If a question that can be seen by some as a somewhat broad question (and others not that broad), but can be (and gets) answered as if it is a direct question (Q&A), is it wrong or ok for a moderator to put it On hold?

Updated with the link:

Here is the question im talking about.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'll chime in on the question content, as it sits after editing. As a new user, you're missing some of the context underlying the issue.

Site Purpose

The purpose of the site is to build a knowledge base of solutions that can help many users; it isn't a personal help line. It also isn't fiverr, where people post a requirement and hope someone will be motivated to develop a solution for them. It's more the case that people submit questions or problems that other people might also have, that can build the knowledge base, in exchange for potentially getting an answer for themselves.

Sample Code Requirement

This is not a "give me code" kind of site. If we provide a solution, it's important for the OP to understand it so they can solve the next variation themselves.

Your providing code in the question is not an absolute requirement in every case, but it's requested for a reason. Asking the poster to make an effort to solve the problem is one way to help them learn by being involved in the solution, and it gives them some skin in the game. It also leads to their identifying specific coding issues that are more appropriate in scope for a question than requesting "application development".

Question Continuum

Trivial command lines and batch files are often provided in an answer even without the OP including sample code. This is especially true if it may not be obvious to a novice where to start, it could be useful to many readers, and a knowledgeable user can knock out an answer quickly.

At the same time, we don't want people asking for free development of a mini-application, especially of use only to the OP. Those kinds of questions are always considered too broad or out of scope.

In between these extremes is a gray area subject to community discretion.

Considerations

The community needs to weigh how useful the question and answers will be to other readers, which is the purpose of the site. A question that is a collection of requirements for completing a complex task tends to be very user-specific, so answers often won't be helpful to anyone else. Even if the answers contain some useful techniques, other readers won't be able to readily find them.

We also need to consider the scope. The intended scope is a single, bite-sized problem that can be fully answered and explained in a limited number of paragraphs. Solving a single, specific, on-topic coding issue can fit that model. A problem with multiple, complex requirements may not be a good fit.

In addition, a simple question is likely to attract a solution. Something requiring significant development, debugging, and documentation is much more likely to languish on the site, unanswered by the busy people who volunteer their time.

Another reason complex coding questions tend not to be a good fit is that the answers tend not to contain detailed explanation understandable by a novice questioner. So other readers who might need someone to create such code for a similar problem aren't likely to understand how to adapt the answer to their own needs. Encouraging such questions would end up littering the site with single-user solutions that are unusable by other people who might need something similar.

Poor Fit Questions

We get questions that are not a good fit for the site -- too ambiguous or poorly explained, too broad, too user-specific, etc. Sometimes those get answered, and the answer might even solve the problem for the OP. But the question remains a poor fit for the site. Those questions can get closed even though they have an answer.

Your Question

Which brings us to your question. To me, your question in its current form is borderline. It's not trivial, it's a pretty unique, single-user requirement, but it has the gist of a problem others might share. The question could benefit from refinement.

Frame it in a more general way to make the nature of the problem (merging and sequencing) more recognizable. Make the requirements more explicit. Perhaps the best way to do that is to include a mock-up (visual) of the before and after file contents. Leave out the ambiguity ("probably"), and provide a specific requirement.

  • This was a very good and informative answer. Yes, as a new user this is not really how I would expect things to work (although it's not a problem for me to adapt to "requirements"). I really liked how you explained this, and I actually think every new user should get this sort of explanation. (It was better and more understandable (for me) than the one we get when we make a user for the first time on this site. Well, I got my answer, I simply wanted others to benefit from the answer as well. I wanted to share the knowledge. – Tom 2 days ago

If a question that can be seen by some as a somewhat broad question (and others not that broad)

When a question like this exists, then the author should improve the question, so it isn't broad. This can be done before it receives close votes or after it's closed.

Is it wrong or ok for a moderator to put it On hold?

The moderator did you a favor by putting it on hold, it will give you the chance, to address the problems with the question.

Here is the question I'm talking about.

The question is seeking "the best way to write a script" which is going to solicit the communities opinion. Questions seeking "the best way" to do something, are extremely subjective and are often closed for that reason.

as if it is a direct question (Q&A).

The question you asked was not a direct question, it was a broad question seeking ideas and at the time you asked the question, it does not even appear you properly identified your problem. This is evident by the out of scope discussion that took place in the comment section. In the comments to your question, you admit, you were not aware we only accept Q&A and were not a discussion forum to collect "ideas".

What people choose to answer is not up to me. If they hand me the code, then ok. If they give another solution, then ok. To the other part of the explanation, you said it is too broad. Well, I disagree. The question contains things that are different from each other, that is true.

You are absolutely right, you cannot control what people can answer, but the community can be closing questions we feel are out of scope. While we welcome questions seeking help with batch scripts and/or PowerShell scripts, we expect a certain amount of research and effort, and those type of questions must include what has been attempted. As for the question being too broad, the reason you disagree is exactly the reason, the question was too broad for our community.

Given you were provided feedback on how to improve your question, by multiple people, you should improve the question. By improving the question, it will go into a queue, so it can be reopened. When it is reopened, you can receive an actual answer, instead of an answer contained within a comment that should be deleted.

  • I see what you mean, thank you for that clear explanation. I did however improve the question from what it was before, I just cant put it in a more direct way. I did also say that if i had something to give, I would, but it is so much and too complicated to make any sense of. It would be far more broad if i managed to give what i have tried (I had to implement things into a lot of scripts working together). So, if i am unable to give examples of what i have tried, but i have really tried and researched, should it still be ok to close the Q? – Tom Nov 8 at 20:35
  • @Tom - We absolutely do not write scripts. If a user cannot provide an example of what they tried, then it’s absolutely appropriate to close a question, seeking help with a script. – Ramhound Nov 9 at 4:48

The question you've asked here is too general to provide a proper answer. A reference to a specific question is needed.

The community guidelines consist of a "bedrock" of concepts that 99.9% of folks agree upon, and a sort of "case law" of precedent from past questions and moderator decisions. Those of us who've been around for a while have a sense of the community's shared gestalt of what constitutes an acceptable question.

It is impossible to put into words an exhaustive list of topics that are acceptable on the site, and even attempting to categorize areas that are/aren't acceptable has many exceptions (both questions that don't fall into the broad groups that are nevertheless acceptable, and questions that do fall into one of the broad groups that aren't acceptable). Topicality rules are slightly subjective and have been honed over years by community consensus, but diamond mods ultimately have the final say when there's a gray area.

Some people (even veteran users of the site with high rep) may disagree with what others believe to be the community consensus about what's on-topic, what's too broad, etc. That's fine, too. They're welcome to have a different opinion, but ultimately, unless there's a significant pushback from the community, the diamond mods generally have the last say.

I'm not claiming that they rule by fiat, however. I have, on occasion, persuaded a diamond mod to re-open a question that had been closed because I argued successfully why I thought it should be allowed to be open. You could most certainly do the same.

If you have a question you asked, or a question you'd like to answer, that you feel needs to be re-opened, you should ask a question on meta about that specific question (or questions), rather than asking in the abstract. Because there is no general case answer to your question that will hold true for all instances. We really do handle each question on a case-by-case basis.

  • Ok i see. Here is it, ill add it to the question link – Tom Nov 8 at 20:03
  • 2
    diamond mods generally have the last say...to someone new to the site this may benefit from explanation, e.g. the fact the community can "overrule" a mod's closure of a question with sufficient reopen votes. Though that has its limits. – Twisty Impersonator Nov 9 at 2:39

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