Recently a translation question was asked ("need translation of latin quote, pacis puella") that didn't show any research effort. This lead to a discussion in chat, where the question was raised – which close reason best applies to such questions?
I suggested "unclear what you're asking," but the text associated with that close reason is:
Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
That's sort of accurate – we did want additional details. But I believe the bigger reason for closing it was that it didn't show any effort; that is, no evidence of previous research was provided.
Up to now, we have consistently encouraged users to show their work; this was the point of the meta post How can I ask a translation or homework question? from very early in the site's history. But we have not extended that encouragement into a guideline or policy. That is, we haven't said, "If you don't show your work, your question will be closed."
My question here is, do we want to do that? Do we want to define some basic criteria for what kind of research must be done and communicated in new questions? Let me suggest that we focus on these points:
- Do we want to formalize a guideline in which we close questions that don't show research?
- If so, which types of questions would fall under the new guideline? Translation only? How about basic grammar questions? How about history of Latin questions?
- If so, broadly speaking, what kinds of resources would we expect users to check for each type of question?
If we go forward with this, we'll need to address other matters, like exact wording of the close reason and a resource list. But there's no sense in trying to cross that bridge before we get to it.
And finally, at the risk of making this question unbearably long, let me suggest the pros and cons that come to mind:
- A guideline makes it clear to the community what our standards are for questions that don't show research, which allows us to be more consistent in closing/reopening questions
- Establishing a guideline like this allows us the define a custom close reason, which would be more helpful to new users, as it would explain more exactly what they need to do to have their question reopened.
- If it's not done carefully, it can lead to many beginner questions being closed. Other Stack Exchange sites have guidelines like these, and they close many such questions.
So, what do you think? Let's discuss and see if we can come to agreement on what is in the best interest of this site!