My question has been closed again.

DavidZ has pointed out that it is acceptable for people to not give reasons for closing questions. I understand that the site does not require them to do that. However, if you care about the integrity of this website and genuinely want to help out users, should you not give them honest feedback about their questions? I explicitly asked for reasons when my question was on hold and I got no response.

Since I don't know what is wrong with my question, I am now unsure about properly formulating questions for this website. Don't these people realize that they are hurting the website's reliability and integrity by their actions?

marked as duplicate by Chair, AccidentalFourierTransform, Emilio Pisanty discussion Oct 1 at 13:04

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 3
    I think there's already been enough meta posts about this question. Not much has changed since the last post (here). It's as simple as the fact that the homework policy is not implemented exactly as you understood it. DavidZ believes it's OK, and there are also 3 more reopen votes (none of which can be his) which have not aged away yet. But considering the number of times it's been closed, it's time to accept that the majority of the community thinks it's off-topic – Chair Sep 30 at 7:49
  • I voted to reopen your question after some hesitation: although it's technically on-topic since it's conceptual and it showed effort, I believe it's really really localised (i.e. applicable only to you and your specific homework problem), so it's reasonable that a lot of people want it closed. It's also OK that people who voted to close don't want to reply: they have already left the message that it's too homework-like. Your arguments about the lack of integrity are random and unsubstantiated, and the website is reliable for those who ask questions the community approves of. – Chair Sep 30 at 7:49
  • Note that you left a comment requesting details, you didn't explicitly ask any of the close voters (no way to alert them, in any event) which is why you're not getting responses. As a close voter (in general, not in the case), there's no reason to go back to a question once I've casted a vote for it (except when I am directly pinged, and even then I may not even want to respond). – Kyle Kanos Sep 30 at 11:42
  • @Chair Okay, I have gathered from your comments that my question was too specific and unlikely to be of help to anyone except for me. This prompted people to vote to close the question. – a_sid Sep 30 at 17:51
  • @KyleKanos As a close voter (in general, not in the case), there's no reason to go back to a question once I've casted a vote for it.... I stated in my question that I understand it is acceptable for people to do that. I am simply saying that if one has the time to vote to close or down vote a question, he/she can also set aside a minute or two to state what is off putting about the question. If certain people do not want to do that, then I guess there is nothing else I can say about the subject. – a_sid Sep 30 at 17:56
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    @a_sid the list of usual suspects for close voters, from my experience, do tend to provide links to relevant Meta posts or explanations of why the question is off topic. It appears that it doesn't happen for every question but it most certainly does happen. – Kyle Kanos Sep 30 at 18:32
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    There is already a relevant comment under the question: the close voters explained clearly that it is too homework-ey. Now if you believe that in your case, the policies aren't violated by your question, then that's something to ask a meta post about, and it's good that you did that exactly. But I don't think it's substantiated to extrapolate and say that there are too many cases where the close votes are given with out any explanation. While voting to close, just like while flagging, you're required to provide a reason why the question should be closed. – Chair Oct 1 at 11:37
  • @Chair Kyle Kanos and ZeroTheHero have given convincing answers for this question. There is already a relevant comment under the question: the close voters explained clearly that it is too homework-ey. Are you referring to the note in the box which says the question should show effort and focus on a specific physics concept? This is too vague. The feedback should be more specific, like in this question. – a_sid Oct 1 at 15:40
  • @a_sid I didn't quite understand that... the question you linked in your comment above has the same close banner as your question. My comment referred to "This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason: "Homework-like questions should ask about a specific physics concept and show some effort to work through the problem. We want our questions..." KyleKanos and ZeroTheHero's answers are also good justifications, perhaps more valid than mine; they've been around longer. But there are several correct reasons why people don't leave more comments. – Chair Oct 1 at 15:43
  • @Chair I am referring to the comments underneath that box. The users have told the asker what SPECIFICALLY is lacking in his question (never said what T is and so on). The asker now at least knows what he did wrong and has specific guidelines for modifying his question. – a_sid Oct 1 at 15:46
  • @a_sid Ah, sure. I agree in your case perhaps more justification was in order; I don't find your question particularly off-topic and it's one of the debatable cases, since it appears (to me) to largely fit the guidelines. Bud I do not agree that the close voters are obliged to write more comments. They can explain their stance in even greater detail if they want to, otherwise we just have to accept that they have their own lives and their own discretion: it's unreasonable to disagree that your question is treading a rather fine line between off-topic and on-topic. – Chair Oct 1 at 15:51
  • If you want some speculation, it's extremely likely that they thought it's too localised (see my second comment on this question, about why I reluctantly voted to reopen). A lot of people believe that these questions which aren't likely to be asked by many other people in the future should be closed, even if they technically fit the homework policy. And that's completely reasonable. Remember that this is all subjective and it's open to interpretation. – Chair Oct 1 at 15:54
  • @Chair Remember that this is all subjective and it's open to interpretation. I fully realized it after my question got closed for the second time. Anyway, as I pointed out in my comments for ZeroTheHero's answer, the info in this link should be updated. Most people, like myself, will look at the example questions and frame their own questions accordingly. Kyle Kanos pointed out to me that some of the examples of "good questions" will be off-topic as per current site policies. – a_sid Oct 1 at 16:34
  • By the way, I made one final attempt to make my question more generic and hopefully, more appropriate for the site. – a_sid Oct 1 at 17:07
  • @a_sid if it's going to be updated, I'm afraid I won't be doing it, since I'm OK with that policy (not a fan, but I don't hate it). The people who voted to close your questions are the ones who could modify it to better reflect the community's stance on such questions. There's also the possibility that their actions are exactly as prescribed in that meta post: some of them played active parts in writing those policies; it could be that my interpretation is messed up. – Chair Oct 2 at 3:31
up vote -3 down vote accepted

Nothing is wrong with your question, but the site has a superhard policy against homework tasks. It is applied so strictly, that even a lot of questions obviously not being homework problems are closed on this reason.

In the current state of your question, there is not too much to do, because the majority of the voters doesn't want it.

However, the homework close reason says this:

"Homework-like questions should ask about a specific physics concept and show some effort to work through the problem."

So, re-formulate it to ask about a specific physics concept, and show some effort.

The funny thing is: probably your question will be still closed or left closed. What I would do: Make clear, that you have both, best if you insert a short excerpt of both in the beginning of the post.2 So:

  • Specific physics concept: I see a contradiction here, on Newton II law the force on the chair should be [..]
  • My effort: As we can see it in the second half of the post, ...

[and here is your question]

It is very likely, that your question will be still closed. But, on this way, you will have already enough ammunition to start this meta discussion.

You will get many critics, questions and suggestions in the comments. Do everything what they say, even if they seem irrelevant or hairsplitting for you, it helps a lot in their voting1. This is your only defense against negative votes: react comments quickly, and do it with quick and convincing comments and edits.

If someone explains the reason of the negative vote (down or close) to your post, honor it: nothing makes it obligatory to give a reason for a vote.

Unfortunately, following all of these makes asking a homework question actually harder than solving it for yourself.

The community consent is very strongly against numerical problems here, there is only an admittedly very narrow "escape path" from this, which is mainly closed despite that it is communicated as if it would be open.

Your current question is already closed, and getting the 3 reopen votes is possible, but unlikely.

1 My heuristic (unproovable, but for me realistic) estimation is that for every comment, there are around 2-3 people, who doesn't comment, only votes. And there are around 10 people, who doesn't even vote, but thinks the same. Any time if you get a comment to your post, imagine average 2-3 people who votes the same and 10 other who thinks the same. And voters typically don't come back to reconsider their vote, this is why you need to react quickly.

2 The first sentences create a general impression in the reviewers (and any readers), what is your post about. The rest will be interpreted already in this frame. Thus, your first sentences are super-important.

  • Thank you for the comprehensive response.I only posted this question because I wanted to know why people would vote to close a question but not tell the questioner what SPECIFICALLY is wrong with the question. It would have been nice if any of the people who voted to close had directly stated why THEY thought my question was unsuitable for the site. Moreover, there is no way of specifically asking those people about it. – a_sid Sep 30 at 17:49
  • @a_sid Nearly all the homework askers silently disappear after the closure, and their majority would silently disappear even if they would get an answer. The model is: 1) they copy-paste their homework to the site 2) copy-paste the answer to show it to their teacher as their own work. Anything what would require to press a single button over this, is closed out for them. In my opinion, this is the only acceptable reason, why is there so strict no-homework policy. And this was also the reason, why you didn't get any reaction. It was simply meaningless. – peterh Sep 30 at 17:58
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    @a_sid You belong to a small minority of the homework askers, who reacted anything, and reacted imho quite well. I think this alone should be enough reason to not close your question, but as you can see, I represent a minority view here in this sense. – peterh Sep 30 at 18:01

One way to make a question more conceptual is to see if you can phrase it without numbers. You can always include numbers at the end as examples to give greater materiality to the question, but in general an issue I find in questions with specific numbers is that makes questions overly specific and thus not terribly useful for anyone except the person asking the specific question. BTW it is IMO likely that, if you can clearly write a question without resorting to numerical values, it will be conceptual rather than overly specific.

To be fully honest, a problem I have with your specific question is that it does look like an assignment question as phrased. I am personally mostly opposed to people answering specific assignment questions on behalf of an OP, and I will do my best to discourage people from posting overly specific assignment question. While I don’t have problems in supplying conceptual explanations, i.e. supplying information for someone to complete the question by herself/himself, I cannot abide by people who post with the hopes that someone else will provide a complete solution for them. Thus, for starters I would suggest having a man of mass $m_1$, a chair of mass $m_2$ and a force of $f$ Newtons (the force, BTW, does not have unit of mass so your $100$lbs doesn’t make sense there, and the weight is also measured in Newton, not in lbs there’s a problem there unless you’re using lbs as a unit of force rather than Newtons, and that would be untoward). I’m not sure converting to variables-only is enough to do the trick, but at least it’s a start.

Mostly the problem with your question is that it’s more or less similar to too many found in textbooks and discussed on multiple websites. Maybe you would do well to search for similar questions and then include as part of your question the contrast between various solutions or paths to solutions, showing you have done some effort and focusing on what part of one or many proposed solutions are still unclear after you have studied these solutions.

Finally, if I cared to comment on every single question I vote-to-close, I would likely have to reply to equally many comments and wouldn’t have time to get anything else done.

I suppose these are my reasons as to why I don’t comment and vote-to-close a lot.

  • I was encouraged by this question to ask my question. This has been regarded as a good question for the website. – a_sid Sep 30 at 22:00
  • 2
    @a_sid that question was asked 7 years ago in the site's infancy. Comparing what was accepted then versus now, after multiple site policy changes, cannot be done. The past you link is considered off-topic wrt current policy. – Kyle Kanos Sep 30 at 22:11
  • @KyleKanos Ok that makes sense. – a_sid Sep 30 at 22:12
  • @KyleKanos This link takes us to this question for homework-type questions. The question I have referenced is still listed as a good question. – a_sid Sep 30 at 22:17
  • This question should be updated to better inform the users about the current policy on homework questions. – a_sid Sep 30 at 22:19
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    @a_sid The guidelines are just that: guidelines. They changes with time and with the flow of people participating in the review. I did not vote to close your question (at least the most current version of it) but I probably thought about it and decided it doesn't quite meet my threshold. I think the notice that comes with closure, at least the parts of it that highlights the conceptual aspect and the research aspect of a question, have remained core. This specific meta question is quite nice because it will help people better understand the current way the site practically operates. – ZeroTheHero Sep 30 at 22:50
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    @a_sid I can only provide general guidelines to what motives my decisions, although I do recognize that these are likely not applied uniformly. If you show clear effort to avoid blatantly obvious assignment questions and if you show obvious effort in researching your question, then it is likelier than not it will survive at least sufficiently long for someone to provide an answer to your liking (as was the case with the original example of that motivated this post.) – ZeroTheHero Sep 30 at 22:52

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