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Recently, I have had several posts put on hold because they "lack research or context." However, there are plenty other posts that don't include any research or context at all, but they remain as they are. Is there a fair criterion whereby a question is judged to lack "research or context"?

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  • Understandable. I feel your frustration. But I must admit that your last question, "Chinese names in English" is sorry to say, quite poor in its quality. link [ ell.stackexchange.com/questions/220730/chinese-names-in-english/… ] though I UVted. – Kentaro Aug 10 '19 at 5:16
  • Questions are questions. They are more so if they are from a learner. You cannot expect a learner to produce "perfect questions." If they could, they would not be asking questions here. – Apollyon Aug 10 '19 at 5:18
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Recently, I have had several posts put on hold because they "lack research or context." However, there are plenty other posts that don't include any research or context at all, but they remain as they are.

That's an interesting observation – but it's also an interesting way of looking at the situation.

I will say this: It's not uncommon for the moderation team to be a little more lax with newer members of the community, while holding those with more than 1000 points of rep and more than 300 questions asked to a slightly higher standard.

The idea is that, if you've been a member for five years, that's plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the ideals of the Stack Exchange, and ask your questions with some respect for those ideals.

Not every newcomer carefully reads through our Welcome Tour and Help Center, and we get that. By this time, however, I expect you're probably at least a little familiar with some of its content. Some highlights include:

  1. Users are exhorted to research their own question, and share the fruits of that research. Or, as the Tour Page says (emphasis added):

Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

  1. The Help Center explains this further by saying:

Remember to make an effort to research your question before posting it, and be sure to add as much detail as you can when explaining your problem.

With those tenets in mind, I think it's fair to say that a question like this one:

meaning difference: viewing rates vs. viewing ratings

Could anyone tell me about the difference between viewing rates and viewing ratings? Do they have the same meaning?

I'd appreciate your help.

clearly falls short of those ideals, and was fairly closed. There is no context provided, so we have no idea where you've seen these expressions, or how they might be used. You also haven't mentioned anything you've done to figure out that problem on your own.

  1. Moreover, on another page, the Help Center plainly explains:

At Stack Exchange, asking questions is a privilege, not a right. If a user cannot demonstrate, after asking a reasonable number of questions, that their contributions are making the site better (or at very least, not making it worse) then they will be blocked from asking further questions until they have demonstrated their ability to contribute positively.

Now, about your comment, which reads:

You cannot expect a learner to produce "perfect questions."

I think we are pretty tolerant about learners asking less-than-perfect questions. Generally speaking, we aren't critical of grammatical mistakes, and comments and edits correcting common errors (such as spelling the first-person pronoun with a lower-case i, e.g.), are usually made with a spirit of helpfulness, trying to help the user improve their English skills in areas other than the specific matter in their question.

In short, there is a big difference between demanding perfection and expecting a modicum of research to be performed and shared. Please don't confuse or conflate the two.

Finally, I believe your question here on meta was a little bit backwards; that is, instead of asking (essentially), "I've seen other questions as crummy as mine left alone – why are mine being closed?" it would be better to ask, "A lot of my questions have been getting closed lately – what can I do to make them better?"


As a footnote, I think this question provides an especially good example of a well-asked question on the Stack Exchange. We are told where an expression was found, and the prior research is clearly presented. Given that this was that user's first question, I'd expect that you can do better with some of yours.

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  • This is very fair. I recently had a commenter tell me “we can not make research for all the questions we ask”. Sorry, but that’s not how it works! – whiskeychief Aug 30 '19 at 10:44
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    @whiskeychief - We need to strike a balance, though, when we ask for research. In cases like the one you point to, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt, and assume that a learner may not realize how see to it is an idiom with its own dictionary entry. If someone looked up those three words individually, they would be confronted with dozens of definitions leading to thousands of possible permutations, and would be at a loss as to how to make sense of the phrase. The link Katy provided is much more helpful there. – J.R. Sep 1 '19 at 10:03
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    (That all said, I get where you're coming from. Some users do need to learn how sharing just a smidgeon of research – along with more careful typing – would go a long way toward earning more respect and goodwill from the community.) – J.R. Sep 1 '19 at 10:08

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