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Is it worth editing this question to make it less provocative and more TCS-centric ? In other words, if such edits (what kind?) were made, would the question be valuable ?

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    $\begingroup$ My current personal opinion about soft-questions is that soft-question are side questions for cstheory. They should be held to higher standards than usual questions (which are in TCS). I personally don't like when users who haven't contributed to the site ask soft-questions. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 12 '11 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ Suresh, maybe add a link to this discussion to the original question you locked. Kaveh, so you value a contribution differently based on who the contributer us? I have felt that some members here behave that way before, and I don't like it. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Dec 12 '11 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ I see your point, but I'm willing to bend a bit regarding soft questions, because unlike in the early days, we have many more content questions now, and the occasional soft question actually encourages participation (a "good" corollary of the bike shed problem) $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Raphael: done. $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ @SureshVenkat: Yes, it is worth editing the question to make it less provocative and more TCS-centric. I would be interested to read the answers. However, please see my comment on Raphael's answer. $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael, no, I don't value contribution differently based on who the contributer is. As usual you misstate what I wrote, reread the comment. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 12 '11 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ I would suggest that we simply close the question. In this case editing does not seem to be a good idea. If someone wants to ask a similar question from a different (more on-topic) perspective, they are of course free to do it. $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Kaveh. Soft questions should be rarer, and be held to higher standards. $\endgroup$ Dec 13 '11 at 0:21
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    $\begingroup$ Ok maybe I'll unlock it (the fact that the OP isn't here discussing this is not a good sign). Then people can vote. $\endgroup$ Dec 13 '11 at 0:25
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I fail to see where the linked question is provocative. It is maybe not rhetorically brilliant, but who of us non-natives can claim otherwise?

We have entertained broad questions regarding research practice before, for instance

I think we can conclude that the question posed is very relevant. If people think it is stated in too frank a way, too bad. I think it is just that: frank. Personally, I have no need for graciousness and/or political correctness in an impersonal discussion.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually I'd argue that graciousness is MORE important online, because it's hard to estimate tone and other nonverbal elements. $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ I agree in case of personal discussion. However, a question (on SE) is directed at nobody in particular. As long as it does not actively attack somebody, it is fine. There is no point in trying to step around all sensitive toes when you don't even know what kind of toes there are. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Dec 12 '11 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Raphael: The user who asked the question has a history of being argumentative, and, at least in one case, nasty (in my opinion of course). That may be hard for a non-mod to find because some of the material is deleted, but I remember it. I agree with your answer when it comes to questions in general, but there is this additional history, which at least the mods should bear in mind. $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ I understand why you would feel that way. However, how are users with a negative history supposed to "come back" if every new (appropriate) post of theirs is judged more harshly than objectively justified? Established members coming down on a question like that can easily antagonise further. (Somehow, the phrase "like a pack of wolves" came to my mind, but I know nobody did in on purpose.) $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Dec 12 '11 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ The point is that you exhibit a negative history, then the onus is on you to show that your current behavior is not so. We've had many users that got off to a rocky start and are now upstanding members :) $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ sidenote: cstheory is NOT a discussion forum! $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 12 '11 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh, we don't really enforce that. Once enough high-rep users want to discuss a question, it's ok, isn't it? $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Dec 13 '11 at 6:41
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure if I understand what you mean by "enforced" and "discuss". I try to avoid closing questions by mod powers as much as possible, it is up to the community to vote to close, as a user I would vote to close the question I think are not real questions but invitations to discussion. If you think a question is not real but an invitation to discussion you can express your opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 13 '11 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ ps: generally I don't have a high opinion of this kind of "but Y does X" arguments, the fact that police might not fine every pedestrian that crosses a red light doesn't give the right to others to cross on red light. If your point is that the community doesn't treat questions by different users the same way, it might be the case, but even if it is the case it is normal and realistically unavoidable. People normally act more favorably towards people they like. If it is a concern to you or there is a particular case that you have a strong opinion on it then you should start a new meta thread. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 13 '11 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ I merely want to point out that the community, our main decider, decides based on personal preference and mood, not policy. It is therefore not very meaningful or even fair to shoot down questions (allegedly) because of policy. If we were honest we would say "Sorry, many of our established users don't like your question, so please take it somewhere else." That won't make for a good "business" modell now, or would it? In this particular case, there seems to be an agreement that the question is interesting, so it should stand. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Dec 13 '11 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael, I would not say users "decide based on personal preferences and mood" whether to close a question or not, but these factors have an effect which is unavoidable. And as long as it is to a reasonable extent it is not a bad thing in my opinion. Anyway, I think this is a not the point of this meta question so I will stop here. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 13 '11 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ The question is provocative because it borders on implying that the community of theoretical computer scientists largely consists of immoral plagiarists. Our community may contain a few immoral researchers who exploit other people's research without giving them adequate credit, but they are a very small minority. $\endgroup$ Dec 18 '11 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterShor, I fail to see this implication, even approximately. Do you assume some situation triggered the question? $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Dec 18 '11 at 20:58
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I decided to turn my comment into an answer.

  1. cstheory is NOT a discussion forum.

  2. The main kind of questions for cstheory are questions in TCS. soft-questions can be acceptable (and I have expressed my opinion previously that I support including them in the scope), but they are not the main kind of questions for cstheory (e.g. they are acceptable as long as they are infrequent). soft-questions should be held to higher standards than non-subjective questions in TCS.

  3. I don't like when users who haven't contributed to cstheory drop by from time to time and ask subjective and controversial questions. IMO, these users should first contribute to cstheory by asking and answering questions in TCS before asking subjective and possibly controversial questions about TCS. soft-question about TCS which are not in the scope (e.g. if the answer to the question is so trivial that any researchers or graduate student in TCS would know the answer like this) then they are not suitable for cstheory.

  4. Finally, there are different types of soft-questions. In particular, when the question is a subjective one, it can be good subjective soft-question or a bad subjective soft-question. Bad subjective soft-questions should get closed directly. (and IMHO there was not a need for locking this question.)

See this post for more on the distinction between good subjective and bad subjective.

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    $\begingroup$ I locked it because the discussion was continuing in the comments and I thought it might be better to do it here. $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Suresh, I guessed that was the reason, but I think the usual practice was just using a comment to ask others to continue the discussion on meta. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 12 '11 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ No one ever listens :). $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '11 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Suresh, well, they sometimes do. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 12 '11 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ 5. I think this question fails almost all of 6 criteria in the guideline for subjective questions so I think we should close it. 6. If the OP edits it such that it becomes a good subjective question suitable for cstheory then it can be reopened. 7. Should others edit the question for the OP to make it acceptable? We don't have a policy on this though it has been controversial and some have expressed their opinion against modifying other users' questions. I think right now it is a personal decision, but I personally wouldn't edit the question in this case. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Dec 12 '11 at 22:32

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