I have an idea for PSQ. Once the post is put on hold, the user gets the message that they need to add work/information to their post. As soon as the post is flagged, could a comment pop up informing the user that problem statement questions aren't approriate methods for requesting help? This way the OP is notified immediately not sometime later when the post is put on hold.

I do understand that one could make the argument that the flagger could post a comment, but I believe it would be much more efficient and effective if the system handled this automatically.

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When some flags the post as missing context or details, I think the OP should be notified at that moment. This way they can get to editing before the post is put on hold. By waiting for the post to be on hold before notification, the user may sign off. If it is a new users, they may just abandon their post when they come back and see what happened since they have no skin in the game on the site.

As Arthur Fischer pointed out in the comments, members with 3k+ can directly vote to close. I think a prompt to the user when the vote to close is in regards to a PSQ would also be appropriate for the same reason previously outline.

Why I believe this to be the case is that many new members that have this happen to them just abandon their post when they come back and see it put on hold. If we can grab their attention before the post is put on hold, they may potential make an edit stopping others from flagging and voting to close.

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    $\begingroup$ @downvoters do you care to elaborate why this would be a bad feature to inform a user, who may not know better, as soon as possible of their inappropriate question? $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 4:57
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    $\begingroup$ Are you using "flagged" as a synonym for "received a close vote", and "flagger" for "close-voter"? (Note that these concepts are not synonymous.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Dec 17 '14 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer I mean that when the user flags a post as off topic for not having any work. When that occurs, I think it would benefit the OP to be notified immediately that their post is deficient and why. Also, see edit to OP. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 5:12
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    $\begingroup$ But why single out flags? What about actual close votes? $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Dec 17 '14 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ So, were a 3K user to simply vote to close a question without any previous "close-flags" no such notification would be given? This seems very odd. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Dec 17 '14 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer Since that is the case, the feature could be extended to that as well. The sooner the OP is notified the better I think it will be. I see many abandoned post after the user is put on hold so notifying at that moment doesn't seem to work. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft see comment to Arthur Fischer. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 5:25

I am not sure that this would be a particularly helpful feature. I pretty frequently comment on questions that I close, and I think the primary benefits of this are:

Firstly, it puts my name under their question. This is probably helpful on a psychological level, since it's clearly a real human being who took the time to leave a comment, rather than some faceless machine who wants to change how they ask questions - and, if they revise or need help, they can sort of count on someone noticing. However, more concretely is probably that it allows me to actually help them if they are willing to put some more effort into their question - in particular, since I'll be pinged if they respond, it means that someone experienced is in contact with them, which turns out to be really helpful in many cases. In particular, I quite often end up editing a user's comments into their question so that reviewers in the close queue will see the effort the user has put in, regardless of whether they read comments. New users don't always know to do this themselves.

Secondly, I can give specific advice to the asker. For instance, I am likely to leave a different comment on a question posted by a prolific asker of PSQs than I am on a question posted by an anonymous user (or by a user who I believe has good intentions, but is bad at using the site). Also, exactly what makes a question a PSQ can vary - if someone posts a list of questions, rather than a single one, a proper response is to explain why they would benefit more from posting a single one specific to their needs. If a user alludes to "I tried this and that" but doesn't give enough detail to let us see why it failed, then this is a different comment than if they mention no effort. Often, giving tiny hints in a comment (as in, "Can you write the definition of this?" or "Do you see why this ought to be true?") is appropriate if the user simply says they don't know how to get started.

I think that the above is primarily why leaving a comment might be an effective way to get the asker to change their behavior; yes, a machine could ask them for improvement, but to be sure, I'm sure they were presented with such warnings when they asked the question, and they ignored them then. I think commenting carries the subtext of, "I am willing to help you use this site" (and, in addition, provides at least a little bit of help specific to them), which can be very positive, but takes effort. Conversely, when the OP has seemingly not written a single original word of what they posted, I am not willing to spend my effort helping them if they seem to have spent no effort - and I wouldn't want the system to imply otherwise.

  • $\begingroup$ Addressing your first paragraph, users names are put in when the machine adds comments based on the users moderation selection so I don't see why this would change in this case. For the second paragraph, the flag should be other and filled in not the one of the canned choices in that case. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I am not speaking of reviewing a post for closing details. I am purely talking about when the post is flagged to be put on hold. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin For the first paragraph, I would prefer to be able to flag or close $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Dec 17 '14 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ I am not saying to halt flagging or closing. I am saying it may be beneficial to notify the OP immediately of his PSQ instea of when it is put on hold. Many new users abandon their PSQ instead editting. That is, our current set up is working to get the question improved. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ I typed that last comment from my phone and noticed it isn't clear. The last line should read as: That is, our current set is not working to get the question improved. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin Huh, that last comment wasn't meant to be posted (and isn't complete); anyways, when I vote to close without commenting, it's because I don't feel the OP has contributed anything - and if I see nothing worth salvaging, then my intention in closing is less to seek improvement, and more to get rid of the question (and I hardly think a comment template could suffice to encourage improvement). Otherwise, I'd be thinking in particulars about exactly what could be improved - and that that effort is also not addressed by a formulaic response. $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Dec 18 '14 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ (And in cases like the former, I would find it counterproductive to post some canned response that implies a less forceful attitude than what I have; I neither want users to try to figure out the minimal effort required, nor to frustrate users who take the comment at face value, but do not receive the guidance they need to improve the question from it, nor to receive pings from such questions) $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Dec 18 '14 at 2:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Meelo: Sometimes people who ask apparently very unpromising questions just need a push in the right direction; I’ve often posted a hint on spec, as it were, and had the OP engage seriously with it and me. Even after a lifetime of teaching I can’t reliably tell who will engage; I very much doubt that your judgement is any better. Moreover, quite a few of the people who ask questions without contributing anything do so because they really aren’t able to contribute anything. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Dec 19 '14 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian You're right; I suppose I'm probably more judging my ability to help more than their ability to receive (which certainly correlates strongly with how much context I'm shown). Still, in cases where there is little contributed because little can be, it seems that a comment of "This is a PSQ. Can you include more context?" is quite useless, which is the point of my second paragraph; what might actually help improve the question would be asking for relevant definitions or asking if they can solve simpler, related problems - but those are all question-specific. $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Dec 19 '14 at 1:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Meelo: Yes, they are. And that’s one of the reasons I object to lumping all these questions together: so often it’s impossible to tell whether the person can really be helped along until you try. (Mind you, I’m not counting the Help needed ASAP questions and the like; I simply ignore those, unless I run across one that’s old and happens to interest me.) $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Dec 19 '14 at 1:09

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