How closely should we stick to Stack Exchange norms?

A question containing multiple questions recently received a close vote but that was invalidated. I'm curious why.

The question asks multiple, disparate questions, which seem like great candidates to break into separate questions. Further, the close vote was "Needs More Focus" which seems to be correct here.

I also notice the question had no answers (still doesn't) which would eliminate any argument related to preserving ongoing answering.

From What does it mean if a question is "closed"?:

Needs more focus - If your question has many valid answers (but no way to determine which, if any, are correct), then it probably needs to be more focused to be successful in our format.

  • This question currently includes multiple questions in one. It should focus on one problem only.

This can often be fixed by breaking the post into multiple questions, or by focusing on a specific part of the problem.

If my understanding of the "Needs More Focus" close vote is incorrect, I definitely need to correct my understanding.

Why was this close vote invalidated?


2 Answers 2


I voted to leave the question open. I would disagree with the characterization of the questions as "disparate". Yes, it asks multiple questions, but to me they are all strongly related. The author is asking for help in picking a solver (a perfectly legitimate thing to ask IMO), and the questions are essentially aspects of that decision process. Having the author break it into four questions would be inefficient, both for the author and for readers (and might risk someone else flagging them as asking essentially the same question).

The "multiple questions" issue is typically a judgment call. For me, the sentence "It should focus on one problem only" is key. If the questions are largely unrelated, the post should be broken up (or in some cases the author should ask one question and wait to see the answer before asking more questions). Here, though, there is (for me) sufficient focus ("choosing appropriate solvers"). Had the author asked (a) which solver should I use, (b) is this the correct objective function, (c) how do I choose M for a big-M constraint and (d) anybody know a good heuristic for this problem, then I would absolutely agree with breaking it up.

  • $\begingroup$ This was helpful because it explained the sufficient focus ("choosing appropriate solvers"). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 16:06

I am the other reviewer, the sole reviewer with whom a moderator agreed. I have done 1000's of Close Reviews on our main meta site. My reason is essentially the same as prubin's answer.

Instead of viewing the questions as seperate, "and" the questions into a combined set of conditions, to the extent possible, leaving one question and perhaps one or two very closely related questions that don't add significant length to the answer (singular answer):

"I have previously used MOSEK for all my SDP needs. ... SCS has been recommended for very large instances due to lower memory requirements.
That's led me to a series of questions:

  1. Is there some rules of thumb for choosing appropriate solvers depending on problem instances, or is my best chance just trying out all of them?
  2. What are the differences between MOSEK, SCS and other SDP solvers, and what is the trade-off of one w.r.t. the other? (i.e., is SCS generally slower? Does MOSEK generally consumes more memory? Or is it all dependent on the specific instance one tries to solve?)
  3. When dealing with dense, large SDPs, what would be my best bets, solver-wise?
  4. Does having access to a sizeable cluster helps in any way? For instance, are there solvers that can exploit distributed memory? Or is my best choice going for a single node with a large memory?".

I'm not going to dissect the above and place it into two piles, possibly a third very small pile; just accept that I was able to do so.

Having all the questions together, answered with an answer conditional on all of them, is more efficient than trying to say "for this question please only answer the first question, to answer the other questions go here ..." - following by an index of links for each answer.

These answers are not a precedent to ask as many questions in one question slot as one wishes; this is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Usually, multiple questions will be denied.

You were not wrong to ask for this question to be reviewed, we did that and thank you for your effort. The result is our decision, not so much that you are "wrong", just that we will let the question stand as-is.


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