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When a question is phrased in a way considered not suitable for m.s.e., often within seconds it collects numerous down-votes and votes to close. There's no way to know who down-voted, nor who voted to close except when the question ultimately gets closed, but long experience shows that many people who habitually participate in this practice have hair-triggers. That's really really easy to do and maybe they feel they're maintaining the quality of the site.

This question quickly got three down-votes and a vote to close. Superficially, it looks like a question about how to do a certain step necessary to evaluate a certain integral. Another thing that's really easy to do without thinking at all is to take such superficial appearances literally.

What I would propose to do with questions of this kind is not to do the problem for them, but to tell them what they ought to be told about the subject matter. I hope the answer I posted does that. When one has observed that numerous students' confusion about this is not about a technical matter of how to proceed in executing a standard algorithm, but rather a lack of conceptual understanding, and one knows that the students themselves don't realize that that's what it is, then one may know that what the student needs to know is not the same as what the question says.

If proposed deletions had to be actually discussed (as with new Wikipedia articles whose deletion is proposed) then those with hair-triggers who vote first and think later might find out that they are capable of intelligent participation in reasoned argument. They would also find out that the world is bigger than what they can see.

I propose that a discussion page be created for each article that someone wants to close, and the decision on whether to close it would ensue from the discussion.

PS: It seems to me that the convention that says the poster should show some effort should really be construed as meaning they should show that they understand the question. Our systems of schooling provide some obvious incentives for some students to post questions that they don't understand. (And that is an indictment of those systems, including the concept of a "curriculum".) However, we have a nuance: Supposing it falls short of being proved that the poster understands the question. One kind of answer that frequently appears is a complete and detailed answer to the question and all "i"s dotted and "t"s crossed. Another is subtler: One can surmise that if a student is having difficulty answering the particular question, then understanding of one particular idea may be lacking, and one's explanation of that idea might be phrased in such a way that those who understand the question are likely to understand the answer, but no solution for those who don't understand the question is found in it. In the particular question I linked to above, it is probable that the poster does understand the question; hence the votes to close were not a good idea in the first place. However, if not, then the kind of answer I posted might match the description above, of the second kind of answer. Those with hair-triggers might benefit from calibration that they won't get if their votes to close are just drive-by votes and they'll never be back.

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    $\begingroup$ The main problem I have with your example question is the plea for a complete answer. To many veterans this is a polite way of asking somebody to do my homework assignment for me. I acknowledge that it is not clear how a totally confused student should best ask a question in such a way that the only answers would help the asker learn. With your example question an obvious possibility is to help with the limits of integration only. Glad to see you took up the task of trying to address exactly that. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 22 '16 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ IMO there are too many closures for a prolonged discussion in a dedicated thread to be a feasible workflow. I do see that your proposal is about deletions rather than closures. There are less deletions, but I still have some reservations about having a separate thread for each case. After all, most of them are not contentious. As a diamond moderator I act in the obvious cases without any ado. We would need some stats to guess whether meta would be overwhelmed by such threads. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 22 '16 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ (-1) for the entirety of paragraph 4. Perhaps people could also discover that reasonable people can have differences of opinion on this matter, and that some of us actually do think before we cast closure / deletion votes. Of course, if one approaches from that perspective, they wouldn't think that people aren't capable of having "intelligent participation in reasoned argument." $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 22 '16 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ Also, I would (-1) for the proposal itself. There are dozens of closures daily, and the volume of questions means that it is simply not feasible to discuss them individually. Such a proposal would be the antithesis of the SE model of giving users progressively more trust / privileges as they gain experience on the site. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 22 '16 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy "Drive-by down-voters" do have opinions, and are expressing them - otherwise they wouldn't go to the effort or cost of voting. Perhaps they refrain from commenting because of the frequent abuse by some of the more aggressively moralistic users. But that's not the point of your question, is it: you were asking above closures and deletion votes, which are guaranteed to have a name attached if the action is completed. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 22 '16 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ And my previous comment was not to imply that we shouldn't discuss these issues. It was to point out the fact that yet again you are making a condescending meta post where you question the intelligence and forthrightness and reasonability of your fellow users. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 22 '16 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ Michael, in a sense the users voting to close those questions are thinking that they are doing their "civic duty". A heated discussion in meta lead to a conclusion that we have this "no context" close reason. The discussions revealed a strong sentiment that the site should not be used as a place to get homework done without having to think. You don't have to share that sentiment, but many users genuinely feel that way. So they think that the act of voting to close some questions is not unlike picking up garbage some litterer dropped on their home street. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 22 '16 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael: Those opinions (as well as the opposing opinions) were written in those meta discussions. Accompanying each and every close in main with a quick recap is hardly efficient. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 22 '16 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy: I did propose a policy with the idea that close voters should "know what they are doing" (and the first close voter could leave a comment). That proposal never won enough support. Also, the volume of traffic (and consequently also the volume of questionable posts) has increased a lot since that day. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 22 '16 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy Do you have any evidence for the claim that "those with hair triggers and those who are non-verbal probably generally know less than others"? $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 23 '16 at 5:53
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy On the other hand, the vast majority of closures happen in tags like algebra-precalculus or calculus (read: low-level tags that are likely to have homework assigned), where the vast majority of close-voters are going to be very well experienced with the subject matter. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 23 '16 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ And as a separate point: I'd find your complaints about "drive-by downvoters" a lot more compelling if down/close-voters had to be involved in reopening a question. They don't need to be, since any five users with enough rep can reopen. There is absolutely no need to convince anyone to change their minds on any given vote. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 23 '16 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy To extend Jyrki's analogy: People who pick up litter on the street are often serial waste collectors, who could learn to just leave it there if given the opportunity. In my opinion (which is apparently shared by many others and disagreed with by many others), there are questions which are simply bad and deserve to be closed without further controversy or effort. To phrase this as "if only I could teach those I disagree with they could learn to be good" is not a productive way to approach this. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 23 '16 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ @quid I tend to agree with your last comment. A question that has ten valid interpretations is just as bad as a question that has zero valid interpretations, and both need to be clarified by the asker. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 23 '16 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ Michael, I don't expect that student questions are always going to be clear - most of the time, if the student was capable of phrasing the question perfectly clearly, they would be able to answer it. Yet I also don't bend over backwards to give askers a convoluted and contrived interpretation of their question that may have absolutely nothing to do with what they're asking. If a question is best answered by a psychic, it's off-topic here. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 23 '16 at 22:26
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Superficially I left a Comment before voting to close, so maybe I'm "off the hook" here.

But I think the idea of closing a Question when the OP doesn't respond to collective comments/requests for clarification by editing is to have a bit of a cooling off period. Ideally the OP (or someone who feels confident in editing the Question on their behalf) will make the changes needed to get Community buy-in that some learning will be taking place. In my case I think the effort or other explanation of context to get my Reopen vote is pretty modest.

Deleting such Questions before the "on-hold" phase has a chance to run its course is another matter. I disagree with that, at least in this case. The Question has a decent "teaching moment" opportunity in it (how to set up limits of integration), and deleting it would be overly punitive IMHO.

In any case putting a Question on-hold and getting it reopened is a fairly painless process, and I hope it works out here for the OP and someone with a desire to assist in their learning.

Added 7/24/16 The Delete campaign ran its course (successfully), in tandem with the Reopen campaign, and then it became possible to cast Undelete votes. I cast the final one, and the Question is now undeleted with the on-hold status the subject of a fair number of reopen votes intact.

One reason I don't like to see Questions deleted while the on-hold status is in effect is that it inhibits editing to fix any perceived textual problems.

A minor example: In this case the OP had written that "Complete answer will be appreciated," which incurred a comment, "but that is not the mission of this website." If instead the OP had phrased this as "hints posted as Answers are not wanted," I would be entirely sympathetic with that sentiment.

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Seems sensible to add this observation: there are users who, exclusively in some cases, ask contest preparation questions. That is, there may or may not be a teacher supervising any aspect of the student's activities with regard to these questions. An example is https://math.stackexchange.com/users/297795/puzzled417 The source of some of the questions is a book/website with all questions that were merely proposed for past Olympiads, most of them never used. One question posted here was an open problem, good thing it was not used in an actual contest Prove that $\gcd(3^n-2,2^n-3)=\gcd(5,2^n-3)$

Let's see, I left a comment to this effect, a few minutes ago, at Find the integer solutions of $\sin\frac \pi {2n} + \cos\frac \pi {2n} = \frac{\sqrt n} 2$ For this particular question, my opinion may or may not be borne out.

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    $\begingroup$ Although this is probably true (and definitely possible in the recent case you linked): The asker is the one ultimately responsible for a bad question, regardless of whether they received the question in the bad form. If they don't understand the question, they can ask for clarification on what they do have; if they just copy-paste it, it's no better. I don't think your answer is advocating for this, but I really fail to understand the view of those who would say "We should leave it open because it was incomprehensible when the OP got it too." $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 23 '16 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ @T.Bongers right. I want the questions to be just a little beyond what the OP can currently do, so some kind of response actually does help their progress, and it does not require re-writing a book chapter to get them to understand. $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Jul 23 '16 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ @T.Bongers meanwhile, I am more of a closer than an opener. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Night_in_the_Lonesome_October $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Jul 23 '16 at 20:59

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