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Vagueness and ambiguity Edit

Sorry, but how exactly does anyone 'know' that the original poster meant in "Doomsday"? Especially since those aren't even 3D glasses? My first thought was of "Dimensions in Time", where the Doctor actually does wear actual 3D glasses. But again, that's just one possible interpretation of a very vague and unclear question. Master of Spiders (talk) 11:18, July 2, 2014 (UTC)

I didn't even remember any 3D glasses in Dimensions, but yet again I don't care to rewatch that minisode. Anyway, if we can't draw some sort of conclusions from the information we're given, then this wiki is practically pointless. I just cleared out DWA:CFD for today, and there were many questions in that lot that I probably wouldn't have deleted if somebody else hadn't already tagged them. While we need people to be as specific as possible, we must remember not to go overboar; some people might just not know ow to make their question any more specific, or not know of the other times which would cause the question to become vague. We have to remember that we are dealing with humans here, not finely tuned questioning machines. Also, the whole "Go on, ask me about the glasses" thing was a big point in "Doomsday", and the void glasses have since become so entrenched in Who Lore that it is the most likely event the questioner is referring to. I'm sure the Doctor must have also worn 3D glasses in an audio or a comic or a book at some point in time, but we can't let "might have happened some other time" prevent us from answering about any time. We just can't be too picky, or we'll never keep any users! Anyway, since you have information about the glasses from Dimensions, feel free to add it to the answer, citing sources etc. This is a wiki; you are allowed to add to answers! Imamadmad  Contact me 11:29, July 2, 2014 (UTC)

Well, I couldn't even remember the Doctor wearing glasses in "Doomsday". And I would dispute that it's "entrenched in Who Lore". But, whether it is or not, neither of us(nor anyone other than the person who asked the question) can honestly say that we have any idea which' time the Doctor wore #D Glasses is being referred to. You have chosen to interpret to mean in "Doomsday"....where the Doctor doesn't even wear 3D glasses! Yes, I know we are talking about people, and people make mistakes when typing, but the point is that this question is not talking about "Doomsday". It never mentions "Doomsday", or even hints at it. You, and you alone, have chosen that one interpretation, out of countless possible interpretations. Unless the person who asked the question actually confirms that they actually meant "Doomsday", then you can't honestly say that you have answered their question. Because their question, as it stands, is vague, unclear and could mean any one of a variety of things. As such, it needs to be tagged to be made more specific. Master of Spiders (talk) 11:52, July 2, 2014 (UTC)

Hmm, let me do a quick search for "Doctor 3D glasses". Oh look at the images found of a certain Doctor wearing 3D glasses. Look at all the merch featuring that Doctor in 3D glasses.

Are you sure we don't have any clue what they might be talking about? Anyway, I never said you can't refer to other instances; that's just the main one which stands out when you put the words "Doctor" and "3D glasses" in the same sentence, and most people refer to them out of universe as 3D glasses as that's what they looked like, even if it wasn't their function, including TDC. But feel free to add other relevant instances which answer the question, before this place becomes devoid of all questions because of everyone's vagueness paranoia and preference to be lazy and just tag a question rather than try to answer it properly. Why do I even bother trying to drum up more interest in this place? Imamadmad  Contact me 12:10, July 2, 2014 (UTC)

That' still not actually answering the question that was actually asked. Someone asked a very vague question that could be interpreted in various ways. You chose to interpret it in a way that isn't even what the person actually asked! As you yourself admitted. The solution is not to make a series of lists. It's not paranoia to deem a question too vague or obscure to be properly answered unless it is is rephrased so that the person can make clear what they were actually asking about. There is no chance of "this place becoming devoid of questions". But there is a very real danger of people posting sentence fragments, and some people defending them as valid questions, when they have multiple meanings, with no clarity whatsoever. In any case, you actually rephrased the question already, so you changed the wording of the question, and then you gave one possible(and actually inaccurate!) answer to the rephrased question. Sorry, but that is plain wrong. DWA:VAGUE  makes it clear that "If your question is too vague to be answered, it will have to be deleted." While DWA:POV says "The main Q and A part of this site is based on facts and facts only. Do not include speculation or opinion in your questions or answers in the main namespace (the Q and A part of this wiki), and do not try and push your point of view in answers." You already know that, having helped draw up the Site Policies. So again, the question is VAGUE, it can not be properly answered the way it stands now(which is itself your rewording of the original question). And your decision to go with Doomsday is just your POV, Opinion, Speculation. The question needs to be tagged for deletion, asking for the OP to rephrase it to what he/she actually meant, not your personal interpretation of what he/she may have meant. If he/she fails to rephrase it within a certain time period, then it should be deleted. Master of Spiders (talk) 12:42, July 2, 2014 (UTC)

I have to agree with Master of Spiders that this question is too vague. It needs to be rephrased so that we know what incident the asker has in mind. "Doomsday" does seem by far the most likely but it's only the asker who really knows the incident he/she has in mind, so it's for him/her to specify that -- or to specify another incident, if we happen to be wrong in thinking the question's about "Doomsday".

The comment about "rewording of the original question" is neither valid nor relevant, however. It's clearly not a "rewording"; it's the original wording with an abbreviation expanded & the spelling corrected. The question means exactly the same after the rephrasing as it did before. -- 17:07, July 2, 2014 (UTC) I can't find a screengrab of Pertwee in 3D Glasses, but I vivdly remember it. Either way there is too much ambiguity, and too much vagueness here. Master of Spiders (talk) 05:22, July 3, 2014 (UTC)

Wait, are those first ones 3D glasses?! Man, the 60s must have been weird. The second one I don't remember from any episode, and he is looking at the camera suggesting it's not from an episode, but still, point taken. Deleting the page. However, I stand by the opinion that people can sometimes be too picky when it comes to vagueness on this website. If there's only a very limited number of instances of something happening, say two or three times, especially when the repeated times might be less well known (such as from spin-off media), it's still worth putting down everything in the answer as the asker might not even know about the other times to know to distinguish between them, or how. It would also inform the asker that there are other times, potentially sparking their interest to go experience the story/ies that event also happened in. Imamadmad  Contact me 08:49, July 3, 2014 (UTC)

It is possible to be too picky but, on the other hand, we have the problem that we cover TV, audios, novels, comics &c, &c over a period of 50 years, which is a huge field.

A while ago, we had a question about the Doctor & a toothbrush that seemed to be asking about "The Lodger" (in which the Doctor mistakes an electric toothbrush for his sonic screwdriver) but it turned out -- when eventually clarified -- that it had nothing whatever to do with that episode. Instead, it was asking about a comic story from decades ago -- a story almost none of us remembered at all & nobody (except the asker) remembered had involved the Doctor with a toothbrush. I don't recall the details of the question but I do recall that it took substantial effort & a prolonged discussion on the talk page to establish what the question was really asking about. I know I was involved in that discussion & I'm fairly sure Master of Spiders was, too. 

The Doctor with a toothbrush was something that happened only a few times & one was "less well known" -- almost unknown, in fact. If the asker hadn't been requested to clarify the question, the answer wouldn't even have mentioned the information he/she was seeking, because it was just too obscure. It was only because of "pickiness" that the asker got the information that was actually wanted. -- 17:30, July 3, 2014 (UTC)

I remember reading that conversation. It was with 41 being, well, his usual charming self. I think it was linked from Alex Cross' talk page, hence why I read it. But in instances such as that, if the asker doesn't specify, as 41 didn't in the beginning, it is only common sense that the question is answered with information that at least the answerer feels is relevant. If the asker refuses to speak their mind and not mention that they were talking about "Party Animals" (comic story), then it is completely reasonable to go with the more well known suggestion of Eleven in "The Lodger", which still fits the scope of the question as it was originally written, rather than tag it for vagueness because of the existence of an almost unknown comic, as the asker would be most likely to be asking about that more well-known event. As it turned out, it was the more obscure event, but in those instances it's up to the asker to make themselves clear, as 41 eventually did. If not enough information is given, it is completely reasonable to try and deduce the most likely scenario being asked about, or give a brief mention of two different events falling under the same category. If the asker then comes back to say "no, that's not the event I was talking about", then they can come back and explain that or even just rephrase their question to give the information they didn't before. In short, it's the askers duty to ensure their point is clear, and the answerers job to work off the available information to give the most likely response. Sometimes assumptions have to be made about what the asker is asking about, but if there's only a very limited number of interpretations available, then it is more useful to still answer the question with one of those most likely instances, rather than just delete it entirely and refuse the asker any information at all. Also, don't ask me how I remember what the story was from the discussion. Weird bits of information sometimes get stuck in my memory. Imamadmad  Contact me 07:33, July 4, 2014 (UTC)

I'd forgotten what comic story it actually was. My point, though, was that the incident showed the best course (though not the easiest or best-tempered one) was to keep the page in existence long enough to establish what the question was really about, rather than actually deleting it. I do remember that it was that discussion, among others, that led me to propose what's now the 2nd paragraph of DWA:VAGUE. I can't speak for Spiders, of course, but personally I'd much have preferred this current question to be tagged & kept for a while, to give the asker time to make it more specific. Tagging was, I think, right but prompt deletion was not. -- 11:13, July 4, 2014 (UTC)

"Tagging was, I think, right but prompt deletion was not." Understood, and taken on board. I should probably have left the question for a couple more days. If you think it would be a good idea, I can undelete it for a little while in the hope of the asker returning and fixing it. But to be honest, I don't think it would have survived much longer anyway. DWA:CFD this morning was missing a few of the questions I had specifically not deleted yesterday in the hope of the asker returning, but they were deleted by bot overnight according to the logs. But still, I'll try and leave vague questions for a bit longer in the future. Imamadmad  Contact me 14:03, July 4, 2014 (UTC)

I can well understand the reasons for using a bot to cut down the number of outstanding CFDs but the problem there is that a bot can't exercise judgement, as a person can. Ideally, the bot would skip questions tagged for being vague. That, however, would require it to have some way of identifying such questions & it's difficult to see how it could do this.

When I tag a question for that reason, I include the link [[Doctor Who Answers:Policies#Vague/Can Change Meaning Over Time]] in the reason. Others use [[DWA:VAGUE]]. Unfortunately, a substantial proportion of questions tagged for being vague are tagged without any link to the policy & often with a one-word deletion reason, such as "unclear". That seems to me to be sheer laziness on the part of the user who has tagged the question & it doesn't give a bot any reliable way to identify such questions. Even if we devised a "marker" to identify questions tagged for being vague (& a link to the policy is the obvious marker to use), we'd have no way of ensuring that it would always be included in the tag.

Despite that, if it wouldn't be too troublesome, it would be worth getting the bot to skip any questions that do have a link to that particular policy section, so that they can be left for human judgement. -- 18:11, July 4, 2014 (UTC)