Two years ago, "not a real question" was modified to include "too broad" as a reason. Having spent some time on the review tool, I now believe that closing questions that are too broad as "not a real question" isn't really adequate.

First off, "not a real question" for broad questions is misleading. Often, broad questions are very real questions, like "how do I build a social networking site?" It's just that they're not the format of question that Stack Overflow aims to answer. This is fundamentally different to questions are actually are not questions, like "I made this algorithm."

A real "too broad" category would make it clearer that a question is closed because the user needs to pinpoint something more particular about a problem to get help, and would be good counterbalance to "too localized".

I make the distinction between "too broad" and "not a real question" in that questions that are too broad would require an answer with multiple steps, such that it's clear what's being asked but they're too complex to tackle in a single post, while "not real questions" are simply ambiguous and unclear.

The text could be like:

Too broad

Questions on this site are expected to pinpoint a particular issue with a certain approach to a problem. This question seeks to find way to approach a problem, or would require an answer with multiple aspects.

This close reason could then also be used for questions that are made of multiple questions.

  • 2
    I agree - with one caveat: what happens in two years from now when a user proposes too broad to be merged with NARQ or Not Constructive? I can see this going both ways. Apr 2, 2013 at 23:40
  • I don't know if this is exactly what we should move toward, but UV because right now NARQ is a catch-all. It can essentially be renamed to "I don't like this question," or "There is something wrong with this question, but it's of poor enough quality to tell exactly what."
    – djechlin
    Apr 2, 2013 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


Splitting this reason out would be good, personally when reviewing I see a lot more questions that are too broad in scope than I do where it isn't a real question. Lumping these reasons together can be confusing to the new person who is both trying to understand programming and trying to understand how to compose a question for the site.

But the problem is, how do you prevent the Too broad reason from becoming quite subjective and used incorrectly? Maybe the system should automatically cancel any Too broad votes once a specific answer threshold is met, which will probably be a combination of quantity of answers combined with quality (measured by up votes). If a number of people can answer a question, or a number of up votes can be cast then the question clearly isn't too broad.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .