While observing new questions I have found this one: https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/376325/citation-with-see-or-cf. Which, as pointed out in the comments, was already asked by the same user. I have looked the profile of the OP and it seems that s/he asks this question for the third time.

Another example: How to solve "Missing delimiter (. inserted) \end{eqnarray*}"? and Miktex, tex studio, "Missing delimiter (. inserted)" the questions are the same from the same user.

Moreover, one user provides strange answers (which are sometimes not answers) with screenshots, but no code, which might be very confusing for new users:

The reverse engineering should be applied to the answers (produce .tex from .pdf).

My question may seem vague, but is anything to be done with the users who behave themselves like this?

UPDATE: One user today asked the question they asked two days ago. Latex typesetting and LaTeX file for matrix .

Seems like a typical situation I have discussed above, but this first one has got the score of -2, no answers and is on hold, while the question asked today has 4 upvotes and two answers with score +6 and +7.

There are two improvements in the second question: photo of do-it-for-me matrix is cleaner and a code was added as an MWE.

Why is this difference in up/down voting? The questions are really the same and are duplicates of each other, but have so different score.

  • I see only 2 questions from that user and the other one is blazej. Also under one of them s/he posted an answer but actually asking another question. They are told to ask a new question and that's what has been done. The answers are from other users. Code only answers are also answers also single line code answers are also answers. There is no policing needed. You can ask them to provide code/screenshot but that's where things should stop. New users are not meant to be taken as stupid people, they are just new users. That does not imply that they are new to TeX per se.
    – percusse
    Jun 22, 2017 at 22:17
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    @percusse I remember seeing three questions from one user, maybe some of them were deleted. Jun 23, 2017 at 17:42
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    Generally speaking, we have two kinds of users. 1) people procrastinating or answering for fun 2) people who don't procrastinate and have something real to do. Because the real things usually have a dead line, they need their answer fast. The first group cares bout the quality of questions and answers. The second just needs an answer to the current question. We are just like a regular help desk. The same questions will get asked time and time again and we are here to answer.
    – Johannes_B
    Jun 24, 2017 at 12:35
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    I agree with Johannes interpretation that there is a group of users that cares more about getting their answer than to create a good resource for future visitors. But that is not necessarily bad or a reason to treat people that ask such questions with contempt. The two questions from your edit convey different attitudes to me (even though nothing in the OP's attitude might have changed), the first question shows no real effort by the OP, the second question gives people something to start from and shows that the OP already did something to solve the problem.
    – moewe
    Jun 24, 2017 at 13:45
  • In general there is not a lot you can do about people asking the same question over and over again. Ideally if the first question is not good (cannot be answered properly), people leave comments and ask the OP to improve things, then the question gets answered and everyone is happy. Sometimes the OP does not get hints to improve their question or ignores them, if they really need the answer they will simply ask again. We then hope that the strategy works the second time round. If the one of the questions is abandoned, one could of course try to close it.
    – moewe
    Jun 24, 2017 at 13:51
  • Probably worth remembering that repeatedly asking 'poorly received' questions will eventually lead the 'back end' to ban questions from the user.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 24, 2017 at 17:52
  • @JosephWright are duplicates considered to be "poorly recieved"? Jun 24, 2017 at 17:54
  • @MichaelFraiman The full detail of the algorithm isn't public, but low votes (including downvotes) and closed/deleted questions are known to be involved, so it seems likely.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 24, 2017 at 17:57
  • @JosephWright thanx for clarification. I wonder if the heroes of my questions are banned or not (don't think I am evil, please). Jun 24, 2017 at 17:58
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    While the first mentioned question seemed to be a merely lazy do it forme job, the second was a proper question of type: I am trying to do his, i got a bit, but i cannot finish. The image was ok, no dirty keyboard, no buckles to the paper. To sum it up, just a regular week at the line.
    – Johannes_B
    Jun 25, 2017 at 6:35

1 Answer 1


I think you raise two unrelated issues.

The second one is a bunch of poor answers. There I think really the site is working as designed, the answers have few votes (negative total in some cases) which is the site's mechanism for distinguishing good from bad answers.

The first issue with new users repeat posting is very common . As happened in some of the cases that you link to, it is very common for a user to ask a poorly phrased question, or a question with no example, and to get a comment on the question saying that the question should be rephrased, or an example added.

It is not uncommon, or particularly unreasonable, that a new user addresses this by posting a new question rather than editing the existing one. It takes a while to get used to the editing concept and mechanisms in place in these sites.

When this happens no real harm is done, just leave a comment to the OP saying it would have been better to edit than ask a new question, then vote to close the older question as a duplicate of the newer improved one. Most of the questions that you link to have been closed in this, or similar ways already.

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    Why poor questions are only closed, not deleted? Jun 26, 2017 at 15:16
  • @MichaelFraiman that's the way the site is built, you get to vote to close or the OP can delete or for really serious abuse or spam you can flag and ask the moderator to delete. I think zero score closed questions get deleted by the system after a certain time. But the site mechanics apply to the whole of stackexchange nothing can be changed at tex.sx Jun 26, 2017 at 15:57
  • Thank you, I got it. Jun 26, 2017 at 15:58
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    @MichaelFraiman In some cases, you can vote to delete answers, however. You sometimes see this option when an answer is clearly spam or abuse of some kind.
    – cfr
    Jun 26, 2017 at 23:30
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    @MichaelFraiman For duplicates, 'poor' isn't quite the right term and they can help others with searching. For other cases, a poor question might still have useful answers. There is though a 'clean up' mechanism for low score, low traffic, closed questions.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 29, 2017 at 8:37
  • AFAIK, a Q gets auto-deleted if it's closed, score<=0 with no answers, and it's done after some time of non-activity.
    – yo'
    Jul 4, 2017 at 7:54

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