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Is it possible that the we could get an additional closing flag that explicitly spells out "This question is closed until the OP adds more information"?

enter image description here

We get a lot of questions that lack necessary detail. These questions generally get closed (as they should be) because they lack necessary information required to be able to answer them.

However, the flag used for closing questions that lack sufficient information is "Not a real question".

Now, I certainly agree that this applies to many questions. There was the guy who wanted to know how to design an entire laptop, for example.

On the other hand, there are a lot of questions that probably are a real question, it's just that the OP is new/clueless, and thinks this is more of a traditional forum then a Q&A site. When these sort of questions are closed as "not a real question", I tend to suspect it drives the OP away entirely, rather then incentives them to fix up their question.

Furthermore, at least for me, the wording of "not a real question" closure marker doesn't imply the intended message at all. In many cases, the OP has a question that would be welcomed here (and we may even be able to tell this from what has been posted so far), it's just that we can't answer the question using the presently provided information. Now, a lot of this hinges on my (completely subjective) reading and interpretation of the closure dialog, but it sure doesn't imply what it actually means, at least in my opinion.

What I think we really need is an option to close a question in a way that explicitly specifies that we are ready and willing to reopen. Something like: enter image description here

Furthermore, the "see the FAQ" link does not actually give you any more information on how you can get your post reopened. Literally, the FAQ "answer" as to why your post was closed is an exact copy of the text in the "Closed" information box.

Nowhere is it clearly spelled out that reopening of questions is a standard procedure, and particularly for new users, who are more accustomed to a traditional forum, where the closing of a thread is generally permanent, likely simply leave, rather then fix their question.


Apologies to Leon Heller, Camil Staps, PeterJ, Anindo Ghosh, Kortuk♦. The closed post that prompted me to ask this question was one they had closed, so I used the closure dialog from there for my images above.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/171732/205264 \$\endgroup\$ – user17592 May 18 '13 at 8:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I will mention that this is an issue the stack exchange team is actively investigating. I believe there are multiple meta.se posts for picking new terminology and close options. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO May 19 '13 at 4:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO - Good to hear. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 19 '13 at 6:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is getting silly. People that can't be bother to read the rules and just dump stuff on us should be kicked in the butt on the way out the door. If you try to be nice to the dweebs, you'll just encourage them. Instead, all close explanations should start with "Wrong, moron!", and then get into more detail from there. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop May 21 '13 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop - That's fine. My point is the more detail is missing. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 22 '13 at 4:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ So to be clear, we are discussing closing "not a real question" as "not a real status" because it's "overly broad". \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Frost May 23 '13 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhilFrost - Yes \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 23 '13 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ There has been a change to the closing mechanism which is in line with your ideas, if I'm not mistaken. Read about it on the blog. \$\endgroup\$ – user17592 Jun 25 '13 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CamilStaps - That looks excellent. I'll have to reserve final judgment until I see it in action, but so far, so good. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Jun 26 '13 at 9:46
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Apology accepted. But no, I don't think we should have another close reason.

If a question is ambiguous, vague or incomplete, that would all fall under the new close reason. That leaves only overly broad and rhetorical for the old reason. Rhetorical easily falls under not constructive as well, so only overly broad would be for not a real question. What I want to point out with this is that not a real question and insufficient information are nearly the same.

Then perhaps a change of the description? I'm way more open to that, but don't see how it would both address incompleteness better and be applicable to other reasons (overly broad & rhetorical) as well.

What we can do until we have a solution to this, because I absolutely agree with you we have a problem here, is leaving a comment to explain the close votes if it's somehow possible to get the question reopened after editing. I've seen clabacchio do this quite a lot:

I closed the question to give you the time and make it complete and answerable. Please note that you can at any time edit your question, including details or fixing mistakes. – clabacchio♦ yesterday

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would be entirely OK with just changing the description. My point is more that the closure marker, as it is, provides very little context or information about how to seek redress. Clabacchio is adding those comments (which I think does exactly what the flag should tell the OP) when he shouldn't have to. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 18 '13 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConnorWolf that would result in many more specific close reasons, I don't think that would make the closing job more user-friendly.. \$\endgroup\$ – user17592 May 18 '13 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConnorWolf however, perhaps we could add a "Leave a comment" dialog for the 5th closer like with LQ reviews, with the possible comments adjusted to the close reason. \$\endgroup\$ – user17592 May 18 '13 at 8:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ When I'm flagging stuff, this is the only situation where I hesitate to flag out of concern of confusing people. I don't see a need for any other closure reasons. And I do not flag questions that should probably be closed until the OP adds more information because of the specific reason I detail in my question (particularly when it's a new poster). \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 18 '13 at 8:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Basically, I think the dialog for the closure banner is itself overly broad and vague. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 18 '13 at 8:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, I think the closing and reopening of questions needs to be far better explained (or possibly even renamed, as @jippie thought), because it's behaviour on the SE system is pretty significantly different then the common closure behaviour on forums and the like. The fact that the FAQ does nothing to explain the use of closing and reopening posts as a quality-management/incentive-to-improve tool certainly doesn't help. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 18 '13 at 8:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConnorWolf yeah! We should at least be specific, include a datasheet, circuit diagram and possibly a picture of the set up! Maybe even SMART ;o) \$\endgroup\$ – jippie May 18 '13 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, I'm not one of the people who down-voted this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 18 '13 at 11:00
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I think 'suspended' sounds less definite, less demotivating and therefore better.

'closed' sounds like: Go away, we don't want your question here. Especially to new comers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think we can really hope to change the "closed" mechanism (it's too integrated into the system). I do think we can make it offer a better explanation. The other option is to change it from "Closed" to "Temporarily closed". I think it's probably possible to add some text before the closed notation. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf May 18 '13 at 8:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is being discussed on Meta Stack Exchange: meta.stackexchange.com/q/173497/205264 \$\endgroup\$ – user17592 May 18 '13 at 9:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ You make the assumption that less demotivational is better, but provide no support for that argument. The obvious support for the contrary argument is that those that post crap aren't the ones we want hanging around here, so tarring and feathering them is useful since they are less likely to come back. Really, it's not that hard to post good questions, as evidenced by the fact that most questions aren't closed. Put another way, it's far better to keep the standards high than to have a few more users, especially when its the users that can't post valid questions. This should be a no-brainer. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop May 21 '13 at 20:04
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Here are links to the meta.stackoverflow questions soliciting feedback on proposed modifications to the close vote system. If you have issues with the current system, I would highly encourage you to participate (vote, comment, etc...).

The close reason rework project:

  1. Changes to "close as duplicate" (part deux)
  2. Help us make "Off-Topic" close reasons clearer to the OP
  3. Help us make "Not Constructive" and "Not a Real Question" closures more effective
  4. Every "close" has its thorn: replace "close" with "on hold" for the first five days
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