My question was closed as inviting speculative answers. I'm willing to accept that; empirically this was true. I've decided against attempting to modify it to be fit for reopening.

In that scenario, how does the puzzling.SE community prefer the solution be shared?

  1. Do not share the solution. If a question was closed, you should not interact with it (unless trying to make it fit for reopening).
  2. Delete the question. At least that way, nobody else will be frustrated.
  3. Add a full explanation of the solution to the question via spoiler tag.
  4. Add a brief explanation of the solution to a comment via rot13.
  5. Something else.

I'll note that my understanding of the network rules strongly encourages approach 1. This is also the approach that most SE networks encourage.

For reference, the question was A Routine Doctor's Visit. If you favor approaches 1 or 2, you probably shouldn't read it.

  • $\begingroup$ Note that option #2 is not possible for that specific post because it has upvoted answers. $\endgroup$ – 41686d6564 Nov 20 '20 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ @41686d6564: Huh. Kind of weird that it has a "delete question" button in the close reason, then. $\endgroup$ – Brian Nov 20 '20 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ I've seen people using #3. Some examples: 1 2 3 $\endgroup$ – bobble Nov 21 '20 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble: That's what happens, but is that what the community wants? I'm not experienced enough with Puzzling.SE culture to know. I've seen plenty of SE sites where people don't want closed questions to receive answers. Though to be fair, on other SE sites an answer helps the asker, whereas on Puzzling it helps everyone else. $\endgroup$ – Brian Nov 21 '20 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ Haha, the irony! It's only on PSE where the asker is the only user who doesn't need the answer. $\endgroup$ – risky mysteries Nov 21 '20 at 2:32

If a question was closed, you should not interact with it (unless trying to make it fit for reopening).

Trying to make a closed post fit for reopening is not the only good reason to interact with the post. Grammar errors, typos, misleading tags, etc. should still be edited even though it doesn't make it more fit to be reopened. Discussion in the comments are also appropriate, if discussing appropriate matters, such as why the post was closed.

Delete the question. At least that way, nobody else will be frustrated.


Putting aside the fact that questions with answers that have a positive score can't simply be deleted by the OP, do you really think deleting all the answers that users have put time and effort into giving, won't make anybody frustrated? Even if the answers aren't the one you have in mind, they may still be plausible, and are valued.

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    $\begingroup$ Your point about comment interaction is valid. That being said, posting answers in comments (or in questions) is heavily discouraged throughout SE. Doing so because a question was closed strikes me as bypassing the closure system, which is even more questionable. $\endgroup$ – Brian Nov 21 '20 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian I know, that's why I left out the "Do not share the solution." part. $\endgroup$ – risky mysteries Nov 21 '20 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Brian FYI, answers in the comments are discouraged not because bypass the closure system; they're discouraged (although more tolerated in some sites than others) because answers simply belong in... well, answers. When an answer is posted in a comment, it loses a lot of features (it can't be edited, downvoted, it's subject to deletion at any time because comments are 2nd-class citizens, etc.) $\endgroup$ – 41686d6564 Nov 21 '20 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ Now, when the question is closed, you already can't write a full answer, so I don't see proposing a solution in the comments as an act of "bypassing the closure system". A question doesn't get closed in order to deprive the asker of receiving an answer. It gets closed because it's off-topic, duplicate, etc. $\endgroup$ – 41686d6564 Nov 21 '20 at 2:35
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    $\begingroup$ The reason why questions are closed is generally to stop an answer from being given. We don't want answers to off-topic questions, as that could encourage off-topic questions to be posted. We don't want answers to duplicate questions, as that would fracture the answers to that question across pages - all answers should go under the original. $\endgroup$ – bobble Nov 21 '20 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble: Yes. That first point is exactly why I suspect that answering my own closed question might be considered bad practice. $\endgroup$ – Brian Nov 21 '20 at 18:29

Sometimes I need to see the answers to a question in order to decide whether to upvote, downvote, flag or close-vote that question. This is a peculiarity of PSE which I haven't seen in other SE sites.

So I would say that it's fine to interact with the question to "prove" that it fits this community, even by adding your answer to it (remember the spoiler tags!).

This happened to my very first question here and I'm very glad me and @GarethMcCaughan managed to convince @Rubio to reopen the question.

EDIT: what can the community do as a whole in this situation?

As suggested in the information box: edit your post to try to make it fit for repoening. By the way that's not the only reason to interact with the post, as explained by @entionEveryone's answer. Another thing I want to suggest to the community is to wait a little bit before close-voting when the situation is dubious: maybe the accepted answer will clarify whether the question does fit PSE or not.

  • $\begingroup$ My question invited plenty of speculative answers. In hindsight, low-detail situation puzzles, unless easy enough to invite a fast solution, will do that. Even a strongly hinted solution isn't enough if the solution space is wide enough to permit arbitrary anti-solutions. In truth, my 2nd puzzle deserved closure just as much as my third; someone figured out the solution before it got that far (and the vote managed to go positive afterwards). I think the best way to do a low-detail situation puzzle is via a yes/no game, but that's (rightly) against the rules; it really only works in chat. $\endgroup$ – Brian Nov 24 '20 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ I am personally against "proving" a question fits the community via an answer, at least in the case that it is closed for inviting speculative answers. That my question has (IMO) a best solution doesn't change the fact that I didn't narrow the solution space enough to avoid speculative answers. I'm unsure how much of that is due to poor/ambiguous hinting vs frustrated users not trusting me to provide a decent solution; a distrust I probably deserve, given my second puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Brian Nov 24 '20 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian I agree but what you said holds only for most closed questions: you can easily tell whether or not they are duplicates or off-topic. But for the remaining (say) 2% dubious question I just prefer to see the accepted answer before close-voting (or to reopen-voting). Maybe we (the close-voters) have to wait a bit if unsure about the question instead of distrusting by default? I'm adding this to my answer. $\endgroup$ – melfnt Nov 25 '20 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ About the 2% "dubious" questions; I don't think that they should be closed at all. $\endgroup$ – risky mysteries Nov 25 '20 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ Personally, I agree with ention. However, I don't think that fits SE culture. The community had a choice: Push back hard (via close) on "what am I thinking" puzzles, or allow such questions. That "invites speculative guesses" is a close reason tells us what the community chose. Given the SE network's hatred of ambiguous questions, I don't think the Puzzling.SE's choice was flawed, despite not agreeing with it. Mind you, I don't think either choice would be flawed; Puzzling.SE doesn't have to be identical to the rest of SE. $\endgroup$ – Brian Nov 25 '20 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ @melfnt: I am not interested in editing the question to be fit for reopening. I can think of a few ways to accomplish that, but I dislike all of them more than I dislike having my question remain closed. I'm more invested in my puzzle as-written than I am in my puzzle being reopened. $\endgroup$ – Brian Nov 25 '20 at 18:35

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