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My question received at least 2 comments which could have been answers. The question's subject matter is changes in historical views over time. So it's clearly on topic here.

Yet, people not only didn't bother trying to answer the question, but they also seemed upset that it was asked.

Is there some community culture here at play that discourages people from posting answer to the asked questions? I am not familiar enough with the community sentiment, so I figured I'd ask.

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    @shoover These links are helpful. However, (given the content of my answer below): 1. these are most useful to go as comments below the Q on main, 2. if they 'answer this question', they should preferably go into the answer box? ;) (Note that I contemplated to include things like that in my A here, but decided that this was not asking 'what's wrong with my mainQ?' , but 'what's wrong with the community (experience) here?' Nevertheless, my reading is far from perfect, so please, do analyse the mainQ here en detail, in the bigger box. Sep 29, 2022 at 16:13
  • Mine was the first comment on the Q on main, asking what research the OP had done and why the WP article didn't answer OP's Q. But you're right; those links are more of a stub for an answer on this meta Q, so maybe I'll assemble an answer out of them when I get time.
    – shoover
    Sep 29, 2022 at 17:27
  • The linked question appears to be closed. No matter how shy or gregarious users are feeling, they can't answer a closed question. That would seem the most likely reason it has no answers.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Sep 29, 2022 at 18:18

2 Answers 2

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Meta on community's shynesses:

As phrased now:

Q: is this community answer shy?

I'd say no, the community is not answer shy. Far from it.

The actual numbers of open questions without any answers is given currently at

1,286 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers

compared to

13,914 questions total 'active'

We often see answers popping up below questions that are unclear, and phrased misleading ways, and … have quite often numerous other problems.

That shows the need for comments below questions: request clarifications from questions, especially from those that are unclear, like imo this one on main.

What we see here, instead, and what is explicitly shown in this meta-question is:

My question received at least 2 comments which could have been answers.

Being prime evidence for: We do have a constantly growing comments-problem. Namely that comments below questions often are not used to improve the question, but to offload by definition policy violating half-answers. Such comments can be wrong, which they frequently are, and I think they might be here, without the system design's options for gauging their quality: up- and down-voting.

If those comments are 'answers', or 'meant as such', then they should be posted as 'answers', not 'as comments'! If they are half-answers, then by SE-policy they should be deleted.

Period.

The community culture here is that we have let a trend emerge and then let it kept growing that comments are no longer barn cats, but for far too many users their way of participating: writing half-answers into the comment box, so that there cannot be a perhaps downvoting involving quality control. Not that the voting either here on H:SE or on the rest of SE would be any form of reliable indicator. But on comments: this is an order of magnitude worse.

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Occam's Razor says the simpler explanation is that one question had problems.

Here's what I see looking at that question (all times delta from previous time):

  • T0 - Question asked
  • +1 hour - Comment posted asking if the Wikipedia page on this very subject answers the question.
  • +17 mins - Second comment posted providing details from the WP page posted in the previous comment that seems to back up the idea that said page actually answers the question.
  • +6 hours - Two more comments added discussing nitty details found on that WP page.
  • +2 hours - One more comment, arguing the question was framed badly.
  • +1 hour - Questions gets a close vote.
  • +20 mins - Question gets put on the review queue (which explains the sudden spurt of votes that follows)
  • +3 mins - Question gets a close vote.
  • +20 min - Question gets a close vote.
  • +1 hour - Question gets a close vote (now 1 vote from closure)
  • +12 hours - Question author responds to two of the questions in the comments, but offers no explanation as to why the WP page doesn't answer the question.
  • +19 hours - Question gets 5th close vote, and is thus closed.

Note that at no point in the above timeline was the question ever edited to address any of the issues raised in the comments.

So the basic story I'm seeing here is really pretty simple: Users here had questions, particularly about if this question wasn't trivially answered by a standard reference source (Wikipedia in this case), those questions went unaddressed, and it got closed.

As for why it didn't get answers in the meantime, why would it? There were at least 4 users who had issues with the form of the question. Likely they represented far more users who read the question, but didn't say anything about it. Issues make questions much harder to answer (or in some cases make the answer so trivial its a waste of time to bother typing it up). They also tend to get questions closed. Who wants to waste some of the (very finite) remaining hours of their lives researching and composing an answer to a question that is just going to get closed? Far, far better to wait until the issues pointed out get fixed.

The question had issues. They went unaddressed. It got closed.

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  • Is it customary here to close questions which are considered to lack research as "lacking detail or clarity?" The reason for closure doesn't seem to reflect those comments. And should the comments get erased (as all SE comments may be), it would not be at all clear why the question was closed. BTW, at the moment it's still unclear to me why it was closed. But since there is already a degree of confusion, I don't want to raise hay by making that a meta question.
    – wrod
    Sep 30, 2022 at 3:09
  • BTW, I also STRONGLY disagree that a 3-category (wwii+russia+casualties) Wikipedia page is something that can be generally seen as research done before asking a question. It's too specific for anyone to expect that such a page would exist. The fact that it exists is actually surprising and should have been an answer.
    – wrod
    Sep 30, 2022 at 3:09
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    @wrod - The requests appeared to be for clarification on why that WP page didn't answer the question. If you have a good reason for that, great! But that information needs to be edited into the question. I can tell you from experience earned the hard way that if I ask a question on pretty much any site on the StackExchange network, receive several requests for clarification, and don't edit my question in any way in response, I can expect that question to get closed.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Sep 30, 2022 at 3:16
  • Fair enough. Sometime it takes talking through the question to actually formulate what the inquiry is. The question should have been what changed the canon of the number rather than what is the original source for the new number.
    – wrod
    Sep 30, 2022 at 3:23

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