For the "unclear what you're asking" hold reason, the lack of quotation marks makes the phrasing in the "on hold" box confusing and awkward:

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put on hold as unclear what you're asking by definitely made me read twice (I expect that for people new to the site, and not used to seeing close reasons, it would seem like broken English or even spam). Adding quotation marks, to make it put on hold as "unclear what you're asking" by makes more immediate sense to me. Another alternative is to italicize the close reason or otherwise distinguish it from the rest of the text.

As animuson noted in the comments, the simplest solution might be to shorten "unclear what you're asking" to simply "unclear": "what you're asking" seems unnecessary, and no other hold reason uses "you" in the title.

  • 18
    I think that's the only close reason that doesn't really make sense in the context it's put in, and I don't really like the way it's worded anyways. I'd much rather shorten it to one or two words; perhaps just see "unclear" there. The "what you're asking" part seems so redundant and useless, like it was only put there to make the reason read longer.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 17:53
  • 18
    Perhaps an additional improvement would be to provide some specific wording for each reason: "Put on hold because it is unclear what you are asking." Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 17:53
  • meta.stackexchange.com/a/185126/209357
    – Antony
    Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 17:08
  • 1
    "If this close reason can be reworded to fit the context, please post on meta." (Which is what you've done here of course, but I'm just trying to be clever.) Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 17:15
  • 2
    I agree - it's pretty awkward. Lemme think on this for a bit and I'll come back with a proposal for corrections.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 15:47
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    I think the other ones are pretty awkward, too. "Put on hold as off-topic" doesn't sound like English unless you mentally translate "put on hold" to "closed", which defeats the point. George Cummins' preferred "because" wording would be better for all of them.
    – ruakh
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 0:03
  • 1
    or replace that as with a colon. put on hold: unclear what you're asking
    – roippi
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 18:06

4 Answers 4


They should definitely come up with specific phrases for each hold reason as George Cummins pointed out. I would go with a combination of animuson's and George's answer:

Put on hold because it is unclear.

  • My issues with this suggestion are a) The pronoun "it" doesn't have an antecedent ("This question was put on hold because it..." would be better), and b) This would likely be a more involved implementation for the development team, while just changing the reason from "unclear what you're asking" to "unclear" sounds like a smaller change. Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 17:22
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    @DavidRobinson, while I'm fine with just the change to "unclear", I think the antecedent is given by context. Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 17:23

In regards to the point made by David Robinson in Lance Roberts' answer (that of adding the specific context of "This question" to the note), I am not opposed to something like this:

This question has been put on hold because it is unclear

Or possibly

This question is on hold because it is unclear


Simplest solution, to me, is to put the descriptive phrase in quotes.

put on hold as "unclear what you're asking" by ...

  • I just noticed that double quotes can make everything an adjective.
    – SE is dead
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 13:42

The clearest way to put it seems to be:

Put on hold as your question is unclear.


Put on hold as what you're asking is unclear.

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