I have seen many times that somebody voted to close short questions (and probably downvoted the questions as well), even though the OP made clear that there had been good attempts. This thread is the most recent one I saw. While I do not know the real reason that the question has been voted to close, my bet is that somebody looked at the question and thought it was too short to show enough attempt. However, if you really read the question, you would know that the OP must have made it very far in solving the original question. Therefore, I would like to ask you to really read the question before deciding to close it. Sometimes, a short question does show enough effort.

Here is another short question with a close vote that I think is premature. While the OP of this thread should have shown more, to answer the main question why the OP did not get the same result as the textbook (or whichever resources the OP was using) does not require knowing the OP's attempt. By just looking at the information the OP gave, you could see that the OP had actually solved the problem, but did not realize it.

Here is yet another short question with a close vote. The OP properly formatted the question. The OP also supplied a full attempt, despite it being wrong. The only thing the OP should have done more was to add a "proof-verification" or "solution-verification" tag. Yet, there is a vote to close because it is missing context or other details. I am not quite sure what other context should be added to this rather simple question.

This would be my last example for this META question. I only wanted to supply more examples as Xander Henderson had requested. (This is not an attempt to spark another round of heated debate.)

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    $\begingroup$ Your post is based on a false premise, i.e. that people are voting to close questions because they are short. I have voted to close that question because it lacks context. The asker claims that they have reduced the problem to proving a short statement (which, without seeing how they derived that result, makes me worry that the question is an XY problem). They have not indicated which theorems, results, or definitions are applicable (or allowable, assuming that this is a school assignment. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ Finally, I think that you will find that there are people who do not a priori regard an "honest attempt" as sufficient context. Details of an attempt are useful in a problem where the question is "what did I do wrong?" or "where do I go from here?" In the current context, details of such an attempt would be quite useful, for the reasons I outlined above. On the other hand, there are questions where an "honest attempt" just clouds the waters, e.g. "I want to prove this theorem. Here's what I did: <insert three paragraphs of nonsense>." $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson That is agreeable. However, I don't think, at least, it is applicable to the link I gave. What the OP asked at the end of that question is only a small step away from a complete solution. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Batominovski Again, the asker did not show any of their work. It should not be the responsibility of readers to read the mind of the asker and determine how they got to whatever step they got to. It is the job of the asker to give sufficient context. In the case of the question to which you have linked, such context is not given. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Batominovski Yes, people sometimes make mistakes. But, as I think is clear from what I have written above, I don't think that it is mistaken to vote-to-close the particular question you have brought up. I think that, in this case, the votes are justifiable. Please stop making assumptions (e.g. that people are voting to close because a post is short, or that people are voting to close by mistake). $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy I did respond to both of you. Maybe I like geometry, and can see how much it is needed to get to the part the OP asked for. Therefore, I could see the effort to get to the specific question the OP asked. Xander disagreed, and that is ok. You disagreed, and that's ok. But it seems it's not ok that I disagree with you. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy I do not agree with the policy that PSQ shouldn't be answered to. I do not object if it is voted to close or deleted. I will not stop answering such questions. And you can do your part to enforce this policy. You can flag moderators to have a talk-to with me if this is not allowed. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy I am not here for the reps. I just enjoy solving problems. If this post came across as insulting you personally, I apologize. This post is simply a request that there may be more to short questions than it looks. I don't know why you have to be so unkind. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ Let me repeat myself, as you have not addressed this at all, @Batominovski: It should not be the responsibility of readers to read the mind of the asker and determine how they got to whatever step they got to. The fact that you can (perhaps even correctly) determine how they got their result does not excuse the asker from explaining themselves. Otherwise, one runs into the xy problem. It is the asker's responsibility to explain what they have done, not the reader's responsibility to read minds. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson I do not think your concern was invalid. I accept your viewpoint. I simply think from trying to solve the problem that the OP got very far if the question about the point $P$ was the final thing to be dealt with. And your argument is great. Readers don't know for sure unless more was shown. We disagreed, and I saw your point. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy Honestly, it's not your job to police when someone should and shouldn't get help with their homework assignment. The asker showing their work/attempt makes the question less useful, because then the answer is tailored only to to the asker's attempt. If the same question comes up, but the OP has a different problem, then their question will be closed as a duplicate when the problem the OP has is not actually the same. A full solution is preferable that addresses all possible attempts, which can later be updated if it doesn't initially address the OP's problem. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @MattSamuel it might be worth recalling that historically allowing attempts as context was a concession to the more permissive users. From my side, no problem at all not to insist on and count attempts. Yet, of course we'd still enforce context. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Zacky I was aiming at a more general case. I only used this one example because it was the most recent one, and I can't remember other threads that this applies to. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Zacky Somebody else changed my tags. I didn't realize that this happened. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ I've deleted my comment above to keep it clean as I thought the issue is over with the tags. @XanderHenderson the post doesn't focus on a single question, mostly you focused on that specific question in the comments, but it doesn't mean that the post is about it. The answers posted bellow are focused to general aspects and only one answer mentioned it, but still focused on general things from there, so the tag will invalidate the answers. And just because more examples can be useful, it doesn't change that the tag is inappropriate here. $\endgroup$
    – Zacky
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 9:32

4 Answers 4


The question raises a valid point, but does so in a non-optimal way.

Can we please stop voting to close a question just because the question is short?

Yes, sure. Everyone agrees. Let's move on. Yet, wait. As discussed in comments there is an issue in any specific case. Was it really "just because"?

Actually, framing it as you did will invite others to contest that it was "just because." This will likely not lead to anything constructive.

Here is one principle: It is first and foremost the job of the person that asks the question to craft a question post that makes it easy and clear to appreciate and to understand. If this is not the case, then it can be closed.

That said, there are obviously limits to this, and some users actually might at times resort a bit too much to heuristics and possibly vote on things where they did not make a reasonable effort to understand the post. At the same time I do not think it is reasonable to impose as the limit that users first need to solve the problem to see where the intermediate step lies and if it makes sense.

Adopting the above principle has the drawback that we arguably miss some good questions because of this. Because it is a fact that there are not few people out there that are quite competent in mathematics yet have difficult to express it (in English).

The drawback can be mitigated though. Those that care about the questions can give advice how to improve the post (or within limits improve it themselves). Ideally they would do this before the question is closed, then the question might not be closed to begin with. In any case it can be reopened.

This post might be a bit meandering, so what's my point?

Maybe it is a call for pragmatism. The time spend to call out users that close "just because" the question is short or "just because" whatever, might be better spent on improving questions.

If this happens I would encourage those that close to show some appreciation towards the gesture and maybe close one of the 137 other questions of the day that still should be closed not to speak about the 125273 on the site.

The flip-side is that those that improve should do so out of genuine interest in the question, and not in an effort to undercut those that had closed or were in the process of closing.

  • $\begingroup$ "chose" in the penultimate paragraph should be "close" (and not, say, "choose"), right? $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 8:26
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    $\begingroup$ @LSpice honestly I don't know for sure. Likely I meant to write "choose [to close]", but "close" as you propose is more direct. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 23:05

This (second) answer is specifically about the newly added paragraphe and the question mentioned there:

The question in its original form:

Find the second solution. First solution is 1/(1-x) .Solve by Frobenius Method

question is x(1-x)y''+2(1-2x)y'-2y=0 please give complete solution.The first soltion i am able to get is 1/(1-x) . Other solution is 1/x but i am getting -1/x(1-x).

This got one vote to close before you drew attention to it here (now at three). And, this means that we are too strict? I don't think so.

I agree that the post contains something that can be salvaged. If there are users that want to salvage something that's fine. But this type of post, as is, does not match the standards of the site and thus can and should be closed unless it gets improved. There is nothing wrong with this and failing to do so degrades the quality of the site.

Yes, in this case, given the edits and your answer it is now maybe basically alright, and it is in a way nice that you put in the effort.

But as a rule such posts can be closed. Clearly the poster can do a bit better than this. Why should we cater to this? We should not. It is ultimately a disservice for the site and arguably even the poster.

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    $\begingroup$ I edited that question because it looked unclear. It's really hard to read and answer a question badly formatted. $\endgroup$ Commented May 2, 2020 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the edit. I agree that formatting can make a lot of difference. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 22:03

General concerns.

You have a reasonable concern. Thank you for posting the question with a typical example.

In the (almost) daily list of questions-to-be-closed/deleted in the CURED (formerly abbreviated as CRUDE) chat room since early 2018, the initiator once said clearly in a public conversation that

I search for very short posts.

There are indeed many “short” questions that are closed and/or deleted by this room. Not to say that such activities are right or wrong, it is unclear how the list is formed regularly and based on what kind of algorithms ("cure") or judgments if any. But such “searching by length” activities would be certainly a concern for the public.

The particular geometry question.

For the particular geometry question you mentioned, it is indeed very short.

One of the users who voted to close left the following comment under the question:

"I have voted to close that question because it lacks context. The asker claims that they have reduced the problem to proving a short statement (which, without seeing how they derived that result, makes me worry that the question is an XY problem). They have not indicated which theorems, results, or definitions are applicable (or allowable, assuming that this is a school assignment."

Such justifications (assuming good intention) for closing is actually used very often, which causes the over-requirement of the so-called "context". It is nevertheless problematic.

Providing “which theorems, results, or definitions are applicable” can indeed facilitate an answerer to give a desirable answer, it is by no means a must. It is, of course, annoying that one gives an answer but the asker later leaves a comment like “oh, no, my teacher does not allow me to use LHopital, can you do it in another way?” But this question is not such a case.

One way to provide the expected context is to give definitions. For example, it may be very essential to provide the definition of the exponential function $x\mapsto e^x$ since answers to the question may completely depend on the way one defines it. In the linked question, do you seriously think that people who read this question do not know what the definition of “parallel” is? Or what “area” means in this problem?

Under that question, one user wrote “I have voted to close this question because it lacks context. You claim to have written a lot of relations, but you have not reproduced any of them here”.

MSE is a Q&A site. Not a place for taking exams and question box is not an exam paper. Who cares those messy intermediate attempts PROVIDED that the asked attempted to reduce the problem to a simpler one and clearly wrote down what (s)he thought (s)he has reduced?

“This has the potential of being an XY Problem.” in the same comment is invalid. The timeline shows that at 2020-04-28 14:23:31Z an answer was accepted. I do not see the point of using such a reason for voting to close a question after three hours of the accepted answer (2020-04-28 17:47:49Z).

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    $\begingroup$ Re: "I look for short posts." If you look through the archives of CURED, you will also find that same user noting that short posts are not automatically bad, but that there is a correlation. That is, a short post is more likely to be bad. Thus if you are looking to find questions that are uncontroversially bad and in need of deletion, it is reasonable to target short posts. This user has not automated the process, and selects questions by hand from among those found. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 2:10

I think people here vote negative and to close the question if it is too difficult for them, I put here quality questions I admit they are difficult and people voted negative after I spent a good time writing them when people vote negative they must give a good reason. What is the point of the site if when you ask a question because the people are unable to answer they vote negative and ask to close it. Does this mean that the site lacks quality and it's not really for the purpose?

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    $\begingroup$ I took a look at your latest question. It is not hard. In fact, I struggle for how to even start helping with it since it ought to follow straight from applying the definition, and anyone at the level of studying representations need to be able to do that. Further, the question lacks any form of basic formatting. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ Not sure what do you mean by basic formatting, I am not here teaching I am asking a question I need help with, this is the purpose of the site, I am not here to make the site look wonderful by making a perfect edit, waste of time putting a question on here, not trying to be rude even. $\endgroup$
    – F K
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ If you think people are participating here not to make a wonderful site but to give you help then you seriously misunderstand the purpose of this site. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ people are voting negative for no reason this is the purpose of what am writing don't try to be clever and twist what I say and put it against me. I don't like that. They not even giving help I waste 30 minutes typing a question and they vote negative because of no reason , then there is no point of wasting 30 minutes typing a question . $\endgroup$
    – F K
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ This is not only my opinion go search the site and you will find a lot of people writing similar things $\endgroup$
    – F K
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ I understand the frustration and can't talk for others, but when I find something difficult, it is actually a reason to upvote because the problem is challenging. But here we are dealing with questions that lack basically any effort on the author's side, which feels like an insult to good people on the site who spend their time answering, but the asker somehow cannot spend 5 minutes describing his thoughts. $\endgroup$
    – Sil
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I spent 30 minutes putting some of the questions here and people just voted negative for no reason, not talking out of the blue here, am not frustrated, to be honest, but I think am not going to waste my time putting questions here and my answers where people just voted negative for no reason, before they vote negative they should explain a valid reason. good people will not vote negative for my questions and answers, it seems I have been unlucky that only bad people saw mine . $\endgroup$
    – F K
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ Right, I was talking in more general sense, not specifically to your questions (which seem to be discussed in other threads). Just note that downvotes here on meta do not necessarily mean the post is of a poor quality, here the votes mean agreement/disagreement (it has different meaning than on the main site). $\endgroup$
    – Sil
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 15:36

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