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I have concluded that the answer to my earlier meta question about closing questions is 'yes, we are closing too many questions'. Anyone who has seen the Close Vote queue lately will agree that a lot of questions are being nominated for closing. I also see a lot of questions attracting close votes for the weirdest, incomprehensible reasons.


For example from the current review queue:

Why do my logos lose clear edges quality when uploaded? - Why is this being closed for lack of effort?

My text won't center in Dreamweaver (using bootstrap) - The person says what they tried and included it, but people are voting to close it for no effort.


Both are things I'd like to change. Closing questions is frustrating for the asker and annoying to the users who can vote to close. It scares both new and existing users away.

I'd like to propose to get rid of the off-topic reason 'If you're asking for help with implementation, please [show us what you've tried]'. In my opinion, this is one of the most ill-used close reasons. As BESW stated recently in chat:

Failure to do research is a downvote reason, not a close reason.

I'd like to add to that:

Failure to show what you've done is a downvote reason, not a close reason.

Of course, the lazy 'tutorial-on-demand' and the incomprehensible questions still need closing. But we have two default reasons for those: 'too broad' and 'unclear what you are asking', respectively.

The 'tutorial-on-demand' questions I'm talking about are the ones that give an image and ask 'how to do this effect in X'. If the answer would be more than a few paragraphs' worth of tutorial, then it should be closed as too broad. Case in point: the 'too broad' reason reads, in part: 'good answers would be too long for this format'.

If a question has so little info that you are unsure what the asker wants, then leave a comment and downvote. If they are so bad that you can't make heads nor tails of it, vote to close with 'unclear what you're asking'.


In short, TL;DR:

  • We get rid of the 'low-effort' off-topic close reason;
  • Downvote low-effort questions instead of voting to close. Remember to leave a comment on how the Q can be improved. Or edit it yourself.
  • 'Tutorial-on-demand' questions can be closed as 'too broad';
  • Questions unclear because of their brevity should be closed as 'unclear what you're asking';

Since 'low-effort' is one of the three custom off-topic close reasons we have, we now would have one to spare. I'm open to suggestions on what to do with it. That is a discussion for another time, however, and I will create a meta post about that if and when the time comes.

I'd like your input on this. I'd like to see some changes implemented with backing from you people. So opinions, both in writing and in votes, are appreciated.


Edit: I'd like to take action following this question and its replies. To give everyone who has on opinion the time to voice it, I'll set a deadline of Friday, July 29th. After that, I'll start doing things based on what I've read here and discussed with you all.

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    And wouldn’t you have guessed it, as soon as the low-effort close reason was removed, things get voted to close as tech support … – Wrzlprmft Jul 30 '16 at 9:02
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    @Wrzlprmft That may be a temporary thing. People want to close for no effort open the Close Vote window, don't find the reason they were looking for and click the next best one. Allow everyone a bit of time to adapt :). – Vincent Aug 1 '16 at 13:46
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In my opinion questions should be closed if:

  • They cannot reasonably answered in this format (or at all).
  • They cannot be reasonably answered by this community.

The first case is usually well covered by the default close reasons, but in some case it makes sense to have a custom reason to provide guidance to the asker (such as the close reason for font-identification and critique questions). The second case can be covered with custom off-topic reasons (such as the tech-support close reason) or manually typed close reasons.

Also, the main reason to close a question is to prevent answers, for example:

  • answers to an unclear question may become invalid if the question is clarified and cannot be evaluated for correctness;
  • answers to a blatantly off-topic question cannot be evaluated by this community;
  • answers to a tutorial-on-demand or too-broad question are either incomplete and cannot be compared to each other, because there is no single criterion of quality anymore.

All of this may lead to frustration, problems, and similar.

Not showing prior attempts to achieve a goal does not really fit in here. No doubt, these questions are often also not answerable or a good fit for this site because they are tutorials on demand, or unclear, and if that’s the case they should be closed. But they should be closed for those reasons – not for not showing prior effort. If a question does not elaborate on what was tried and is neither too broad nor unclear, there is no problem if it receives answers and hence it should not be closed. But not showing prior effort alone should not be a reason for closure.

Now as long as there is a close reason that may be understood such that all questions that do not show what was tried are off-topic, some people will vote to close such questions. Hence this close reason should be removed.


The main purpose of having close reasons at all (instead of just telling the asker that the question was closed) is to allow close voters to inform the asker what is wrong with their question without having to write a custom comment every time. (A secondary purpose is to communicate the reason for closure to other users.)

If an asker does not report on prior attempts and due to this, it is unclear where the problem is, the default unclear reason is usually sufficiently informative in my opinion. If it isn’t, the low-effort close reason is rarely better and a custom comment is required anyway.

As for tutorial-on-demand questions, one might consider having a custom close reason tailored to them, but often too broad should suffice.


If a question has so little info that you are unsure what the asker wants, then leave a comment and downvote. If they are so bad that you can't make heads nor tails of it, vote to close with 'unclear what you're asking'.

I sligthly disagree with this. If there are two ways to interpret a question, this already leads to problems and the question should be closed. I would rather say:

If a question is so unclear that it cannot be reasonably answered in a way that would likely help the asker, vote to close as unclear.

4

I think we have two issues:

  1. Our close reasons are too similar and open to interpretation
  2. People too liberally using Close Vote when a Downvote would suffice

In 2015 we got rid of "Brainstorming" as a close reason for "No Effort" I'm not sure if this was the right decision. Now I think perhaps we should have gotten rid of Brainstorm and not replaced it.

For example, imagine a question:

What is the best way to create this??

enter image description here

Brainstorming, Opinion Based, Lack of Effort, and Too Broad are all valid close reasons. That's an issue. Opinion is the easiest fix, remove the word best from the question and its implied based on Votes - a good solution will be upvoted, a bad solution downvoted. The other 3 are all equally subjective and overlapping.

So we basically got rid of Brainstorming but replaced it with one better worded but equally subjective. We need to either remove the "Show your work" or "Too Broad" to solve this issue. In my opinion removing the "Show your work" is the more appropriate one to get rid of. We are then left with:

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

As the only close reason which would make sense for the above. And we could perhaps strengthen it further by rewriting it to:

There are either too many answers, or good answers would be too long for our format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate a problem with an issue you had. If this is a how-to question including what you tried is a great first step."

I fully acknowledge I had a part in creating the "No Effort" close reason, it wasn't necessarily a mistake but it obviously has failed this city!


Now the second part with Close Vote and Downvote.

I agree 100% with BESW and Wrzlprmft.

Failure to do research is a downvote reason, not a close reason.

And I'd rather let individual community members decide if they want to answer a poorly researched question anyways or not.

  • Correct me if I'm wrong but there is no way too remove or edit the "too broad" close reason is there? – Cai Jul 13 '16 at 21:50
  • @Cai, no, that's default. We can edit the three custom 'off-topic' reasons. – Vincent Jul 14 '16 at 10:33
  • As I though... In that case @Ryan are you suggesting we use one of the custom close reasons as a more specific version of the "too broad" reason? – Cai Jul 14 '16 at 10:37
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    @Cai no, then I'd suggest just using the regular Too Broad and if want to be nicer to the user leave a comment saying a good first step to get it reopened would be showing what they tried and where they got stuck. – Ryan Jul 14 '16 at 11:34
  • I didn't even have to imagine that question :p – Hanna Sep 2 '16 at 19:28
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First, I agree that there is a lack of voting and an overuse of close votes/flags. Seeing questions with multiple close votes and no downvotes makes no sense to me. If a question is poorly written or researched, downvote it. It should only be closed if it is specifically off-topic (or too broad or unclear).

Personally I don't see much practical value in the "What have you tried" close reason. The standard close reasons should be more than enough for dealing with these questions.

  1. If a question would take more than a few paragraphs to answer then it is, and should be closed as "Too broad".

  2. If the question is ambiguous and has too little information to answer then it should be closed as "Unclear what you're asking".

  3. If a question is too "basic" or simple then there is a good chance of a previous duplicate, or if there isn't maybe there should be.

I don't buy the argument that simple questions are easily found through a Google search. A lot of those questions are easily found through Google on a SE site! Having GDSE at the top of Google searches for design related searches is not a bad thing.

For questions that can reasonably be answered (i.e not too broad or unclear), I don't see the benefit of showing previous attempts. There is no reason it should affect answers (if it does then the question is either too broad or unlclear) and if anything it limits the scope of the question, limiting it's future usefulness. It just feels like making new users jump through hoops unnecessarily.

By closing these questions I seriously think we are limiting the site. There are nowhere near enough theory related questions to keep this site going so I say we embrace these questions. At least they are actually about design.

So my suggestion:

  1. Not showing previous attempts shouldn't be a reason to close a question in and of itself, so ditch the "Show what you've tried" close reason.

And instead:

  1. If a question shows no effort or is poorly written, downvote it.
  2. Close questions appropriately as "too broad" or "unclear".
  3. If you can improve the question, edit it yourself.
  4. Otherwise, answer the question!
3

As of today, we deactivated the off-topic reason 'no effort':

If you're asking for help with implementation, please include what you've tried and why it didn't work with screenshots. Please edit your post with what your desired results are, what resources you referenced and why those didn't work. See this meta post for discussion and see this post on how to ask a good question.

Please treat questions you'd give this close vote as per the consensus:

  • Downvote low-effort questions instead of voting to close. Remember to leave a comment on how the Q can be improved. Or edit it yourself.
  • 'Tutorial-on-demand' questions can be closed as 'too broad';
  • Questions unclear because of their brevity should be closed as 'unclear what you're asking'.
1

Failure to do research is a downvote reason, not a close reason.

I tend to believe they should be closed rightfully and if we do away with that close reason I think we are creating confusion for the new member if they are closed as too broad. If a question is unclear and someone attempts to answer it and the OP does come back and make an edit that completely contradicts what someone already tried to spend the time answering it 1) Isn't fair to the answerer and 2) places the answerer in a position of time wasted and risk of downvotes as the answer could be out of scope.

Maybe this is mostly coming from a coding perspective but I don't see why we shouldn't be requiring or encouraging new and old users to show effort. Now the topic on effort varies for some so let me be clear:

  • Pictures are worth a thousand words and help us understand what they are doing
  • Researching that particular softwares documentation as we have all seen a simple Google search could answer there question
  • Showing the search was attempted and if a question already exists that doesn't quite help would prevent the question for being closed as a duplicate in itself.

I will always be one to help ones that show some sort of effort but a one line sentence of "How do I do this" that would take someone a very long time to do and become a tutorial defeats the SE model, reference Can we flag tutorial questions? which states:

Questions asking for tutorials on a certain topic are always off-topic.

My understanding of a good SE site is quality questions with quality answers. If we remove the close reason we are just adding more confusion and saying we except any question which I don't think we should. Again, we are not a tutorial board and as I've been told before, people search and come here for the answers and careless about the question so why not help those by getting a better answer if the question is clearer?

As the tour states:

enter image description here

On the other side, I am all for modifying the close reasons but doing away with this I disagree on. In regards to closing I think we do vote to close more then we should and I think some Adobe questions that are voted to be closed as tech support shouldn't as we allow several other questions and the question may just need an edit.

If a question has so little info that you are unsure what the asker wants, then leave a comment and downvote. If they are so bad that you can't make heads nor tails of it, vote to close with 'unclear what you're asking'.

That's going to be a judgement call on that particular user and I think you would be shifting votes from one close reason to another.

In regards to the two questions it is troubling to seem the votes:

  • I do not think that potential chameleon questions (i.e., the asker changes the question and thereby invalidates answers) should be closed for that reason alone. We might make a clear statement for reverting the question in such a case, so that nobody can complain. Either way, if the question is so clear that it is not answerable, we can still close it as unclear. The main point of this change (as I understand it) is that we should not close questions only because they do not show what was tried. – Wrzlprmft Jul 13 '16 at 14:20
  • As for the tutorial problem: Why not reduce/change the close reason to this? – Wrzlprmft Jul 13 '16 at 14:22
  • We could change it but I dont see what that solves as some would deem the issue a tutorial or too broad. A question should be clear to it's intended goal and a majority of them are not that. Simply removing the close reason and saying to use this reason will not solve the issue. – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Jul 13 '16 at 14:23
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    Well, at the end of the day, close reasons exist to provide the asker with helpful information as to why their question was closed. However, if there is a close reason that can be interpreted as if all questions not showing what was tried are off-topic, some people will close all such questions – not only the ones that are actually unanswerable. – Wrzlprmft Jul 13 '16 at 14:28
  • Imho, wasting time on a 'chameleon question', is 1) rare, as those Qs are rare; 2) on the answerer's own risk. They should have asked for clarification. Blunt, I know :) – Vincent Jul 13 '16 at 15:15
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    @Vincent: on the answerer's own risk – If the question was unclear before, yes. If it wasn’t, the answerer should be able to insist on reverting it. The asker can always ask another question. – Wrzlprmft Jul 13 '16 at 15:18
  • @Wrzlprmft seconded. – Vincent Jul 13 '16 at 22:48
  • The problem with down voting is that it has absolutely no effect on a new user. So closing forces the user to either come up with a dialog or go away permanently with no damage done. – joojaa Jul 14 '16 at 12:51
  • @joojaa It does. The question gets displayed lower, it has a worse image. Rep is only secondary. – Vincent Jul 14 '16 at 13:01
  • @Vincent sure but it affects nearly nothing in the grand scheme of things – joojaa Jul 14 '16 at 13:06
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    @joojaa I disagree. Five downvotes makes a question fade, more flags it for deletion. – Vincent Jul 14 '16 at 13:10
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I don't disagree with anything stated here, however I've always been hesitant towards downvoting because we get so few questions that the homepage doesn't change very quickly.

A flurry of poor questions may result in a homepage full of minus and zero score questions, discouraging new questions.

I'd like to see a bit more down voting instead of close-voting, but I'd also prefer to avoid a negative score homepage by continuing to close some of the questions. It's far from a concrete policy, I'm just adding other factors to be considered and my personal preference.

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    I disagree with this. I'd rather see negative scores than closed or on-hold. People can always decide to upvote or answer even if a question has a negative score. There's even badge rewards for people that take the time to answer questions that aren't viewed favorably. – Ryan Jul 13 '16 at 16:55
  • I +1'd this answer because I think it is a valid concern, but I do agree with @Ryan's stance. – Vincent Jul 14 '16 at 10:34
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    @Ryan My only concern is a homepage full of negative numbers. Imagine if you came to a site to ask a question and every question on the homepage has a negative score; I'm pretty sure you'd hesitate and reevaluate your question. Additionally, I like that my dumb questions can be struck from record rather than tarnishing my profile permanently with highly negative scores. – Dom Jul 14 '16 at 12:16
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    If I'm a newcomer in a community, I can learn from closed questions. Downvoted questions past -1 or so just make me think the community is overly critical – Zach Saucier Jul 16 '16 at 23:52
  • @ZachSaucier I disagree. Closed questions disappear, downvoted ones don't. Questions should only be closed because their quality is too low to be kept. – Vincent Jul 22 '16 at 13:34

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