Case study: How to obtain perfect greyness with TeX?

This question makes absolutely no sense to me. I left a comment asking for clarification. On MathOverflow, I would vote to close with little hesitation.

What's our convention going to be here? How long should I wait before voting-to-close?

To be clear (just in case that question does make sense to someone), I'm asking about the case where the question, as far as I can see, is so vague or contentless as to be impossible to even know where to begin (the one answer so far starts with "I guess you mean ..."). To make it into a proper question would involve completely rewriting it so there's nothing really lost in closing it and the person asking it again more clearly.

  • 2
    I say we wait a little. I also added a comment asking for clarification. If that happens the question can live and be answered. If we don't get a clarification (and then it remains unanswered) say for a day, we can then vote to close? Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 12:03
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    @Juan A. Navarro: I'd qualify the "unanswered". The answer to the question in question would not, as far as I'm concerned, protect it from being closed. People like to be helpful and will do their best to interpret a question in such a way that they can answer it, but we want to encourage people to answer focussed questions rather than vague ones. Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 12:08
  • Yes, agreed that it's still "unanswered". So let's wait and see what happens. Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 12:21
  • On SO, you're not expected to wait either. We can still set our own protocol for this site of course, but on this, it seems like SO and MO agree: just vote to close, and see what happens. It might get edited first, it might closed, it might get reopened.
    – jalf
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 12:06
  • I think the OP should at least be given a chance to fix the question before voting to close it. If she doesn't come with a more precise version, or doesn't come at all, then it's time for closing.
    – mpg
    Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 22:22
  • @mpg: Please note that this is a very old question that the "Community User" decided to float to the top. Commented Nov 4, 2010 at 7:53
  • @Andrew: Good point, I failed to notice. Thanks.
    – mpg
    Commented Nov 6, 2010 at 2:24

2 Answers 2


The question in question seems acceptably non-vague to me now.

But anyway: in general I would say that if it seems like the question could be edited to make sense, I'd leave a comment asking the poster to do so. Otherwise, there's no point in waiting to vote to close.


The question could have been better phrased, yes, but given that you know what 'greyness' refers to, it seemed to be to be acceptably easy to understand what was being asked.

The term is a jargon word, of course, but in the context of this site only moderately arcane, and omitting an explanation of the word is at least defensible. Do you mean, Andrew, that you were familiar with the term but thought the question was sufficiently ill-phrased to be closed? If not, then I think that simply not understanding a term is an inadequate ground to vote to close a question.

  • I had no idea what "greyness" was, nor could I easily see a way of finding out. Thus the question was exclusive in that someone who doesn't already know what's going on hasn't a hope of even finding out. Contrast a question about the package music15, it also didn't really explain much, but at least there was an easy link to follow to find out. The difficulty is that high-rep users and moderators will have to make decisions based on just what's in front of them and can't be expected to know everything. (ctd) Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 11:23
  • (ctd) so it's not just that I didn't understand a term, but that there was no indication that there was a term to be understood! There was no motivation, no background, nothing. Even had the term been one I did understand, I would still have regarded it as a very bad question. On MO, I would have voted to close without hesitation. Here, I'm still trying to get a sense of things. Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 11:24
  • The question is acceptably clear now. In its first form, even if it was not very clear, it was clear enough (or rather: not so unclear) for the first answer to correctly guess the meaning. The problem was assuming that everyone would know what "greyness" means, which was clearly fixable. So, the question was not a good candidate for closing IMO.
    – mpg
    Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 22:20

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