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Recently I came upon a question that said "I want a abstract on...", with no other details. This strikes me as demanding and unreasonable. Should such questions be flagged as "rude or abusive", or am I being over-sensitive to this type of language?

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    $\begingroup$ I do not think that such questions are rude or abusive enough to merit flags (the red flags created when you hit "rude or abusive" are put into a high priority queue for moderation, and have extra impacts on users when/if the flag is marked as "helpful"). As @GerryMyerson suggests, a note suggesting that the author revise their language is a good idea. Also a good idea: vote to close the question (what you are describing is devoid of context, and should be closed). $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson I see, the post is deleted anyways so there is not much I can do. It is always nice to hear from a moderator though :) $\endgroup$
    – bobeyt6
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ You should only answer them if they sing their question. :-) $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ This definitely does sound unreasonable and demanding, but not "rude" or "offensive" to warrant such a rating. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ Please keep in mind that not everyone is a native English speaker. I wouldn't consider that "rude or abusive", just a strange way of saying it. To me, "rude or abusive" means insulting statements such as "you're an idiot if you can't solve it on your own". Since "I want a ..." doesn't contain those kinds of statements, it's not rude or abusive. $\endgroup$
    – David Lui
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 7:24
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidLui - I definitely agree that it is neither rude nor abusive, and should not be flagged. But I also think that we are doing non-native English speakers a disservice if we don't make it clear that it is very abrupt, and, in a situation like math.se, where we are all doing favors for one another (i.e. no one here is a paid employee), it is too curt, and makes your question less likely to get a good reception. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose I would like is more polite in theory, but this isn't a German exam where one has to avoid conflating Ich will with Ich möchte. $\endgroup$
    – J.G.
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 20:31
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    $\begingroup$ I've heard that English speakers around the world tend to expect more politeness markers than speakers of other languages. Not sure that's true, but it wouldn't be surprising. $\endgroup$
    – Brian Tung
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ "I want a solution to ..." seems actually a tiny bit more polite to me than the usual low-effort question we get, which is just a word-for-word copy of a homework problem, probably with a command like "Prove" somewhere in the middle. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ I remember the days when Mariano would let users know they should not be using the imperative when asking questions. I always appreciated that, but unfortunately it seems that it was a losing battle. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ I remember @Asaf's reply, with a link to a you-tube video-performance of The Rolling Stones song: "You can't always get what you want! (repeated, repeated), with the refrain ending with "But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need!" $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, @CheerfulParsnip ! $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 17:07

3 Answers 3

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I wouldn't flag it as rude or abusive. I'd downvote it, and possibly explain why the question might be considered unreasonable.

My go-to response to one-liners that ask for volumes of work, is

Try to spend as much effort writing the question, as you'd hope someone would spend writing an answer.

Because what I really don't like is a question that was written (or copy/pasted) in seconds, expecting a hundred times more effort from someone else.

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    $\begingroup$ Nontrivial problems—mathematical problems in particular—are generally easier to pose than to solve. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 8:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnBentin - Agreed, but there are things an asker can do to play ball. Explaining what they've thought and done so far, linking to related posts that didn't pan out (showing that they did some research before asking), elaborating on dead-ends, etc. They don't need to put all the effort into the actual question, but rather outline effort spent researching, for example. $\endgroup$
    – Alec
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 8:55
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So it seems that the general consensus of the community is that while the question is low-quality and demanding, it is not rude or abusive enough to qualify for a red flag.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, yes, yes: please flag "rude and abusive" only if there is actual offensive content such as racism, homophobia etc. Spam and "not an answer" are also good options if appropriate. $\endgroup$
    – Toby Mak
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 10:04
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    $\begingroup$ @TobyMak Please do not flag these kinds of things as "spam". Spam has a very narrow definition on the network, related to linking to off-site resources without declaring one's affiliations. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 12:49
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My take is even more tolerant than that: My inclination is to cut people a lot of slack on stuff like this (especially considering that there are undoubtedly a lot of non-native English speakers on this site). This person may have taken a sentence that was entirely polite (not at all "demanding") in their own language and clumsily translated it word-for-word into English. It may be very brief for the same reason (limited English skills). If the meaning of a post is clear, and not overtly rude (like "your answer is stupid", etc.), I think it's totally fine and not the kind of thing SE should be "policing".

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    $\begingroup$ Translation or not, a one-liner with an instruction to solve a problem or provide a resource is not polite at all. I wouldn't accept being told to GTFO regardless of how many times you put "please" around it. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 9:39
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    $\begingroup$ It is the responsibility of the Community to police poorly written Questions. Translation problems can be addressed by offers of help and requests for clarification, but we want to close Questions that are overly broad or without context until these deficiencies are corrected. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ There are different levels of policing, and it's pretty easy to leave a friendly comment noting that that's rather abrupt language to be using here. Especially if the rest of the question shows little effort. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ Also, if you decide to comment on it, please try to suggest a better alternative phrasing. We want to help the poster communicate better, not merely nit-pick their English. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ When you say "more tolerant than that", what is "that"? Is it @bobeyt6's answer? $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Nij. It’s not an instruction to solve a problem, it’s just a statement of a desire. The question doesn’t tell us (or even ask us) to do something, it simply says that the OP wants something. $\endgroup$
    – bubba
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ Oh boy, has contextual reading got a lesson for you! Walk into a cafe and say "I want a large flat white" to the people working there. See whether they do anything about it. @bubba $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ You really have to be careful about making culturally specific inferences about language. If I type 田中さんオフィスにおりません (Tanaka-san ofisu ni orimasen) into Google Translate, it will (correctly) translate this as "Mr. Tanaka is not in the office". How will it be perceived if I say such a sentence at work? It depends who I'm talking to and my relationship to Mr. Tanaka. It might be fine. But if I am talking to the CEO of my company and Mr. Tanaka is my manager, it's rude. I used the wrong word for "is" (and also I probably should have referred to Mr. Tanaka by his title, and not just "Mr."). $\endgroup$
    – NikS
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 7:56
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    $\begingroup$ Foreigners unintentionally make these kinds of mistakes all the time in Japan. Would it be "fair" for a Japanese person to infer that I am an uncouth jerk for something like this? Nope. But here's the thing: they may have no idea that these distinctions (like different words for "is") don't exist in my native language. $\endgroup$
    – NikS
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 7:56
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed. Such sentences can trivially be converted into questions (with the appropriate level of politeness). They may lack the English skills to pose questions (e.g., different word order and the required auxiliary verb). Or simply can't be bothered. We really don't know. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ They might also just be unclear on what counts as "request" syntax in English. In Japanese, the standard polite way to say "may I have an X?" is Xおお願いします (X o onegai shimasu), but this is technically not in question syntax (literally, it's something like "I make a wish for X"). A rule like "reference requests should be in the form of a polite request" might seem straightforward, but non-native speakers may be legitimately confused about nuances like "will this grammatical form be interpreted as a 'demand' rather than a request?" and "is this considered polite 'tone' in English?". $\endgroup$
    – NikS
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ Off topic, but I think you mean X お願いします. $\endgroup$
    – L. F.
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, yeah, correct. Typo on my part $\endgroup$
    – NikS
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 3:04
  • $\begingroup$ "Off topic, but I think you mean ...". BTW, that's a perfect example of how to 'correct' someone's language in a comment. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 14:43

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