On a question such as this (currently deleted and thus only visible to some users), should we offer a comment as to why the post is being downvoted?(since they are a new user) and if so what comment?

I have checked comment templates, but nothing there seems applicable. I have also checked how to ask a good question, where I do not see a section that would resolve the problems with the post in question. I have checked some other threads but they seem to unrelated like discrepancies between skills and ambitions

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    $\begingroup$ I don't believe that the Markov chain that generated that post would be able to learn anything from any comments. $\endgroup$ – JonathanZ supports MonicaC Jul 26 '20 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ You don't need to post a pre-written comment. Instead, you should work out why you think that it was downvoted or closed. My opinion is that it is a rather long "check my work" question, and would require a lot of effort on someone's part to check it. Very few people have the kind of time required to check it. So I guess the downvotes are related to this. (Although the "requires clarify or other detail" close reason suggests otherwise...) Possibly you see the reason differently though. $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jul 26 '20 at 8:28
  • $\begingroup$ My point is: give advice on how you think the question could be improved or why you think it is beyond saving. If you do write a comment then please avoid snarky comments about having a good chuckle at their expense. $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jul 26 '20 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, 1729, I think having a good chuckle is about all one can do with a post like that. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 26 '20 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ I am unable to understand the intent of the asker of linked question. But more importantly I am not worried at all about my inability to do so. These are the rare occasions where Math.SE gives a pleasure of a different sort I guess. $\endgroup$ – Paramanand Singh Jul 26 '20 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729 I don't think that this is what is the issue there There is also a danger in framing things too positively. The post is not coherent and the close reasons conveys this. Frankly, I have to wonder how much time you spent on the post before coming to your opinion and implicitly questioning other users judgment. That said, I agree with your remark regarding the chuckle remark. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 26 '20 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Well, the point of my comment was that the OP should feel free to use their own judgement; they shouldn't feel constrained by pre-written comments, and should suggest what they think the problem is. So I'm not sure criticising my opinion of the problem is helpful here... (I wasn't meaning to question the downvoters judgement, or criticise it, I was merely wondering.) $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jul 26 '20 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ (Also, I don't think my judgement is incorrect, it is simply a different, but I feel still valid, close reason to "incoherence". I don't think Math.SE is the place for this kind of "dump" of work, so I thought it was reasonable to suggest this as a close reason.) $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jul 26 '20 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729 it is not anything that deserves the denomination "work." Did you read it? "If ln is calculus, for circles Then the natural limit (nl) would be circles. So with this information, we can take portions of a sphere. This is a holographic function." What does this mean? What could this mean? I do not consider your judgment as valid. Instead it seems to be based on an overly superficial inspection of the post paired with "a priori" convictions. The "clarity" reason is spot on, I really do not see how what you say applies. It is possible to evaluate it rather quickly and discard it. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 26 '20 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I don't see why you are arguing here. I agree that the post should be closed. The fact that I didn't analyse it enough to come to the "correct" close reason is irrelevant. As I said, my initial point was to encourage the OP to think for themselves. But what the OP sees is someone being chastised by a moderator for thinking for themselves. Do you think this will encourage the OP to help with the moderation of this site, or discourage it? $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jul 26 '20 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729 I do think it helps with moderation to call out superficial sound-bites based on all good intentions and a vague spirit of inclusiveness, which unfortunately when one looks at it carefully just do not add up and fuel problems. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 26 '20 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ On the meta question in more detail, it specifically asked for posts that are "beyond saving". A post of the type you describe would not even fully fit that category. Thus what you said misses the point of the question. The question is an incoherent word salad and the meta question is how to deal with that type of question. "Think for yourself." is a non-answer here. The question is to what point it makes sense to engage with manifest incoherence. @user1729 (I see the request not to continue but it was intended as 2 part cmnt so I complete it. Sorry) $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 26 '20 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Okay, I understand your point now. For questions which are "beyond saving" then I would rather people put a comment explicitly saying this, e.g. "I do not understand this. It is completely incoherent." (I don't think the boiler plate reason of "lacking clarity or other details" is helpful by itself, as it leaves the OP with the option of improving it by adding more detail. Which has the potential to be a downward spiral.) $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jul 26 '20 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ I thought Professor Irwin Corey had died. $\endgroup$ – steven gregory Aug 6 '20 at 2:30

While it's certainly commendable to look for a good comment to leave, especially with regards to the experience of new users, it is not the case that such a comment always exists - and it is better to leave no comment at all than to leave a comment that delivers a negative judgement of a post without showing the path forward. As a corollary, if you believe a post to be unsalvageable, leaving a comment is not the correct response. While we should strive to leave constructive comments where we can think of them, sometimes the best outcome is to quietly close a question.

That particular question is one that I voted to close without commenting on. I assumed that the author posted it with the intention to amuse more than the intention to get an answer (although, of course, I can always be wrong about these things) - and, in any case, I could not make out the seed of a question in that post. If you read the post and came to a conclusion such as, "Oh, maybe this post is really trying to ask about X" or "This would be fine if the author just wrote it like Y instead," it would be very welcome to leave that as a comment - and it's certainly a good thing when people who downvote or close a question put some thought into how to leave a constructive comment (and the comment templates linked in this meta question are a reasonable source of inspiration for this). That said, sometimes that kind of comment just isn't out there, but we still ought to use closure as a tool.


What harm is there in posting a comment to explain why a question is getting downvoted? I say by all means do it if you feel so inclined. It might be helpful to the person who wrote the question who doesn't yet know how things work around here. It's better than the person having no idea why their question was not received well.

In this particular case maybe the question was written by a bot, in which case posting a comment would be a waste of time (but still harmless I'd say). If the question is written by a human it could be helpful.


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