7

TL;DR: let's make a catalog of "How to salvage your question" examples.


There are a handful of reasons that a lot of our questions on our main site, ELL, get closed on. Except for "duplicate of ...", most, if not all, of the questions that got closes on these reasons are salvageable, in my humble opinion; be it "basic question", "proofreading question", "need more details question", "unclear what you're asking", "too broad", "primarily opinion-based", or any other reason.

Although we have links such as How do I ask a good question, and Please, everyone… details. Please, it happens time after time, and again, and then some, that we still have to keep telling our users how to ask, to add the context, to add more information, to add why it was a problem for them, to add what it is that they want to say, and so on.

How about instead of just telling our users so, let's show them?

How about we grow a thread, together, in a similar manner to our Resources for learning English or our canonical posts on the main site?

We could either modify this post and grow it into such a thread, or make a new meta post for this specific purpose. Whatever choice we pick, I'd like to propose that we have one such thread--a thread that shows how we can salvage our questions.

The best format, in my opinion, is in the BEFORE-AFTER style, that is, for each salvation, we show how the BEFORE and the AFTER look like, side-by-side (or one-over-the-other). We show the two versions, and we write a little about the weakness in the BEFORE version, and the remedies we used in the AFTER version, and we link to real questions on the main site.

We can do it right away, without any real structure. I believe that we will be able to spot the patterns after a while, and then we will group similar salvaged examples together (which are not necessarily grouped the same way as our vote-to-close reasons). Soon, we all will benefit from this effort by just pointing our users to these examples instead of telling them the same thing, over and over again.

Good idea? What do you think?

Please feel free to share your ideas.

PS. Thank you for reading the whole post, and thank you in advance for the feedback!

  • Really appreciate your sentiments, but it's important to note that some users may just ignore this and continue their problematic behavior. I just saw it yesterday when someone got upset with another someone which just wanted to help clarify the first someone's question, but the first someone got hostile at the second someone. (No, I didn't get what I said either) [...] – M.A.R. Jul 26 '15 at 16:23
  • 3
    [...] More important than pointing the asker to some meta post, is to stop our answerers from answering problematic posts. Dear answerer, you're not helping the OP when you answer their question with a guess, you're just making people passionate about keeping ELL clean look like they do that 'cause they don't know the answer, and when that happens, there's flame wars, ignorances, suspensions, and fireworks. While the last one is kinda fun, it also spoils the fun of people who are here to help. So please, stop answering close-worthy questions! – M.A.R. Jul 26 '15 at 16:30
  • I think some OP just want to ask a quick question and get a simple answer. Hard to tell if it was something they heard, wrote or perhaps it was from a test question. In such questions that really need more information, even in the presence of good comments on how to improve the question (or discussion therein), the OP is never heard from again. In these situations, the improvement of advice will not help. I am ever hopeful though. – user3169 Jul 26 '15 at 19:04
  • I assume you mean to collect suitable actual questions from main and rewrite them for Meta purposes? – Nathan Tuggy Jul 27 '15 at 17:36
  • @NathanTuggy Pretty much, yes. We fix questions on the main and write about our fixes on our meta site as examples showing how and why we fixed them the way we did. It's probably nothing much, but examples could make things clearer, IMHO. – Damkerng T. Jul 27 '15 at 18:17
  • @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M I agree with you in the main. However, It's worth remembering that ELL questions deserve more leeway than questions do on other SE sites precisely because of the nature of the site. The very problems people here ask about may prevent them from asking about them in an ideal way. – Jason Melançon Aug 4 '15 at 14:45
  • @Jason - If people show that their question has room for improvement, it's our duty to lead them. Being nice doesn't necessarily contradict firmness, as outlined in the theory of moderation. But if some of our users don't cooperate and keep answering bad questions, the askers will hardly feel that there's room for improvement in their question. – M.A.R. Aug 4 '15 at 16:22
9

Original (at risk of downvotes and perhaps close votes as Unclear):

i have a question about english grammar, which had confused me for a long time,pls!! help me!!

in the following two sentences,why they use"thinking" behind the comma?i mean is something like a word ommited after the comma? 1.I WAITED FOR TWO MONTHS,THINKING THAT IT WOULD BE BAD TIME FOR HIM. 2.WHILE TWO-SHIV POISON IS NOT ON COOLDOWN,SHACO'S BASIC ATTACKS POISON HIS TARGETS,SLOWING THEM FOR 2 SECONDS AND CAUSING MINIONS AND MONSTERS TO ....BLA BLA BLA. (btw i'm a league player lol, and in this sentence,like i said above, is something like a word ommited after the comma?i just cannot figure out why they type something like this,i mean it seems more like a present continuous tense without "subject+be") or it should be something like"I WAITED FIR TWO MONTHS AND NOW I AM THINKING THAT IT WOULD BE BAD TIME FOR HIM."? PLS HELP ME!! THIS GRAMMAR HAS BEEN BOTHERING ME FOR LIKE 2 MONTHS!

Fixed (two answers within two hours):

Missing words after commas in these sentences?

In the following sentence, why did they use "thinking" after the comma? Is a word omitted after the comma?

I waited for two months, thinking that it would be bad time for him.

Should it be something like "I waited for two months and now I am thinking that it would be bad time for him."?

In this sentence below (describing League of Legends), like I said above, is something like a word omitted after the comma? I just cannot figure out why they type something like this, I mean it seems more like a present continuous tense without "subject+be".

While Two-Shiv poison is not on cooldown, Shaco's basic attacks poison his targets, slowing them for 2 seconds and causing minions and monsters to ...

I removed all the shouting and the redundant pleas for help, rearranged the question so it asked things in a sensible order, added formatting and a title, and threw in some miscellaneous clarifications and tag improvements. Took about ten minutes.

  • 3
    Thumbs up In fact, I think I should blame 1) the internet & 2) the fact that most newcomers find here a forum where the quality doesn't matter. – M.A.R. Jul 29 '15 at 17:09
  • Wait, was that first question real? You didn't make that up? – Damien H Aug 3 '15 at 23:35
  • 2
    @DamienH: Yes, it's real. – Nathan Tuggy Aug 3 '15 at 23:42
  • 1
    Good grief. Frankly, you deserve a medal for turning that into the edited version. – Damien H Aug 3 '15 at 23:47
  • @DamienH: Sad thing is, I've seen questions that were much harder to fix up (but still theoretically possible). – Nathan Tuggy Aug 3 '15 at 23:50
3

Formatting your questions properly helps!

Sometimes it's not easy to understand what the original poster is asking. One tip I usually find useful is to break the OP's sentences into chunks and see if we can recover anything meaningful from it. Today I found a good example of such a question that could easily be salvaged by a simple edit. (At the time of this writing, there are 4 close votes--all are "unclear what you're asking".)

Before:

Is it possible to use past simple

If the payment take place the day you received the book or you receive the book I think both are good but I am not totally sure

After:

Is it possible to use the past simple?

Is it possible to use the past simple in the following sentence?

(I'd like to ask) if the payment take place the day you received the book.
Is this possible?: (I'd like to ask) if ... you receive the book.

I think both are good but I am not totally sure.

3

Original, sporting a proofreading-bait title and an overly verbose question:

Can you spell check this sentence please?

I'm sorry if this is a little specific and not of help to other people, but i have a sentence i'd like to spell check: "we will also try to be as clear as possible as to the complicated and/or scientific information" Is this right? I have some doubts in the "as to the.." part, it just feels weird, would it be "more correct" if i wrote "we will also try to be as clear as possible regarding the complicated and/or scientific information"?.

Fixed:

Using “regarding the” instead of “as to the”

We will also try to be as clear as possible as to the complicated and/or scientific information

Is this right? I have some doubts in the "as to the.." part, it just feels weird. Would it be "more correct" if I wrote this?

We will also try to be as clear as possible regarding the complicated and/or scientific information

Now there are no close votes or downvotes, and the problem is isolated fairly well. (I could wish for a somehow better tag, but none spring to mind.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .