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I've been seeing a number of questions closed (and had two in the review queue today, which I kept open, although I was only 100% behind one of them, the other still was not definitely unclear and still had a chance to improve) for “unclear what you are asking”. In all these cases, to me it was fully clear what they were asking, although I may not always know the answer myself (such as which specific Windows® software would do the job) or have been bullied into not answering (if I know it but do not use it myself). In most cases, some of the comments below the original question have clarified it further (granted, we could edit there).

So, what's up with these?

I would like to ask people to stop over-eagerly voting questions as unclear, in favour of asking back or even just waiting a day or two until the question comments already got answered and/or the question itself got edited/improved.

Thank you very much!

(Now I'm gonna hunt down one of these and write a comment for clarification.)

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  • 1
    Examples, please. Where did you find close votes without a comment that explained what was missing? Feb 18 '14 at 13:46
  • 2
    Also, once closed they still can be edited, and then voted for re-open. Thus we don't lose track of them in case they don't get updated.
    – Izzy Mod
    Feb 18 '14 at 14:09
  • I often find interesting questions on Software Recs that get closed for no apparent reason, like this one. Jul 3 '19 at 19:23
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Here are the questions I've reviewed today in the closure queue and the reason I made the vote that I made:

ARM assembly IDE for Linux (compiler, debugger, assembly view …)

This question doesn't define enough requirements to be answerable. Personally I would have chosen Too Broad but Unclear What You're Asking is interchangable in most instances, as discussed here.

This post has a comment on it requesting more information, which will result in the question being put back into the reopen queue once it has been edited in (or close votes being revoked if it hasn't been closed at the point in time it is edited).

Desktop simulation of shop-floor task queues

As stated clearly in the first comment on the question by Caleb: I think we'd need you to detail a more exact set of requirements for this to be answerable.

Is there a program to control other computers from another computer?

This user isn't even completely sure what he's after, as evident by the comments. If the person who asked the question isn't completely sure what he's after, how can we be clear what he's asking?


As a side note, I have already proposed a custom closure reason that covers this issue and correctly identifies exactly what the asker needs to do to fix their question, as detailed here.

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  • “Is there a program to control other computers from another computer?” is clear as glass, even though the person asking doesn't seem to be able to express it well (do remember that not everyone is English here – for example I learned 3 programming languages and 2 natural languages before it). I added a comment there with a good solution.
    – mirabilos
    Feb 18 '14 at 18:16
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    The question doesn't mention whether or not he has control over the firewall between his PC and the internet, he's unsure on whether he wants an open source solution or not, whether he has a dynamically allocated IP address, etc etc - there is not enough information provided in the question to answer it without guessing. We are not here to guess, we're here to recommend. It may be "clear as glass", but the glass in this case is covered in mud.
    – Flyk
    Feb 18 '14 at 18:36
  • That is not reason enough to not give him suggestions. The asker may not have enough skills/knowledge themselves to answer (or even understand) these details but could try the various answers out. (And people at that level usually do not care about OSS or not.)
    – mirabilos
    Feb 18 '14 at 18:45
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    This is exactly enough reason to close the question. Please read this discussion - not including all of the required information is grounds for closure to ensure that our quality level remains high. Since closure is a potentially temporary state, all the asker needs to do is fix his question and it will be reopened. Askers that don't want to fix their question don't cause us any problems either, because it will already be closed.
    – Flyk
    Feb 18 '14 at 18:47
  • I think that is a very elitist approach, and will leave people helpless and disappointed. But the majority disagrees with me, even this early…
    – mirabilos
    Feb 18 '14 at 19:59
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    We're trying to counteract the disappointment with meaningful close reasons that tell people exactly where to go to find more information about what their post is lacking - in addition to comments. The main point is, letting stuff that doesn't meet our quality level stick around will become an exponentially harder problem to solve, especially once the site is public. "On hold" is intended as a temporary state to allow us to keep on top of these things.
    – Flyk
    Feb 18 '14 at 20:15
  • OK, that does take the edge off.
    – mirabilos
    Feb 18 '14 at 20:41
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    As we are all human rather than robots (I hope) everyone will have different thresholds and even apply this differently on different days. That being said the current state/results of the discussions linked above is one that I think is fairly balanced. In many cases discussion about applying those rules to one specific question will just lead to a lot of back and forth with no end value despite often times the participants of said discussion mainly agreeing in their application on most questions. So really at this point I think the rules are good for now perhaps they'll need refining or not. Feb 18 '14 at 20:51
  • Any non-human sentient lifeforms that members I apologize for my generic human-centric term there Feb 18 '14 at 20:52
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    No offence taken, Nick ;)
    – Flyk
    Feb 18 '14 at 20:54

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