There are a lot of questions that show no attempt at solving the problem oneself. This is by no means the only problem with questions (the main others that come to mind is asking others to debug your code and not describing the problem with your code properly), but let's focus on this for now - this question can largely be read with the others in mind.

And I'm not talking about "Plz hlp, rite codez 4 mez!" type questions. These get plenty of downvotes and get closed quick enough. I'm talking about the questions that actually look fairly decent, at least on the surface - they often explain the problem clearly, they may show examples of what they want, but they're still lacking a visible attempt at solving said problem.

Most of these get a "What have you tried?" type comment (with a few upvotes) fairly quickly, but many of these aren't downvoted at all / upvoted more, don't accumulate any close votes and get answers (and most of the time the OP's don't add some attempt at solving the problem themselves, even though many say "I have searched" and "I have tried", but it's easy to say you've done something without having actually done it - it's called "lying").

I've primarily noticed this problem in , and (on my other main tags the questions tend to get downvoted to infinity and closed, but not always either).

Can we make an effort to close questions sooner and be more strict on at least having to show some attempt? Personally, I think we should try to close these questions as soon as they're asked (in like 5 minutes or less). It doesn't really help that we stick around, waiting for OP to give an attempt when other people upvote it and give answers.

Sure, this won't really add to the 'niceness-factor', but only at first (hopefully) - once people grow accustomed to the fact that we're actually enforcing these rules we're currently only selectively applying, help vampires should find themselves another lair and everyone else should make an attempt before asking a question, thus average quality of the questions should improve a lot, and the "What have you tried?" comments should stop / get a lot less.

Keep in mind that questions can be reopened. We even wanted to highlight this by changing the display from "closed" to "on hold". In my opinion, it's better to quickly close bad questions and have them reopened after being edited, or deleted and re-asked properly.

Some examples I just gathered of questions asked during the last day: (some are downvoted and some closed, but part of my point is that this doesn't happen soon enough)




  • 9
    That's why we have the close vote review queue. Oh. wait.
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:03
  • @Oded I see plenty of activity on these questions from 3k+ users - thus them voting wouldn't really take a lot of effort, but they're not doing it. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:05
  • All you can do is comment to these users - educate them.
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:05
  • @Oded I suppose, but that's a lot of educating (and it would be a fairly uphill battle if the community doesn't agree, for some reason). I figured I'd just post a Meta discussion to try to do it more in-batch (which I can then maybe also link to, assuming it's taken well). Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:09
  • 2
    Those [sql] questions sure got a lot of upvotes for not trying anything. And I keep seeing the same users answering these questions, too... Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:30
  • 8
    Wow, someone literally posts the exact text of their homework assignment, in quotes to make it clear that that's exactly what it is, and gets 3 upvotes and 3 answers. Really?
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 14:11
  • 1
    Personally I don't care too much about effort. It should be clearly written including all necessary information, no duplicate and preferably interesting. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 14:31
  • Related: How soon should I vote to close?
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 20:33

2 Answers 2


I fully support immediate close-voting if the question doesn't show due effort. Often-times the OP will never update their question again and it deserves to be closed. The "on hold" feature makes it clear to new users that this closure is not permanent and binding, should they decide to act upon the comments and improve their question.

And perhaps I'm a little heartless, but I'm not that bothered about being overly nice. Polite, yes, but not nice. When I first used the site, I read the (then) FAQ and posted well-formed questions from day one. Vampires be damned, I say.

stake them!

I think part of the problem stems from people hoping a few comments will make the OP change their ways and they may never get round to casting the close vote that is required. But I'm not sure how we get that message out to the close voters...

  • 17
    The core problem is users who continually answer such questions, thus reinforcing the OP's behavior (a certain 100K+ rep user springs to mind). Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:37
  • 4
    agree with @LBT -- it would be interesting to try something like automatic deletion of low score fastest-gun answers on question closure. That way would level the playing field a bit for those making effort to close / delete garbage with roomba and also teach answerers to more carefully evaluate risks before dropping their stuff into bad questions
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:50
  • 1
    @gnat - Fascinating! I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:54
  • @gnat I would seriously curtail my participation if that kind of automatic deletion were implemented. It makes a judgment on no less than three things that the community should really be deciding: 1) that a particular answerer needs teaching solely because s/he chose to answer a question; 2) that the "risks" -- whatever those are -- were not evaluated; 3) that the question is indeed bad and not worth answering (because if someone is answering it, they must think it's worth answering!) You close if you want; I'll answer if I want. Fair enough? :)
    – John
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 14:23
  • 7
    @John you probably didn't notice low score part in my comment - which is a pity, because it is a core of the idea. If your answer didn't deserve anything more than a single random upvote / accept, likely from the asker, trying to squeeze a little bit sympathy to their closed question and tiny +2 from accept, is it worth keeping? If OTOH you believe that you're good enough to get 3, 5, 10 upvotes - go ahead, take the risk and shoot it, fully expecting that it will be there no matter what - assuming of course that your answer will be indeed good enough for that. Fair enough?
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 14:36
  • 2
    @gnat - this is compelling. I have to agree.. a small penalty on the answerer seems justified. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 15:17
  • @gnat, no, the concept that the answerer is taking a risk is foreign to me. Why is a 0/+1 answer on a good question any different than a 0/+1 answer on a poor one? It's still a 0/+1 answer. You're wanting to judge the merits of the answer -- and the intentions of the answerer, apparently -- by the question. When I answer a question, I'm trying to help -- probably the same thing you're trying to do by closing the question. If I get penalized for a mediocre answer to a poor question, do you get penalized if you vote to close a question that is later reopened? Why is that not a risk to you?
    – John
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 15:47
  • 3
    @gnat Perhaps instead a scheme where the answerer gets their reputation revoked if the question is closed within X hours/days after asking. So old questions with massive reputation are not punished when they are eventually closed, but nobody gains rep by answering a question that is clearly going to be closed. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 15:54
  • @John regarding reopened questions, I think for these the right thing to do would be to also undelete mentioned answers, along with their score, accepts, rep etc. I gave quite a lot of thought to this use case because I believe reopen is a fundamental feature, and I feel quite strongly that doing the other way would be a profoundly bad idea. As for penalizing close voters on reopen, my only concern about this is this could incentivize them block reopens (you know, the same guys vote close and reopen) - other than that, it could probably be some fun
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 22:23

. I'm talking about the questions that actually look fairly decent, at least on the surface - they often explain the problem clearly, they may show examples of what they want, but they're still lacking a visible attempt at solving said problem.

OK, so you're asking us to be a little meaner now ;-)

Ah, I'm a sucker for those people that seem to have good intentions. I say we should give them a chance at least. They have at least put the code into code-style font, they have said "thanks" , they do seem halfway serious.

But there probably needs to be a halfway point betsween downvoting it to death and letting it waste everybody's time. I think that solutio would then be to give it a "putting-on-hold"-close. I'd like to see more of these wishy-washy halfway-decent questions put to close without excessive downvotes.

It'd be good if there was a way for mods to sort-of freeze these questions. That way, the OP realizes "OK my questions is hmm.. incomplete. I needto do more work , I guess"

I realize that that basically happens. So to make it easier for everyone, would be ideal.

So a compromise of sorts. Close these questions benignly , i.e without the roughness of spam-post-closures.

  • 1
    I definitely don't think we should treat these half-decent-looking (but still lacking) questions and completely terrible questions exactly the same. But I also think that simply closing a question (even if done quickly) might not be sufficient demotivation from simply trying again, especially if they accumulate the inevitable upvotes and answers from some users. Hence I think an occasional downvote or two is necessary. Or perhaps we should simply consider a question ban for closed questions as well (as there are for downvoted questions). Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 15:10

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