I asked (and answered) the question windows - Tools for maintaining and deploying database schemas and data for SQL Server? but it's been put on hold as being unclear. There are no comments regarding what's unclear and, as someone that understands the question, I'm not even sure what info I need to add to make it clearer.

But my meta-question is, to whom do I need to make my question clear? If I need to make my question clear to someone that can answer it, then I think I've already done that. If I need to make my question clear to an arbitrary human being, then I'll just give-up. I'm hoping that the required audience for a question lies somewhere between those two extremes, but where exactly? And why is it not just those that can answer my question?

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    Remark only: If a question is on a topic I can not cover / am not familiar enough with, I'd never "vote to close" (in the review queue, that's what the "Skip" button is for). If it's in an area I'm proficient in, and the question is still unclear to me, I'd say the questioner has missed; in that case, a VTC IMHO is completely justified.
    – Izzy Mod
    Feb 11, 2014 at 17:26
  • @Izzy – okay, fine, I give up then. Because that's all fine and good, and I'm glad you have clear personal guidelines for what's appropriate when, but how is anyone else supposed to know that when you VTC their question? And, for the example question I referenced, I am proficient in that area, and I answered my own question in an effort to seed this site, and I'm disputing that my question is unclear (to someone also proficient in the areas covered by my question). Feb 11, 2014 at 17:30
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    I must admit I didn't follow the link (hence the "remark only"), I was rather placing a "general statement" how I feel about the issue as such. I definitely didn't vote on that Q (SQL Server is not my expertise, I'm an Oracle DBA). But I usually leave a comment when I VTC (unless there's already one explaining the reasons). With "unclear" as in this case, that would usually be a bunch of questions like "what do you mean by...", "have you tried...", "what does X stand for", "which Y are you refering to", etc. So if you're asking whether a VTC should be accompanied by a comment: Yes, recommended
    – Izzy Mod
    Feb 11, 2014 at 17:36
  • Your edit just made it worse.. Try to clarify things without making them more complex. I don't even read questions that are that long unless the title gives me a good reason to.
    – Seth
    Feb 11, 2014 at 18:52
  • @Seth, I don't understand how I made the question more complex. I agree that it's now too long, but it was put on hold for being unclear, so I attempted to clarify what I was asking (without any concrete feedback). Feb 11, 2014 at 19:59
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    A question certainly doesn't have to be clear to non-experts — it has to be clear to experts, and it has to be clear to everyone who the experts are. The “unclear” close reason doesn't only cover unclear prose, but also “unclear what you're asking”, when your question isn't sufficiently precise. That being said, as a non-expert in the topic, I find your initial version a bit on the thin side but not obviously incomplete. Were there any comments that are now deleted? Feb 11, 2014 at 20:54
  • @Gilles – thanks for the feedback. I'm guessing that it was the question itself that was deemed unclear; tho I'm not sure how a question could be clear but not the prose of which it is comprised. There were no comments about why either the question or its prose was unclear, but it's seemingly clear, or at least clearer, now. Feb 11, 2014 at 21:28

2 Answers 2


I agree, questions don't have to be clear to anyone. If the question uses vocabulary shared by a reasonably large community, and that vocabulary can be recognized by others, then you don't need to explain the vocabulary. (You did in your question, apparantly believing that to be the cause of "unclarity". I don't know why others thought it unclear before you made those edits. I think it unclear afterward, see remark on question).

But in general what does have to be clear is what the requirements and nice to haves are (and I don't think your question did that well). If it were my choice, I'd insist that all questions makes these into bulleted lists to it is clear to anyone what the are requirements vs. nice-to-haves, even if they don't understand them.

People that don't know the vocabulary shouldn't pass judgement (e.g, vote or comment) on the question or the answers. (I think this happens a lot, and it shouldn't).



Questions do not need to be clear to 'anyone'. However, it may be useful for purposes of moderation for questions to be overly-clear, so as to not seem unclear (to anyone).

Regardless, a lack of clarity in a question can be most easily corrected if specific feedback is offered to its asker.

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