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Note: the question has since been edited, so the wording that prompted this post would be found in the edit history.


I voted to close this question: What is the “simple English” translation for a client downloading a torrent?. Now I'm having second thoughts and figured the place to get input is here rather than a comment discussion on the question.

Arguments for being on-topic:

  • The question asks for an explanation of a computer-related technical question.
  • The question requests an answer understandable by a non-technical person.
  • Given several answers that are all technically correct, the one that's easiest to understand can be more useful.

Arguments for being off-topic:

  • The question specifies a criterion of a specific writing style.
  • How well a post answers the question (or which post answers the question better), is based on compliance with a writing style, which is at least as important as technical accuracy. Technical accuracy might even be judged less important than "understandability".
  • This criterion makes the question very opinion-based.

Super User gets many questions that specifically request a "newbie" answer, either because the OP is not a techie or because they want a way to explain a concept to someone else who isn't a techie. This is the first one I can remember where the question specifies an answer written in a certain way. My initial reaction to it was that it was more like a writing assignment for a technical writer than a technical question.

Questions:

  • Is the question on-topic as written?
  • If not, what guidance can we offer on how to ask it in a more on-topic way?
  • Typical questions invoke answers explaining by way of analogy to help, this question appears to do away with that and just ask for the analogy – random Jun 24 '16 at 15:23
  • More like asking for client pseudocode with extra details on the packet format. – jiggunjer Jun 24 '16 at 16:42
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    There exists SE dedicated on the subject of the English language. It seems "experts" on the English language would have better luck answering a question on how to say something in English, rather then a bunch of "experts" in computer software and computer hardware. I would also say that question, if left open, will draw lots of answers full of opinions. If this question was how handshaking worked, that would be on topic, but it isn't. Wikipedia – Ramhound Jun 24 '16 at 18:02
  • Retract the close vote!!! – EKons Jul 6 '16 at 11:55
  • @ΈρικΚωνσταντόπουλος, the question was edited back on June 27 and I retracted my close vote then. It looks like all close voters have retracted. BTW, close votes also expire after a few weeks if there aren't enough to close. Now the question just needs answers. – fixer1234 Jul 6 '16 at 12:39
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This is a challenging decision indeed. If somebody held a gun to my head and forced me to say "on-topic" or "off-topic" to that question, I would say it's on-topic. It's equivalent to asking how a torrent file is downloaded, with a preference for a non-highly-technical answer.

Suppose somebody asked how a Windows Installer transaction was sealed. If I answered with a spew of API calls with no explanation of what all that means, my answer would be unhelpful but not wrong. Similarly, an answer to the question under discussion here would be best if it gave an overview of what each technical step accomplishes. I don't think a highly technical answer to this question should be deleted or downvoted, but the asker is free to accept the answer that helped most. Other users are free to vote based on whatever criteria they choose.

Basically, it would be best to spend fewer words on asking for a simple explanation and instead attach a sentence that says something like this:

I would prefer an explanation that makes sense to someone without deep experience in networking.

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    Your answer mirrors where I was heading; you can choose to ignore the wording of the question and view it as just a request for a simple explanation. And I like the guidance in your last paragraph. – fixer1234 Jun 25 '16 at 17:00
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    Through remember that we are a technical community, and being technically correct is the best kind of correct. (this is also on the help center: inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”) – Braiam Jul 6 '16 at 18:51
  • An answer can absolutely be technically correct without necessarily including every last detail. Sometimes, and very often for less technically knowledgable people, the completely correct, full technical explanation is less useful than a simpler explanation that overlooks or simplifies some details into general statements of effect, but is understandable to the person asking the question. Something like "How does DirectX work?" can be answered without requiring a description of how processors for graphical computations are manufactured. – a CVn Jul 27 '16 at 16:45

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