as minimalist questions to MSE. All over the world, mathematics questions are often written as problem-only statements in the imperative. For people with limited English who post in that style, to the question "what did you try?", short answers like "I spent a few hours on it", plus some puzzlement at being asked, would be a reasonable response.
– zyx
Oct 8 '13 at 21:11
• @zyx: I was sort of guessing that this discussion would turn into a discussion on whether or not it is acceptable to close the statement-only questions. I am, as you can guess, on the side of closing these questions. I was trying to get at here that closing a question shouldn't depend on whether or not the question has answers. Also, with this specific question I wanted to add that the first couple of votes were cast before an answer was even given. Oct 8 '13 at 21:33
• I was addressing the specific issue, stated in the answer and in the comments to the MSE question, of whether the OP's "I tried a full day" was problematic or not. Everything I am posting in this thread is intended to make sense under any individual preferences about statement-only questions. I certainly don't consider them to be a problem, but as you say, that is a different discussion.
– zyx
Oct 8 '13 at 21:39
• Or it at least shows that the OP does not want to provide the partial work. You’re assuming that there actually is partial work worth reproducing; you own experience should tell you that this need not be the case. And common sense should tell you that trying to explain unsuccessful groping is hard enough in one’s first language, let alone in a foreign language. After the OP’s edit the question was no longer statement-only, and the addition is unproblematic. Oct 8 '13 at 22:14
• @BrianM.Scott: You are right. I am assuming that there is partial work worth providing. The disagreement might now be over what work would be "worth" something. In my opinion, any work, any though would be helpful. The purpose is for providing the work is in part to communicate that the OP isn't just copying from homework without first thinking about it. Indeed, if this OP has been working on the problem "for a whole day", then I would say we should do all we can to help. Oct 8 '13 at 22:28
• @Thomas: You’ve never thought all day about a problem without producing communicable work? Remarkable. For the rest, I find the default assumption that users are copying from homework without thought offensive. Oct 8 '13 at 22:31
• @BrianM.Scott: It is a bold statement, but I would definitely say that if I have thought about a problem for a whole day, then I have always been able to write one or two sentences about my thoughts. Oct 8 '13 at 22:32
• @BrianM.Scott: To remain on topic with this specific meta-question, would you agree that the existence of an answer doesn't change whether or not a question should be closed? Oct 8 '13 at 22:33
• @Thomas: I’ve thought for longer than that about a problem without producing anything that I could communicate in English, let alone in German, the only other language in which I have occasionally written mathematics. Oct 8 '13 at 22:33
• @Thomas: Absolutely not. I think that it’s utterly asinine to close a question that has an acceptable answer, let alone one that has a good answer or an accepted answer. Oct 8 '13 at 22:34
• @BrianM.Scott: Ok. If, say, a question was closed because it was spam. If someone decided to write an answer, then the spam should still be removed, right? (or of it was a duplicate or off topic) Oct 8 '13 at 22:35
• @BrianM.Scott: How about an off topic question then? Oct 8 '13 at 22:37
• @zyx: You wrote earlier that: "Everything I am posting in this thread is intended to make sense under any individual preferences about statement-only questions. I certainly don't consider them to be a problem, but as you say, that is a different discussion" Someone is probably going to chop my head off, but maybe we should start another general discussion on this. For this specific question here, my point (that we could discuss here) would be that if a closing reason exists, then the validity of the closing does not depend on whether or not answers have been given. Oct 9 '13 at 2:11
• @zyx (cont.) So you might start a new Meta on the topic of whether or not we should continue to allow for closing statement-only/PSQ/no-context questions. From what I can see, one key question that we tend to end up with, is whether or not we should care about whether or not someone might be using MSE for cheating. If the answer is yes, then we can ask if we should do anything about it. If yes, then: what can we do? If you start a new thread, I will give my answer in a bit more detail than I can here in the comments. Oct 9 '13 at 2:15
• @Thomas: Thank you for confessing to be the first one to vote to close, or hold, or whatever. Though to be fair, blame should be shared. Oct 9 '13 at 4:14

What's the point to put/keep “On Hold” a question that has already an accepted answer?

Reason #1: to push the OP toward automatic question ban. Since the question ban formula is not disclosed, it is not clear to me how heavily it weighs past questions being closed. The help center does not mention closed questions at all, but after consulting meta.SO I think this may be an oversight.

Reason #2: to push the question toward deletion. Questions have to be closed before they can be deleted. Sure, the deletion does not happen often, and when it does, there may be collateral damage (deleted answers). That said, the answers to the kind of questions we are talking about are rarely worth much.

War is hell.

• On the contrary, answers to such questions are nearly on a par with answers to other questions on the site; if there is any shortfall, it appears to be a byproduct of the shorter window for posting answers. Oct 9 '13 at 7:56

Closing answered questions (as off-topic) disrupts the close-as-duplicate function of the site if a similar question is posted again.

If a new question duplicates the closed one, closing the new question prevents any new answers, which violates the premise of duplicate closing, that there will be one place to gather answers and add new answers.

In the case where "low effort" question X gets basic answers and is closed, and is duplicated by "high effort" later question Y (that on its own would have received more attention), closing can create situations where the poster of question Y is in some sense punished for [five close voters' opinion on] past actions of poster X.

Not closing the later question leads to duplication of effort, and creates a special "punitive closing" (or whatever the closers think they are doing) exception to override the ordinary and useful functions of marking duplicates and of doing so in a consistent way across the site.

Posting a link with no close vote at the new question increases the chance it will go unanswered, and leaves potential answerers (of the new question) in a state of uncertainty about whether the question will be kept open long enough to be answered. Should they spend time thinking about a question they will not be able to post about? Risk typing in an answer when the close vote count is at 3 or 4?

A minor but interesting point is that closing answered questions from the Evil Homework Posters who are the target of closers' votes, can be expected to cause more acceptances on low-quality answers. The more astute EHPs understand that it is game theoretically advantageous to grease the wheels and always accept one of the answers. If the natural process of accumulating more answers is cut short, there will often only be the superficial answers to select from.

• @Lord_Farin I don't think it's pointless at all. Closing it as quickly as possible limits the opportunity for someone to completely spill the beans. In this case, and in others, my policy has been to vote to close and to provide a very innocuous hint, if I can think of one. That's the most ethical compromise I can think of between completely snubbing the question and helping too much. I think both of us who answered succeeded in not giving too much away. Oct 8 '13 at 19:58
• @rschwieb Well, at least in the cases where an answer has been accepted, the OP drops out of the equation. It then (to me, at least) is utterly irrelevant whether or not someone "spills the beans". The same holds for questions where full-detail answers have been available for some time. Of course, hint answers are to be considered separately. Oct 8 '13 at 20:11
• @Lord_Farin For me it's the opposite: acceptance seems irrelevant and keeping badly written questions from getting overgenerous answers seems important :S Is there some aspect of acceptance that I'm overlooking? To me it seems likely that an EHP would accept the first answer that appears and wait for people who want to compete with better answers to pour in. Oct 8 '13 at 20:16
• @rschwieb: [A]cceptance seems irrelevant and keeping badly written questions from getting overgenerous answers seems important. Why?! Once an answer has been accepted, you’re just making it difficult for folks who come along later to find a good answer to the question. Do you imagine that everyone who comes to MSE looking for an that question is trying to cheat? Oct 8 '13 at 22:24
• @zyx: A closed system? :-) Oct 9 '13 at 0:02
• It seems to make some people feel good to close (sorry, hold) questions. Maybe it feels particularly good to do it after answering the question. I should learn how to enjoy life. Oct 9 '13 at 3:52
• @BrianM.Scott Beautiful demagoguery, but no substance. Nothing stops the later asker from just asking their question, and hopefully in a better way. Condoning poor questions consigns m.SE to being a mere repository of answers on demand, which is stupid. I thought we were supposed to be helping people find their answers, not spoonfeeding them what they ask for. That is the difference between teaching and coddling. Oct 9 '13 at 12:46
• And the whole deal about acceptance continues to appear abosolutely superficial. Why does having a green checkmark matter? There could be complete answers or not... the little green glyph doesn't seem to mean anything in this conversation. Oct 9 '13 at 12:47
• @rschwieb: Your no substance comment is manifestly false. If you can’t see the substance, you’re obviously not thinking clearly. // You appear to have forgotten that MSE is also supposed to be a place where people can find useful answers to their questions without actually having to ask those questions. A useful answer is not made less so by inadequacies of the question that prompted it, especially the superficial inadequacies that exercise you so greatly. Oct 9 '13 at 19:59
• @BrianM.Scott Ok, not no substance, I apologize. It is difficult to respond calmly when faced with emotional arguments like you are putting forth. Twice now you claim that what I'm suggesting hurts some generic future user. The principle I'm suggesting is very simple: reward good posts, limit rewards to bad posts. Nothing about that prevents bad posters from benfiting from good posts, and good posters will get what they need when they ask. They will also have a lot of good posts to choose from, and not a lot of bad posts to sift through. Oct 9 '13 at 20:34
• The acceptance of content you're putting forth is noble, I just think it's a good intention that leads to disaster for the quality of the site. Reward bad posts and you will be rewarded with droves of more bad posts. Oct 9 '13 at 20:36
• @rschweib: It is interesting that these sentiments come from someone who answered (not so well) a question that the person then voted to close. Oct 10 '13 at 17:06
• @AndréNicolas And what about the substance of rschwieb's argument?
– Did
Oct 13 '13 at 14:27
• @rschwieb: My arguments are not especially emotional — certainly no more emotional than your talk of disaster for the quality of the site. At our present rate of growth we’re going to get droves of what you call bad posts no matter what we do; giving them good answers increases their value to the site and to future users. Oct 16 '13 at 6:01
• @zyx "Comment-trolling swipe"? Should Did have written "Sir, me thinks that argumentative gambit you have just employed is ad hominem, which I need not remind you is not permissible in reasoned discussion."? Oct 17 '13 at 0:55