I posted this as my first question. It's been marked a duplicate of this question. However, I'm having trouble with the answers on the original, and I would like to get some clarification on that question's page. Unfortunately, since the duplicate was my first question on the site, I don't have sufficient reputation to comment on the original question, which is presumably where such discussion is supposed to take place.

I'm not at the level where I can hope to accrue reputation by answering questions — most of this stuff goes way over my head!

So my question is: what do I do next? Is there any way round this other than trying to find low-hanging fruit to answer?

And my suggestion is: users with <50 reputation should be able to comment on questions they've duplicated! :-)

3 Answers 3


Because you lack the reputation to comment everywhere, one route would be to post an additional "answer" to the question you can't comment on. Indicate that you know that your "answer" normally should be a comment, but that your rep is too low. (Your "answer" probably will be converted into a comment at a later point by a moderator.)

A second approach is to frame your request for clarification into a new question that provides a link to the original question. A follow-up question won't be marked as a duplicate.

EDIT: As I was the person who cast the first closing vote on your question, let me add this: Your question was good and deliberate -- it just happended to "cover the same ground as an earlier question". I knew this because I provided one of the answers to this question (the one using biblatex). Stefan Kottwitz was the author of the "non-biblatex" answer (this is the way you seem to prefer), and I'm sure he will be extremely helpful when you post a "comment answer" or ask a follow-up question.

  • Hi lockstep, thanks for your patience with me! :-) I'll post a follow-up "answer" on the original question.
    – mike
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 23:49
  • 3
    I disagree with the first paragraph. I think the second paragraph is the correct way to do this, as we will need more information why the solution to the duplicate question doesn't work for you.
    – Caramdir
    Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 0:09
  • @Caramdir: I should have pointed out that I prefer the second approach (asking a follow-up question). However, in this special case (low-rep user wants to comment on a question that he was pointed to as his question was closed as a duplicate), a "comment-answer" would be legitimate.
    – lockstep
    Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 0:21
  • 3
    My comment "answer" started to get out of hand, so I've just posted it as a new question. Thanks again!
    – mike
    Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 0:24

Hello Mike, and welcome to TeX-SE!

First off, I'd like to apologize for your (seemingly) negative first experience with the site -- I can assure you we're a civilized bunch, and (I hope!) are considerate with new users which are not sure how Stack Exchange sites function.

To your question:

I would suggest that you edit your question (you should still be able to do that, even when it's closed), and include a link to the question that was marked as a duplicate to yours, and request specifically a clarification how the suggested answer works, or mention whether for some reason the solution doesn't work for you, and why. In this way people would know that you've done your due diligence and tried to work out a solution on their own and failed to do so -- hence the question.

On the question what to do next -- I can certainly understand your frustration. Here on TeX-SE there are questions of any level, from cookie-cutter beginner questions (and I don't say that derisively) to arcane TeX voodoo incantations. However, I personally learned a lot from reading questions and answers, and trying to learn something new all the time. At some point, you will be more confident and try to answer a question on your own, or contribute a useful remark. Ask some other questions you might have (do a quick search in case they have been already answered). Take it easy, and definitely don't get desperate that you can't understand what some questions are really about!

Finally, you can always drop in the chat (you do need a tiny bit of reputation, but not that much) for a quick short question if something is unclear.

At any rate, we're always happy to help people that would like to learn more about TeX and friends. Enjoy your stay!

  • Hi Martin, thanks very much for the welcome! Don't worry too much about my negative first experience: the community seems extremely friendly and my question is indeed a (near) duplicate! :-) I was just a bit stuck about what to do next. As @lockstep suggests, I'll post a follow-up "answer" in the original question, since that keeps everything on the same page for future users.
    – mike
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 23:48

One other thing that I think is worth pointing out is that questions that are closed needn't stay closed. So editing your original question to explain why the answers on the duplicate don't help you is a good thing to do as it can lead to your question being reopened. If you think that you've edited it enough to be distinct from the duplicate, you can flag it for moderator attention and one of the moderators can reopen it.

(The community also has the power to reopen it, it takes 5 votes to do so or one from a moderator. Given that people are probably less aware that a question is awaiting being reopened than they are of one that is in the process of being closed, I think that flagging for moderator attention is absolutely fine in this case.)

I notice that you now have 56 reputation so you should be okay to comment on the duplicate if all you are looking for is clarification.

Also, your suggestion of people with low rep being able to comment on the duplicate is a good one. But here isn't the place to make that suggestion. So I've posted it on meta.SO.

  • @Andrew: I was just going to write a similar answer. Good that you were quicker; I couldn't have worded it that well. I really think editing and reopening (by a mod) would have been the best course here. I think what we need is a good Building Block that can go with a close vote. Stefan has already suggested a bit, and one could add something like "If this post doesn't help you, please edit your question and explain in more detail what your problem is; then the question can be ..." What do you think? Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 9:29
  • @Hendrik: I agree. I always try to make that clear when I leave a comment on a potential duplicate. Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 9:39
  • @Hendrik: I've added a couple of suggestions to the text-building-blocks question. Feel free to polish them if you want. Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 9:44
  • @Andrew: Looks good, thanks. Somehow I'd like to have a reference question one could refer the user to in case the question does get closed. Then one could post a comment "If your question is closed and you still need help, don't worry, [here you'll find help what to do next]()." I wouldn't want to refer to the question here since the answers offer too many options. If you like the idea, I can post a new question here on meta. Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 10:57
  • @Hendrik: Sounds good, sounds also like one for that putative FAQ meta-meta-question we keep talking about and never getting round to (once I'm no longer a mod, I'll get on with it). Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 10:59
  • @Andrew: Ah, OK, you're only hiding. I already thought you didn't get notified of my prodding comments. And yes, that would indeed be one for that to-be-featured question. So I'll ask that "what do I do now" question sometime soon. Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 11:02

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