It's generally agreed that asking multiple, weakly related questions in the same question is not a good idea.

What is the recommended action in this case? gnostradamus recommends voting to close, with a reason. That sounds reasonable. However, in this particular case the user is new and inexperienced, and I am a site moderator, so my vote will be binding. It's unlikely the original questioner would re-ask the three questions if it was shut. They got their answer(s), after all. Re-asking on their behalf seems like a non-starter - they wouldn't get alerts or rep, the context is lost for comments, I'd have some boring questions on my profile, etc. But leaving it as is is pretty useless for future searchers.

Three questions then, all related:

  • Is vote to close the correct thing to do?
  • Should moderators close, or be content with posting a comment?
  • Should an "inverse-merge" mechanism exist, to allow moderators to split questions?
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Voting to close as per suggestion. –  Rosinante Jan 29 '12 at 18:36
@Rosinante - Oh, hilarious. Your pedantry is unwarranted - my sub-questions are strongly related. –  ire_and_curses Jan 29 '12 at 20:19
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Is vote to close the correct thing to do?

Essentially, IMO, yes. Multi-part questions simply don't work well here. However, with newbies, I would ask them to separate the questions themselves first. If the questions are otherwise sound, closing the question without giving them a chance to fix it feels like the wrong signal to give.

If they don't react after a reasonable time span, close.

Should moderators close, or be content with posting a comment?

Mods should absolutely comment at first, but it's their job to close if the OP does not show any inclination to fix the situation. If for example they continue to interact with others, but ignore your comment, that for me would be the point where it's time to mod-close.

Should an "inverse-merge" mechanism exist, to allow moderators to split questions?

It's an intriguing idea, but I'm not sure how feasible it is - this situation arguably doesn't happen that often, and finding their question suddenly multiplied would probably cause more confusion for the new user, than help them. I think trying to solve this manually by talking to the OP should be the way to go.

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I agree. Can you comment on the other two parts of my question? –  ire_and_curses Jan 29 '12 at 16:47
@ire done, I added my 2c –  Pëkka Jan 29 '12 at 16:58
+1; The "Split" functionality seems troublesome to me. If the user's posts are split for them; they'll never learn to do it the right way. "Oh, A mod will just do it for me". –  vcsjones Jan 29 '12 at 17:02
Normally when a user posts a bunch of questions in one, it's because they don't know what they're doing and want us to it for them. –  animuson Jan 29 '12 at 20:44
@animuson true, but if we do it for them, they don't learn. –  Pëkka Jan 29 '12 at 23:53
@Pekka: I didn't mean learning how to use SO, I meant programming in general, which we would close as not a real question anyways, because they need to actually try things, not just ask us to build it for them. –  animuson Jan 29 '12 at 23:55
@animus ahh, I understand what you meant now. Yeah, that's true, although not necessarily always. Sometimes, they just don't know how to do things around here –  Pëkka Jan 29 '12 at 23:59
@Pekka웃: How about if a moderator split off just one sub-question, closing the original one, and encouraging the OP to ask additional sub-questions as new questions? That would cause less confusion and might provide reasonable motivation. –  einpoklum Mar 20 '13 at 20:02
@vcsjones: My suggestion above also addresses your concern. The moderator will never do more than half the work for you. –  einpoklum Mar 20 '13 at 20:03
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