I know there are already policies, but I'm asking specifically about the situation I'm providing here.

I asked this question: How can quantum tunneling happen conceptually? and there were a lot of responses that were helpful, many views, and a good amount of upvotes for the questions. The answers were really awesome, and I was asking for clarification for two answers in the comments because I think two answers seem to be conflicting. Why did this question get closed, and how can I get it reopened? I don't understand this website at all. Many people were answering, bookmarking, upvoting, and commenting, so why did it have to get closed? It wasn't unclear or confusing to everyone engaging in it?


1 Answer 1


I did not vote to close this question, but I will remark on a few general aspects of the closure of questions, some of which the question seems to not realize, and then offer some speculation on the question in particular:

  1. We are currently running a trial where questions need only three instead of the standard five votes to get closed or be reopened. This means that questions - for better or worse - currently get closed faster than both you and the close voters might be used to from past closures.

  2. The level of engagement a question gets in the form of votes, answers, comments, etc. is not really related to the question of whether a question is on-topic or not, in particular not once a question hits the list of Hot Network Questions like this one did (this is visible in the revision history), which causes the influx of a lot of viewers that are not necessarily familiar with physics in general or physics.SE's policies in particular. Engagement measures only how interesting the question is to a broader audience, but "interesting to a broader audience" and "on-topic for physics.SE" are two distinct notions (that of course have broad overlap at the point of our most popular, on-topic questions!).

  3. In general, when a question is closed as being unclear - as in this case with the "needs details or clarity" reason - the correct response is to edit the question and add the missing details or clarify what was ambiguous. You can tick a checkbox when editing the question that the edit resolves the reasons for closure and then the question will be enqueued for reopen review.

  4. In particular for this question, while none of the close voters left a comment and so this is only speculation, I suspect the issue is the meaning of the word "know" in "How does the object "know"[...]?"': You evidently are aware that this is a strange sentence because you felt the need to put "know" in scare quotes, but you didn't really explain what you do mean by this: Are you assuming that quantum mechanics must be a local theory and so the value of the potential at a "far away" place cannot affect the wavefunction of a particle confined to a box? Are you assuming that each particle somehow has to "run" the computations of quantum mechanics and you're asking how that happens? Something else entirely?

    Perhaps the meaning is obvious to you, but it is not to me (although I am somewhat confident it is my first option above if you pressed me to pick one). It is always good to keep in mind that other people will generally not draw the exact same implications from something we write, and to be explicit about contradictions and missing steps when we ask about them. There is no need to hide behind the nebulous "know" when there is something more precise you could write instead.

  • $\begingroup$ thanks so much ill try to make an edit and hopefully it can get reopened. i know you don't run stack exchange so its probably pointless so say, but it really sucks that there isn't a policy that downvoters have to leave comments. i am frequently left wondering what I'm doing wrong and trying my best to write good questions so its just so frustrating. regardless, thank you for your feedback, and ill be sure to use it later. $\endgroup$
    – user337317
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 20:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Relativisticcucumber 1. No one downvoted your question (voting to close is not downvoting!), and the purpose of downvotes and close votes really is different. 2. That downvoters and/or close voters should be forced to leave comments has been discussed a lot of times, see e.g. physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/2817/50583 and its many linked questions. Apart from whether or not that's a good policy in principle, it's also impossible to enforce in a way that makes it beneficial: You can force people to write a comment, but you can't force them to write useful comments. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 10:22

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