Take for example, the question that brought me to this site, via Google.
I have the exact same question. It is a perfectly reasonable question. It is not open-ended, although the OP forgot to mention it worked before upgrading; he clarified that in a comment.
As a reader and consumer of the product here, I don't find responses like "go ask the vendor" to be constructive. I don't find the canned message to be useful, and I doubt the original posters do either -- just which reason do the people voting think was violated?
After encountering this sort of thing repeatedly, I think that some people -- a critical mass -- have taken to closing questions with too much enthusiasm, and I think it creates a bad atmosphere. If it bugs me to see it as a reader, think how it must feel to people who get effectively stomped on. I think we're creating an unnecessarily repressive atmosphere here.
My question isn't about specific people, or specific questions, but rather, what changes can we make in policies, procedures, workflow, messaging, etc. that might make a positive difference?
As a user who came here with a question, and found it closed instead of answered, I find this cutting off of communications aggravating.
I believe I have a possible answer to the question, but now I cannot offer it.
This is far from the first time I've found perfectly good questions closed like this. In fact. I find some of the same names on the closing votes repeatedly, but I don't think that's the ultimate source of the problem, though I think there are opportunities for individuals to change their behavior in ways that would improve the situation.
Actual closures require multiple people voting to close. That can happen before people who actually DO understand the question, as written, get a chance to answer it.
As in the title, why do people vote to close questions, rather than alternatives, like perhaps asking questions, or accepting they may simply not have enough information to recognize what is being asked?
There certainly ARE ill-formed questions, but often any problems with a legitimate question can be easily cleared up (as with the first question above, as comments, before it was closed).
Why do people reach for the "close" hammer so readily, and what can be done to improve the process?
I have a few suggestions:
Change the suggested policy, to be that before voting to close, you should offer (if it isn't already offered) your objection, and give the OP a chance to correct the problem.
When voting to close, rather than the canned, uninformative message, ask the voter just WHICH reason or reasons to close are being invoked, and record those. I'd suggest making the aggregated set of voted reasons visible. It doesn't have to be tied to individuals, just let the OP (and spectators) know what set of issues are viewed as applying.
Introduce a new state prior to close, perhaps called "On hold". Issues can be reopened, true, but "closed" sounds very final, and doesn't encourage people to fix their questions.
But I expect there are other things that can be done. In particular, what prompted the form of my question is that some questions that meet every criterion, out of the box, get voted to close. I would guess that these are people who simply did not understand the question properly -- if so, then why did they vote to close, rather than abstain?
Of course, my guess may be inaccurate -- that's why this is a question.