I did ask a question on math.meta.SE and among other things I was told that my question "reads a lot like a rant" and "the question essentially reads as rhetoric, not as a genuine attempt for discussion."

Without saying anything else like my backgrounds or my own thoughts about it, nor the author's backgrounds of the claims (so that the judgement is not biased), does really my question reads a lot like a rant and essentially rhetoric, not as a genuine attempt for discussion?

I'd appreciate your feedback and comments regarding this. Feel free to comment whatever it is.

The question was this:

(Title) Can you please give new users some time to breathe?

(Body) I have just logged in on math.stack and I immediately see

Can you guys please provide the answer? [closed]

and then I clicked and I realized that OP asked the question 5 minutes ago


enter image description here

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Is that ok ?

OP is a new contributor that does not even know how to use MathJax, by judging the question seems like is a first year student (remember how lost one is in the first years) and by looking at his name (Japanese name) seems like it is not a native english speaker.

(end of question) I added the tags discussion and closing

1 Answer 1


Your post does sound a bit confrontational, and I think I can understand why it was called a "rant" and "rhetoric". There are a few reasons for this:

The title "Can you please give new users some time to breathe?"

Assuming you didn't mean to be confrontational, there are a few potential issues here:

  • "Can you please" can often sound exasperated or annoyed, especially when talking about a negative subject. I would recommend avoiding the use of it in general. "could" is often softer than "can", but even "could you please" can sound harsh sometimes. Part of this is that the use of "please" here, contrary to usually making things more polite, actually serves to add emphasis to the (negative) question, making it sound harsher.
  • In general, the use of "you" when discussing anything that's perceived as a problem can make it seem more personal (and more attacking) for the reader, as though you are blaming them for the problem. It is often better to emphasize that you are trying to work together to fix something by using words like "we" instead, or just try to leave out personal pronouns entirely.
  • "time to breathe" is a rather strong and blunt way to phrase things. It implies people are being very excessive. While this may have been what you wanted to discuss, hitting people with it all in just three words (without context) before they even finish reading the title can be perceived as aggressive or intending to provoke a response.

The combination of all these things means that, even though you've got a question mark at the end, the title really doesn't seem to be a question, but more an expression of anger/frustration (that is, a rant).

An example of a much softer title, which does not sound like as much of an attack, might be:

Could we give new users more time to respond?

The body of the question

There's a couple of things here that also make this sound more like rhetoric than an attempt at discussion:

  • Bolding the phrase "5 minutes ago" could be perceived as unnecessary extra emphasis (i.e. "yelling").
  • The only real question in this whole thing is "Is that ok?". Given that it's already apparent from everything else that you think it isn't OK, then you're not really asking for constructive discussion, you're just presenting people with a problem in the guise of an (already answered) question.

So the whole thing does not really seem like you're asking for anyone else's input (hence the labelling of it as "rhetoric").

Some ways to soften things so that they don't seem as "ranty" might include:

  • Asking for other people's opinions on how things can be improved (instead of just saying/implying "this is not OK")
  • Asking if there are reasons you're not aware of why people are doing things this way (there might be)
  • Phrasing things to emphasize that you're talking about your own perceptions, not necessarily absolute truths (e.g. "it seems to me", or "i feel that"), etc.
  • (Not necessarily as applicable in this case, but in some cases) Acknowledging that you might be wrong by asking for confirmation of your basis or reasoning (e.g. "am I being unreasonable?" or "is there something I'm missing/unaware of here?")

I hope my view on things helps a bit..

  • Thank you so much for your answer. I've just finished reading your answer and lots of things were nothing but a total misunderstanding :/
    – user83223
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 2:10
  • I didn't know my title was problematic too, the complaints were to my question which I took as what is inside the post (without the title included)
    – user83223
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 2:13
  • I didn't mean to be confrontational and that's precisely why I only asked "Is that ok?" . I did use the word you instead of we because afaik I don't have enough rep to vote to open/close, so it's 'their actions' not mine, and I included please like exactly you said: for politeness. "time to breathe" fits to what I meant. \\ Regarding the body of the question, I didn't mean to sound like yelling but yes to make a stronger emphasis. To me, "Is that ok?" it's like an open question that's fine by receive a no or yes regardless of my concerns. Like ready to receive feedback (cont.)
    – user83223
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 2:43
  • (cont.) I thought it was convenient to present all the background that I saw on OP and in other past users. But as you said, wasn't properly expressed. // I have to thank again for your suggestions to fix my question, yesterday I left a note saying this: ---Don't read my question like a rant (which means speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way) that was not the tone when I was writing it. Had I used mark like this one !!!! or ??? or other kind of comments, that'd have been different.--- but honestly never saw the rant nor rhetoric that's why I asked here
    – user83223
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 2:45
  • btw, sorry for too much comments, you said "an expression of anger/frustration" is a rant so the meaning that google translate gives: "speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way", is another issue because the former doesn't sounds as aggressive as the later. Do Americans then take the former as the meaning?
    – user83223
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 2:59

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