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Currently, our community has come to agreement that Naive Design Questions (NDQ) are not in-scope for the site.

And quoting from that meta question:

I can't think of a rigorous definition for "naive design question;" like Justice Potter Stewart's obscenity test, "I know it when I see it." But it would be helpful to come up with one. I think "poorly researched" would be a primary characteristic.

And cherry-picking a quote from the currently top-voted answer:

While we are populated by engineers, we can't solve all levels of engineering problems, because broad questions require weeks or years of research, modeling, calculations, and analysis. They also require a lot of specific information about usage conditions, location, and service requirements. Questions about how to design a whole project whether it's a ladder, a bicycle, or a skyscraper are simply too broad.

Which brings us to a recently asked question

Is it possible to build interferometer, for linear displacement measurements, using old CD/DVD drive parts?
(upd)
I am talking about using parts such as beam-splitter, detector, laser and frame where it all mounted if possible…

Providing a brief timeline of the question of relevant events:

  1. OP posts only the first sentence as the question
  2. OP is requested to provide more detail by the community
  3. OP adds the second sentence to the question
  4. Moderator closes the question as Too Broad
  5. Additional commentary from community occurs (See 1 and 2 for the gist)

I voted-to-close because it appears to be too broad and a poorly researched question (thus defining it as an NDQ). Subsequent commentary reinforced that perception, as evidenced by this comment.

Possibly worth noting is that both community members who commented have vote-to-reopen privileges, but there is only one reopen vote on the question as of writing this question.


Blah, blah, blah, what's the TL;DR?

Based upon my read of the question, it appeared to be an NDQ and I closed it in accordance with community consensus on NDQs.

Per their comments, at least two community members feel the question is not an NDQ.

  1. Is the question an NDQ?
  2. If it's not an NDQ, what aspect of the question prevents that categorization?

Moderator note: The answer to 1 & 2 will guide my vote to reopen or not.
Note for community: Vote to reopen the question (and others!) if you feel they should not have been closed. Likewise, open questions here in meta for discussions about questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ I hope OP or @Russell McMahon improves the question by updating the question with the additional infomation. I am for reopening the question. $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Apr 27 '15 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's worth noting that the question was not a design question. It was a feasibility question. To my mind the only reason the question was poor is that the answer is simply 'Yes' and can be found on a google search. The question might be an NDQ if it asked 'how' to build the interferometer. As it was written, it was just a boring feasibility question. $\endgroup$ – Ethan48 Apr 27 '15 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Ethan48, I do agree with you. The SE learning curve is steep as "Air" Noted below. Intend is the help new users. $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Apr 28 '15 at 11:11
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I don't know if it is a NDQ or a "Low Quality Question".

The problem is that there isn't enough information to determine what it is. With only two sentences, there just isn't enough information. I'm sure that there will be exceptions, but there is almost a minimum question length requirement.

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    $\begingroup$ Some people are more adept at extracting "probably valid" information from provided raw feed. Experience indicates I fall in that category - I'm aware that that sounds boastful, but it seems to be true, based on significant experience. And sometimes I get it very wrong. I agree that more to much more information was necessary for the interferometer question - but it seems clear that he has some clues and that language may be an issue. It seems to me that 'Google' would answer his question well enough. Helping him know this would help him and we may find there are reasons that he has not .... $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 27 '15 at 1:28
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    $\begingroup$ ... followed that path with success. All I want here is a chance for newcomers to be given a useful chance. || This is clear enough "Is it possible to build interferometer, for linear displacement measurements, using old CD/DVD drive parts?" and this added sentence shows he has some clues "I am talking about using parts such as beam-splitter, detector, laser and frame where it all mounted if possible". | I cannot see how that is unclear. | WHY he needs to ask is unclear. Finding that out MAY be useful. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 27 '15 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellMcMahon You can either assume that the poster knows what they are talking about or assume that they don't. It will still be an assumption until they provide more information that shows which one it is. $\endgroup$ – hazzey Apr 28 '15 at 1:20
  • $\begingroup$ I echo @RussellMcMahon comments. We as community don't give a new user a chance. I have expressed my concerns in "Air" response. I would like to reference this post. engineering.stackexchange.com/questions/2455/… I had encounter the same issue the poster had encountered. The original post has sufficient infomation for me to respond to the question. Depending on the skills and experiences of the community few lines could be sufficient to respond to some question, provided a member has experience in the topic $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Apr 28 '15 at 1:35
  • $\begingroup$ Through the use of the comment anyone could probe for more infomation. I am mostly interested in serving the new users. To create a welcoming environment. Just like @RussellMcMahon all I am asking a chance to respond to the question from new users (where applicable) via response section and through comments like Russell has done. $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Apr 28 '15 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Mahendar: What you and Russell are missing is that we don't want to welcome everyone. This site is not appropriate for all people. Those that can't or won't think about a question logically and then present it clearly, for whatever reason - it doesn't matter, are more trouble than they are worth. They do the site more harm than good and degrade the experience that most came here for. Being able to articulate a good question is, while imperfect, a decent enough filter to block those we don't want here. Crappy askers generally don't become good askers. I just doesn't work that way. $\endgroup$ – Olin Lathrop Apr 29 '15 at 14:02
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A major issue that I have is the utterly naive low quality responses we give to newcomers as we boot them down the stairs, having satisfied ourselves that we have maintained the elite status of the site. [We haven't in many cases - just managed to eliminate the English as second or other language speakers and/or less literate].

I am reasonably certain that most people have very little idea of how great a hurdle the "closed question" process represents to many people whose primary language is not English. When it seems like it may be worthwhile long term and I can spare the time (next lifetime?) I sometimes talk to new users offline and see if helping them continue with the process is liable to be worthwhile. In some cases this is not so, in others it is. Finding this out on-list is often about impossible. I have seen various people state that the procedures are clear and well documented. And I have been interested to see how unclear they are to those attempting to use them.


The answer given to the OP viz "There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs." misleads the user and gives them hope when in fact we don't like their face and are not going to take any notice of what they say.

IF there are guidelines they should be referred to.
If we think the question is naive we should say so (politely).
If we think the question is low quality we should say so and provide SIMPLE guidelines that are accessible to the OP.


The user may be less 'naive' than is at first apparent.

He started with:

Is it possible to build interferometer, for linear displacement measurements, using old CD/DVD drive parts?

which shows some clues but no research. BUT the addition of

I am talking about using parts such as beam-splitter, detector, laser and frame where it all mounted if possible…

While still not showing much research, shows more knowledge of what is or may be inside a CD/DVD drive than would be known by at least 50% of the population.
You'd probably get under 10% who got the lot. This does not show he knows what he is doing BUT suggests he may not be quite the blithering incompetent some may expect and it may be that his English is far better than your or my Farsi, Hindi or ... .

What I'd really like to see is (as mentioned on various occasions on various SE sites) newcomers given a very moderate and reasonable chance to work with any interested to improve their question, information, descriptions, language, whatever.


The LMGTFY suggestion is derided as impolite and unuseful but have found eg this version of immense power and well worth recommending to seekers in many fields. This example has much that does not relate. But a bit of experience in adding key words can produce awesome results. With each image worth 1000 words (they tell me) such a page can be worth much.

After adding a few more words - and removing some if it seems useful,
you end up with something like this

which may transform the life of a naive questioner.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for saving sometime me. I am glad the I am not alone when it come to closing vote. I have been itching post a question on meta, but I felt that my time is better spent researching and answering a question. $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Apr 27 '15 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate your concern about how we communicate with new users. SE does have a steep learning curve in terms of its scoping and governance, language barrier or no language barrier. Still, it's a system with a proven track record, and no-one who comes here in good faith gets shut out for a single mistake. $\endgroup$ – Air Apr 27 '15 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Air The sentiment is commendable but the reality, based on what I have seen consistently done over some years (mainly in SE EE) is that a significant proportion of newcomers, and more so if they show attackable chinks in their linguistic armour, are "rough handled" to the extent that leaving is made preferable. If you knocked somebody down and kicked them for a "singe mistake" and they never came back you could technically say that they had not been shut out. In some cases this is the intended result of such treatment. (You'd have to ask how I know this offlist and I'll not give any names). $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 28 '15 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ To some extent, that is actually by design (have you seen Joel's talk, The Cultural Anthropology of Stack Exchange?). The challenge is to avoid, prevent and remove bullying and rudeness without making community moderation (voting, closing, etc.) less effective. The Summer of Love was intended to address this problem on SO but saying that it got a mixed reception would be charitable almost to the point of disingenuity. Please do flag bullying and rudeness but closing is essential. $\endgroup$ – Air Apr 28 '15 at 16:03
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I am not going to unilaterally reverse the decision of the five users who voted to reopen; however, users who want this question to remain open should put some serious thought into how they can improve the problem statement. Questions that inspire comments like this are not the sort of content that we want to invite or encourage, as a rule.

I disagree strongly with the thesis that "our community has come to agreement that Naive Design Questions (NDQ) are not in-scope;" rather, I think the community's intent has always been to continue evaluating questions for closure along the same axes as the rest of the Stack Exchange network:

  1. Topicality
  2. Clarity
  3. Objectivity
  4. Breadth

What's more, I think the label "Naive Design Question" is serving us very poorly here. As I've argued privately, the NDQ discussion on Meta is not about defining a type of question that we want to close. It's about offering guidance to users, organized around this defined category of "NDQ" simply because we have observed a set of issues that tend to show up at the same time.

So I think we'll be doing ourselves a big favor by forgetting about the "NDQ" label here and going back to basics. The question at hand was closed for failing to meet a minimum standard of breadth and I think that was a reasonable decision. We don't know what "old CD/DVD drive parts" the author actually has access to or what magnitude of linear displacement needs to be measured, for a start.

I appreciate that Russell has expertise in this area and wants to share it, but we don't close questions because we're elitist and don't like somebody's face. We close questions as a way of saying, "This doesn't make for good Q&A, it needs to be improved before being answered." Always remember what kind of resource we aspire to be:

Stack Exchange is primarily designed to service search engines and produce useful artifacts. For example, when searching for a programming problem, Stack Overflow is one of the first hits (often the first!); users click the link, read what people have to say, then go back to work. Write once, read thousands or millions of times.

We are not building a network of blog posts or editorials; we are building the next generation of engineering reference manuals. Always stay focused on the merits and value of the content for the silent majority of readers who are acting out the above workflow. The happiness of askers, answerers, commenters, moderators, etc. is all secondary.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the post. I echo @Russell McMahon comments. There are many posters from various walks of life. From teenagers to expert engineering, various engineering disciplines, from different regions of the world, speaking different languages. Needless to say as you mentioned the SE learning curve can be steep to most new posters. Therefore as GlenH7 mentioned at the very beginning of engineering SE, we have to be welcoming site. $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Apr 28 '15 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ It is counter productive when someone is trying to help a new poster, to close, put the question on hold with the statement like off topic or question too broad. I do understand it is a tool that SE offers, but my request to moderators is "Appreciate if you don't rush into activating systems notifications". Second request is to develop a post that would act as a one stop for all new users. Intent is help easy off the learning curve to new users. I will make another attempt start a post. Lastly I suggest that you remove to lock on the respective post. Thank you $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Apr 28 '15 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ Locking is clever. Now people cannot even comment, and the question cannot be edited. | I followed the "comments like this" link and am unable to determine what point is being made - really. The comments are as they are because of what has been done by us to the user's question process. If it had been left alone it MAY have been much improved by now.And if not, that too would teach us something. I fail to see, after seeing MANY instances of this happening (mainly on SE EE) I do not see that any of the sites aims (informally codified above) are well served by this process. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 28 '15 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ Re " ... It's about offering guidance to users ..." -> it fails abysmally and abominably. I can tell you with certainty based on getting involved personally offlist that closing the question bewilders the OP and greatly increases the difficulty of getting things right. If anyone who writes stuff like that has actually assisted ESL users offlist who have been subject to this treatment, without using any admin super-powers or cred, then they are in a position to discuss this. If not then it's all just theory. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 28 '15 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ Re "Stack Exchange is primarily designed to service search engines and produce useful artifacts. ... we are building the next generation of engineering reference manuals. Always stay focused on the merits and value of the content for the silent majority of readers who are acting out the above workflow. The happiness of askers, answerers, commenters, moderators, etc. is all secondary." -> I don't give a [mild Ret Butler expletive deleted] about why you want to run this site. BUT within whatever areas I participate I probably help line your pockets, create your next generation .... $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 28 '15 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ .... reference manuals, satisfy the silent majority [who silently send me an ongoing trickle of offlist related emails] and provide "valuable content" about as well as any. The concept that the "happiness of askers, answerers, commenters," is not an important part of creating good copy for 'you guys' is foreign to my understanding of how the process works. I suggest that I'm at least reasonably well qualified by result to know what constitutes good process. [The happiness of moderators is in your hands :-) ]. Being left to get on with getting you reach and audience and quality answers ...., $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 28 '15 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ ... would be both nice and, I think, in your great interest. Taking the "naive" interferometer question as an example. How good an answer do you think we MIGHT have had there by now if the question had been left alone? Good enough possibly to be picked up by search engines and used as a small small part of a next generation whatever. Look at my SE EE "rep" curve. [I have my own ideas of the whole subject & merit of 'rep' but I'll not expound on them here :-)]. Note the dual slopes with a sudden change some while ago. "Happiness of answerers (as a vector sum) can have a lot of affect .... $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 28 '15 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ .... on what you get from your material sources. Olin and I about level peg rep-rate wise in SE EE if we both choose to contribute at the rate we did before my curve kinked. Olin continued. I decided to back off somewhat. | And effort put intro a group and rep rate are far from proportionate across various groups (Just try and get rep for quality answers in SE Arduino :-) ). If you want good copy, good reach, answers that search engines will love and more, you may be better served by letting me and others who can be bothered, craft them out of what would otherwise be unproductive questions. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 28 '15 at 7:32
  • $\begingroup$ The message to me is clear. Let help the new users. I current practice is not best. Attach chat room post to help everyone to come together. chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/21342657#21342657 $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Apr 28 '15 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellMcMahon It sounds like you have a clear vision of how the NDQ guidance could be improved. Please don't hesitate to contribute directly to the wiki answer in ways that will make the guidance more effective for the users who need it most. $\endgroup$ – Air Apr 28 '15 at 20:56
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That question as it is currently written is inappropriate here.

Perhaps after a number of back and forth iterations with the OP, the question can be turned into something interesting and useful. However that is not what we want on this site.

People who ask questions here have a certain set of responsibilities. The question must be clear, relevant to the site, reasonably answerable, etc. Sometimes we get questions that are close but require a important piece of information to answer. Other times the initial question is so broad or so vague that it is lacking a lot of important information. It is of course a judgement call, but asking for a small amount of well-defined clarification is OK, while going back and forth and revising the whole question is not OK.

Doing the latter, as would be required in this example, has three main drawbacks:

  1. It noises up the site. The poor question will be repeatedly bumped to the top of the active list where everyone will see it repeatedly. This is not only annoying to regular visitors, but it presents a poor impression and sets a bad precedent (see point 3) for those new to the site.

  2. It dissipates the limited and fixed amount of volunteer time. People aren't going to spend more time here because there are more bad questions. If anything, it's the opposite. So if we consider the volunteer time to answer questions here as a fixed resource, the choice is how to spend it wisely. It is simply bad economics to spend it going back and forth with a OP revising a poor question, as opposed to writing good answers to good questions.

    Good quality questions and answers are what the volunteers that provide the value of this site are here for. Lots of interactions to fix bad questions not only wastes the limited resources, but makes the site overall less attractive to those providing the value.

  3. It tells bystanders that it's OK to post sloppy questions since others will fix it for you. This will only beget more bad questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ I only recently found this out - comments do not bump questions. But that invalidates only the second sentence of your first bullet. The rest of your answer is solid, and I agree with it. $\endgroup$ – user16 Apr 28 '15 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Glen: True, comments don't bump questions, but revisions to the question do. If the OP is responding to comments correctly, it will largely be by revising the question. Unfortunately too many poor askers hide what additional information they provide in the comments chain, but that's yet another problem. $\endgroup$ – Olin Lathrop Apr 28 '15 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ Good point regarding edits bumping the question. My comment reflects the unfortunate fact that many new users fail to edit those details into their question as you pointed out. $\endgroup$ – user16 Apr 28 '15 at 14:20
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Our assessment of users who have different but acceptable enough linguistic skills cause us to treat some of them as if they were naive. (I'll use the naive question / naive user concepts interchangeably as seems appropriate).

An examination of the material available to date for the "LASER interferometer" case shows that this is what has happened in this instanceAn 'asker' with non-trivial technical knowledge and access to some fairly high technology equipment that they wish to utilise. They now say:

  • I have the XY stage on a microscope with piezo-motors. Interferometer should be the best linear encoder to be used as a feedback loop for proper driving of piezos. There are commercial linear encoders based on Michelson interferometer, but they are too expensive. Old CD/DVD drives appeared to be extremely cheap source of: lasers, laser drivers, 50/50 mirrors, detectors, detector drivers, maybe anything else

While it was already obvious from the complex terminology used by the OP in their second sentence that this was not a naive question in the "how do I build a ladder" sense, this may have been inobvious to casual observers, but this places it beyond doubt.

While the OP was obviously able to provide this level of detail if asked, they were first discouraged and then prevented from doing so for some while by the SE system. If those who wished to had been able to work with the OP for a few days we would have probably arrived at where we are now or been further ahead.

@nivag has answered the question with some brief but useful & practical technical commentary which is not especially easy to find elsewhere.

Despite the now obvious degree of understanding shown by the OP, they have been adjudged naive and unable to formulate a good question.
What they needed was some assistance in "dialling in" their interaction with the group.
What they got was rejection

Their initial question was substandard by almost any measure - due, almost certainly, to language factors. (They are in Ukraine).
A one sentence addition to the question showed the OP's likely technical capabilities. Their latest addition has put us on the path to a very useful addition to the SE information base.

Sometimes the language people use is beyond what is reasonable in an English language based group. But, in other cases the problem lies as much with the inability of otherwise very capable members to deal with language that is outside their experience set. Some people with extremely high technical competence purport to not be able to understand material that is "well within the range of normal". In such cases it is the "linguistic naivety" of technical experts causing them to dismiss input from newcomers.
There is a well worn "joke"which some may object to, but which makes a point.
Q: "What do you call a person who speaks one Language"?
A: "An American".
FWIW - I resemble that - I only speak one language fluently - I'm from NZ.
Not only is it often just "one language" but "English as we speak it" that seems to be required. Quite often I have seen questions that I find entirely understandable rejected and put on hold by others - notionally at least on the grounds that they are unable to be understood.

I wish now to indulge in what may to some extent be seen as an "ad hominem" address of related issues. While "ad hominem" approaches are almost always inappropriate in technical dealings, this is not the case here. What people say and do and think is what this is all about. Olin as "poster boy" for the 'do not tolerate their rubbish for a moment" camp is the main subject of my comments - and he has provided useful points to address. I also speak of him and I as if we are of some competence and reputation. In this group he and I have similar scores (1900, 1500ish) and in SE EE we are 'major contributors'. We are both "capable enough" engineers but with widely varying views on how to treat people to get the best from them. [I note that I have very considerable respect for Olin, his capabilities, his helpfulness (much of the time :-) ) and his contribution of valuable engineering resources to the community at no charge. We differ substantially on the areas covered here and I think (and hope) he has a 'thick enough skin' to separate my disagreement here from my more positive impressions of him in other areas.]

While as it stands the question could do with some tidying and further clarification it is on the way to becoming a useful question and answer by SE standards. This largely gives the lie to the several statements that Olin makes on this subject in a comment.

He talks about "what we want here" as if he is qualified and authorised to speak for SE.

He talks about "crappy askers" (not questions) which is an ad hominem attack and risks being the start of an excremental escalation of derisory language.

He says that "we don't want to welcome everyone" - and while that is true if taken at face value, it is a straw man in this context as what he really means is he does not want the list to welcome people that HE thinks should be excluded.

He dangerously talks about "Those that can't or won't think about a question logically", but he is naively (and presumably not disingenuously) turning a language difficulty into a judgement re logical thinking.

He then reasonably adds the requirement to " ... then present it clearly, ..."- which I have not seen anyone ever argue against being needed. BUT ...
His " for whatever reason - it doesn't matter" is his consistent policy in such matters over many years - it doesn't matter, he doesn't care, he accepts no excuses - you meet his standards and give him the respect he deserves or you are not a suitable new member.
He again purports to speak for SE as a whole and says " ... are more trouble than they are worth." He is perfectly at liberty to assist who he wishes, or not and to spend his time on those who he deems are worth his acknowledgement. And others may do the same. But he can no more speak for me than I can speak for him. If I see in the few short sentences for a man in the Ukraine an indication that he is technically competent and that a few exchanges may allow a good quality and "high technology" question to result (as is proving to be the case) then I am at liberty to spend my efforts that way as long as the list allows me to. It may be that in due course the list adopts Olins exclusivist policies of rejecting people who are not understood immediately, but until then he cannot speak for how people should use their resources. Nor then either, fwiw.

Olin's arguments for "question quality" is less meaningful than may at first be obvious. MANY of the questions that Olin provides excellent good quality answers for (and the same applies to me) are really very low value technically. He could answer them with, metaphorically, one arm tied behind his back. He (and I) may be educating people but we are less often adding to anything like the leading edge of knowledge. (Both of us do so sometimes). Many of the questions on SE repeat over and over variations on basic themes of electronics and the "rep" scores that Olin and I accrue are not necessarily indicators of the technical value of our answers as a whole. That comment may not make me popular but Olin and others of good technical competence know that it is essentially true.

Whereas, a questions with good answers on LASER interferometry is relatively rare here, not very well covered in the general internet material and needs some digging on web to get the sort of information that @nivag has provided in his short answer. More could be said on this subject and, if people who were interested, had been left to work with avi9526 for a few exchanges then even more than we have now may have been provided. As it was, I provided some links in a comment, as I was barred from providing an answer. If I had been able to provide an answer I MIGHT have got into one of my mini sagas and produced a mini reference on the subject. And others here could have done the same. As it is this is now less likely.

Olin says " ... They do the site more harm than good and degrade the experience that most came here for. Being able to articulate a good question is, while imperfect, a decent enough filter to block those we don't want here...."

NONE of us want low quality rubbish questions, lazy users who will not do their work and help themselves, people who will not think, and similar".
Over time Olin has insisted that quality can only be obtained by mercilessly driving off those who don't present well enough instantly. Others are arguing NOT for lack of quality, but for quality obtained with a different introductory process, Olin says "it just doesn't work that way". In fact reality does not side with any one hard and fast blinkered viewpoint. Reality is that people differ and more than one "method" may be appropriate depending on circumstance.

SO:

Some of us want to take the easy path and just drive off any who seem like they MAY be too much trouble.

Others of us would like to give new users a short but reasonable period to interact with us and sort out difficulties that may be overcomeable, to learn how the system works and to understand what is expected of them as a minimum standard. Those that cannot or will not do this after a reasonable period (probably a few weeks will be enough in most cases) can be handed over to Olin or punishment, beating and consignment to hell-fire, or whatever.

.____________________________

Notes:

NOBODY (including me) correctly spelt LASER as LASER.
"laser" is never correct. Does this matter? Maybe.
Olin has a "thing" about unit abbreviations being correct - Write "MW" when you mean "mW" and he'll go out of his way to deal with you. This has its place. But laser show that 'we all' do it.

Olin says: " Crappy askers generally don't become good askers. I just doesn't work that way." Such typos and some consistent mis-spellings are not unknown in his copy. Mine is (much) worse. Does it matter? Probably yes, to some extent, but it should help people realise that they are human.

______________________________________________________.

A relevant "case study:

About a year ago a new user came to SE EE and asked a technical question. It was somewhat obvious that English was not their primary language (although they are conversant in 5 languages). They were female. My observations have lead me to conclude that for whatever reasons, that being a non English primary speaker and a female is usually a prime target for less sympathetic than usual treatment (but, I may be wrong), and their treatment was consistent with this observation. They asked three questions. One at least was a very good one and well worth the group's time. All questions were treated with due derision and the good one was put on hold and because they had 3 low rep questions they were barred from asking more and did not understand the process and did not know how to proceed or how to ask.

In time with due eternal action things got fixed.
The system was not going to fix them by itself.

The information asked for in the first question related to the production of circuitry that the OP was developing for a man-made 'satellite'. It involved a specialised area of electronics which few would have had experience in. I was not involved in how the questions involved got answered, but they did get answered (presumably elsewhere). In due course the design produced by this person was accepted for use in a satellite with a duly lucrative contract awarded. [The people who accept such things know what they are doing and have achieved better success at achieving major targets than most other players* so presumably the design was deemed competent by suitably rigorous standards.]

I do not know if the question that related to the satellite project was deemed naive, low quality, too short or whatever. But the OP got closer to 'flinging stars into space' than almost any of us (including me) ever will.

We never know with certainty what a newcomer knows or can do. Not everyone is going to be brilliant or a great contributor. Some may be. Giving all people no more than a reasonable chance to sort out early issues and get accustomed to what is required seems, to me, logical. We seem to flee from such a pragmatic approach with a vengeance.


*. That may give some clue as to which country is involved.

**. I'm sure that will be challenged. Has anyone else actually looked to see if it's true? Or how much language capability affects perception by some?

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  • $\begingroup$ There is a 10^9 difference between MW and mW, but context should make things clear. Props for calling out the correct spelling of laser, as it's an acronym. But I think common usage tolerates all lower case usage. $\endgroup$ – user16 May 3 '15 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ I'm in agreement with Air that the term "NDQ" isn't particularly useful for the site. Looking at the first revision of the question, it falls into either the "too broad" or "unclear" categories because not enough information was provided. And as you noted in your answer here, the first version of the question was unacceptable by SE's standards. Standards that are determined by the community, and not by a given individual. Note that the statement goes two ways - for both what's acceptable and unacceptable. $\endgroup$ – user16 May 3 '15 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ The StackExchange community (and by that I mean all of SE) has found that the majority of low quality questions are not updated unless the community provides incentive to improve the question. That incentive comes from putting the post on-hold and constructive comments indicating what's lacking. The incentive comes from the OP wanting an answer and knowing that they can't get an answer until the question is improved. While I understand this question was locked briefly, in the normal course of things, edits and comments can still occur with closed questions. $\endgroup$ – user16 May 3 '15 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ The question under discussion is now over a week old. It has had more attention on it from our regular users than any other question due to the controversy that has come up around it. The author has been contacted out of channel. The question is open. With all of this, the question is still a yes or no question! Is the community supposed to spend this much time on every question that contains a technical word that is on topic? The one answer tries to add more information, but still doesn't answer the question, because the question is too broad beyond yes/no. $\endgroup$ – hazzey May 3 '15 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ @GlenH7 - Usage may make mH and MH intentions clear, but Olin is on people's case with a vengeance if they do this - I appreciate the motivation, but the method sometimes mystifies. | $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon May 5 '15 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @GlenH7 re your " ... That incentive comes from putting the post on-hold and constructive comments indicating what's lacking. ..." -> I appreciate that that statement is made with good intention, and many people say similar, but I suspect that vanishingly few who say that have any clue whatsoever re what putting "on hold" really does to newcomers who initially find the site a challenge. I know specifically because i have spent time working offlist with a few people who have been treated as we treat them. Even though to eg you and I the instructins and methods are clearly provided they ... $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon May 5 '15 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Russell - ignoring the diamond shaped target on my back, my focus is on the community as a whole. Individual members may be exemplary for one reason or another, but I believe it is community consensus that should drive how we act. Rude or offensive commentary should be flagged as such so it can be removed. $\endgroup$ – user16 May 5 '15 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ ... can be and in some cases are utterly confusing inscrutable and to no effect. As I mentioned in my example and elsewhere, one new user was assessed as having 3 low quality answers and their ability to post new answers was blocked until they "fixed" the old ones. They had no idea what was required of them and if left to their own devices would have been completely locked out of further participation. | I have seen statements by new users (an Indian national) attacked chapter and verse - and explained in detail by an exceedingly erudite Indian national SE member - and then attacked again ... $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon May 5 '15 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ ... chapter and verse without any awareness of the explanation by the same original "attacker". Claims of laziness, lack of research etc which were levelled were explained as cultural misunderstandings on the part of the (US) complainant and then renewed after being explained. | MANY apparently naive, poor, ill researched questions ARE as they appear to be. I seem to be better than many and MUCH MUCH better than a few claim to be (their claimed incompetence sometimes stretches credulity) at understanding what people are saying and am happy to try to deal with those cases that seem to be ... $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon May 5 '15 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ ... genuine ones from people who need to "get their foot in the door" and MAY become useful list members. I no more want rubbishy low quality questions than Olin does - but unlike him I do not believe that technically competent people should be booted out if they present badly initially. Politeness is nice - but respect I'll earn and I don't have to have it from newcomers. Occasionally I "pull (technical ) rank (largely in SS EE) but usually being able to work with people who want to learn is a good start. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon May 5 '15 at 14:23
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This community lacks the patients to allow question to develop and appears over zealous when it come to voting to close a question. The close voting pattern give me the impression, "I don't know what OP is asking it must outside off topic or too broad". Let me vote to close the question. To me this false under the Naive category.

Lets not jump to close, instead work with the OP to develop the question

Next issue is in the eyes of a OP, it is not clearly and concisely defined what a entitles a good question. The only available link How do I ask a good question? and https://engineering.meta.stackexchange.com/ which really does't a first time poster or the current community.

Finally, lets work together to attract new question and avid community members.

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    $\begingroup$ The author and the community can continue to discuss and revise the question whether or not it is closed. $\endgroup$ – Air Apr 27 '15 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ +1 | As noted repeatedly - it is a matter of fact that newcomers are liable to find that dealing with questions on hold is excessively daunting. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 28 '15 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Air In one recent interesting situation I improved the question without changing its sense or adding information - I was alluded to as a vampire by a moderator :-) - presumably for the crime of bringing back a dead question - and the moderator declined (specifically) to reopen the now Queen's English technically acceptable question., $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon May 5 '15 at 14:27
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Related:

I have not flung stars into space, nor do I expect to.
I have not even produced products or designs which will be used or have been used in man-made satellites. Nor do I now aspire to such, but once I did.
Few of us have either the opportunity or are trusted with the responsibility of doing such.

About a year ago a new user came to SE EE and asked a technical question. It was somewhat obvious that English was not their primary language (although they are conversant in 5 languages). It seemed likely that they were female (one can never be sure)(but they were). Non English primary speaker and a female is usually a prime target for hammering here** and they were treated accordingly. They asked two more questions. One at least was a very good one and well worth the group's time. All questions were treated with due derision and the good one was put on hold and because they had 3 low rep questions they were barred from asking more and did not understand the process and did not know how to proceed or how to ask.

In time with due eternal action things got fixed.
The system was not going to fix them by itself.

The information asked for in the first question related to the production of circuitry that the OP was developing for a man-made 'satellite'. It involved a specialised area of electronics which few would have had experience in. I was not involved in how the questions involved got answered, but they did (presumably elsewhere). In due course the design produced by this person was accepted for use in a satellite with a duly lucrative contract awarded. [The people who accept such things know what they are doing and have achieved better success at achieving major targets than most other players* so presumably the design was deemed competent by suitably rigorous standards.]

I do not know if the question that related to the satellite project was deemed naive, low quality, too short or whatever. But the OP got closer to flinging stars into space than almost any of us (including me) ever will.

We never know with certainty what a newcomer knows or can do. Not everyone is going to be brilliant or a great contributor. Some may be. Giving all people no more than a reasonable chance to sort out early issues and get accustomed to what is required seems, to me, logical. We seem to flee from such a pragmatic approach with a vengeance.


*. That may give some clue as to which country is involved.

**. I'm sure that will be challenged. Has anyone else actually looked to see if it's true? Or how much language capability affects perception by some?

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