In a problem related to @Hauke Lagings question on closing policy, what to do with questions voted for closing as "Needs details or clarity" when none of the reviewers seemed to have informed the OP on what details are missing in the question to make it useful (i.e. there are close votes, but no comments asking for the required clarification)?

Currently I tend to vote "leave open" as the OP cannot improve the question in the desired manner without that information (which may be obvious to an experienced reviewer, but need not be for the OP).

2 Answers 2


If the question does need details and people have been too lazy to explain what details are missing, then instead of voting to leave open, please comment and explain what's needed.

That said, in many cases it really is quite obvious what's needed. Too many questions are "this doesn't work", without showing what "this" is, how "work" would be defined or what actually fails. I do think people are by and large clever enough to understand that something more is needed, so even the simple closure with the "needs more details" message can be enough since any detail added would be helpful.

That said, the ideal situation is to always leave a comment explaining what kind of details you want. No argument there. But I wouldn't take the absence of such comments as an indication the question should remain open either.

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    True, and in these obvious cases I do vote to close. There are other cases where I find it difficult to see what's missing, and then I tend to assume it might be difficult for the OP, too, to figure that out. It may be best to skip in such cases, though.
    – AdminBee
    Jul 1, 2020 at 13:42
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    @AdminBee I think the only "good" solution to that is to leave a comment yourself. It's a pain, I know, but "leave open" isn't good either, we need some way of telling the OP there's a problem. I feel a bit strange telling you, of all people this, you tend to leave particularly clear, comprehensive and helpful comments. So just do your thing! :)
    – terdon Mod
    Jul 1, 2020 at 13:49
  • I see. I think you are right; leaving the question open is often not the right choice. I will try to comment whenever possible and rather skip than leave open if I can't tell myself what might be wrong with the question.
    – AdminBee
    Jul 1, 2020 at 14:04
  • @AdminBee ah, hang on, that's different. If the question seems fine to you, if it makes sense and seems answerable with the information provided, then you should click on "leave open"! Absolutely. I thought you were talking about questions that were not clear, that did need more details but nobody had explained to the OP exactly what details are missing. If the question seems fine to you, by all means click on "leave open"!
    – terdon Mod
    Jul 1, 2020 at 14:13
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    I guess one of the problems is that a question may look ok to me simply because I am not knowledgeble enough in the field to recognize its deficits. I assume this would be the use case for the "skip" button. So perhaps the way for close-voted questions without clarification requests it: If you know what is wrong, comment and "close"; if you know nothing is wrong, "leave open", and if you don't know the field enough to make the call, "skip" ... ?
    – AdminBee
    Jul 1, 2020 at 14:26
  • @AdminBee sounds exactly right, yes. And not only for such questions, that should apply to any review: if you know enough to make an informed decision, vote one way or the other, and if you don't, skip.
    – terdon Mod
    Jul 1, 2020 at 15:23

Questions that happen to be unclear or lack focus are primarily closed to prevent users from posting answers that would unlikely be useful or that would be hard/impossible to rate or that would likely be wrong-footed by subsequent edits to the question (and, sure, as terdon says, also to signal the asker that some improvement is needed; though, in my opinion, leaving a comment would then be much better than voting to close).

It doesn't make much difference whether a vote to close is cast before or after a user has been told what is missing from their question. And the purpose of closing is not to only close a question after the asker has (insufficiently) cleared it up. It instead makes a difference to close a question before it is answered ineffectively.

Also, the option to only do part of the job is generally a feature here: it is OK if a user is willing to vote to close an unclear question but doesn't feel confident enough to (or can't, for any reason) leave a comment. And it is OK if a user leaves a comment to explain what is unclear in that question but doesn't also take the time to vote to close it.

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