27
$\begingroup$

New user asked a question (note: original version had no diagram). Several close votes were recorded. New user then ENGAGED WITH THE COMMENTS, providing a diagram, and a comment indicating A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF WORK on the problem. Despite this, the close votes continued to come in, and the question was closed.

So: what does a new user have to do to satisfy the demand for "context or other details"?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, the reasons given by the people voting to close were themselves "missing context or other details." $\endgroup$ – Mike Nov 16 '14 at 23:53
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Why not vote to reopen then? $\endgroup$ – Thomas Nov 17 '14 at 1:27
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ No need to --- others have voted to reopen (after I did some editing). But it shouldn't have been necessary. The last vote to close should never have been cast, in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 17 '14 at 4:46
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ +1 Good to bring this up. Looking forward to the discussion. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 17 '14 at 10:01
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I see a diagram, but the question is still a PSQ. It's still phrased as a demand ("Find $x$."). The missing information still includes, quite importantly: where did the OP encounter the problem? Why are they interested in solving it? The question has the appearance of a homework problem copied onto the site, and one of the designed purposes of the "missing context" reason is to handle such questions. Of course, homework questions are acceptable - if they are edited to be excellent questions. This one is not an excellently composed question. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Nov 18 '14 at 12:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Carl, I'll grant that it's not an excellently posed question, but I suggest that's setting the bar very high. It does show considerable effort made by OP, to the extent of writing down the two relevant equations needed to solve it, and probably only needing a hint or two to get OP to the finish line. As we have ditched the "homework" tag, I think the main point of "context" nowadays is to help a would-answerer figure out exactly what kind of help OP needs, and I think OP has provided that context, and did so before the question was closed. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 19 '14 at 3:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Carl, I have no problem with it being used that way, provided it is not used on newcomers without giving them a chance to mend their ways, and especially provided it is not used on newcomers after they have begun to meet the requests for improvement. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 19 '14 at 4:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ But adding a diagram is not meeting the request for improvement. Describing where the problem came from and why it is interesting would move in that direction. I did chase down a link to an older discussion: meta.math.stackexchange.com/a/9958/630 @Gerry Myerson $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Nov 19 '14 at 4:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Carl, OP did more than add a diagram; as I noted, OP extracted the two crucial equations from the diagram (and put them in the comments, rather than the question itself, but a little nudge could have taken care of that), and did that before the last vote to close was cast. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 19 '14 at 4:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Carl, as for the older discussion, I quote: "Concretely: please provide context, which ideally includes your own work and your own thoughts on the problem." This, I think, is precisely what OP did (albeit in the comments), and did before the question was closed. You may have noticed that in that older discussion I objected to posting ready-to-submit solutions to presumed homework questions. I still object to that, but (as I have said elsewhere on this page) that's a matter of changing behavior of answerers, not just questioners. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 19 '14 at 4:17
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "I suggest that's setting the bar very high": And why should the bar not be set very high? Is there a shortage of good questions? The community consensus (see here for example) is that we should now strive for quality, not quantity, as we have much more than enough in terms of quantity. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Nov 19 '14 at 8:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Najib, are you seriously suggesting that every question that is not "excellently posed" should be closed? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 19 '14 at 11:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm seriously suggesting that questions that don't meet the website's quality standards should be closed, and that these standards should be very high. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Nov 19 '14 at 12:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Najib, I don't disagree. But when a new user has engaged with the criticisms offered and has met the website's standards, as in this case, isn't it time to stop voting to close? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 19 '14 at 22:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ > Describing where the problem came from and why it is interesting ?? Very few questions do this. So, when this is given as the reason for closing, I'd suspect that it's not the real reason. $\endgroup$ – bubba Nov 22 '14 at 11:48
22
$\begingroup$

Short answer: they should edit the question. Close Vote reviewers are asked to review the question. They may read the comments, but they don't have to; and not everyone will want to dig through a thread of comments beginning with Plz help me out.

My practice is to read the comments under question, and when something posted there changes my opinion on close/do not close, I edit the question to add this content, separating it from the actual question in some way (e.g., by the Progress heading). Editing a question from Close Queue is also an implicit Leave Open vote.

In this specific case, the question still needs to be edited for formatting and content, which will automatically put it into the Reopen Queue.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ For this reason, if I see a reasonable question with close votes/downvoted I find it helpful to post a comment essentially asking "why", with a brief explanation of why I think the votes are odd (in the question in the OP, I would have said something like "I do not think that this question should be closed as the OP is engaging with the comments"). And I apologise for the two incompatible uses of the abbreviation "OP". $\endgroup$ – user1729 Nov 17 '14 at 10:13
13
$\begingroup$

This happens out of inertia. Once a question has entered the close vote review queue, the default action for many a reviewer is apparently to agree with the initial assessment of a fellow member. If the early part of the comment chain does not look convincing, it is a bit too easy to overlook later developments.

BUT. As we just saw, the community is self-correcting in this sense. Which brings me to a suggestion:

When we explain to a newbie what is wrong with their question - typically in a comment - we should also explain that the improvement to the question may come too late (for the purposes of avoiding that fifth vote to put on hold). But also that the improvement may later lead to the question getting reopened.

I try to write something in this spirit on those occasions, when my suggestion for improvement will necessitate the OP to spend some time thinking about the question. A typical scenario is that I arrive at the scene with 3 or 4 close votes already in place. If I at that point advice the OP to work out a simple case, and add that to the question, it doesn't take Yogi Berra level foresight to look ahead, and divine that the question will be put on hold before the OP has had time to work out the answer to my suggestion and edit the post.

So the other message that should be given is:

Getting a question "put on hold" is not a death sentence a final judgement - neither on the poster nor on the post. It just means that the question is in dire need of improvement.

The newbies should be explained this in such a way that they are left with the impression that this was just another new kid on the block faux pas, and also an opportunity to learn the site norms.

I might try and edit the relevant comment templates to reflect these ideas, but it may be better that a native speaker steps up to the plate. My sentence structure has a tendency to become overly convoluted.


So my answer to Gerry's question would be:

The new user should improve the question as instructed. And then wait for the due process to go through. Patience.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ BTW there are several comment templates about on hold questions (and more can be added if needed). This one explicitly mentions review queue. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 17 '14 at 10:03
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ There aren't many things which are directly equivalent to a death sentence, and we should in general work to decrease the amount of drama in the world by reminding this to people who use the "death sentence" metaphor too often. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 17 '14 at 11:14
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ My drama queen trait came to the surface again. Sorry about that. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 17 '14 at 13:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well, you know what they say in England. God save the drama Queen. :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 17 '14 at 17:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila He was able to eliminate the drama with a few short strikethroughs. I know there are a few threads by anti-closers that would basically be completely Area-51 redacted if a drama-ectomy were performed on them... $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Nov 17 '14 at 19:13
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb: I'm not sure what "Area-51 redacted" supposes to mean; but in generally drama-ectomy can shorten the internet bandwidth usage by about 50%. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 17 '14 at 19:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Oops, maybe using Area-51 here carries a different meaning. I was recalling some 90's UFO spook shows with graphics like these $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Nov 17 '14 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ On another note, @JyrkiLahtonen, is there any chance I could persuade you to run in the moderator elections? $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Dec 9 '14 at 22:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer: I guess I might as well. Hope to see you there, too. I won't nominate myself until tomorrow, for it's kinda late here, and I'm a bit drunk. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 13 '14 at 22:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I was hoping to avoid that, but I guess it's fair to not let you walk alone. Bracing myself. Näkemiin. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Dec 13 '14 at 22:06
0
$\begingroup$

When a new user ask a first question, I believe more leniency should be given since they may not know how to

  1. use $\LaTeX$
  2. ask an appropriate question

That is, voting to close and down voting should wait a few hours for the new member to respond to the comments for clarification and to give them time to show their work for those that lack it or rephrase the question asking for some guidance or hints so it will be received better.

It is easy enough to tell who is brand new since everyone gets an association bonus of 100 that has another SX account with at least 200 rep. As a new user to a site, it would be verify disheartening to ask, in your eyes, an innocent question and have the members jump all over you saying where is your work, -1, -2, vote close (1), ... (4)

Instead, the new member should be informed that flat out asking for someone to do your work (in those type of questions) isn't appreciated and we would like to see what you have tried before down voting and voting to close commences.

For instance, in this post, I intentionally re-wrote the question so it would be better received since I knew the initialize phrasing was a death cross. Teaching through punishment doesn't produce the desired outcome we would all like.

$\endgroup$
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ The main issue with waiting to vote to close, of course, is that in order to have the desired effect it would require others to wait until the question is improved before writing answers. Otherwise, the result is just that a poorly composed question is answered, and the OP has no concrete reason to improve. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Nov 18 '14 at 20:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CarlMummert I am just saying it would be better to leave some constructive comments and wait to see if the OP acts on before closing and down voting. If the OP doesn't or wont act on these comments, they deserve no help. $\endgroup$ – dustin Nov 18 '14 at 20:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Carl, you are suggesting that it is easier to change the behavior of newusers with bad questions than it is to change the behavior of posters eager to answer bad questions. I'm not so sure. Have you tried leaving comments for people who answer bad questions, pointing out the drawbacks of their behavior, seeing whether you can get them to change their ways? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 19 '14 at 3:40
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Gerry: If you really look at it, the only way to enforce either one to change is by rapid closure. Users eager to answer might think twice before spending time posting an answer to a bad question (although two line hints don't always require time), and users posting questions will be forced to do a better job to begin with (assuming they even understand why their question was closed). But don't read this as advocating for rapid closure, it's just my $2^{-10}$ cents. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 19 '14 at 5:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In this other thread, one can see how plausible it is to change the behavior of people who answer bad questions. People are so eager to answer that they bypass the closing system and answer in the comments; what could make anyone believe that leaving a comment to them would change anything? $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Nov 19 '14 at 8:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi it has extensively been shown that negative reinforcement doesnt change behavior. You can read the literature on the topic for proof. $\endgroup$ – dustin Nov 19 '14 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin: You haven't said how this psychological research applies here. What negative reinforcement are you referring to exactly? It really isn't clear to me, and I doubt it would become so by studying literature you allude to. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Nov 19 '14 at 22:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer negative learning is voting to close and down voting new users before they have time to understand instead of using comments first. Why do you think researchers say spanking children isn't an affective teaching tool as well as accosting a child verbally? That only teaches avoidance not to change a behavior. $\endgroup$ – dustin Nov 19 '14 at 23:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @dustin: I'm glad I asked, because you use the term "negative reinforcement" in a way different from what I learned in an introductory psychology course (I don't know much). I think you are referring to punishment, whereas negative reinforcement (I was taught, and a google search reinforces) refers to reinforcing a behavior by removing something bad. Hence it is reinforcement, whereas punishment is intended to be the opposite. Or perhaps, reopening after improvements are made would be a form of negative reinforcement, which I support. Anyway, what research are you referring to? $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Nov 20 '14 at 3:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Jonas: Is Google's reinforcement positive or negative? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 25 '14 at 5:51
  • $\begingroup$ Hard to say. There was little tangible reward, and I would say it is negative reinforcement in that if I hadn't looked it up it would be nagging at me. @Asaf $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Nov 25 '14 at 5:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .