Suppose a question is posted 3 days ago and it got decent number of up votes, say $5$ but did not receive any answer yet and not even comments which says some thing in direction of an answer..

In that case, Is it ok to bump the question by making a trivial edit?

It would be good if something like this happens automatically by community user. Does it happen?

I have asked this question $4$ days ago, it got $3$ upvotes, no comment.. I do not feel it is decent to make some trivial edit and bump the question.. I feel it would be good if something like this happens automatically.

If a question receives at least $5$ up votes and no answer, it should be bumped once in two days from 4 th day of posting that question.

  • My English is not good.. Please edit this question if you think it can be made better.. – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 6:43
  • You can find links to some basic info about the community user in the corresponding tag-info. It bumps question which have an answer, but no answer has positive score. A related older post on this meta: Auto-bumping of unanswered questions – Martin Sleziak Sep 2 at 6:51
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    mathoverflow.net/search?q=is%3Aq+score%3A5+answers%3A0 There are over 5700 questions with score at least 5, and no answers. If all of them are bumped once in two days, there will be no more new content on this site. How does that sound to you? – Asaf Karagila Sep 2 at 6:52
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    This past discussion seems related to the first part of your question: How to wake up an old question? (With the usual disclaimer that the two sites are different, I will add link to a related discussion on Mathematics Meta: How to grab users' attention on an old question?) – Martin Sleziak Sep 2 at 6:53
  • @AsafKaragila It sounds very bad :D :D I would not have asked that question if I knew there are even 1000 such questions... – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 6:57
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    BTW the opinion on bumping old questions probably varies a bit among MO users - just compare this answer which is rather on the opposite end. – Martin Sleziak Sep 2 at 7:01
  • @MartinSleziak I see those links but could not come to any conclusion.. As you said opinion varies so much among users here so can not conclude anything.. – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 7:09
  • @AsafKaragila I saw those questions randomly.. Most of them are unsolved research problems... I am not referring to that.. I am saying about questions whose answer is known or that can be answered but answer is not accessible to the one who asked it... Definitely a robot can not differentiate what is research problem.. Then, creating a tag "research problem" can make it little easier... What do you say? – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 7:16
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    How do you make the distinction between questions whose answer is known and not accessible? If I can prove a small claim that furthers someone's work, but they have no means of proving it, nor they know that I am the one who can help them. Does asking the question on the site mean what? You seem to miss the point of this website, and the fact that you can't know what questions are "unresolved research problems" until you've exhausted everything. – Asaf Karagila Sep 2 at 7:19
  • @AsafKaragila I agree that its hard to make distinction between questions whose answer is known and not accessible... I do not completely understand "If I can prove a small claim that furthers someone's work, but they have no means of proving it, nor they know that I am the one who can help them. Does asking the question on the site mean what?" this part of your comment... You said "You seem to miss the point of this website" but did not say what is the point of this website.. I would like to know... – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 7:26
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    If you want to prove X, and in the process you're stuck with claim Y. Not being your expertise, you have no idea if Y is even true to begin with. You ask Y on this site, and I notice it, perhaps it was something I figured out in passing a few years ago, and never published, maybe I did and you never read the paper, or maybe it's the first time I see it but I immediately recognize the solution. Is this question about Y considered "unsolved research problem", specifically considering the first and last scenarios? – Asaf Karagila Sep 2 at 7:29
  • @AsafKaragila If you know the answer and you see it, then you can write the answer.. It is no more "unresolved research problem"... I would like to say again that I understand it is hard to make distinction between questions whose answer is known and not accessible... I am only trying to make the situation better... Do you think adding some more restriction on the content make this question reasonable?? – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 7:39
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    Yes, but there are 5700 questions fitting your criteria, do you expect that all the users spend the next couple of weeks going over all of them and deciding if those are "unresolved research questions" or "questions whose answers are known"? That's ridiculous. I think that no bumping for sake of bumping should occur. Period. – Asaf Karagila Sep 2 at 7:40
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    @AsafKaragila Did I say it has to be done in next couple of weeks?? Or in a couple of months?? I did not say it has to be done immediately.. "Creating a tag and adding those questions to that tag whenever we see it" is also one way to address this situation... It can take a long time... It is not that has to be done immediately.. So, it is not that ridiculous... – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 7:44
  • You really seem to miss the point of the tagging system. And of this site, I guess. – Asaf Karagila Sep 2 at 7:45
up vote 7 down vote accepted

A likely effect of performing gratuitous edits (or ones perceived as gratuitous) is that you irritate a lot of people, some of whom will flag for moderator attention. A small handful of small edits may fly under the radar, or otherwise might be excused, but I'd say you have to be careful/thoughtful. (I think this is consistent with the answer given here, mentioned by Martin, to a slightly different question.) Indeed, some users have been known to exhaust the patience of the community with dozens of tiny edits.

I'd like to add a general rule of thumb: whenever you edit, you should make a good faith effort to catch as many blemishes as you can at that pass. Put slightly differently: holding a few blemishes in reserve for a future edit is, one could argue, a form of dishonesty.

I think that addresses your first question.

As for the proposal (set off in a gray box): I agree with Asaf in the comments that it's not a good idea, for reasons he mentions. From there the comment thread is largely about how to interpret a lack of response to a question that has been upvoted.

I see three likely explanations:

  • The question is so hard that even experts are stuck.

  • The question is not that hard, but people who could answer haven't seen it yet.

  • People who could answer (if they wanted) have seen it, but for one reason or another they have not been moved to reply.

If it's the first scenario, patience is required. Hopefully the question is both so interesting and so challenging that it will be upvoted a lot, so that someone will be motivated to answer and claim the prize.

In addition to crafting an interesting well-written question, precise and thoughtful tagging may lessen the chances of the second scenario. You can get a better idea of whether it's gotten good attention by looking at page view numbers, more so than by counting votes in my opinion.

I would guess that oftentimes, we're actually in the third scenario, which is unfortunate. I regret to say that my own reaction to a lot of questions where I have some knowledge is a firm "meh" -- it could be that I think the question is lazy or poorly researched, or arguably/suspectedly below the level of the site, or too tedious, or maybe even too rebarbative (e.g., the OP seems likely to want to argue with me) -- whatever the reason, I may feel that the question is, for me, not worth the bother of putting together an answer. If others feel the same way, than generally speaking, small edits are not going to cut it in this case, and could very easily backfire.

Just as in writing papers, in many cases you can't make people get interested unless you explain why it's interesting, or why an answer is so important. I apologize if this advice sounds like boilerplate, but in my opinion the advice is not heeded nearly as much as it should be. Giving background can help a lot. Giving evidence of trying hard to find the answer yourself can help a lot. If knowledgeable people see that you've been knocking your head against a wall for an hour or more without success, and tried hard to ask a question with care (even down to small details), then the chances are much better you'll be lent a sympathetic hand.

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    There are also the cases where the question changes significantly more than once, so the idea of the question becomes a quickly moving target. I do my best to ignore users who have done that and caused answers and contributed comments to appear less relevant. Gerhard "Worse Than Attention Seeking Editing" Paseman, 2018.09.02. – Gerhard Paseman Sep 2 at 14:46
  • A very good point, Gerhard, even though that doesn't fall under the umbrella of bumping with small edits. – Todd Trimble Sep 2 at 14:58
  • “I do not feel it is decent to make some trivial edit and bump the question..“ I said that I do not want to make any edits.. I fail to understand your first paragraph... I did not propose I will edit, I even said I do not want to edit.. with no edits I want the question to bump in main page... – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 15:25
  • @GerhardPaseman I could not see how it is relevant here but I also agree that type of edits are a bad practice.. – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 15:31
  • I completely agree with “holding a few blemishes in reserve for a future edit is, one could argue, a form of dishonesty” and “If others feel the same way, than generally speaking, small edits are not going to cut it in this case, and could very easily backfire”... – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 15:33
  • I will keep in mind your suggestion “Giving background can help a lot. Giving evidence of trying hard to find the answer yourself can help a lot. If knowledgeable people see that you've been knocking your head against a wall for an hour or more without success, and tried hard to ask a question with care (even down to small details), then the chances are much better you'll be lent a sympathetic hand.” Thanks for this... – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 15:36
  • As Martin has mentioned, this sometimes happens by the system. Again, there are issues with how often and with how many questions this should be done. I recommend against making edits lacking substance; new appearances of a question should indicate new and substantial modifications, particularly answers or new formulations relating to the original question. Gerhard "What Has Posting Done Lately?" Paseman, 2018.09.02. – Gerhard Paseman Sep 2 at 15:40
  • @PraphullaKoushik Your first comment is confusing. First: whom are you quoting? Second: you explicitly asked in your question, "In that case, Is it ok to bump the question by making a trivial edit?" That was your first question I was replying to. – Todd Trimble Sep 2 at 15:41
  • @ToddTrimble My first comment was for you.. I am bad at English so could not convey my idea properly... I did said that “In that case, Is it ok to bump the question by making a trivial edit?” then I said “I do not feel it is decent to make some trivial edit and bump the question”.. I want to say even if something like that is allowed, I do not want to do that.. – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 15:45
  • Well, I still answered your first question in that case, so there you go. If you don't think I should have answered that question, then you shouldn't have asked it. – Todd Trimble Sep 2 at 15:56
  • @ToddTrimble Yes, I agree with that..your answer gave an idea of how to ask better question.. Mainly the last paragraph... I have to keep this in mind when writing a paper also..thanks.. – Praphulla Koushik Sep 2 at 15:59

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