8

Downvotes and close votes should always be accompanied by a comment. While not strictly required as per SE policy this is especially important for new users. We should direct our criticism at bad or unwanted questions, not at unwanted users. Especially beginners – no matter how otherwise knowledgeable or qualified – make mistakes, that is to be expected.

Because there are a lot of similar situations, below is a list of comments that can be copy-and-pasted to provide new users or repeat offenders more insight into how this site works and give reviewers a little help to save on keystrokes.

We adopted the stance that comments are our barn cats. Very useful for improving a post, but also easily gone. Re-use of comments is difficult if they get deleted.

Obviously, self-written comments are always favourable, but because we are often lacking comments before closevotes and downvotes come, and really canned close-reasons are limited, here are a few suggestions that should provide a backbone for standard situations. These should not be copied blindly but preferably adapted to the individual case, if possible.

Please edit the existing answers and add more examples as answers and as needed.


General inspiration for comment format, language or application might be found on TeXSE, CSTheorySE, MathSE and some more sites (please edit if you find good ones.)


A list of "magic-links" to save on typing and character limits is on meta.

  • 3
    Excellent post! In particular, there seems to have been a major increase in 'please write my essay for me' questions in recent weeks (or maybe that's just my imagination). For my part, though, I would like to see OPs given a little more time to fix problems before voting to close - especially, check to see if the OP has visited the site since comments were posted. – Lars Bosteen Nov 3 '18 at 5:07
  • 1
    @LarsBosteen Agree on certain leniency for newbies. But we should somehow make it clear that "on hold" is different from "closed". Close-voting is a bit of a misnomer in my view. At least I treat VtC in most cases as Vt-put-on-hold, just to avoid needless effort in answers that might benefit from or need clarification in questions. – LangLangC Nov 3 '18 at 10:29
  • Related: Encouraging people to explain downvotes – Peter Mortensen Nov 8 '18 at 19:54
  • 2
    Great question. Downvotes should be provided with the reasons. Otherwise, we are heading to non constructive world. – Kentaro Tomono Feb 17 at 3:10
8

Question from new user lacking prior research

Welcome to HistorySE, [USERNAME]! What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? Please help us to help you. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and the help center. You may improve your question to comply with site guidelines with an edit and the help of How to Ask. Thanks!

Source to copy and paste

Welcome to HistorySE, [USERNAME]! What has your research shown you so far?
Where have you already searched? Please help us to help you. You might find
it helpful to review the site [tour] and [help]. You may improve your
question to comply with site guidelines with an [edit] and the help of [ask].
Thanks! 
  • 4
    Some may think that the tour is pretty useless, and to a certain degree I do agree. But if pointed to it a user following earns the "informed" badge, that signals a strong "can read and follow instructions" + good will portion on the side of the user. In turn my good will also increases significantly. – LangLangC Nov 5 '18 at 11:38
  • 1
    This comment is taken from the meta discussion we had a few months ago, but the top answer from that thread suggested the format: Hi [user], welcome to H.SE. Does [relevant links] have what you are looking for? If not, please edit your post to explain what you find missing or questionable with the article. This helps other users understand the issue, so as to better answer your question. Although it's more effort (perhaps substitute "the relevant Wikipedia articles" for [relevant links]), I suggest this should be considered especially when the user claims they can't find any research. – Semaphore Nov 9 '18 at 11:55
7

Question that appears as a homework essay type

This appears to be a question that is purposely subjective, with the intent of providing the author an opportunity to dump all their knowledge on the subject without worry of being objectively wrong (as long as the argument can be supported). This is great for school essays, but is simply not the kind of question we can field here. Our format requires objectively answerable questions. If your own research on this topic turns up a question that looks objectively answerable, feel free to ask that here.

Source to copy and paste:

This appears to be a question that is purposely subjective, with the intent
of providing the author an opportunity to dump all their knowledge on the
subject without worry of being objectively wrong (as long as the argument can
be supported). This is great for school essays, but is simply not the kind of
question we can field here. Our format requires objectively answerable
questions. If your own research on this topic turns up a question that looks
objectively answerable, feel free to ask that here.   
  • 3
    I can't speak for anyone else, but my favorite feature of this formulation is the "Its not you, its us." tack it takes. – T.E.D. Nov 2 '18 at 16:11
  • 2
    @T.E.D. As much as I like the narrative as well, I think it would still benefit from further edits, including some links, that nudge newbies further into reading the manuals, ahem, help-docs & meta. – LangLangC Nov 2 '18 at 16:49
  • 6
    Most of the time when this is applicable, the poster realistically has no other interest in this site than getting a pre-written essay for their class with 0 work on their part. It doesn't hurt to be nice about it, and probably wouldn't hurt to put some links in as you say, but it seems unlikely to help either. – T.E.D. Nov 2 '18 at 18:32
7

Answer is basically nothing but a link/URL, but not SPAM

Rendered:

Your link might or might not answer the question. However, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. Please edit your answer to improve its quality. Thanks!

Plain-text:

Your link might or might not answer the question. However [it would be
preferable](//meta.stackoverflow.com/q/8259) to include the essential
parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. Please edit
your answer to improve its quality. Thanks!
  • 4
    Note that in this circumstance, you can (and if you have a problem with it, probably should) flag the post to have a post note added which reads: "We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed". I'd suggest that may be sufficient, but if its not, any canned comment needs to play well with the fact that its almost certainly going be seen immediately following that post notice. – T.E.D. Nov 5 '18 at 14:22
5

Theory dependent, no inquiry into the past

This question is entirely dependent on the meaning of terms or theory, to the point that the question’s answer is entirely dependent on what the terms or theory mean. This question doesn’t interact with “the past,” and so is not historical in content.

  • 5
    I'm not sure if this is related, but I often see questions that are not even phrased in the past tense. I'm still kind of experimenting with the comments I throw on those. – T.E.D. Nov 2 '18 at 15:59
4

Question shows no research/effort

What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? Please help us to help you. Can you explain why the relevant Wikipedia pages and google searches didn't answer the question? SE sites work best if the questions are supported by preliminary research

For easy copy and paste:

 What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? Please help us to help you. Can you explain why the relevant Wikipedia pages and google searches didn't  answer the question?  [SE sites work best if the questions are supported by preliminary research](https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/261592/2085030)
1

Question is between off-topic and push

This question is not framed in the field of historical research. It is based on assumptions which are not made explicit, are not well-motivated (e.g., referenced), or are not held to be true within any of the research fields on-topic here. After reading [/help/how-to-ask] please [edit] your question to provide more information on … (your research, why you are asking this question, what problems are you having understanding your research…)

This question is not framed in the field of historical research. It is based
on assumptions which are not made explicit, are not well-motivated (e.g.,
referenced), or are not held to be true within any of the research fields
[/help/on-topic] here. After reading [ask] in [help], please [edit] 
your question to provide  more information on …
(your research, why you are asking this question, what problems are you
having understanding your research…)
  • 1
    I like where you are going with this, but it might benefit from a link or two along the lines of your top post above. – Pieter Geerkens Dec 18 '18 at 13:58

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