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I often comment questions asking the OPs to provide more details, and I also suggest to add those details in the original question. However, this is frequently ignored, and most of the details remain in the comments. I don't think this helps improving the quality of the question, which should be the real goal of commenting. Is there a reference on the help pages or in this Meta site I could cite, which encourages OP to include details provided in comments, into the main question?

EDIT just to be sure I understood some of the comments below, if I don't want the question to be closed, but to be put on hold because it's unclear, I click on flag and select this option, right?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know, but I often start my comments with "please edit your question to give us more details on...", in many cases it seems to work better then simply asking for clarification. $\endgroup$ – Tim Nov 23 '17 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Tim good, but it doesn't seem to be enough for some OPs. I could add a little note in the help center, stressing the importance of updating the main question, if someone shows me/points me to a link on how to do it. $\endgroup$ – DeltaIV Nov 23 '17 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ Well, someone could provide such explanation in this thread and you can always send link to it, however I'm afraid that the people who do not read/understand your comments, would be exactly the same group that would not visit the link. $\endgroup$ – Tim Nov 23 '17 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ @DeltaIV: True, but the way it usually seems to work out is that when someone overlooks the request to provide more information by editing the question their response is thin and incomplete in any case (at which point I usually give up rather than repeat myself in writing). Note that closing unclear questions in addition to commenting helps you to make the point. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Nov 23 '17 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Scortchi how long should we give an OP before suggesting a close? I have seldom voted to close as I hold the good hope that someone does eventually edit the question or responds to the comments otherwise. Of course, any single arbitrary time cut-off will be flawed, but what kind of timeframe is considered reasonable? A couple of days, a week or a month even? $\endgroup$ – IWS Nov 23 '17 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ IWS: For 'close' read 'place on hold pending improvement'. The sooner the better in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Nov 23 '17 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Tim if someone provides the explanation in this thread, I will for sure include the link - at least it shows that it's not just a pet peeve of mine, but it's something backed up by people with considerably more reputation and/or status (e.g., moderators) than me. You think it won't work? Maybe, but at least I'll know I tried my best to convince them. $\endgroup$ – DeltaIV Nov 23 '17 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Scortchi please see my edited question :-) you mean I should flag the question as "unclear what you're asking", right? I do that often, but there are cases where I think the question is not bad (so I would feel a bit awkward flagging it), but the problem (prediction intervals for mixed models) is one of those where the answer depends even on "tiny" details . Anyway, if that helps the site quality, I can start flagging more questions. $\endgroup$ – DeltaIV Nov 23 '17 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ @DeltaIV: I think you're misunderstanding something: to place a question on hold is to close it. The latter wording - users see '[on hold]' appended to the title of a closed question - was adopted to make it clearer that improvement followed by re-opening is the expected path. With over 3k rep., you can cast close votes yourself, with no need to raise flags. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Nov 23 '17 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Scortchi yes, I was definitely misunderstanding that. I know I can cast close votes, but since I also see the flag option I thought there was some difference...I now think the only difference is that in the first case I don't need to get the moderators involved. Thanks for clarifying $\endgroup$ – DeltaIV Nov 23 '17 at 13:38
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If a poster won't act on your comment alone, they likely won't act on anything else (less than closure).

It does sometimes help to be specific when asking, to mention the word edit specifically; some posters hang around for an hour or so and may fix their question if you catch them early.

If they do clarify in comments, you can always edit to include the details if need be.


In relation to whether to flag to close or whether to vote to close:

  • When you're able to take an appropriate action to deal with or partly deal with something yourself (like vote to close) you should take that action.

  • flagging notifies moderators that you think there is something they should do (above what ordinary high-rep users like yourself can). When you don't have relevant voting privileges it makes sense to use the flag option for a closure. If you voted for closure but a good while has passed (many hours at least, perhaps more like a day, say) and you don't think it's going to close from lack of attention (but should still close), in that case flagging also makes some sense.

  • in cases where it's important for a moderator to see it or something that's urgent, then you could both vote on it and flag it appropriately

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