I wonder who on earth would be happy to read a series of long, boilerplate comments such as:

Welcome to cstheory, a Q&A site for research-level questions in theoretical computer science (TCS). Your question does not appear to be a research-level question in TCS. Please see the FAQ for more information on what is meant by this and suggestions for sites that might welcome your question. Finally, if your question is closed for being out of scope, and you believe you can edit the question to make it a research-level question, please feel free to do so. Closing is not permanent and questions can be reopened, check the FAQ for more information.

Please add some context/background/motivation for the question if you think the question is a research-level question and in Theoretical Computer Science's scope. You can find tips about writing a better question in our FAQ. For general level questions please consider posting on Computer Science.

I know, these comments partly came from another thread on meta, but this does not change the fact that they are stupidly long. Please do not use them.

Added: It is fine to argue that in theory, it should be possible to improve the templates to make it concise and to the point. I have seen this argument many times. In practice, no one has ever been able to make such an edit, and I think that there is a good reason why it is impossible. If you have time to argue the theoretical possibility, just edit the templates instead and have it done.

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  • $\begingroup$ I partially agree, but I think you should propose more snappe alternatives that get the point across. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 20 '12 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael: In my opinion, it is just wrong to use boilerplate comments. I am always trying to post the information which is necessary and sufficient for each context, and I do not think that this can be achieved by any boilerplate. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 20 '12 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ @TsuyoshiIto As regular users we see these comments all the time on poor questions and we think "why would OP ever read such a long information-less comment". This is because to us, it is a boiler plate and carries no new info. However, most OPs only receive such a comment once on their questions, so they don't have to reread it a bunch of times, so for them the comment is full of useful information. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Jul 21 '12 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Artem: Are you serious? Do you really think that anyone would read these long comments? I am afraid that newcomers are cleverer than you think. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 21 '12 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ @TsuyoshiIto Maybe they are also not as lazy as you seem to think $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 21 '12 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael: If you are too lazy to think what the right comment to post is, even newcomers know to ignore it. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 21 '12 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ I do not think a newcomer is happy to read such comments—after all, newcomers are certainly not going to be happy to see their questions closed—but I believe they will read the comments, even if the comments are a bit long. People certainly want to know why their question was closed, and if the only comment is a long boilerplate comment, they will read it. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Jul 21 '12 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Jukka: I would not come to a website again if my question only receives long comments which have nothing to do with my question. (After all, it is not the purpose of my life to adjust myself to a certain website.) But if driving newcomers away is the purpose of long comments which are missing the point, they are serving their purpose marginally well (not very well because they are usually ignored). $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 21 '12 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ @TsuyoshiIto: I can neither prove nor disprove this, but I think it an unfounded claim. So, yea, maybe. (For the record, over at cs.SE I do make up new comments for every situation. They are highly repetetive, however, and we have still few new questions every and I have time. I see why the guys here want to ease that task; there are even user scripts managing comment templates to increase moderation speed.) $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 21 '12 at 18:03

"stupidly long" appears to be a judgement - in which case you're expressing an opinion that you don't think people should use them ? I think it's good to have something people can use, but as long as you convey the relevant message, a shorter one is fine. Of course, you could also just EDIT the template provided in the other meta question to something shorter.

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  • $\begingroup$ (1) “People can use” for what? To drive people away by throwing long comments at them? They are not serving any good purposes. (2) As for editing, please see my comment to Raphael. It is not the matter of editing boilerplate. The idea of using boilerplate comments is simply wrong. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 20 '12 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ @TsuyoshiIto: I think Suresh means we can change the template people have been using. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 21 '12 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael: If you think that it is possible to solve the issue by the template, go ahead. As I said in a reply to your comment, I do not think that it is possible, because by the nature of boilerplate, boilerplate comments cannot be to the point. I do not know why I have to repeat what I said again and again. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 21 '12 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ @TsuyoshiIto Maybe because you had not made yourself clear. Your language suggested you opposed boilerplate comments, that is such with unnecessary verbosity. You did not seem to oppose the concept of a comment template in principle, so the conclusion you should be able do shorten them, given you thought they were overly verbose, was reasonable. It has become clear now that you use "boilerplate" to judge, not to describe the comments. Do I understand correctly that you think every comment should be tailored to the case? $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 21 '12 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael: Every comment should be suitable in the case. I do not think that you can pre-make suitable comments before seeing the situation, but if you think it is possible, just do it instead of arguing, and make everyone happy. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 21 '12 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ @TsuyoshiIto: I think you mistake the situation. You seem to have a problem, so I don't feel obliged to act at all. The comments are not great, but also not bad (imho). Sure, you can sit there demanding the mods make up a new comment every time. Maybe you are right. But if they don't appreciate the trouble, nothing changes. So, arguably, you can affect the situation more if you change the template. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 21 '12 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael: The current boilerplate comments are just terrible. Probably your sense of what is normal and what is not has been polluted by the fact that these terrible comments have been used repeatedly. Sad. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 21 '12 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ @TsuyoshiIto: Please read my comment without assuming. I am not defending the comments. I reject you going about demanding other people should invest time acting upon your request even though you are clearly not willing to do so yourself. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 21 '12 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael: Some people including you and Suresh basically criticized me of not being constructive because I expressed how bad the template is without editing the template. I explained why I cannot edit the template. Now you blame me for requesting you to edit the template without editing by myself? Unbelievable. My time should have been better spent. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 21 '12 at 21:52

You are right that the comment is long, but it was the result of long discussions taking into consideration various issues. You are welcome to suggest a shorter one. The comment is mainly intended for people who are relative new to the site and have not read the FAQ before posting a question.

I personally don't think the comment can be shorten much if it is going to consider those issues.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think that you are making the same mistake as arguing that because I like ice cream and I like sushi, it must be the case that I like the mixture of ice cream and sushi. Each of the components of these comments may be good in some cases, but it just does not work if you throw all of them into a fixed series of comments, trying to make all-round boilerplate. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 20 '12 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ Tsuyoshi, you are free to do whatever you wish. But if you want to convince others to the same, maybe a more constructive approach might be helpful ? $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Jul 20 '12 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi, your objection about using these comments seemed to be mainly about their length, I think you should edit the post to clarify your objection. I agree that there is some repetition in their content, but I think most of them are relevant when a new user asks a off-topic question. However, it might be better to have a separate one for those who are not new. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jul 20 '12 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ I personally don't see a problem with using one of these fixed comments. IIUC, your objection is based on the fact that sometimes a considerable part of these comments are not relevant to the situation. In that case I think the way to deal with the issue is having more options so we can select a comment containing only the relevant information. The situations that require these comments are quite frequent and the essential information needed in the comment does not vary that much. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jul 20 '12 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Suresh: I think that I am as constructive as possible. I am suggesting to avoid using boilerplate comments, because they are kind of scary and no one reads them anyway. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 20 '12 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ Kaveh: Preparing more options to eliminate unnecessary parts from the boilerplate is fine, if it is possible at all. I do not know how to do it because I have to think what I should write in a comment every time I post a comment (maybe I am bad at automating fixed processes :) ), but if you think that it is possible, please go ahead. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 20 '12 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi, it now seems to me that you have two separate points. The second is that the comments are too long and new users don't read them. I disagree with the claim, but I don't think we have much data to argue for or against it, so it seems to me that is a matter of opinion. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jul 21 '12 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi, regarding the other point (comments containing non-relevant information), it would help if you include a few examples in the question and explain the part you find non-relevant to the situation. Then I can try to modify the comments and create ones which have less non-relevant information. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jul 21 '12 at 21:51

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