I just got a notification that my old question

REVTex 4.2 bibliography missing space after first author name

was closed for lacking detail. Why did this happen? The question has a specific description of a problem I encountered which, as per comments, was also encountered by at least one other user.

If anything, the question just needs me to go back and convert the partial answer I left in a comment into an actual answer (which I can’t do because the question was closed).

  • 4
    Maybe consider adding a reproducible example to your question, see minimal working example with bibliography (MWEB) Apr 10, 2023 at 9:54
  • 8
    your question is lacking details like a minimal example. If you want that it is reopened, edit it to add the example, and then either wait if it gets reopen by review or ask a moderator. Apr 10, 2023 at 11:38
  • @UlrikeFischer: I’m unclear as to why this question would need a minimal working example. The answer to “why does REVTex leave out the space” is “a bug was introduced into the bst file between 4.1 and 4.2”.
    – RLH
    Apr 10, 2023 at 14:09
  • 6
    well sorry but without an example to test the issue and your suggested fix, I couldn't verify that the issue (still) exists and that your fix is the correct one and so wouldn't trust your answer. Apr 10, 2023 at 14:18
  • @UlrikeFischer: I've just gone back to my emails with the REVTex team and searched through their SVN logs. The bug was fixed in tug.org/svn/texlive/trunk/Master/texmf-dist/bibtex/bst/revtex/… (specifically the change to line 1580), which had not propagated to the system I was using at the time of the question. I don't think it's worth my time at this point to build an MWE for a historical bug, when the answer is "Make sure you're using the up-to-date bst version". Could we please re-open so I can make this an answer?
    – RLH
    Apr 10, 2023 at 15:06
  • 6
    @RLH: I've re-opened the question so you can post an answer. Note that "I don't think it's worth my time" is exactly the state of the current question, and why it hasn't received the attention you requested. In the future, please provide a minimal example that replicates your issue. It'll make the problem more consumable by the community to verify issues and provide possible solutions.
    – Werner Mod
    Apr 12, 2023 at 18:02
  • @Werner. Thank you. I agree on the general utility of MWEs (and in this case, had been constructing one after the initial comment indicated that this was not a problem across all REVTex installations -- once I tracked down the bug in the bst file, there was no reason to finish the MWE)
    – RLH
    Apr 12, 2023 at 23:31
  • 2
    Note that the question could also be closed for a different reason, i.e., because it was a solved bug: questions where the answer is "do an update" can be closed as per for example tex.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6001/…, however there has been discussion if this is a good idea in tex.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6988/… (as also mentioned by Dai Bowen below).
    – Marijn
    Apr 13, 2023 at 8:56
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    @RLH I know I'm late to the party but for future reference I'd like to mention that an MWE is still useful here: Say someone has an issue, finds your question, tries to solve it using your answer and it doesn't work. Did they do something wrong? Did your answer stop working? Using an MWE that should reproduce the problem that your answer solves would help to clear this up. On another note, I find it a bit strange that you deem the task of creating an MWE not worth your time, but you do deem writing an answer and engaging in this discussion here worth your and others' time.
    – schtandard
    Apr 20, 2023 at 14:18
  • @schtandard Prepping up an MWE with an outdated bst would take far more concentrated programming time to get right than what I anticipated would be a short discussion on “let me put in an answer to properly close out the question”. The scale of this discussion spiraled far out of proportion.
    – RLH
    Apr 20, 2023 at 16:40
  • @RLH Well, we can agree on that last point. Though I don't know what you expected when you posted this question. You got an answer and a dozen comments, which seems like a typical response.
    – schtandard
    Apr 21, 2023 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


I started the close voting on this question, this was done under the needs details or clarity basis.

Another user commented they were struggling to reproduce your issue, and asked if you could provide a minimal example, this comment seems a clear and reasonable request for more details which was not acted on. I have had no issues with references to two-author publications in revtex4-2 so upvoted that comment and, as three years seems ample time to provide more details, voted to close. The question simply does need more details, just a single bib entry would have helped rule some things out, while a compilable example would have led rapidly to package versions which was apparently the real issue.

Closing a question isn't permanent, a closed question that's edited will automatically go into the reopen review queue and normally be reopened if improved. It does seem (from additional information you are providing now) that there is a reproducible problem with a clear answer, that may lead to its being reopened as is. Given it's been reasonably closed as unclear though, I'm not convinced it's worth reopening just to post notification of a bug in a version of revtex that was on CTAN for a week four years ago. While such an answer would have been great while the question was open, I see nothing in the accepted nor the most upvoted answer to Questions which are bug reports, revisited to support reopening an unclear, closed question to post such an answer.

Your comment did not give any kind of solution, it just claimed to have tracked down the issue, nothing in it improved the question or evidenced that you had a genuine answer. When another user commented asking if you had solved the problem, you did not respond. It looked instead like you had abandoned the question, and that any future user would have been better off asking a new question, with more detail, as the close reason would hopefully encourage them to do.

  • I must have missed the other user’s comment when it was made. Could you please re-open the question so that I can provide the question with a real answer (that early versions of the apsrev4-2.bst file mistakenly replaced “space.word *” from apsrev4-1.bst with “word.space * *” which was fixed in rev 49751 of apsrev4-2.bst)?
    – RLH
    Apr 11, 2023 at 3:03
  • (Alternatively, what additional information do you want the question to have? An MWE isn’t relevant here — the problem only shows up if a buggy version of a specific bst file is present, which as I see it is answer-information, not question-information.)
    – RLH
    Apr 11, 2023 at 3:17
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    An example which compiles correctly on a current system is still a useful example if it reproduces the bug for the asker, it removes user error in input and points towards a bug, that may not be sufficient to answer, but would prompt for a log or \listfiles which would reveal package versions. In this case it sounds like \documentclass{revtex4-2} \begin{document} \cite{foo} \bibliography{bib} \end{document} along with a bib entry foo with authors A.Author and B.Buthor would have been sufficient when originally asked, at this point artificially specifying revtex 4.2b would also be useful.
    – Dai Bowen
    Apr 11, 2023 at 14:22
  • I have voted to reopen as is (although I stand by the close vote and am unconvinced reopening to add an answer specifying a bug report is worthwhile cf. tex.meta.stackexchange.com/q/6988), this will put it into the reopen queue but (like closing the question did) it will take five votes to reopen. Improving the question may increase the chance of getting those reopen votes. You could have sent the question to the reopen queue yourself with an edit to the question.
    – Dai Bowen
    Apr 11, 2023 at 14:23
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    Thank you for the vote to re-open. I maintain my position that preparing an MWEB for this problem, which has a distinct signature when it appears and has already been fixed by the developers, is not a good use of my time. I'm not sure I understand your reference to the 6988 question, as the accepted answer says that acknowledged bugs should get answers that say "This problem is a known bug and is fixed as of a given version", and providing such an answer is why I want the question re-opened.
    – RLH
    Apr 12, 2023 at 0:01

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