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I'm getting slightly annoyed at people's continued comments on my question, and I'm wondering if I really should be, or if I need to actually fix something.

I've asked what I believe to be a very simple question ("simple" meaning "easy to understand", not necessarily "easy to answer"):

How do I resize a file from the command prompt (or in a batch file)?

I've started receiving comments like:

  • "What is the actual problem being experienced?"
  • "Is there any real world scenario behind this question?"
  • "It is really vague..."
  • "... and/or specific to a single requirement"
  • Someone even voted to close it as "not a real question".

My questions:

  • Does it really matter why I'm resizing the file? Maybe it's because my boss told me to. Maybe it's because I want to learn how to do it. Or maybe it's because I want to avoid fragmentation. In any case, does it make a difference to the answer why I'm resizing the file? If so, what should I clarify?

  • How do I go about proving that, indeed, I ran into this problem?

  • What was "vague" about my question?

  • Did I do something wrong about asking something that's specific to a single requirement?

  • Like I told you on your previous question, you need to be more precise about what the heck you're doing. Users wanting to answer questions judge your question based on its title, if its bad: you don't get any answers. – Ivo Flipse Jun 20 '11 at 7:32
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    @Ivo: "...you're doing"* :P – Mehrdad Jun 20 '11 at 12:44
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    Verbatim: "How do I resize a file from the command prompt (or in a batch file)? The question is so devoid of details that you are receiving broad questions that frustrate both you and the people trying to help you. Of course it doesn't matter who is asking you or what project it is for - what is important is what do you mean by resize a file? 1. Reducing size and losing information from a file? 2. Resizing the dimensions or resolution of an image? 3. Compressing a file without losing data to save space? These are all possible routes that can be taken but you have no specifics... – Dustin G. Jun 29 '11 at 5:14
  • @Dustin: Thanks, but you're kind of beating a dead horse... – Mehrdad Jun 29 '11 at 6:36
15

Er.. what? Resize a Word document? A .png image? A text file? A Doom .wad file?

The question as stated makes no sense.

  • What's wrong with calling SetEndOfFile on a Word document or a PNG image? Windows doesn't really care... I'm just looking for how to do this in a batch file. – Mehrdad Jun 19 '11 at 22:29
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    @Mehrdad: But that's not what your question states. Resizing needs a context, if you don't specify one it's easy to think in a different context (most likely resizing pictures)... – Tamara Wijsman Jun 19 '11 at 22:42
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    @Tom: Eh... I can see where you're coming from I guess. Still not convincing, but makes sense at least; thanks. – Mehrdad Jun 19 '11 at 23:58
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Well, it can be interpreted in many, many ways! Are you trying to:

  • Resize an image to another resolution?
  • Resize a file by cutting away/splitting data?
  • Resize a file by adding/removing data?
  • etc?

It's too vague to tell what you actually want to resize in its current form. Furthermore, we don't want to check up on you. Most of the time, stating the purpose of your action will allow us to determine the best course of action for you to take.

Say you wanted a light to read by and just asked "How can I get light?" basically we could answer with:

  • "Set your house on fire"
  • "Get some fireflies"
  • "Wait for the sun to come up"

All these answers would be valid for that question. Of course, that would be ridiculous! But if you just stated the purpose; "to be able to read", we would be able to recommend you something that would do just right for your purpose! A reading light.

  • @BloodPhilia: Well, "resize" means to either "shrink" or to "extend". Someone asked me if it should be zero-padded, so I said yes. (That was a good comment and I was vague about that, OK.) But what other part of this is vague? If I asked how to do this on SO, it would have had a clear answer ("Use the SetEndOfFile function")... no if's, and's, or but's. How does doing the same thing in the command prompt make it more vague? – Mehrdad Jun 19 '11 at 22:32
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    @Mehrdad I doubt this would've had answers on SO. As a matter of fact I think it would've been closed likewise... Your question is simply incomplete! People should get everything they need to answer from your question. They shouldn't be required to comment on it first. – BloodPhilia Jun 19 '11 at 22:33
  • @BloodPhilia: I really want to post How do I resize a file in Windows? on SO and see if it gets an answer... should I do that? – Mehrdad Jun 19 '11 at 22:35
  • @Mehrdad I would prefer if you didn't, but if you would really like to try, I can't stop you! ;) – BloodPhilia Jun 19 '11 at 22:36
  • @BloodPhilia: About your edit: I think you're missing the fact that people have common sense. "Set your house on fire" lacks common sense. So does "get some fireflies". "Wait for the sun to come up" is acceptable, but my answer would be something more along the lines of "go buy a flashlight". About your comment: Lol, it's tempting... – Mehrdad Jun 19 '11 at 22:40
  • @Mehrdad: These are bad examples. - But now consider "How can I get light?" with 1) Light a candle. 2) Buy a flashlight. and 3) Wait for the sun to come up. - Now, depending on a context I can give an example that option 3 could fall away because you can't wait as you need it now and option 1 could fall away because the wind blows out the candle. Now consider "How can I get light at night when I need to go to the reception on a camping in heavy weather conditions?" a question that would only yield option 2... – Tamara Wijsman Jun 19 '11 at 22:44
  • @Tom: Sorry, but I think your example just isn't good enough. Would you happen to have a better one? – Mehrdad Jun 19 '11 at 22:48
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    @Mehrdad: Sorry, but I think your question just isn't good enough. Would you happen to have a better one? – BloodPhilia Jun 19 '11 at 22:52
  • @Mehrdad: Sorry, but your comment just lacks reasoning why it's not good. Could you please elaborate? After all it just boils down that by keeping behind details and background on your actual problem it just makes it harder to get your question answered, the comments are there as a natural response to get this missing information from you. It doesn't necessarily make your question bad... – Tamara Wijsman Jun 19 '11 at 22:56
  • @BloodPhilia, @Tom: My reasoning was previously stated -- it's ignoring the fact that people have common sense. "Wait for the sun" is clearly ridiculous, because no human who's typing on a computer is also living in a dark cave 24/7, so he's obviously aware of that solution. "Light a candle" is an acceptable answer, and so is "buy a flashlight". But I'm failing to see how that relates to my question. The answer I got was "echo this into the file", which does not answer the question because it doesn't tell you how to shrink it, so it's not a reasonable answer, unlike the candle; right? – Mehrdad Jun 20 '11 at 0:03
  • @Mehrdad: Note how you are making assumptions which I did not state, misinterpretation is easy... :) – Tamara Wijsman Jun 20 '11 at 0:22
  • @Tom: Which assumptions are you referring to? – Mehrdad Jun 20 '11 at 0:23
  • @Mehrdad: You're assuming that the person in the answer is typing on a computer. It's merely meant as an example to denote that details and background result in more specific answers, rather than incorrect or too broad answers... – Tamara Wijsman Jun 20 '11 at 0:26
  • @Tom: Er... so my assumption answers on SO through are typed on a computer (or phone or w/e) is incorrect? Do you happen to know of a different method (e.g. snail mail-ing your answer)? – Mehrdad Jun 20 '11 at 0:33
  • @Mehrdad: Well, I didn't type that with a specific's site in mind. It's meant to be metaphorically; a cave man is indeed a bit far fetched in the context of Stack Exchange sites or just Super User or Stack Overflow. But the example does point out what I explained in my previous comment... :) – Tamara Wijsman Jun 20 '11 at 0:48
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I'm wondering if I really should be

The FAQ states:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

In order for your question to survive and to be answerable, it needs to be based on an actual problem in practice. Rather than a theoretical question which isn't based on something and thus isn't really useful.

An optimal question that yields quality answers consists of some paragraphs, you can't expect the right answer to appear when asking a simple question that is in lack of further details or a background.

  1. Without clarification, you could as well resize a picture because you want it as large as your screen.

  2. You don't necessary proof that you have the problem, but we can't help you if you have no problem.

  3. As outlined, details and background are missing, which confuses people and yields bad answers.

  4. Yes, it renders your question as not a real question because it's too broad and to vague.

    Or not constructive enough if you didn't gave more details in the comments....

  • @Tom: (1) But if I didn't say picture, why would someone post an answer that's specific to a picture? (2) The trouble is, I do have a problem, but apparently people didn't believe me. :( (3) The background is indeed missing, but what difference does it make to the answer? How does the reason (e.g. "my boss told me") affect the answer? – Mehrdad Jun 19 '11 at 22:42
  • @Mehrdad: (1) But if you didn't say raw files, why would someone post an answer that's specific to raw files? (2) Your question doesn't state a problem, there was nothing to belief so we had to get the actual problem out of you. But as the question is stated there might even be no problem and it could be purely out of interest. (3) It provides context so your question becomes answerable, see my comment to BloodPhilia's answer. – Tamara Wijsman Jun 19 '11 at 22:54
  • @Mehrdad: (3) Your boss isn't part of the background of the problem itself, if I need to resize a picture then the background could be that I'm building an online album. Which could then yield a batch thumbnail program instead of a suggestion for resizing a single picture... – Tamara Wijsman Jun 19 '11 at 22:55
  • @Tom: Well in that case, how should I explain the "background" if, for example, it's for something at work that I can't talk about (say, IP)? It's not like you can always reveal the true background for everything... – Mehrdad Jun 19 '11 at 23:57
  • @Mehrdad: True, but you still would have enough details left to explain your problem. – Tamara Wijsman Jun 20 '11 at 0:21
  • @Tom: Is my edit better? – Mehrdad Jun 20 '11 at 0:22
  • @Mehrdad: Better, now your question also does list the actual problem as in "Duplicating the functionality of SetEndOfFile in the command prompt". The original text together with the clarifications do this too, in this case the background isn't necessarily relevant but at least the details do help steer the answers... – Tamara Wijsman Jun 20 '11 at 0:32
  • @Tom: Okay, thanks for the help. (+1) – Mehrdad Jun 20 '11 at 0:34
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Only slightly annoying? I see these kinds of counter-questions all the time to the point where I practically want to hit anybody who asks it. (Unfortunately I can't give any examples because I generally try to move on and forget about it.)

In my experience the reason for these questions frequently seem to be an attempt to get the user to look at the problem differently - which by itself isn't a bad thing. For instance, a user might want to do X when in fact Y might really solve their problem better.

Unfortunately, what often actually happens when a person reveals "What the actual problem being experienced is" or "the real world scenario behind the question" is a redirection of the answer. While it is discouraged to write questions that are too specific purpose, the effect of these people trying to be helpful is often to accomplish exactly that effect - what was once a good general question now has an answer that helps only the asker, and nobody else.

I frequently find whenever I am trying to solve a problem I usually find one or more people asking the same question (not just on SO/SE sites but other forums, etc.) but for a totally different reason. And as a result of people asking why the person winds up solving the problem in a totally different way that is completely unhelpful to me.

And as a side note, it appears that the Mehrdad has updated their question since posting here. However there is no question in my mind when somebody asks how to resize a file that they want to change the file size - I would never think about any of the other things like image resolution or whatnot that other answers have suggested. So perhaps it is a question of terminology here, the asker has something in mind and is using a vocabulary that some people will just understand, while others will not. I would suggest that rather than asking questions that tend to redirect, it would be better to ask for clarification on what is meant by the question, instead of what the asker is trying to do.

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I don't have much command-line fu, but I suspect that the problem is that there is no possible generic answer that doesn't depend on file type and/or what you mean by "resize" (Lossless/Lossy Compression, Expansion), so the only possible way to answer your question is to know what file type you are using and exactly what you are trying to do with it. Those more experienced might be completely oblivious to the fact that this is not obvious.

Lossless compression works regardless of file type, but I have no idea about expansion or lossy compression. If there is no possible generic answer, and the only possible answers are specific to file type, or method of resizing, the question may be meaningless without your intending it to be so.

A better metaphor than "How can I get light" would be "What foods should I eat to get a balanced diet?" There are so many valid interpretations that aren't silly, but that may be impractical for you personally (cost, allergies), that the only possible answers run a high risk of being branded useless, even though they are valid answers given the question as stated.

I saw that your question had been edited, but I thought a more complete explanation might be useful.

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