I've been noticing in this a lot in the Close Votes -queue. It's actualy rather clear what the asker's problem is, but the community thinks (mostly justifiably) that it needs more details to properly or more easily answer the question.

I'm a bit uneasy about this trend, so I have two questions:

  1. Is this actually a 'problem' outside the review queue? Do we have a signifigant number of questions actually closed for this reason? The queue is my only insight for the matter. I'm hoping that the mods will have a way to list the closed question by type.
  2. Is this proper use of the close reason? The close reason description does mention

    ... or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need.

    However, unless the missing details actualy obsecures the point of the question, this seems to go against the spirit of the close reason. That, and in most cases, a simple comment to ask for clarifications would propably suffice.

I'm asking these in one question, because a negative answer to the first quesion would render the second one moot.

Recent example from the review queue:
https://gaming.stackexchange.com/review/close/145007 https://gaming.stackexchange.com/review/close/147077

  • 1
    This is going to depend on the types of questions. If you see it a lot on. say, Minecraft stuff, its likely because they posted a crash dump without any other real supporting information, and people are growing increasingly tired of tangling with Minecraft mods and support for them.
    – user11502
    Aug 1, 2015 at 19:13
  • 2
    @AshleyNunn Yes,I have seen a lot of those questions in the review queues. But I'm actually most worried that the behavious is spilling (possibly unjustly) to other types of questions. I'm hoping to find ouf if this is the case (question 1) and if so, should we rethink our behavious as a community (question 2).
    – DJ Pirtu
    Aug 1, 2015 at 19:23
  • This would likely be best served with examples of questions where you think it is happening, so we have examples to see where this is actually happening, the types of questions that may be getting caught in the crossfire, etc.
    – user11502
    Aug 1, 2015 at 19:27
  • @AshleyNunn I'll see what I can do about an example or two. Can't think of anything off the top of my head. This is just something that's been brewing in me for a while. (Unfortunately I've been lately skipping these votes because my uncertainty, so my review history isn't much help.)
    – DJ Pirtu
    Aug 1, 2015 at 19:31
  • Other samples from my own review history: a, b, c, d
    – Robotnik Mod
    Aug 10, 2015 at 1:43

2 Answers 2


I personally VTC as unclear quite liberally, and this answer speaks for my own behavior. I don't know how other people use it.

In particular, I like to use it on Crash/Error/Problem questions. The way I see it is this: Say you have a question about Problem X and there are multiple reasons Y and Z for which problem X can occur. Therefore, there are multiple different answers which are (more or less) equally probable to solve the issue. Now, in many cases, either Y or Z has some additional prerequisites/circumstances in which if occurs and either of them can be easily eliminated by requesting additional information from the asker in the comments.

The reason I VTC in these cases is to prevent preemptive answers which turn out to miss the exact issue, or are simply too general in scope to be of much use. I don't want to close the question, I want it on hold for sandboxing it until the core of the issue is clear.

I have seen these kind of answers a lot in the past.

Sometimes, this ends with near-duplicate questions because neither of them describe the issue at hand clear enough, which is quite undesirable.

Sometimes, these answers get upvoted because they make sense in the broad frame of problem X. They can still not be helpful to the asker, nor to anyone else. Remember the SE Creed:

Ask questions, get answers, no distractions

See that distractions part? Searching online for solutions to an issue you have only to find a list of potential solutions for a problem that is quite similar to yours and having to try out every single one is something I find incredibly frustrating. Solutions to "almost my problem" are distractions.

In other words, I VTC in the hopes of ending up with a good question, that can get good answers.

[W]hen you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth[.]

-- Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of the Four

  • "I don't know how other people use it." Well, that's why meta-votes are for agreement and I'm sure you'll get a few. I thank you for the well articulated argument. Would be worth an upvote on the main site. Won't upvote here, because I'm not quite sure if I agree. Yet.
    – DJ Pirtu
    Aug 1, 2015 at 22:02
  • 3
    "I want it on hold for sandboxing it until the core of the issue is clear" - I personally don't agree with this: answers can be edited at any time as new information becomes available, comments cannot. Indeed we pop up a warning if a comment discussion is going too long.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Aug 2, 2015 at 16:20

Personally, I find any close reason on one of my questions to be a very frustrating experience. It makes me feel like a big dumb fool who asked a bad question and now everyone is pointing at me and laughing. Basically, I feel embarrassed. I don't know how many others feel this way, but I try to abide my the golden rule and VTC only when necessary.

Specifically, I try to only VTC - Unclear if the question has several major problems. My first line of attack for an unclear question is via comments - usually an asker is going to be receptive to a few simple comments asking for clarification. With luck, we can figure out what exactly the asker has tried, what exactly the problem is, and we've got a perfectly workable question. Everyone is happy.

I suspect that people who are new(er) to the Stack family like me feel similarly about closing, and so I think it is best that we use the VTC only after making an effort to improve the question first via dialogue and editing. More experienced users may feel differently, and I certainly don't fault them for it.

  • 2
    I would disagree. The whole point of closure is to prevent answers. We're not adding to the signal to noise ratio by allowing vague and incomplete questions to sit around, gathering guesses as answers. I throw unclear votes around liberally, as the vast majority of users aren't coming back to clean up their question. Close first, clarify later, and then reopen. Sometimes, that happens before the question can be closed, and that's awesome. Better than leaving a problematic question open.
    – Frank
    Jan 1, 2016 at 8:07
  • I can totally respect that viewpoint. Once you've been around this network for a while you realize how insignificant and meaningless having one or two bad questions is. The point you're making is equally valid - I think there is going to be a lot of wiggle room based on personal opinion here. To summarize: I don't think there is a need for a hard and fast ruling, but this is a helpful discussion to have as a community.
    – two bugs
    Jan 1, 2016 at 20:17

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