Basic Arrays in a Java Program

This question was put on hold because of "unclear what you're asking" but IMO it's perfectly clear what he's asking, as evidenced by multiple helpful replies. He says he's in a class and supposed to be writing an example using arrays and loops, shows how far he got, and clearly doesn't know how to use loops because his attempt doesn't have any. He needed to be shown how to loop through an array.

It's not a perfectly written question, but it's pretty clear what help he needed. It's kind of moot because has several acceptable answers already anyhow, I'm just surprised that people seem so trigger-happy with on-hold status when there's no real problem.

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    That is a bit perplexing, I would be interested to read what the mods have to say.
    – user246806
    Jan 11, 2014 at 2:05
  • Mods didn't close that question, @Amaterasu. Jan 11, 2014 at 2:07
  • Is it appropriate to tag the people who did close the question, in order to alert them to this conversation? Or does that automatically happen? Jan 11, 2014 at 2:09
  • No and no (although you can leave a comment on the question inviting the closers to come here.)
    – Pekka
    Jan 11, 2014 at 2:10
  • That wouldn't work, PurpleVermont. Tagging only works if the person tagged participated in the post - it's their post, they edited the post, or they commented. Closing doesn't count. Jan 11, 2014 at 2:11
  • I was wondering if it would work (if appropriate) especially since meta is somewhat separate from Stack Overflow. (They didn't close this post, they closed a post on SO.) Jan 11, 2014 at 2:12
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    @MichaelPetrotta I did not say that the mods closed the question, just as I commented, I would be interested in what they have to say.
    – user246806
    Jan 11, 2014 at 2:36
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    God how is that unclear. I saw it the minute it was posted yesterday but had something else come up so I figured someone else could give the rundown on how a loop works. He obviously made an attempt but if you don't know the concept of a loop exists than you won't get much farther than this. This shouldn't have been closed. Jan 11, 2014 at 2:42
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    Relevant discussion: Improving "demonstrate a minimal understanding" close reason, especially Shog's last answer.
    – jscs
    Jan 11, 2014 at 10:23

3 Answers 3


I think the touchy point is this line from the OP:

I will certainly learn something if one of you is kind enough to tell me what I need to enter and where?

This could be interpreted in two ways:

  • Please give me general pointers so I know where to go from here.
  • Please tell me exactly what to type to get my program to work so I can get a good grade.

That second interpretation leads to close votes. As for the actual close reason, the reasons just changed and everyone's figuring out the best one to use. The emphasis seems to be on typing a manual close reason now, which is a departure from the past.

I'm actually impressed at how courteous the poster is, and he posted what he tried so far. Bonus points for that. Usually there's just a list of requirements and a "plz help asap!".


Perhaps because a large group of people think that students should

  1. do their own homework
  2. do their own homework
  3. ask the people who are paid to help them if they need help doing their own homework

If five of those folks voted to close, it's closed.

One of the effects of crowd-sourcing is that some 'rules' are the emergent behavior of the crowd. Proposing legislation is like ordering the tide to come in or out.

  • If asking for help with homework is unacceptable, there should be a specific rule about that, IMO. A question shouldn't, IMO, be put on hold for "unclear what you're asking" if the real issues is "do your own homework. Jan 11, 2014 at 2:35
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    @PurpleVermont: Questions asking for help with homework are fine. Questions asking us to do the homework are not, and that includes the questions that say "My code doesn't work. My instructor is too busy to help. Please tell me what I need to enter and where?" (which is directly from the post being discussed here - the last sentence verbatim except for the "Please" I added).
    – Ken White
    Jan 11, 2014 at 2:40
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    If that's the issue, that should be its own close reason, no? I did wonder, before answering, what the community standard was on helping with homework. In this case, the person made an effort and it was clear what they needed help with. It's a bit ironic if paid professionals can ask for help doing their work, but students can't. Jan 11, 2014 at 2:42
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    @PurpleVermont: Once again, there's a difference between paid professionals asking for help and paid professionals asking us to do their work. The latter should be closed just as quickly as the ones from students asking us to do their homework. If we do the homework, the student doesn't learn (and the "paid professionals* get stuck cleaning up the messes they make of the code they write later).
    – Ken White
    Jan 11, 2014 at 2:46
  • @KenWhite if students don't learn who'll clean the mess they will write later? Jan 11, 2014 at 2:54
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    So is the answer "we don't like this kind of question, but there's no close reason that describes why, so close-voters will just pick another reason even if it doesn't really fit"? Jan 11, 2014 at 2:58
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    @LoïcFaure-Lacroix: You just made my point. If we do the work for them, they don't learn. So let's not do the work for them.
    – Ken White
    Jan 11, 2014 at 2:58
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    If I may pimp an elsemeta question - Open letter to students with homework problems (full disclosure, I wrote it)
    – user213963
    Jan 11, 2014 at 3:00
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    @PurpleVermont: No, you're absolutely right. We need 500 different close reasons, at least. In fact, we should allow unlimited close reasons. Oh, wait! Wouldn't it be simpler if we made a few that wrapped up the majority of those into a few wrapper reasons instead (kind of like writing functions to reduce duplication of code)?
    – Ken White
    Jan 11, 2014 at 3:01
  • @KenWhite I disagree, from my experience I know that some teachers really suck at teaching. I worked in a place where I know for a fact that the person before me had no knowledge of loops and it was hell to refactor (block of code copied over 34 times). By telling this guy that loop exists we're barely doing the work of the teacher and not the homework. Jan 11, 2014 at 3:05
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    @LoïcFaure-Lacroix: Great. Some teachers suck, and they should be complained about to the institutions that employ them. Their students should never have gotten through their studies and been able to have been hired, and if we facilitate that then we're simply increasing the problem. For what must be at least the third time: There is a difference between asking for help and asking us to do the work. The first is an attempt to learn; the second is an attempt to avoid doing so, and we should NOT encourage the latter.
    – Ken White
    Jan 11, 2014 at 3:08
  • @KenWhite Usually people that fall into the second group aren't even showing any piece of code and clearly retype the tasks given by the teacher. I'd rather see this question marked as duplicate since there is surely already a question about loops. Jan 11, 2014 at 3:22
  • @LoïcFaure-Lacroix: Yes, but they often post a good sized sample of (nonsense) code and ask "Please tell me what I need to enter and where?" or "Can you fix this for me?" as well. The difference is in the time they take describing the problem, what's not working, and their efforts to solve it, instead of "I have a bad teacher. They won't help. Do it for me so I know how.".
    – Ken White
    Jan 11, 2014 at 3:29
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    @LoïcFaure-Lacroix: I'm not sure what your link to a post with zero upvotes and an accepted answer with a score of -3 is supposed to prove. Is it that bad answers can get accepted? The revision history I see has one minor edit. Is it that similar poor questions can be asked? We know that already.
    – Ken White
    Jan 11, 2014 at 4:50
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    @PurpleVermont: And you can. It's called a "custom close reason", and it's available at the bottom of every close dialog - see "Close->Off topic->Other". There's no confusion - if you don't like the pre-defined reasons. you have the ability to specify a different one.
    – Ken White
    Jan 11, 2014 at 6:02

My guess is that it's because the option to close because the OP hasn't displayed a basic knowledge of the problem domain (or whatever the wording was) has been removed from the close dialog. The close voters are just using a different option.

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