I've noticed that questions being closed as "not constructive" tends to create a lot of confusion, since there are many possible reasons why a question might be closed as "not constructive".

I think a more specific rationale should be given (or perhaps required) when questions are closed as "not constructive": many topics on Meta Stack Overflow, such as these ones, were created because of this ambiguity.

If users were required to offer specific explanations when closing questions as "not constructive", this inherent ambiguity would be avoided entirely, and users wouldn't be left wondering why their questions were closed.

  • Perhaps you should name a few examples? – Charles Nov 20 '12 at 18:04
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    "not constructive" tends to be a catch-all for questions that don't have a concrete answer. I often see marks on both "not constructive" and "not a real question" at the same time – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '12 at 18:04
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    If someone is confused they can post a comment asking for further explanation, or make a post on meta. What's the problem with that? Adding lots of extra close reasons will complicate the closing process quite a bit. What specific close reasons do you think "not constructive" should be broken into? – Servy Nov 20 '12 at 18:04
  • @SamIam That would be "not a real question" for the most part, not "not constructive", although lots of questions do tend to be both. – Servy Nov 20 '12 at 18:04
  • @Charles I posted a link above - the link contains numerous examples of questions that were closed as "not constructive." – Anderson Green Nov 20 '12 at 18:05
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    @servy As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance. sounds like questions that don't have a concrete answer to me. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '12 at 18:06
  • @SamIam It would be better if a more specific explanation could be given in these circumstances - it doesn't offer a specific explanation as to why the question was closed, but instead provides a wide variety of possible reasons, without specifying the most relevant one. – Anderson Green Nov 20 '12 at 18:08
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    NARQ: Questions that are unclear, too broad, vague/ambiguous or rhetorical (not real questions, indeed). NC: Questions that ask for polls, opinions and not objective facts, advice and not solution to concrete problems. By the way: a question can have a handful of possible answers, of course. But when the handful becomes 15, 20, 30 answers, then it starts getting into the not constructive zone. – Alenanno Nov 20 '12 at 18:09
  • Asking for examples really defeats the purpose here guys. This is a general issue the OP is asking about. Stick to the topic and debate the merits of the topic. – GEOCHET Nov 20 '12 at 18:10


We at SE are working on ways to improve the clarity of our close reasons so that it's more explicit to users (particularly those who aren't intimately familiar with our model) what the exact problem with the closed questions are, as well as what (if anything) the OP can do to improve the question.

  • If there's a close reason that needs improvement, that's the Too localized one. :P – Alenanno Nov 20 '12 at 19:10
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    @Alenanno We're looking to improve all of the close reasons :) – Laura Nov 20 '12 at 19:12
  • Ah ok... :) It's just that I noticed it's the one that creates more confusion, generally speaking. – Alenanno Nov 20 '12 at 19:13
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    "Too localized" is really confusing, but so are "not a real question" and "not constructive" if you haven't seen a lot of examples of what that means (and why it's bad). We can do a better job all around at providing more helpful explanations and applicable actions rather than having people rely on intuition to know what "not a real question" is. – Laura Nov 20 '12 at 19:16
  • Of course, if a better wording can be provided, I'm all for it! :) – Alenanno Nov 20 '12 at 19:18
  • @Laura Which improvements are being implemented, specifically? – Anderson Green Nov 20 '12 at 19:19
  • @AndersonGreen We're still working out the specifics and floating around a bunch of different ideas. Keep an eye out here (MSO) in the coming weeks, though; we'll be looking for input from the community once we have a coherent plan. – Laura Nov 20 '12 at 19:25
  • It doesn't help that both "not constructive" and NARQ tend to get used as generic catch-all close reasons when a question is clearly not going to produce worthwhile answers. Sometimes they both apply, and often the question is so poorly written it's hard to tell which is more accurate. – McCannot Nov 20 '12 at 19:27
  • @McCannot: In that context it really doesn't matter which close reason is used, although I favor NaRQ for those questions where it is difficult to tell. – user102937 Nov 20 '12 at 19:29
  • @RobertHarvey: Doesn't matter to you, or to the people closing it, sure. But it does make it harder for new users to understand why a question was closed. – McCannot Nov 20 '12 at 19:32
  • The right close reason when a question is clearly not going to produce worthwhile answers is NaRQ. – user102937 Nov 20 '12 at 19:34
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    I didn't come up with it, but I've been using "not a good fit" ( saw it somewhere on Meta once). As a close reason, that gets my vote over "not constructive". – George Stocker Nov 22 '12 at 16:11
  • I think it's ironic that this answer got so many upvotes, while my question got so many downvotes. It seems a bit contradictory, doesn't it? – Anderson Green Mar 2 '13 at 17:23

I think you may have identified a problem, but I think your solution is lacking, possibly due to not understanding the real issue.

I am not sure that this is a major issue on questions closed (as they should be) by multiple members of the community. The times I would agree the most with this is when we see moderators using their 'single vote' power to close a question.

However, I think this is what Meta is for. I think questions about why a question was closed are best taken to Meta to be hashed out and discussed. Moderators should always be prepared to articulate their reasoning and rationale for using their powers including what should be a higher burden for why they felt they needed to perform the action instead of letting the community take care of it.

When users all vote to close the question, they will likely articulate on Meta, but I don't see a major need or problem considering their action(s) can be undone by the same amount of community members.

Note that the first hit in the search you provide, the moderator close vote is exactly the issue being complained about:

Why was this question closed as "not constructive"?

Luckily in that case, the moderator's decision was overturned by the community:


So is the second one:

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/7560693/twitter-bootstrap-any-tutorials (10K only)

You may want to narrow this request.

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