1

I think the on topic questions help page needs to make it clear that not all questions about syntax trees are off-topic.

This rule:

  • "Please make me a syntax tree"

needs to say something more like:

  • "Please make me a syntax tree" (of course you can ask questions about syntax trees, just not "do my homework for me")

(If I'm wrong, and all tree diagrams are off-topic no matter what, then the help needs to actually say that, and it should link to a meta question that clarifies it, rather than one that says the opposite.)


Here's what the linked meta question Should we make questions about syntax trees off-topic actually says in the accepted answer:

This only refers to questions asking the community to "do the homework for me". If you provide the tree yourself and ask questions about it (maybe you want a clarification or you have doubts about something), that is on topic.


Why do I think there's a problem? Because there's a chunk of the community that's absolutely sure that there is a rule that anything with any syntax tree is automatically off-topic.

For example, see the comments on this question:

  • Tree diagrams are not permitted on SEL. - BillJ
  • @BillJ There are plenty of questions and answers with tree diagrams, and, AFAIK, the only rule about them is that you can't just ask "can someone diagram this" homework questions. Is there something I'm missing? - abarnert
  • @BillJ There is no such rule. – prash♦
  • @prash Nonsense. The rules clearly state that tree diagrams are OFF-TOPIC. -BillJ
  • @BillJ Point me to those rules. – prash♦
  • @prash I'm not here to spoon-feed you. Read the rules yourself and you'll find it in there somewhere. In any case, why does it bother you so much? You've made no contribution in this thread other than to nit-pick about the rules. - BillJ

Shortly after that last comment, the question received a VtC, and soon had 5 votes and was closed. (BillJ's last comment is 5 hours ago; the close was 4 hours ago.) The close reason is, of course, "Questions requesting to make syntax trees are not within the scope defined in the help center. For any doubt, please ask on Meta." The question isn't an amazing one, but it clearly matches "you provide the tree yourself and ask questions about it (maybe you want a clarification or you have doubts about something)" from the meta answer, so it shouldn't be closed.

1

It already says this:

  • "Please make me a syntax tree"
    Don't ask us to solve your homework problems for you, but it's OK to ask questions to gain a better understanding of the subject, so that you can learn to solve the homework problem on your own
  • It also links to the meta discussion that you have referred to.

    Maybe I should change it to:

  • "Please make me a syntax tree" — Don't ask us to solve your homework problems for you, but it's OK to ask questions that would require drawing of syntax trees to gain a better understanding of the subject, so that you can learn to solve the homework problem on your own
  • The changes would be that the wording mentions syntax trees, and the explanation would be moved to the same line, so that it would be harder to miss. Would that be sufficient?

    I will wait a few days to make the changes, to give other people get time to share their thoughts too.

    • Personally, I would have expected the existing wording to be good enough—but, as you can see from the comment thread you're participating in on the linked question, obviously I would be wrong in that expectation, so… it's hard to be sure exactly what wording would help. But this does seem like it probably would. – abarnert Jan 17 at 9:05

    You must log in to answer this question.

    Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .