Recently, I asked a question on comparing two geometric forms of the calculus of variations. It attracted two down votes and one commentator stated that in his opinion the question was too broad.

I pointed out that I was asking a quick orientating question rather than an in-depth question about these calculi. Moreover, I was looking for help from people familiar with both works.

A couple of days ago I answered the question in the comments. However, the question was closed.


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    $\begingroup$ I think the comments on the question told you why the question was closed. $\endgroup$ Oct 2 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ The question was closed as "missing details". After a commenter asked you to provide some more information, your answer was "The exposition is complex and not easily condensed in a post. I expected people familiar with the works to address my question and not people who have to look up definitions". You could have made some effort to slightly summarize these, maybe not giving a full account but giving some hint to the reader to make the question less obscure and not exclusively aimed at the few people that are familiar in the books you're mentioning in your post. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Oct 2 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @YCor: I explained my rationale to the commenter (Deane Yang) and they accepted that. I'm not going to explain that again, I've already explained in the post above. But since it appears that you have not read that closely, I will explain. I said it was a 'quick orientating question rather than an in-depth question about these calculi'. This was accepted by Deane Yang. I also pointed out that I answered this question myself a few days later, hence proving it was answerable. $\endgroup$ Oct 2 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: See my comment above. $\endgroup$ Oct 2 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ You have asked here, on meta, why your question on main was closed. I answered the question you asked here. Now it appears that you think the closing reasons were invalid. Fine, but that's a different topic altogether. I think you have a picture in your mind of what question you want to ask, both here and on main, but the question you actually ask is very different from the one you post. You think you are asking a "quick orientating question" (on main), but anyone reading it sees you asking for a detailed comparison of similarities and differences between two books, (continued) $\endgroup$ Oct 3 at 3:23
  • $\begingroup$ (continued) and that would be anything but quick. Moreover, it would require familiarity with two books, as you felt it was not possible to give any clue as to what was in the two books that puzzled you. So, I think you know now why the question on main was closed. Are we done here? $\endgroup$ Oct 3 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: I'm querying the reason why it is closed because the Deane Yang was the only one who felt the question lacked detail. But when I explained my reasons for writing the question as I did, Deane Yang accepted that reason. So, no, we are not done. Moreover, I answered the question myself in the comments, so proving that the question as is can be answered. So again, we are not done. $\endgroup$ Oct 3 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ You proved the question in your head could be answered. You didn't prove the question you posted could be answered. But, anyway, since you have answered the question to your satisfaction, why do you care about the question being closed? $\endgroup$ Oct 3 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: If you look at my comments to the question, you will see I say "I am going to flesh out this into an answer". 'Going to flesh out' is in the future tense - and how can I add an answer if it has been closed down. Notice that comment got an upvote. By adding it as an answer, it would have been available to people to vote on and so, as you put it, my answer would not be in my 'head'. You are really painting youself into a corner here, there is no good reason for closing down this question. Hence, I think it is ad hominem - that os shooting the messenger rather than ... $\endgroup$ Oct 3 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Anderson: ... rather than taking note of the message here - or rather, here, the question. $\endgroup$ Oct 3 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ Five users voted to close your question (and I was not among them), so there must have been a good reason for closing it. Currently, three users have voted to reopen, so you may get your chance to post an answer. Another alternative that is open to you, there is a way to post a (new) question and at the same time post your answer to the question. I forget exactly how that works. But it's probably worth waiting to see whether enough users vote to reopen. $\endgroup$ Oct 4 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: Given that there are three votes to re-open and that Deane Yang accepted my reasons for posing the quesyion as is, I feel I'm entitled to ask why the question was closed. None of the reasons given seem particularly valid to me. $\endgroup$ Oct 5 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ You keep saying Deane Yang accepted your reasons. Here's what Deane actually wrote: "This site is meant to be for more specific and focused questions. Yours is too broad. Perhaps there is someone who is familiar with both books and can provide a summary. But there are also many experts who might not have read both books or have read them but do not have copies readily available. So I would suggest that, after you have studied them more carefully, you can post more speccific questions." Note also that Deane was one of the five who voted to close. $\endgroup$ Oct 5 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: Well, I'd forgotten the full slant of what he said. But I recall he begins with "I see." In other words he understands my argument. This I see is something you have left out of your quote although it begins the extract that you quote and also the comment itself and is merely two short words. I didn't bother responding to his assertion that my question was "too broad", because by then I had worked the answer myself. Thus proving his assertion false. Of course it would be more widely accepted that his assertion was false had the question remained open and not so ... $\endgroup$ Oct 5 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ Understanding your argument $\ne$ agreeing with your argument. $\endgroup$ Oct 5 at 23:36

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