Inspired in three parts by an existing question here, a Meta Stack Overflow question, and a withdrawn follow-up to an answer. While this affects objective lists the most, there are also a lot of non-list questions which can have unreasonably large scopes.

Sometimes a huge scope is appropriate, and sometimes it isn't. It is largely dependent on whether that scope is useful for that particular game or if it just makes the information difficult to parse.

I think that when a question is not broad enough to be vague and ambiguous (and thus susceptible to "Not A Real Question"), but is too broad for answerers to reasonably address, then it probably isn't a candidate for closing and instead comments should engage the author in how to narrow the scope. Closing is primarily for things that do not belong on the site, but this feels more like it just needs a "small" measure of clarification. What does everyone else think about these?

  • With regards to the German phrase question, he should just limit them by supplying a couple of paraphrased sentences. The only solution for being to broad, is to narrow it.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 20:09
  • @Ivo I'm not calling that one broad. It was a follow-up concern I had.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 21:35

2 Answers 2


There's a time to post a table, and there's a time to post a link. Sometimes, a question that is enormously broad in scope may not be directly answerable by us, but with our expertise, we can direct the asker to a resource, and if relevant, excerpt out some key bits to demonstrate the resources use.

To concoct an example, if I were to ask "What potions can I make in Oblivion?" - well, the answer to that is an absolutely massive list. There are some 130 ingredients, each possessing 4 of the 66 alchemical effects in the game, and they can be combined up to four ingredients at a time. You can make a lot of different potions. A comprehensive answer might list all 66 effects and explain that they can be combined pretty much endlessly, with some notes on how some key categories work like 5-effect-poisons. A better answer might list a few of the most useful recipes and explain how Alchemy works. An even better answer than any sort of list would be a link to the Alchemy Calculator, along with a brief description of how it works and how to use it.

While in an ideal world every answer can be hosted here, there are some that are just too broad in scope for our format. If the answer exists though, and we're able to direct someone to it, along with some pointers for how to best use that resource, I don't see why we shouldn't.

  • This is very true - sometimes there exists not only the resource, but an interface or tool to handle the job for you. This is something we can't really provide directly on our site, but there is no issue in being able to provide a link to this tool. This is one point where we simply can't exercise the goal of containing content, yet still be able to give the answer.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 18:18
  • I'm going to accept this one, though still appreciate Robert's contribution. The interesting fact, though, is that this indirectly answers my direct question. My conclusion that I draw from this is that we don't need a policy, because there are simply too many scenarios when it comes to how a huge scope affects the question (as proved by the potions example). So these should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 14:58

Sure, anything CAN be answered, but the distinction here is can the question be reasonably answered in its current form. An overly-broad question is an earmark of vagueness and lack of focus. If I were to ask, for example, "what makes a good game?", it's completely answerable. There's volumes of books and and entire industry built around answering that question. That doesn't make it a "real" question. It's ambiguous (what are they really asking); it's vague; it lacks specific criteria (incomplete). In short, it cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

It's a candidate for [close - not a real question].

  • not a real question
    It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

Closed does not (necessarily) mean "does not belong on the site." Closed means "no longer accepting answers." The author and editors have the chance to fix it up. Participants are free to leave comments. Closed means it can be re-opened. In terms of "does not belong on the site," That's what delete is for.

  • I wanted to cover the specific cases where it isn't "ambiguous and vague". Fact is, I'm part of the pro-closing faction because I understand its importance. But aside from duplication and migration, all of the other close reasons exist primarily to mark a question for deletion because it doesn't belong on the site. In egregious cases closing makes an excellent motivation for editing the post, but I think that when the necessary scoping is very minor to add that closing is overkill. And the users who don't know the nuances of the closing system seem to also find it overkill.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 23:01
  • I don't want to spread misconceptions that closing is permanent, and indeed we have a whole 48 hour grace period where a closed question is safe from deletion, which is perfect for it to be re-opened. However, the act of closing is meant to indicate that the question in its current state does not belong. It indicates the potential for fixing, but I don't think that all cases where a little bit of fixing is necessary warrants a complete closure. Sometimes the huge scope is enough of a barrier to prevent answers until the scope is fixed.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 23:04
  • So I agree that something like "What are good games" is broad to the point of closing. But where do we draw the line when it's something like "Damage tables for the weapons"? For games like Suguri or Worms, it's manageable AND useful of a scope. But some games it is just over that level of being manageable, is closing really the best solution for those? Can't we negotiate a simple edit without needing 5 people to reopen it afterwards?
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 23:06

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