# How could I have better clarified my question?

I seem to keep getting my posts put on hold in various stack exchanges because it's "unclear what I am asking." How can I do better to prevent this? Specifically right now I'm asking about this question.

Edit: The linked question has been reopened.

• Good question. At least Robert Israel seemed to find it clear enough, so it would be nice to hear from the closers (at least one of whom I think has some relevant expertise). If this question doesn't garner enough attention in the next 1-2 days, perhaps it can be brought up here: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/223/requests-for-reopen-votes
– Todd Trimble Mod
Sep 20, 2015 at 17:08
• I don't know why that question should be unclear. -- In any case I voted "leave open" in the review queue, and now I have just cast the first vote to reopen.
– Stefan Kohl Mod
Sep 20, 2015 at 20:17
• Thanks for you guys' help. However, how can I prevent things like this from happening in the future? I sometimes just get these random close votes when there doesn't seem be be reason for them and it's frustrating and seems arbitrary. Sep 21, 2015 at 3:49
• You are welcome. -- Maybe you could have avoided people voting to close if you would have said more explicitly that you are interested in all possible choices of the $p_i$ such that the expected number of turns is $t$ (cf. Nate Eldredge's comment). -- What do you mean by saying that you "sometimes just get these random close votes"? -- As far as I see, your only other question on MathOverflow has score +10, is open and has no pending close votes.
– Stefan Kohl Mod
Sep 21, 2015 at 8:52
• So maybe you can get better information if you ask in the meta of a forum where you got multiple close votes. Sep 21, 2015 at 12:55
• Makes sense, and yes I can see why it was confusing. I hope it's clarified now, and will do best to be more formal in my descriptions in the future. I appreciate all the help. Sep 21, 2015 at 18:03

I'm late to the party, so I have undoubtedly missed something. My two cents might be worth a little more than two cents though.

The problem was marked unclear when the basic parameter $n$ was marked as a real number. While it is possible to frame the problem this way (and assume $p_t$ is 0 for all but countably many $t \in (0,n]$ ), it is more natural and to me more clear to have $n$ as a parameter and $i$ vary over finitely many values. The question was closed before this parameter was changed to a natural, and reopened after this change.

I am not aware of your history on other fora. Repeating Gerald Edgar's advice, I recommend asking on the meta for forum X about a question that was closed on forum X. Although there may be a common reason, the different fora have different standards and thus you may need to "rub different colors of mud on your navel" to have the questions accepted.

Also remember: your question being closed does not mean it is a bad question. It means it was asked in the wrong place, or in the wrong way. Also, sometimes the close reasons don't always sync up with the whole community perception: this is a known flaw of the system, and suggestions for improvement are welcome. (Keep in mind, much of the whole community does not read your question.)

Gerhard "How Many Read This Signature?" Paseman, 2015.09.21

• Okay, that makes sense now. Thanks =) Sep 21, 2015 at 18:01
• I'm envisaging a signature of the form [first] "rub different colors of mud on your navel" [last] [date] :-) Sep 21, 2015 at 23:44
• Go for it, David! Gerhard "Encourages Others To Reinvent Themselves" Paseman, 2015.09.21 Sep 21, 2015 at 23:51
• A way to hide from searches for "Gerhard Paseman". Sep 22, 2015 at 14:33
• @Gerald: Not quite, since the string "Gerhard Paseman" literally appears in every post. It's the username! :-)
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Sep 22, 2015 at 14:47
• Good point. I remember a while back Gerhard had "ask me about ..." in his actual username, and that did prevent some searches. Sep 22, 2015 at 14:56