I love your site.... but the your question does not meet our quality standards thing is really annoying... I have wasted lots of time trying to figure out what this message means.....maybe someone could explain it to me.....whats wrong with this question:

Find numbers a and b such that:

$ lim =((sqrt(ax+b)-2)/(x))=1$

I don't quite understand what I a supposed to do with this?

Any help would be appreciated......

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    $\begingroup$ Please also read the other questions tagged meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/quality-filter $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Mar 7 '13 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ As given in the answers, I also don't know the algorithm behind the message. I just help by commenting on the example question that you give here. The way the question is stated it looks like you just copied it out of a book or from a homework sheet. You mention nothing about what you have tried to do already. There is no thoughts about the problems. If you add some text telling people what you have tried in solving the problem and add some about what in particular is confusin/unclear about the problem, you are likely to get a better answer. And with the extra text you might get by the filter. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Mar 8 '13 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ My guess is the quality filter looks for an excessive number of consecutive periods. :-) $\endgroup$ – cardinal Mar 8 '13 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ @cardinal 's guess is a good one from what I saw of the MSO discussions. $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 8 '13 at 2:32

In addition to Asaf's suggestions, one more that deals with the readability is to use $\LaTeX$ with the MathJax markup which is supported on this site. If you want to see the MathJax source that is used to make an expression, right-click on the expression and select "Show Math As > TeX Commands". For example, try $$ \lim_{x\to0}\frac{\sqrt{ax+b}-2}{x}=1 $$

People are more apt to read your question and less likely to be irritated by having to translate hard to read math.

Since I mention them above, I copy Asaf's suggestions here:

If you want to avoid these messages there are a few tricks to use:

  1. Avoid "plain formula" or "copy-paste" problems. Add some words around the problem.
  2. Add your own efforts, where did you get stuck, and what is not clear to you.
  3. Remember that no one is here to solve your homework for you, which is an addition to the previous points - but relevant enough to bring up again.
  • $\begingroup$ You might want to edit this answer. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 7 '13 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Not to pry, but why did you remove your answer? Cheers. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Mar 8 '13 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ @cardinal: Because the comments developed into a silly argument over nothing, and I have better things to do (for once!). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 8 '13 at 2:05
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: the comments are not part of the answer and not permanent. If there are problems with the comments, that can be dealt with. Your answer was good, and even if the question is about the automatic quality script, your suggestions should increase the quality of posts and help authors to avoid the automatic quality script. $\endgroup$ – robjohn Mar 8 '13 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ robjohn, I am fully aware of that. Thank you. Still. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 8 '13 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: I have appended your suggestions to my answer. Let me know if this is a problem. $\endgroup$ – robjohn Mar 8 '13 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ Not at all. This is the second time I put you in the positive to copy from my deleted meta posts... You should know it's fine! :-P $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 8 '13 at 2:57
  • $\begingroup$ Numbered suggestions 1-2 don't seem to correlate with what passes the filter, except by increasing the length of the posting. Suggestion 3 assumes that the filter scans for imperatives or can read minds. Either one would be a customization of the filter for MSE and such a thing is not documented anywhere. It seems likelier (and there is evidence of it on MSE) that homework posters would superficially adapt to the custom after the first few attempts when they are showered with "don't use imperative" comments, than change their assumptions about the site to align with suggestion 3. $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 8 '13 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ @zyx: One reason that we don't exactly know the algorithm that the automatic filter uses is to discourage attempts to game the system. These suggestions help to improve the quality of answers and, in the process, hopefully avoid the automatic filter. $\endgroup$ – robjohn Mar 8 '13 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ Hopefully I am not the only one opposed to casual acceptance of the idea that triggering the filter means there is something definitely wrong with a question and that the job of the meta users is to look for rationalizations of the filter behavior (such as giving writing advice to the OP for what he could have done differently). In this case, the question was on-topic, clear and reasonably expressed, and if the filter blocked it, this is a problem with the filter and not the OP. Better typesetting would be nice but it is not a precondition for posting. $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 8 '13 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx: the automatic filter is just that. Hopefully, users are accustomed to the idea that automation can only do so much, and that it can't actually check the quality of what was written. Therefore, there must be some metric (length, links, images, etc.) that it uses to determine acceptability. These suggestions for improvements hopefully will lead to better answers, and additionally, help to avoid the automatic quality filter. $\endgroup$ – robjohn Mar 8 '13 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure that it's universally understood that any automatic screening is necessarily based on fallible heuristics. For the same reason that there isn't a need for humans to take on the job of rationalizing the actions of a computer program, I don't think it is necessary to rationalize those rationalizations and explain why we are in the best of all possible worlds and help everyone adapt to this best-best situation in the best-best way. It to good to maintain some critical distance (which is different from being a critic at all times). $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 8 '13 at 13:04

the your question does not meet our quality standards thing is really annoying... I have wasted lots of time trying to figure out what this message means

It is an automatically generated message.

There is an algorithmic "quality filter" for questions. StackExchange has not published the formula, and there must be a lot of analysis of this on meta.stackoverflow, but it is safe to assume that the shorter the question the higher the chance of rejection. In your question, the math symbols are not in TeX and it is possible the filter has heuristics that correlate with that. Several alphabetic strings are not in the English dictionary and not written between dollar signs: b,lim,sqrt,x,x-.

As suggested in comment below the question, searches for (quality-filter) tag on meta.stackoverflow and meta.math.stackexchange.com might reveal more.

https://meta.stackoverflow.com/search?q=quality-filter $\hskip20pt$ 256 hits http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/quality-filter $\hskip20pt$ 9 hits

And for our friends the anonymous downvoters, here is a copy of the comment explaining why all this information is the only valid form of answer, until and unless the asker requests something different.

I interpret the question as "why did I get this message preventing me from posting (attached text)". To that, the only possible answer is some discussion of the quality filter. Answers that do not even mention the filter and give generalized advice assuming there was something "wrong" in the material stopped by the filter, are insulting when the OP did not request any such writing advice.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think yours is a rather narrow interpretation of the question. If someone asks why the metal detector at the airport keeps stopping them from carrying a knife onto a plane, is "the only possible answer" to explain how eddy currents in the metal generate an induced magnetic field, and perhaps they should try a ceramic knife instead? Is it insulting to state that the reason the automatic detector is there is that you are actually not supposed to carry knives onto planes, nor to ask extremely short, poorly explained questions on StackExchange? $\endgroup$ – Rahul Mar 8 '13 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ The attempted MSE post was not poorly explained, it asks an unambiguous question, and there is no minimum length requirement for quality as judged in human, non-algorithmic ways. The meta question in airport terms is merely "why did I get stopped" to which the answer is not a discourse on magnetic fields but "it detected a metal object, such as a knife or bottle-opener, in your luggage" and this is exactly what the above answer does. An analogy that starts by planting a knife or a bomb in the luggage, and then claims I gave advice on how to smuggle similar weapons into the plane, is silly. $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 8 '13 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ And it would be insulting to somebody stopped because of a Swiss Army knife or sharp metal chopsticks or some other metal object in the luggage that is not thought of as a weapon by the owner, and is not universally recognized by other passengers as a dangerous weapon, but is treated as a "knife" by security, to answer the question with "because it is forbidden to bring weapons into airplanes". $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 8 '13 at 2:24
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    $\begingroup$ Evidently we disagree on what makes a properly explained question. I expect that if someone wants other people to put in the effort of writing a good answer to their question, they ought to show that they have put in a modicum of their own effort into trying to find the answer. The StackOverflow FAQ agrees with me: "Make sure your question has... a reasonable explanation of what your question is, sharing your research on the matter". In that light, this question is exactly the kind of thing the automatic filter is designed to catch. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Mar 9 '13 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ We were not discussing what constitutes a reasonable MSE question. The subject you raised for further analysis was whether it is possible to give a non-insulting answer to "why was I stopped from posting" that does not mention the filter. In airport terms, if a man is stopped from entering an airplane because of a hip flask of whiskey, the security is working as designed, but answering his question with "quit drinking and it won't be an issue" is an obnoxious non-answer. $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 9 '13 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ Here's my position. (1) The purpose of the filter is to catch poorly explained questions. (2) If a poorly explained question gets caught by the filter, the filter is doing its job and the proper response is to explain how to make the question better. (3) If an adequately explained question gets caught by the filter, it's a false positive and the proper response is to explain how to get around the limitations of the filter. Therefore, whether the question is adequately explained is absolutely relevant to the discussion. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Mar 9 '13 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ There are two big problems with (2). One is that "poorly explained" is a subjective negative judgement that is not consistent between users, so answering (as people did here) in a way that presumes the correctness of that judgement is bad for the reasons that I gave initially. The second and worse problem is that (2) says to deliberately provide false or misleading information (such as implying that a lack of demonstrated effort may have triggered the filter, when numerous effortless cut-and-paste questions make it through) in an attempt to influence behavior. That is manipulation. $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 10 '13 at 2:18
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    $\begingroup$ Are you really arguing that no one should ever consider a question as poorly explained and respond accordingly, lest there be someone somewhere who might disagree? Let me know if I misparsed your statement, because that sounds like an incredibly broad injunction. // The advice is that presence of demonstrated effort will prevent the filter from being triggered. The existence of cut-and-paste questions is a counterexample to the claim that absence of demonstrated effort will cause the filter to be triggered. Consider whether there is an implication in either direction. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Mar 10 '13 at 9:58
  • $\begingroup$ Someone who judges a question to be poor can write that in ways that (a) do, or (b) do not, presume the correctness of the judgement. I am making the extremely unoriginal argument that for subjective negative judgements, made on incomplete information and published in a permanent public forum, the first choice is a bad one. There is an additional argument to which I have not seen a response, which is that offering those judgements, whether dressed as opinions or solutions, without mentioning the direct cause of the problem (the filter) is offensive in several ways. $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 10 '13 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ "Incomplete information"? The entire text of the blocked question is right there. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Mar 11 '13 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ You wrote "answers that... give generalized advice assuming there was something "wrong" in the material stopped by the filter, are insulting." I didn't see the need to respond to that because I was arguing that there are no such answers here. People aren't giving generalized advice assuming that there is something wrong with the question; they have looked at the question, seen that it is poorly explained, and given advice on how to make it better explained. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Mar 11 '13 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ It looks like there is no significant disagreement with the first remark except whether the words "incomplete information" can apply. They do apply in the generality that you had formulated the issue, about what any user might think about any question at any time. You have stated some of your own evaluations in terms that can be objectively computed from the visible text of the question, but others are not bound by that. ( @RahulNarain ) $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 11 '13 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ I argued under the other answer that this issue draws out human rationalizations of the decisions of the computer filter, followed by rationalizations of the human rationalizations. The next logical step is sanitized interpretations of the thread history. An example of this is the assertion that no generalized, assuming form of advice was given, it's just my imagination. In fact, the two posted answers suggested: to improve the LaTeX (useless for the not-mentioned filter); and to "remember that no-one is here to solve your homework for you" (where there was nothing stated about homework). $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 11 '13 at 3:39
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, but I don't think we're getting anywhere. I could respond to your new answer, but that would only prolong the futility. Let's just agree to disagree. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Mar 11 '13 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ Either way is fine, but I would be interested to learn whether the last few rounds of disagreement would have existed if the words "incomplete information" had been erased, and the word assuming [that there was something wrong, etc] replaced by the string ", operating as if", and the existence of answers saying "remember that no one is here to do your homework" had been displayed from the start as an example of generalized advice. @RahulNarain $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 11 '13 at 8:19

As this is turning into a kind of case study of how the meta operates, I did a tiny bit of research that merits separate posting.

The source of this question shows that the OP did use TeX/MathJax dollar signs for the formulas, and tried to render the $x \to 0$ below the limit by placing it on the next line. The syntax is imperfect, but reveals an obvious effort to use MathJax, probably based on the documentation in the FAQ or the meta.

Whether any effort was made to comply with MSE practices has no effect on the actions of the filter, but the attempt to use correct math formatting indicates that even the more innocuous suggestions made in the answers, about using LaTeX, were not dealing with the real question and the real person. The posted answers were derived from assumptions that lead to soapbox speeches of "helpful hints". In reality, the OP was aware that mathematical typesetting exists and tried to use it in accordance with the recommendations on the site.

In addition, there was a supportive answer (from MJD?) that was immediately downvoted below $0$ and deleted. I interpret the voting as herd pressure and (as argued before) part of the general pattern of humans rationalizing the actions of Stackexchange computers. I do not think it healthy for MSE if users over-identify with the SE network or policies. One can participate and/or support the policies, without identifying.


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