After looking at this and the further misinformation it led to here, I really feel like the first question should have been closed.

I don't feel it's the same as help me ID this species and here are photos and everything else I can remember/tell about it. I saw another one like this last week. This isn't so much on the subject of biology, but "help me fill out some bad notes from lecture about healthcare practices (arguably a subset of bio)."

Am I way off base on this? With a lot more effort into the question, what it was about, in what context it came up, I might be willing to take it on, but not as "what did I mean to write." Instead it would be " what agar/media combinations fit these needs or goals."


3 Answers 3


Questions where all we can do is guess are problematic, and generally should be closed. Questions of the type "what do my notes on this lecture mean" are such questions, there is a lot of uncertainly introduced from the lecturer and the student trying to understand and writing down. Additionally such questions are also not useful to anyone except the asker.

So I'd agree that we should not allow such questions.


Just to add my 2 cents: When you come across questions like these, those with the privileges can vote to close, and others can flag for moderator attention. However, please don't be afraid to downvote them as well. If you mouse over the downvote icon, the tooltip says

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

(emphasis mine)

These questions are unclear, and not useful to anyone besides the OP. Downvoting questions doesn't cost the voter any rep, is completely anonymous, and sends a message to the OP that perhaps they should rethink what kind of questions they ask. There have been a number of very narrowly focused, stream-of-conciousness questions lately, and while as a beta site we want to encourage people to ask questions, we still need to ensure that they are good questions that will help other visitors in the future, not just one person taking a very specialized class who doesn't understand their notes/textbook/professor.


There is no appropriate flag to use for those types of questions, however.

I assume these posts should be considered Off-Topic as opposed to Unclear. Maybe there should be another category of Off-Topic questions specifically for "What do my notes mean?" type questions. Or maybe just a generic Off-Topic flag that can be a catch all for these and other similar questions. Or should these be flagged as Very Low Quality?

Also, a link to another similar question.

  • $\begingroup$ Another thing I was considering was a note under homework. Something along the lines of "clarifying incomplete class or lecture notes is considered off topic, and unlikely to helpful to a general audience." $\endgroup$
    – Atl LED
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ You could flag for community moderator attention, however I'm sure that you wouldn't be penalised for choosing one of the off topic reasons - when people vote to close they can type a custom reason $\endgroup$
    – Rory M
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @RoryM yes, but this is a valid point. I would close them as "too broad" probably but a more specific reason would be good. We can choose the close reasons we want can't we? How does that work? Can diamond mods do it or does it need to be done by SE? $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 1:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would see this as off-topic. And yes, I find this flood of similar question rather annoying, they are not contributing for anyone else than the person who is asking, it is usually boring to answer them and they appear en masse. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 22:25

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