I was thinking on add a reward to this question (not asked by me):

Two blocks are placed side by side on a surface (friction is present). What is the frictional force distribution between two blocks?

because currently it has four answers, that can be grouped in two answers supporting an idea (uniform distribution of friction), other 2 supporting a different and incompatible one (more friction near external force side). Author has accepted one of them.

My surprise has been that the question is currently closed as off-topic. I've not been able to find more details about which kind of off-topic. The problem seems correctly described, there are four answer, ... it seems to be according to site rules.

Any suggestion about what to do? I've curiosity to known which one of the theories is the correct one.

  • $\begingroup$ You are really hyped for that problem. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Dirichlet: I've dislike leaving open points, in particular when I strongly disagree with an accepted answer (that will appear as first one, could be causing errors to future readers), that I consider erroneous but that I can not find a proof against it. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


I think the new close banners don't show the reason for closure unless you are a certain reputation. I personally think it's useful for others to know the reason, and I don't think it's secret information (though I won't copy the names of who voted to close).

The close banner says:

Homework-like questions and check-my-work questions are considered off-topic here, particularly when asking about specific computations instead of underlying physics concepts. Homework questions can be on-topic when they are useful to a broader audience. If you intend to modify your question, please read the links above carefully before editing. Note that answers with complete solutions may be deleted!

If you read those links, you will see some of the types of questions that the community generally considers off topic under this close reason. In this case, the user has basically just asked us to give the answer to a "homework-like" question. Typically for a question like this to be on topic, the person has to ask about the concepts involved. Not just present an exercise question, figure out the first part of it, and ask "Which multiple choice answer is right?". Especially when followed up by a second part of the question that they haven't seem to put any effort into.

If the person asking had presented this problem, and then asked a conceptual question about the answer, say for example:

I saw this problem [show problem] and I was told the answer is b), but when I thought about [some concept], I thought that would make c) the answer. Can anyone explain why [this concept] does not work for me here?

But with actual details about the concept and how they applied it, there is a chance a question like that could be on topic.

As it is, this question doesn't do that. If you want to read a lot more discussion on it, those two links above in the close banner have quite a bit of it.

There is a reopen process for closed questions, but I don't know if it's possible at this point to edit it in a way that makes it on topic. Especially since there are already answers to the off-topic version which would likely be made irrelevant if those edits were done. That type of editing is typically discouraged.

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    $\begingroup$ See meta.stackexchange.com/a/337104/263383 for the reason this is invisible to users. Looks like we could fix this now by making a "new" close reason and choosing to show the text to all users, we should probably do that $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. If the question has four answers in disagreement 2-2, my opinion is that the question has enough conceptual content. Me, at least, I would like to know the true answer and, more important, the proof. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ @pasabaporaqui You could ask your own conceptual question about how to solve something like this if you read the guidelines. You could probably also find older questions that deal with something similar, though searching can be a pain sometimes. It doesn't really matter what the answers say, what matters is that the question itself appears to be off-topic according to those site guidelines. The underlying concept may be interesting, but that is not really what was asked about; they just asked about the answer to a specific exercise. $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @pasabaporaqui The decision of whether to close a given question is taken on the grounds of the question itself, i.e., independently of any answers. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty: "Homework questions can be on-topic when they are useful to a broader audience" : I think that several and contradictory answers can be a measure of question utility, better than personal opinions of the close voters. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ @pasabaporaqui As I said, the existence or content of answers are irrelevant. Questions should stand on their own. The fact that a given HW question elicited controversy before it could be closed means exactly one thing: that the community closure procedure did not work fast enough. The question is clearly off-topic as per the existing guidelines, and it should remain closed unless and until it can be edited to make it on-topic. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 18:58

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