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Very often questions are asked in an unclear form with crucial information missing; then people ask for the missing information in comments; then the OP provides the information in a response in the comments; then people ask the OP to please add the information to the question, explaining why this is preferable; then the OP may or may not react constructively.

This ritual might be curtailed at least in some cases by an entry in the FAQ explaining that questions should be self-contained, people shouldn't have to read through the comments to understand it, and if you become aware of possible improvements in the question, please make them.


Proposed FAQ question:

Why are there so many comments asking for more information, and no answers given to my question?

or in view of J.M.'s comment

What information should I include in a question?

(Other better formulation welcome.)

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for bringing this up; it's quite exasperating to find that the asker has neglected to supply vital information, and even more so when the asker refuses to cooperate with regards to (potential) answerers' pleas. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Jul 24 '11 at 12:39
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What, people actually read the FAQ?

Perhaps another thing to do, when we come across a situation where OP has put in comments information that should be in the question, is to edit it into the question ourselves. Maybe the question is whether we should be encouraged to edit questions not our own.

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    $\begingroup$ "What, people actually read the FAQ?" - I'd have said the same thing, but... it's supposed to make it easier for us to point to the FAQ instead of having to rail at each "lazy" questioner, right? $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Jul 24 '11 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ What J.M. said. It is at least useful for the moral high ground. And the hope is, if we point the user to one item of FAQ, he will continue to read at least two or three others at the same time... $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jul 24 '11 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I withdraw my objection, such as it was, but I'd still like guidance on circumstances under which we are to edit (for content, not just for typos) questions not our own. We are getting some (ill-informed) flak for such editing on the sci.math newsgroup. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 25 '11 at 1:25

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