I'm providing links to a very well received question and my poorly received question and I'd like to know why---in the eyes of this community---one is one better than the other. I'm mystified by what goes on inside the heads of people who upvote/downvote here and I'd like to get a sense of what's going on so that I'm not rolling dice---so to speak---every time I ask something.

Could Legolas actually see that far?

Vertical motion of a projectile subject to quadratic drag (only visible for 10k users)

• For reference, the Legolas question made it to the Hot Network Question status, which inflates votes and generally breaks topicality. It has been discussed in similar context here. Also, comparing your "how do I solve this problem" to a question that isn't of that form is useless because you're not comparing two similar types of questions. – Kyle Kanos Jan 27 at 23:31
• I dunno why your question was downvoted but it looks like a homework question (despite what you say), you have made little apparent effort towards a solution, and you provide no context or reason as to why you chose that particular form of the drag function. – ZeroTheHero Jan 28 at 1:04
• @KyleKanos Correction: Where do you see something along the lines of "How do I solve this?" One asks for an answer to a problem the other asks for the same thing. What meaningful difference is there? – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 2:59
• @PiKindOfGuy your post is for the solution to a particular problem. While not exactly the verbatim phrasing, it's essentially asking how to solve a problem. The Legolas question is asking for physical limits of vision capabilities of a fictional being (I've tried arguing it should be off-topic, but sadly to no avail). – Kyle Kanos Jan 28 at 3:02
• @KyleKanos Could I have asked the same question in a more fruitful way? If so, how? – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 3:05
• Don't ask us about how to determine the dynamics. – Kyle Kanos Jan 28 at 3:11
• @KyleKanos That's the entirety of the question, so it looks like your answer is "no". – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 3:12
• Probably. Not every question one has can be answered on this site. – Kyle Kanos Jan 28 at 3:14
• @KyleKanos Of course. I just figured that I had asked something interesting, but apparently how far elfs can see is of greater significance than the dynamics of a projectile not in a vacuum. I'm off to cry in a corner. Thanks for your input. – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 3:18
• First, the closure is not too say your question is uninteresting, just that it's not on-topic on this site. Second, HNQ effect screws up site politics for topicality. Third, I don't believe you can legitimately claim it's more significant to ask any one question, about fictional creatures or not, over another because all questions lead to more understanding. – Kyle Kanos Jan 28 at 3:22
• @KyleKanos I'm just being salty. – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 3:23
• @PiKindOfGuy Then drop the salt. We take an "assume good faith" here, and the standard assumption is that you're asking in earnest about how you can improve the reception of your questions. Saying explicitly that you aren't coming in with that good faith makes it very hard to take this thread seriously and continue on that standard good-faith assumption. – Emilio Pisanty Jan 28 at 10:49
• For completeness, this is the post I refer to where I argue that the Legolas question should be closed. At the time of this comment, it's scored +4/-4, so the community seems a bit torn. – Kyle Kanos Jan 28 at 13:34
• Only that one comment was me being salty, not the entire post. – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 16:25
• Another post which criticized the Legolas question is physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/10913; it was created around the same time as the one Kyle Kanos linked earlier and both were provoked by the closing of one other LoTR question. – user191954 Jan 28 at 17:20

Your profile currently lists 25 questions, of which 20 are still open and 23 have score $$\geq 0$$. As such, it feels like you're over-reacting - you obviously have a pretty decent idea of what makes for an on-topic question here.

For the questions that did get closed, other than the duplicate:

• this one, also downvoted, is the kind of open-ended opinion-based discussion thread which isn't actually much of a question. It also goes on to very confidently make statements which are dead wrong, and leaves no room for ambiguity in that you're not contemplating any room around that; this isn't what got it closed, but it's certainly not a recipe for upvotes.
• this one just doesn't present a clear picture of what you're looking for in an answer $$-$$ and, to the extent that it does, it's way too broad for our format.

The ones that seem to have you worried right now are this one and this one, as well as this now-deleted one (screenshot), which were closed as homework-like. (Speaking of which: you just started a discussion thread and then deleted the example question that you'd brought up for discussion within five hours of posting on meta. Does that strike you as constructive? It certainly doesn't look like you're bringing up this discussion in good faith to me.)

The key thing to keep in mind here is that the homework policy holds regardless of the origin of the question. If it comes up that one of your questions might be in conflict with the homework policy, then you need to step away from the question, and what you know of how you yourself think about it, and then look at it from an external perspective. Does the question text read like it came out of a textbook? If so, have you done what we expect good homework questions to do? Are you asking for a concept, or are you just looking for a solution to the textbook-like text? Have you explained what you already know and understand, and how it came up short to what you wanted to do? (For your closed questions, all these criteria came up on the wrong side.)

The homework-and-exercises policy is applied consistently across the board (or as consistently as we can, anyways), and without any regard to where the question text came from, because that's the only way to keep it fair. If all it takes to ask a terrible question is to say "oh, no, this isn't homework", then it just scuppers the whole thing.

As for the elf-vision question that you seem to be so upset by: as mentioned in the comments, this question was listed in the Hot Network Questions sidebar for a substantial period. As such, it was advertised to a large cross-section of users across the entire Stack Exchange network, and its voting patterns can only be understood within that frame. (Though not entirely - from its timeline, it probably left the HNQ at score ~60, and then went on to more than double that score over the ensuing ~5 years. But then again, there are other self-reinforcing feedback loops besides HNQ.) Long story short, it's completely meaningless to compare post scores on HNQ threads vs threads that didn't get advertised on that sidebar.

And if that makes it sound like we have a sidebar that's advertising junk-food clickbait that doesn't really represent what makes for a Good Question on this site, then... yes, absolutely. Many people have been saying that for years, both here and over on Meta Stack Exchange, to little avail. There's some hope of fixing the mechanism, which opened at this ugly fracas last October, but we've yet to see how that shakes out.

Oh, and also: do not remove the homework-and-exercises tag from your posts, particularly when it's been applied by a moderator. The only thing that you'll achieve by getting into an edit war is to get your post locked, which is precisely the opposite of what you'd need if you actually wanted to fix your post.

• Before posting my last question I was warned that I was close to being banned from asking questions, so perhaps I'm not doing as well as my profile would indicate. – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 16:26
• Also, I hadn't posted on meta much, so I negligently deleted the question because it looked like the discussion had died by then. I've (hopefully) learned to be more patient next time. – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 16:29
• @PiKindOfGuy Do you have deleted questions? Those count rather heavily against you. meta.stackexchange.com/q/86997 has some useful pointers too. – user191954 Jan 28 at 16:39
• @PiKindOfGuy To back up Chair's comment - if you're close to being banned from asking questions, deleting questions makes things worse, not better. If you want to increase your standing on that counter, I would recommend undeleting that question. – Emilio Pisanty Jan 28 at 16:48
• I had no clue. I just deleted them to make things tidy after realizing that my questions were not well-received. – PiKindOfGuy Jan 28 at 18:51