Recently there was an extensive discussion about closing the questions containing only the problem statement: http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9201/proposal-discourage-questions-that-are-nothing-besides-a-problem-statement

(At the moment it has 59 upvotes and 11 downvotes; you can judge for yourself whether this already can be considered community consensus. Some discussion is still going on in comments to that question.)

When I checked a few of recently closing questions in the tools accessible to 10k+ users, I have seen that some users have already started doing this. But some questions were closed without leaving any message to the OP explaining what he could improve so that his question can be reopen.

The goal of the proposal was to increase the quality of the questions, behavior like this is not really helping.

Of course, when I find questions like this, I can leave a comment as an explanation. But I think that leaving the explanation of closure should be the responsibility of the people closing the question.

Please, if you are voting to close a question on grounds of lack of effort/low quality, leave a comment for the OP with an explanation what he can improve. There is a suggestion for a comment template in this post, so if you are satisfied with the wording, you only need to copy a paste the text from there. (Added later: Some other suitable comments can be also found in http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4925/list-of-comment-templates.)

Some users might ignore this, but at least sometimes the OP might willing to the work and improve his question. In such case it is important that he knows, what he is expected to do.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Hopefully this post is explicit enough a reminder. C'mon, you guys, since you're voting to close anyway, give 'em a bone! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 5:45
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ Isn't it about time to ask for a specific closing reason, e.g. "Needs improvement", containing this boilerplate? In reaction to the recent discussions there was a huge increase in votes for closure, but none of the standard reasons seems to fit very well. $\endgroup$
    – Martin
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 5:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well said. Let's hope it catches $\endgroup$
    – davidlowryduda Mod
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 5:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin there are some indications that limited custom close reasons will be added by SE when they overhaul the whole close reasons, but if this will actually be implemented and when is not clear yet. $\endgroup$
    – user9733
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 5:48
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    $\begingroup$ When closing a question for not showing enough effort, perhaps we should show some effort. What a concept! (+1) $\endgroup$
    – robjohn Mod
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 7:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin I tried asking this, essentially, on meta.so some days ago. It was marked as duplicate and people over there seem to consider all is well in the se sphere. I also got the message that "physics.se does a great job in these matters, as opposed to math.se". Just summarizing some people's opinion, not mine. I don't really have an opinion about this. $\endgroup$
    – Julien
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ @julien: Thanks for having doing this. Not a surprising reaction. // One reason Physics can do "a great job" is because they have a much more narrow scope than we have. For instance, they explicitly declare homework-type problems as off-topic in their faq which is an option that obviously doesn't apply here. $\endgroup$
    – Martin
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist: I'm unsure whether I understand what you're saying. Is it correct that there currently are only a very limited number of close reasons and boilerplate texts that are supposed to apply to all sites of the network? $\endgroup$
    – Martin
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin: That's a bit misleading. They elaborate on their meta: A "homework question" is any question whose value lies in helping you understand the method by which the question can be solved, rather than getting the answer itself. And IMO, the intent of their rules for homework clearly seems to be to ensure that questions (and answers) are about understanding the method by which the question can be solved, rather than getting the answer itself. $\endgroup$
    – user14972
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ Even if one were to disagree with their methods, I still think that's a goal we should aim for. Unfortunately, we have people on our meta who have explicitly advocated for a student "getting the answer itself". That's something I strongly disagree with. $\endgroup$
    – user14972
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ I will admit I am guilty of this (sorry!). Is there an easy way to automatically post a pre-fabricated comment when doing this? Sometimes I see people post welcome messages, etc., that seem like they are automated in some way. $\endgroup$
    – user641
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ I think if a poster shows no effort to us, we owe them nothing in return. In fact, I think we should give them nothing to discourage such questions. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2013 at 2:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I personally don't think we should generally be voting to close "unclear what you're asking" questions without first asking for clarification, except perhaps in the most serious cases. $\endgroup$
    – dfeuer
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 18:17


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