I'm interested to see how the community handles this one. It seems obviously from a kid. Providing the background education to make this a meaningful question seems dubious. Does that mean it should be closed? Or does it get answered in the mythic realm the kid (I assume, and, yes, I know that's dangerous online) implies with his question?

EDIT Well, it got closed as "unclear". If you were expecting a question grounded in how computers actually work, then, yes, this is unclear. But if you go read 1980s-90s "players step into cyberspace" stories, this is how people thought cyberspace would work, and I see that misconception commonly still. They think of the AI as a creature that crawls through a series of tubes to reach different screens. Those stories weren't bad, they were just factually completely off-base. And there are many people -- including the person asking this question -- who have those misconceptions.

Have we done the right thing by closing as "unclear" instead of providing a more broad, educational answer?

  • $\begingroup$ It is a dangerous assumption, but I'd be prepared to make the equally dangerous assumption it's not (while hoping to Hades and back again I'm wrong). Of course, this depends on what you consider a kid to be. I was thinking around 10 to 12 for a typical kid, but this could be an early adolescent or above. The diagram isn't great art, but it is competently organized. Not quite kid's stuff. Also, this question doesn't test VTC doctrine, it's getting the standard treatment. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 26 '17 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ "Kid" for me is anyone under 18. If you want me to be more specific, I'll bet 15, aka, "enough knowledge to be dangerous." :-) I teach first grade, but I work with students all the way up through high school from time to time. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 26 '17 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ Seems we're singing from the same hymn sheet. I'd have picked around fifteen too. I tend to think of kids as 13-14 and under. I like your "enough knowledge to be dangerous." That really resonants. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 27 '17 at 1:14

I think the current status of the question is correct. The question is incoherent and hard to understand. There is a lot of information missing and really the whole thing is just very vague and contradictory.

This is not something that can be cleaned up by anyone except the OP who needs to explain clearly what the scenario is and what the question they want answered is.

Given they haven't responded to any comments then it seems unlikely that this will happen.

P.S. Age is irrelevant. There are elected stack exchange moderators who you would class as a "kid" by the criteria you discuss above. What matters is clear communication and constructive participation.

  • $\begingroup$ I didn't mean to emphasize age so much as inexperience. I don't know how to help the person asking this question because of that inexperience gap. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 26 '17 at 20:09

The question linked to is and was clear enough to get across the question. The problem is not the question, but the readers seemingly inability to read competently or be at all generous in their willingness to give leeway in how someone separates their thoughts on an a platform that they likely have no idea how to format on and in a world that forces you to just crunch everything into the smallest space possible in most situations.

This is just more bad behavior on the part of those voting to close imo. And looking at questions in a bad faith manor.

  • $\begingroup$ An interesting perspective. I don't agree that the question was at all clear. There are several contradictory assumptions built into the question. As for the behavior of VTC -- this is why I flagged the question for discussion. It's equally correct to close or to give a deep answer that tries to provide ways to resolve the contradictions. I wasn't sure which was preferable. $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 4 '17 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM My question would be, why would you ever take actions to prevent answering when you can provide one or see that someone can? Answering is preferable always, even if you have to adjust and explain areas that might not be as clear as they could be. You get no where by just shutting people down. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Mar 4 '17 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ Adjusting and explaining is exactly what the comments are for -- you put the question on hold, have the conversation about what the person is really intending to ask, and then come back with a better question. The goal is the same. The mechanism is different, and the reason it is different is that it strengthens the site's usefulness as an archive by using the "on hold" approach. $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 4 '17 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM People can keep arguing that "on hold" is "good" and not annoying and bad, but that does not contort with reality. All you do with putting something on hold is dissuade people from asking things, dissuade them from answering things, It seems that the people who are4 voting to close things have lost the plot. I and I assume most people here are here to get a question answered, not to jump through hoops which neither benefit questioners, nor answerers, nor have anything to politenss nor efficiency or clarity. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Mar 4 '17 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ There are forums for what you propose. Many of them. That's not Stack Exchange's role. SE requires good questions to be useful. Besides, if people aren't willing to participate in the process, how in the world are they ever going to take feedback from an editor?! $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 4 '17 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM Q&A is not the same as discussion which is what you are referring to. What you are claiming aren't good questions are not well formatted questions or that don't fall into a specific range of preciseness which does not make sense in many cases and is rather random. People are asking questions, they're already participating in the process. You're making an assumption that they are asking something to write a book to get a publisher to publish. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Mar 4 '17 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I'm assuming they're asking a question to get information. But garbage in, garbage out. Getting them to ask better questions, ones that don't include logical contradictions, helps that. (I am not complaining about formatting.) In my last reply, I said "Besides", as in, the editor comment was an additional argument, not my primary. My primary is that "just answering" is a disservice in many cases. $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 4 '17 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Durakken sometimes I come across a question that is clear to me but seems to be confusing others, and what I try to do in that case is edit the question to bridge that gap. It's clear to me because of some specialized knowledge that I have? I edit in the additional info. The writing is unclear but I teased out what the OP meant after some comments or a chat? I edit to clarify. You say you understand the the question, so you're in a great position to help the OP. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 5 '17 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio I'd rather tell them what is "too" unclear so they can fix it and get better without driving them away, making them less likely to get an answer and any unclarity beyond that should be taken into account in an answer as if it's not clear in that sense there is likely more people that have the same question that may need that clarity. Over specification, again, just harms the questioner and the point of the site, because people generally think more generally rather than specifically and being more specific is broaching writing their world for them, not helping them be better. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Mar 6 '17 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio And btw, this user seems to have been driven away, because of the inability by people on SE to be able to think about what the person is actually asking and seemingly the mind set that a question is too simple and beneath them. It really disgusts me that instead of thinking and helping people many would rather be pompous in some way. If I were a moderator, this would be a time I would step in, try to contact this person, and directly help them out if I saw his profile, but alas, a good moderator is something that is rare. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Mar 6 '17 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Durakken did you really say both of: (a) you aren't going to help people with clarifying edits because they should learn for themselves and (b) people who don't help them fix their questions (including, by your account, most moderators) are pompous? $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 6 '17 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio Helping and doing are different things. Helping makes them better. Doing does not. Doing when you should be helping, more often than not, is just condescension, pompous, arrogant, and ultimately damaging to the person who either doesn't get better because you're taking away that ability or doesn't because they see they don't have to. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Mar 6 '17 at 8:19

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