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After seeing a new user's question closed less than two minutes after being opened for "not a real question" (when all it really needed was a reword), I can't help but wonder - do we actually give any guidance to the asker beyond just the standard:

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

If we don't, I think it would be a good idea to automatically display link to some SOFAQs, such as How do you reopen a closed question? or How to ask a smart question?, and possibly the style guide FAQ as well (this guidance only really needs to be shown to the asker, and only if they have low reputation). Simply closing the question with an inscrutable reason doesn't tell the OP what they need to improve, after all - and a new user may have no idea that closed questions can be reopened at all.

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3 Answers 3

The How to Ask page is shown to every new user before they post a question. (Log out and try to ask a question to see what I mean.) It's also always linked in the sidebar on the Ask Question page. I don't think people's questions are getting closed because we don't make this information available, I think they just aren't bothering to read it.

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It is also linked from the sidebar on the "Ask Question" page for subsequent questions. –  Anna Lear Sep 12 '11 at 2:55
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Exactly. People don't read before posting. This is basic human psychology, and there's not much we can do about it (short of quizzing them on the contents afterward). But they might read after their question is closed, when they're actually looking for the information ("My question was closed? Why?") –  bdonlan Sep 12 '11 at 3:00
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@bdonlan: The page that I linked to (now fixed) is the one that I'd add to that close message. I know the off-topic reason already links to the FAQ. –  Bill the Lizard Sep 12 '11 at 3:07

This is an excellent idea, in fact such a good idea it's hard to believe it's not already the case. If a post is bad but salvageable, then we want it to be salvaged. While we need to take a hard line in rejecting crap, we should also accept all the good stuff we can get. Your previous feature request seemed to indicate that posters of closed questions needed more work and help, or at least leniency, from the rest of us, with which I do not agree. They need to do the work, but they also need the information about the nature of that work.

As you say in your comment on Bill's answer, people don't read warning messages or click-throughs, unless they are motivated to do so by needing the information to get something they want. Closing questions quickly and rigorously is important for the overall quality of the site, and, importantly, it provides the motivation for askers of closed questions to clean up their problematic posts. The functionality to perform that cleanup also already exists. As the third leg, we should absolutely make it as easy as possible for an asker to obtain the knowledge of what cleanup needs to be performed.

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I agree with you, I think in the closing statement. there should be link on how to reopen and how to ask question. it is true there are FAQ and help reachable. but those users with closed questions usually don't bother to read before they encounter closed question. or they might have trouble reading in English.

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