# Proper notice to posters unfamiliar with S.E. customs

https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/1356481/complete-the-square-on-x210x9-0

I put this comment under the question above:

Probably the reason for the down-vote and the votes to close the question is that it's phrased in language suitable for assigning homework. That can make people suspect that a question was copied by someone who may not even have understood the question. Instead of simply down-voting and voting to close, they ought to explain that here, but usually they don't.

Could we make it a policy and convention that some notice similar to that (not including the last sentence) should always be included when a question is phrased like a homework assignment? ("Factor this polynomial." "Evaluate this integral." "Show that this holds for every value of $n$." Etc.)

(I've tagged this a feature request, but it's not a request for software changes.)

PS: The notice should be suitable for use before the down-votes or the votes to close actually happen. So I suggest something like this:

Questions posed here should not be phrased in language suitable for assigning homework, merely instructing the reader to solve the problem. They should be phrased in a way that shows that the poster understands the question. If a question is phrased as if they had been merely copied from a homework assignment, that may be considered a reason to down-vote it or to close it.

• How would this work, if not implemented by users? Are you thinking about software that would identify such phrasing? – Pedro Tamaroff Jul 10 '15 at 18:01
• meta.math.stackexchange.com/a/19973/10014 I don't see the need for passive-aggressive statements like the one you suggest... Also if this is no a call for a software change, then the feature-request tag is inappropriate (and confusing, as you've probably remarked). – Najib Idrissi Jul 10 '15 at 18:04
• @PedroTamaroff I think the proposal is that it is made a policy/convention that users do this. – quid Jul 10 '15 at 18:04
• @Thomas : No, I wouldn't say "only". ${}\qquad{}$ – Michael Hardy Jul 10 '15 at 18:13
• @PedroTamaroff : As I stated, I was not suggesting a software change. A standard boilerplate notice to new users could be widely circulated for use on such occasions. – Michael Hardy Jul 10 '15 at 18:14
• @MichaelHardy: So something like this: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4925/… – Thomas Jul 10 '15 at 18:18
• So you are suggesting to replace one of the existing comment templates with this? – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 10 '15 at 18:57
• No, I was not aware of an existing template. Every day I see questions written by newbies as if one were assigning homework, and I see down-votes and votes to close, with NO comment explaining things. These things should be verbally explained to new users. If there are suitable existing templates, then there is not enough awareness of them among users, so we should think about what to do about that. – Michael Hardy Jul 10 '15 at 19:00
• Raise awareness about the templates in threads like this? Making use of templates easier than it is now? Templates were in relatively heavy use at some point. It did grow old soon (tiring to read the same phrase many times a day). Templates are good when used wisely, but can also be aired lazily (and almost uninformatively). – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 10 '15 at 19:06
• With respect to templates, it does seem off-putting when it looks as if one of your first respondents was a bot with a canned comment. On the other hand, it can be tiring to thanklessly slog day after day with custom comments for each special snowflake. Ah well. – J. M. isn't a mathematician Jul 11 '15 at 20:20
• @Guesswhoitis.: That's why we should improve the messages available with the close question dialog. That response is a machine-mediated response so it is okay that it is canned. – user21820 Jul 15 '15 at 6:08
• I like this comment template a lot better than the usual nonsense people post claiming the imperative mood is inherently rude. – hmakholm left over Monica Jul 15 '15 at 7:37
• @NajibIdrissi: Of course, but if no one is going to make more suitable options, I'll just use the standard ones. Why should I waste time writing a nice custom comment for every "DO THIS FOR ME NOW" question? – user21820 Jul 15 '15 at 9:19
• Keep in mind the automatically generated message when questions are put on hold for being off topic: "Please improve the question by providing additional context, which ideally includes your thoughts on the problem and any attempts you have made to solve it. This information helps others identify where you have difficulties and helps them write answers appropriate to your experience level." – Rebecca J. Stones Jul 22 '15 at 7:07
• @RebeccaJ.Stones : I think the use of the phrase "off topic" in that context is misleading and rude, and we should change the software to get rid of it. ${}\qquad{}$ – Michael Hardy Jul 22 '15 at 20:55