# Reference: templates for common comments

The purpose of this post is to aggregate several templates for comments useful for the daily moderating of the CS site, e.g., informing the user (usually, new user) when their question is off-topic / un-clear / etc, suggesting wht they should do next.

One should be able to copy-paste a comment from answers below according to the specific situation.

Here is a list of the templates we have:

### Form

For those of you who use the AutoReviewComments userscript for convenience, I maintain a file with the comments below. Use the URL

https://gist.githubusercontent.com/reitzig/7ca05408f53292505294/raw/def-comments-csSE.json

which you can import as seen here:

If this does not work for you (doesn't for me anymore), import the equivalent Markdown (pretty view) manually by copy-pasting it into the import/export box.

Note:

• I left out "welcome" parts intentionally. The script adds a welcome message by default if the user is new.
• The URL continues to work when I (or anybody?) updates the file, but you will have to "get now" after an update (which will coincide with updates to this thread) or check "auto-get".
• If you use a script blocker, you need to allow raw.githubusercontent.com and gist.githubusercontent for "get now" to work.

# Off Topic (migrate to StackOverflow)

Welcome to [cs.SE]! Your question is off-topic here: we deal with computer *science* questions, not programming questions (see our [FAQ]). Your question might be on-topic on [SO].

## Alternative for bad programming questions:

Welcome to [cs.SE]! Your question is off-topic here: we deal with computer *science* questions, not programming questions (see our [FAQ]). Your question might be on-topic for [SO], however you may need to clarify it. You can revise your question to improve clarity and re-post it on [SO].

This last one should probably be adapted/complemented to explain what is wrong with the post.

This question is clearly off-topic for this site. Instead of answering here, _flag_ the question as off-topic and/or request a mod to migrate to [SO]. You can also inform the question asker that this is off-topic here (and where the question should go!). Feel free to answer the question after it has migrated/moved to the appropriate site

Should be used for answers to an obvious programming question. The reason answering obvious off-topic questions is a bad idea is because it gives the image to newcomers that such questions are fine to ask here, while they're not. There's a reason SO and CS.SE are different sites and that is to ensure the unique needs of both communities, which differ a lot.

• Note that we now have a custom off-topic closing reason for such questions now, so this comment should not be needed anymore.
– Raphael Mod
Nov 8 '13 at 11:54
• @Raphael I've added another potentially useful comment related to programming questions. Would you mind proofreading/improving it?
– Discrete lizard Mod
Feb 22 '18 at 10:23
• @Discretelizard I like it, thanks!
– Raphael Mod
Feb 22 '18 at 11:17

# Question Unclear / close until edited

Thank you for posting this question. Unfortunately, your question is unclear, and it is very unlikely anyone could answer it without further details. In particular, [type here]. We will put the question on-hold for the time being, but you will still be able to edit and improve it. Once you clarify the question you can flag it to get our attention. See our [FAQ#close] for further details!

(make sure to explain what details should be added, or how the question should be improved)

• Without further explanation, this is a winded way of saying nothing. Hence, I'm shortening the niceties and including a placeholder for question-specific information.
– Raphael Mod
Jan 19 '16 at 14:34

# When we have a reference question dealing with the same topic

Welcome to [cs.SE]! Your question is a very basic one. Since you [did not include much of an attempt to solve it on your own](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/594), we have little to work with. Let me direct you towards our [reference questions](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/599) which cover your problem in detail. Please work through the related questions listed there, try to solve your problem again and edit to include your attempts along with the specific problems you encountered. Your question may then be reopened. Good luck!

Welcome to [cs.SE]! Your question is a very basic one. Since you did not include much of an attempt to solve it on your own, we have little to work with. Let me direct you towards our reference questions which cover your problem in detail. Please work through the related questions listed there, try to solve your problem again and edit to include your attempts along with the specific problems you encountered. Your question may then be reopened. Good luck!

(Written by Raphael in the Reference Questions thread)

### Project topics, course selection, etc.

For users with enough reputation (20+) to use chat

Welcome to [cs.se]! Unfortunately, your question is not a good fit for the Stack Exchange format. We prefer questions that have objectively correct answers that will be useful both to the asker and others who have the same question in the future. What is or is not a suitable topic for study, projects or research is very much a matter of opinion and depends crucially on the interests and skills of the person who will be doing the work and the support that will be available to them. We might be able to give some advice in [chat] but this is a question that you should be asking your professors.

Welcome to Computer Science! Unfortunately, your question is not a good fit for the Stack Exchange format. We prefer questions that have objectively correct answers that will be useful both to the asker and others who have the same question in the future. What is or is not a suitable topic for study, projects or research is very much a matter of opinion and depends crucially on the interests and skills of the person who will be doing the work and the support that will be available to them. We might be able to give some advice in chat but this is a question that you should be asking your professors.

For users who cannot use chat

Welcome to [cs.se]! Unfortunately, your question is not a good fit for the Stack Exchange format. We prefer questions that have objectively correct answers that will be useful both to the asker and others who have the same question in the future. What is or is not a suitable topic for study, projects or research is very much a matter of opinion and depends crucially on the interests and skills of the person who will be doing the work and the support that will be available to them. This is a question that you should be asking your professors.

Welcome to Computer Science! Unfortunately, your question is not a good fit for the Stack Exchange format. We prefer questions that have objectively correct answers that will be useful both to the asker and others who have the same question in the future. What is or is not a suitable topic for study, projects or research is very much a matter of opinion and depends crucially on the interests and skills of the person who will be doing the work and the support that will be available to them. This is a question that you should be asking your professors.

• think project ideas are much different than course selection. in either case also would recommend a link to Computer Science Chat and mention that regulars hang out there to chat on misc topics & offer ideas in a less strict/ more informal, & sometimes even collegial atmosphere.
– vzn
Jan 9 '15 at 6:15
• @vzn Good point about chat -- thanks! Jan 9 '15 at 12:03

## List question

We don't have a strict policy for list questions, but there is a [general dislike](http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/real-questions-have-answers/). Please note also [this](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/20) and [this](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/145/) discussion; you might want to improve your question as to avoid the problems explained there. If you are not sure how to improve your question maybe we can help you in [chat]?

Renders:

We don't have a strict policy for list questions, but there is a general dislike. Please note also this and this discussion; you might want to improve your question as to avoid the problems explained there. If you are not sure how to improve your question maybe we can help you in [chat]?

• When using this, please bear in mind that new users can't use chat (reputation less than 20). Sep 15 '14 at 21:09
• the cited se blog says nothing about "list questions" and has a large list of general criteria. specifically what criteria does a so-called "list question" fail under? and what is a definition of a so-called "list question"?
– vzn
Sep 16 '14 at 15:52
• @vzn A list question is one that invites a list of answers, where each entry of the list is equally valid and where knowing just one of the entries doesn't give the full picture: for example, "What books are recommended for topic X?" as distinct from "How do you prove Y?" (OK, there might be multiple different proofs, but you only need one proof to establish the truth of Y). The blog doesn't use the term "list question" but it does say, "Real question have answers, not items" [emphasis in original], which seems to say that lists aren't "real questions". Oct 19 '15 at 16:06

Your question already includes a complete answer to the original problem but no question *about* this answer. Thus, only "yes/no" answers may remain, helping neither you nor future visitors. Please read related meta discussions [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/597/) and [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/519/) and adjust your question accordingly, e.g. by formulating a specific question about a single element of your answer you are uncertain about. If you just want general feedback, you are welcome to visit us in [chat].

When using this, please bear in mind that new users can't use chat (reputation less than 20).

Alternatively, here is another possible variant that might explain what we want them to shoot for and elaborate on how to improve the question:

We discourage "please check whether my answer is correct" questions, as only "yes/no" answers are possible, which won't help you or future visitors. See [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/597/) and [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/519/). Can you edit your post to ask about a specific conceptual issue you're uncertain about? As a rule of thumb, a good conceptual question should be useful even to someone who isn't looking at the problem you happen to be working on. If you just need someone to check your work, you might seek out a friend, classmate, or teacher.

We discourage "please check whether my answer is correct" questions, as only "yes/no" answers are possible, which won't help you or future visitors. See here and here. Can you edit your post to ask about a specific conceptual issue you're uncertain about? As a rule of thumb, a good conceptual question should be useful even to someone who isn't looking at the problem you happen to be working on. If you just need someone to check your work, you might seek out a friend, classmate, or teacher.

You may want to post this under any answers:

Please consider not to encourage [undesirable posting behaviour](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/519/questions-about-correctness-of-a-solution).

Please consider not to encourage undesirable posting behaviour.

# Simple answer to famous problem

You are claiming to have a solution for a well-known, difficult open problem. This is [an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcello_Truzzi#.22Extraordinary_claims.22). You have not provided such so there is not much to talk about. Even if you had, this would not be a good post for SE; it is not our goal here to make broad advances to science in a single post. See [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/109/how-to-deal-with-questions-about-crank-heavy-topics) for a related discussion.

You are claiming to have a solution for a well-known, difficult open problem. This is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. You have not provided such so there is not much to talk about. Even if you had, this would not be a good post for SE; it is not our goal here to make broad advances to science in a single post. See here for a related discussion.

### We have MathJax

Welcome to [cs.SE]! Note that you can use LaTeX here to typeset mathematics in a more readable way. See [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/271/add-short-reference-for-latex-commands) for a short introduction.

Welcome to Computer Science! Note that you can use LaTeX here to typeset mathematics in a more readable way. See here for a short introduction.

# A duplicate by a new user / use the search

Hello and welcome to [cs.SE]! We already have questions very similar to yours in our database. In order to avoid duplicates, we will close this question and refer to the already existing question. You can also use the search feature (see our [FAQ#searching]) to find other Q&A which might help. If your question is still unanswered by then, you should be able to improve this question with your findings, that is edit it and flag for reopening.

Hello and welcome to [cs.SE]! We already have questions very similar to yours in our database. In order to avoid duplicates, we will close this question and refer to the already existing question. You can also use the search feature (see our [FAQ#searching]) to find other Q&A which might help. If your question is still unanswered by then, you should be able to improve this question with your findings, that is edit it and flag for reopening. This should be followed with the standard "duplicate" message and a link to the duplicate.

## A simple alternative: Use the search

Hi! these are fairly simple/known questions, and they (or variants thereof) have already been asked on this site. Please use the search engine to find similar questions and answers.

Hi! these are fairly simple questions, and they (or variants thereof) have already been asked on this site. Please use the search engine to find similar questions and answers.

Should be followed with a duplicate notice (if you can find one) or close as "unclear" if you can't spend the time to do the search for the OP.

• I don't think I have ever used this, or seen it used. Duplicates are best made explicit by closing as duplicate, and then the comment is obsolete. Telling the user to search (better) is not very constructive.
– Raphael Mod
Jan 19 '16 at 14:34

### Crossposts

Add the name of the other site inside the brackets and a link to the other copy of the question inside the parentheses:

[Also posted on ](). Please [do not post the same question on multiple sites](https://meta.stackexchange.com/q/64068). Each community should have an honest shot at answering without anybody's time being wasted. If you don't get a satisfying answer after a week or so, you may flag to request migration.

Also posted on Panda Stack Exchange. Please do not post the same question on multiple sites. Each community should have an honest shot at answering without anybody's time being wasted. If you don't get a satisfying answer after a week or so, you may flag to request migration.

In addition, when you see a cross-post, please flag or vote for closure on the site where you think the question is least appropriate.

• If the question is off-topic on one of the sites, close as off-topic.
• If the question is on-topic on both sites but has better answers on one of them, close on the site which has no worthwhile answers.
• If the question has useful, non-redundant answers on both sites, flag to request a migration and then a merge on the target site.
• This seems to be giving bad advice: reposting is not OK under standard StackExchange rules, not even if you didn't get a satisfying answer after a week. See meta.stackexchange.com/q/64068/160917. There are other ways to try to seek extra attention for a question. Maybe I suggest we delete the "or repost" part of this template, and delete the last sentence, so we're not encouraging people to violate StackExchange policy? Any objections?
– D.W. Mod
Feb 12 '15 at 12:07
• @D.W. Hum. You are somewhat right, but I happen to see things slightly differently (within the spirits of the rules as I see it). It may just be that the "repost" is there because we can't migrate questions that are too old. Interdisciplinary questions are, however, the real "issue". Can you drop by in Computer Science Chat to discuss this?
– Raphael Mod
Feb 12 '15 at 12:53
• if se wants to uniformly reject crossposts then they would put in some mechanisms that better track cross-site questions/ duplicates, but they dont have such a feature. that top answer on META does not address at all questions that were not answered on a site, but are halfway decent quality, and seems to imply that any questions that werent answered on a site were of poor quality (blaming the questioner). the 2nd answer by site CEO Atwood says there are gray areas in which one can delete & repost. at least, put links to each in comments....
– vzn
Feb 12 '15 at 16:12
• I want to renew my discomfort with stating "If you must repost on a different site, ...". That's ambiguous and suggests that it's OK to cross-post if the poster really wants to. You just know that some people are going to think "I must, this is absolutely important to me!". (To the extent that people think they are an exception or want more clarification, I think all that is covered by the link to Meta.SE, but that's an exceptional case at most.) I apologize that I can't join you in chat due to browser issues on my part.
– D.W. Mod
Apr 22 '15 at 16:23

This comment can be used after a question has been closed that asked for grading (i.e. validating) a solution to a homework(ish) problem.

This question appears to be unsuited for this site because questions of the form: "This is the exercise problem, this is my solution. Please grade!" are not interesting for anyone but you. Please see [this related meta discussion](http://meta.cs.stackexchange.com/q/597/), and [these hints](http://meta.cs.stackexchange.com/q/1284/) on asking questions about exercise problems. If you want to ask a *specific* question about a *specific* part of your attempt, please edit the question accordingly and it may be reopened. Otherwise, you might want to visit [chat] and get some feedback there.

When using this, please bear in mind that new users can't use chat (reputation less than 20).

• That's funny. On one hand, when people ask trivial questions we reply with a comment saying "What did you try". When they write what they tried (and in this case, got it right) we tell them we don't grade solutions. So practically, it seems we ban HW questions, right? Jun 3 '13 at 5:33
• @RanG. I think you should take that to the linked discussion. My proposal (as yet uncontested) is to allow questions that contain a focused question about their attempt, not blanket "Is this correct?" stuff (hence the phrasing of this comment; elaborating a bit).
– Raphael Mod
Jun 3 '13 at 7:01
• here after again pointed by Ran. differentiation of homework from nonhomework seems like virtually a very difficult AI classification problem that expert humans would have difficulty with and not even with clear boundaries.
– vzn
Jun 23 '15 at 23:08

# Source Code

Applies when a user dumps real programming language source code without need:

Please get rid of the source code and replace it with ideas, pseudo code and arguments of correctness. See [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/64/) and [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/390/) for related meta discussions.

Please get rid of the source code and replace it with ideas, pseudo code and arguments of correctness. See here and here for related meta discussions.

### Mathematics Questions

We entertain mathematics questions if and only if there is a direct relation to computer science. In the best case this connection is layed out in the question. Other usually accepted cases are such where there is a common agreement that a particular field is of central relevance in CS (and probably more so than in mathematics) or the area is even located at the of CS (instead of the mathematics) department in some places; examples are and .

In all other cases -- that is mathematics questions without explicit or implicit relation to CS -- we should close and migrate math.SE. This includes exercise-type problems that a CS student would face in a mathematics course!

This is a pure mathematics question without any obvious relation to CS (despite being part of a foundational mathematics curriculum for CS students). Hence, it belongs on [math.SE]. Please flag this question for migration, or delete and repost there.

This is a pure mathematics question without any obvious relation to CS (despite being part of a foundational mathematics curriculum for CS students). Hence, it belongs Mathematics. Please flag this question for migration, or delete and repost there.

Moderator version:

This is a pure mathematics question without any obvious relation to CS (despite being part of a foundational mathematics curriculum for CS students). Hence, it belongs on [math.SE]; I'm migrating it now.

Reference requests that ask for a specific reference for some result are completely fine. Those that ask for "any work on X" or "best papers of area Y" are (almost) always too broad for Stack Exchange. Close accordingly and comment like this:

A reference request like yours is too broad for Stack Exchange -- you ask for a survey of a whole research area! You need to narrow your focus considerably before a question of reasonable scope appears. Try talking to your advisor(s), search with [Google Scholar](http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=some+query) and check out [this guide to better (re)searches](https://academia.stackexchange.com/q/13594/1419) on [academia.SE].

A reference request like yours is too broad for Stack Exchange -- you ask for a survey of a whole research area! You need to narrow your focus considerably before a question of reasonable scope appears. Try talking to your advisor(s), search with Google Scholar and check out this guide to better (re)searches on academia.SE.

## Plagiarism

[Plagiarism](https://cs.stackexchange.com/help/referencing) is [not cool](https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/83955/plagiarism-should-be-addressed-specifically-in-the-faq/134715#134715).

1. Edit the post to mark cited content as such (with the / Ctrl+Q / leading < tool) and add an appropriate attribution if possible.
2. Flag the post with a custom flag and explain the situation.

Moderators will suspend serial plagiarizers. Moderators may delete the post if it contains no original content, or leave it if it seems relevant and isn't covered by other answers. If an answer consists of nothing but plagiarized material, feel free to repost the material with proper attribution and additional explanations tailored to the question, and flag the post indicating that you've done so.

## Problem Dump

Applies to questions that consist (next to) only a problem statement (and maybe a plea for help). Recommended action is to post below comment (or similar) and vote to close as "Unclear what you are asking".

Hello! We discourage posts that simply state a problem out of context, and expect the community to solve it. Assuming you tried to solve it yourself and got stuck, it may be helpful if you wrote your thoughts and what you could not figure out. It will definitely draw more answers to your post. Until then, the question will be voted to be closed / downvoted. You may also want to check out [these hints](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1284/98), or use the search engine of this site to find similar questions that were already answered.

Hello! We discourage posts that simply state a problem out of context, and expect the community to solve it. Assuming you tried to solve it yourself and got stuck, it may be helpful if you wrote your thoughts and what you could not figure out. It will definitely draw more answers to your post. Until then, the question will be voted to be closed / downvoted. You may also want to check out these hints, or use the search engine of this site to find similar questions that were already answered.

Another variant that applies to questions that are slightly more than just a copy-pasted problem statement, is more explicit about what we expect (and may be received more positively):

What have you tried? Where did you get stuck? We do not want to just hand you the solution; we want you to gain understanding. However, as it is we do not know what your underlying problem is, so we can not begin to help. See [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1284/98) for tips on asking questions about exercise problems. If you are uncertain how to improve your question, why not ask around in [chat]?

What have you tried? Where did you get stuck? We do not want to just hand you the solution; we want you to gain understanding. However, as it is we do not know what your underlying problem is, so we can not begin to help. See here for tips on asking questions about exercise problems. If you are uncertain how to improve your question, why not ask around in [chat]?

A shorter version is:

What did you try? Where did you get stuck? We're happy to help you understand the concepts but just solving exercises for you is unlikely to achieve that. You might find [this page](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1284/755) helpful in improving your question.

What did you try? Where did you get stuck? We're happy to help you understand the concepts but just solving exercises for you is unlikely to achieve that. You might find this page helpful in improving your question.

It can happen that newer users are not familiar with our policy and answer dumps before we get a change to close it. I like to leave a comment similar to this on their answers:

Please consider not to encourage [undesirable posting behaviour](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/594).

Please consider not to encourage undesirable posting behaviour.

Most users react in an understanding way and I have not noticed single users routinely answering dumps.

• When using these, please bear in mind that new users can't use chat (reputation less than 20). Sep 15 '14 at 21:11
• Another useful wording from David Richerby that I liked: "What did you try? Where did you get stuck? We're happy to help you understand the concepts but just solving exercises for you is unlikely to achieve that."
– D.W. Mod
May 28 '15 at 5:44
• The first wording bothers me. (1) it doesn't state this question will be closed; (2) it says "we can reopen it later", without explaining what is going on; (3) there's the chat and reputation thing; (4) it misses the main point of saying "don't just dump your question and expect us to answer it", at least,it doesn't say it clearly and strongly enough, to my eyes. Thoughts? May 31 '15 at 15:41
• @RanG. ad 1, 2: there is the close message the system provides. We can expect the user to read that one, can't we? ad 3: that's not something we can circumvent. Remember that it's 20 network rep. If the user is not able or willing to earn 20 rep (posing a good question, providing any answer, making some edits...), I don't think we want to talk to them either (bluntly spoken). ad 4) Former phrasings were clearer about that but were also perceived as rude. (That's what you get with PC: spacious blabber that struggles to get the point across.)
– Raphael Mod
Jun 1 '15 at 10:11
• @Raphael reg 1,2: when you just post this comment, and are the first to cast a closing vote - the question is not closed yet, and the OP may gets confused (it may take a couple of days until the question is put on hold). Reg 3: since the main "crowd" for receiving this comment are new users, there's no point in suggesting them to use the chat. Probably it's better to remove this suggestion altogether. Reg 4: a balance should be sought. The current one may be too soft (at least to my eyes). Jun 1 '15 at 16:15
• @RanG. Can you propose a concrete formulation? Ideally in Computer Science Chat.
– Raphael Mod
Jun 2 '15 at 10:19
• @Raphael Yes, I will try to do that soon. Jun 2 '15 at 14:48

## Reference material may help

Welcome to [cs.SE]! Your question is a very basic one. Let me direct you towards our reference questions which cover some fundamentals you seem to be missing in detail. Please work through the related questions listed there, try to solve your problem again and edit to include your attempts along with the specific problems you encountered. Good luck!

Welcome to [cs.SE]! Your question is a very basic one. Let me direct you towards our [reference questions](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/599) which cover some fundamentals you seem to be missing in detail. Please work through the related questions listed there, try to solve your problem again and edit to include your attempts along with the specific problems you encountered. Good luck! 

## References missing or incomplete

We expect references to fulfill the minimal scholarly requirements and be as robust over time as possible. Please take some time to improve your post in this regard. We have collected some advice [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1201/). Thank you!

We expect references to fulfill the minimal scholarly requirements and be as robust over time as possible. Please take some time to improve your post in this regard. We have collected some advice here. Thank you!

The title you have chosen is not well suited to representing your question. Please take some time to improve it; we have collected some advice [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/a/815/). Thank you!

The title you have chosen is not well suited to representing your question. Please take some time to improve it; we have collected some advice here. Thank you!

## Question is mainly an image

Don't use images as main content of your post. This makes your question impossible to search and inaccessible to the visually impaired; [we don't like that](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/752/should-we-do-anything-about-questions-that-are-just-a-scan-of-a-problem-in-their). Please transcribe text and mathematics. You can [use LaTeX](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/271/add-short-reference-for-latex-commands). Don't forget to give proper attribution to your sources!

Don't use images as main content of your post. This makes your question impossible to search and inaccessible to the visually impaired; we don't like that. Please transcribe text and mathematics. You can use LaTeX. Don't forget to give proper attribution to your sources!

The lack of helpful formatting makes your post hard to comprehend. Please take some time to improve the presentation; we collected some advice [here](https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/a/820/). Thank you!