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Some situations come up frequently enough, especially with new users, that it seems useful to maintain a library of polite, helpful responses we can offer. Mods (and anyone else) can then copy and paste from this library.

The purpose of this thread is to implement that library.

The intended structure is that each reply should offer one or more possible comments to respond to one defined situation. (Thus, please feel free to edit an existing reply rather than create multiple replies for the same situation.) Examples of such situations--which I have gleaned from recent moderator interventions--would include

  • Incomprehensible or vague/ambiguous questions.

  • Demands for homework solutions.

  • Off-topic questions.

  • Self-serving replies or overt marketing in replies.

I am also hopeful that by making this library available here, the community can gradually improve these stock messages via direct edits or comments. Possibly we could even add amplifications in the replies (such as more extended discussions of what actions are expected in response) and link to them directly where appropriate.

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    $\begingroup$ see also: stackapps.com/questions/2116/pro-forma-comments $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Mar 25 '11 at 5:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeff Great! That's an excellent vehicle for implementing this functionality (pre-loaded with some useful comments, too). Because it's a personal modification--not shared across users--the replies here can still serve as a repository of text and means to exchange helpful moderation comments. $\endgroup$ – whuber Mar 25 '11 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ Good idea. I always hate trying to think how I should "sugar coat" my comments. $\endgroup$ – csgillespie Mar 25 '11 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ Re: @Jeff's suggestion above. I installed that GreaseMonkey app and used it for a while: it's fun and works well. However, it mysteriously vanished (FireFox 3.6.17, Win 7/64). Therefore I don't want to rely on it. $\endgroup$ – whuber May 4 '11 at 20:40
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Questions should be separated

You are asking several questions here. Although they are clearly related, it would be better to address them in separate threads (with cross-references if needed), for it would be easier to focus on one issue at a time.

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Homework Questions

Please read the info for the "Homework" tag and restate your question accordingly. After editing it, you can re-open it.

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Incomplete information

Question concerning data analysis.

This question looks interesting, but it is difficult to get an idea of the exact structure of your data. Without knowing [blank], it will be hard to provide a definitive answer. Could you provide additional information (e.g., [blank])?

Theoretical question.

This topic might belong here but it is not yet possible to determine exactly what question is being asked. Please clarify it and consider posting it on a site where it might be more relevant.

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  • $\begingroup$ Feel free to propose a better heading for that particular situation. $\endgroup$ – chl Mar 24 '11 at 18:14
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Editing issues

This site supports Markdown syntax for editing, and also $\LaTeX$ for mathematical expressions. Further information can be found here: https://stats.stackexchange.com/editing-help. $\LaTeX$ help can be found at LaTeX/Mathematics from the Wikibook, Getting Started with TeX, LaTeX, and Friends, Michael Doob's "Gentle Introduction", and the Harvard Math Dept's "Introduction".

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  • $\begingroup$ We need a link for LaTeX. I can only think of this one at the moment: meta.stats.stackexchange.com/questions/5/…. $\endgroup$ – chl Mar 24 '11 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ My favorite is Michael Doob's "Gentle Introduction" On occasion the Harvard Math Dept's "Introduction" is useful, but it's somewhat antiquated. $\endgroup$ – whuber Mar 24 '11 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber I would prefer an HTML version, otherwise it is fine. I was initially thinking of some page belonging to the StackExchange community. Anyway, here are other ideas: LaTeX/Mathematics from the Wikibook (this direct link might be too focused on maths, but I don't expect people will use LaTeX for any other things than typesetting equations or inline expressions), and Getting Started with TeX, LaTeX, and Friends from TUG website. $\endgroup$ – chl Mar 25 '11 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ I inserted all five links into the text. $\endgroup$ – whuber Mar 25 '11 at 16:04
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Off-topic Questions

We're leaving this thread open for a short while in the hope that you have a way to clarify it that is of statistical interest. If your interest is primarily in [fill in this blank] we'll migrate it to the [blank] site for you. If you don't do anything, we will need to close it as off-topic.

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Inappropriate Replies

This is a fine reply but [blank] does not belong in it. I do not want to presume too much by editing your reply myself, so I have provisionally closed it in the hope you will re-post it after making the necessary changes in the way you see fit.

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