What should we do with questions which were closed for "minimal understanding" reason? Most of them are just questions which show lack of effort (and/or understanding) and are perfectly answerable.

Should I vote to reopen when one of those comes in sight?

Should I vote to reopen when I encounter one in a Reopen queue?

If so, Reopen + Downvote seems like the "right" way for now which seems a bit illogical.

Ordinarily, I'd think that both of these situations are exactly the same - the question is either valid, or not. But I'm quite confused about the updated rules and it seems like if someone has suggested to reopen a question, I have no valid reason to reject such a request, keeping in mind that it shouldn't have been closed in the first place (according to the new rules).

The conclusion that they should not be closed, but rather downvoted is drawn from this discussion: What happened to the "You're Just Lazy" close vote reason?

Quote @Tim_Post:

We're not going to close a question that can be answered from what has been provided within the question itself simply because folks feel that the person asking it is not deserving of our help.

My reasoning is that if we close old questions which are no longer up to the standards, same should apply in reverse. If a question is valid according to the current rules, it should not be closed, hence, should be reopened. While I'm against such course of action, I can't help but conclude that the current set of rules implies that this is the right way. If so, they must be adjusted to clarify this.

Example questions:


Adding Column SQL Access


Dictionaries and why I keep printing every result



how to use php or js to record the stay time of user in my web site page?

SQL query search ampersand &

  • Can you link to some examples of questions that were closed with "minimal understanding" that show a lack of effort and also display (at least a) minimal understanding of the problem? Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:03
  • If you don't suggest that course of action, then you should perhaps word the whole thing differently and criticize the state of affairs that lead you to the conclusion. Because it's a horrible state of affairs if that's true. But in its current form the question looks like you're advocating reopening all the crap and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict that will not go down well :)
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:09
  • I downvoted because I don't see any evidence for the assertion that "most of them are just questions which show lack of effort." If you can back this up with some examples that show lack of effort along with minimal understanding, I'll remove my downvote (even though this still doesn't prove that most of them only displayed lack of effort rather than lack of understanding). Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:12
  • @TheCommunity It is irrelevant. If at least a small fraction of them are in this category, they are under the doubt. Their proportion doesn't really matter.
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:15
  • 1
    @sashkello I'm still reading through these, but IMO all of the ones I've read so far demonstrate a lack of understanding (or at least do not clearly demonstrate understanding) as well as a lack of effort, so I see no reason they shouldn't fall under the "minimal understanding" reason. I guess "minimal understanding" is a pretty subjective thing, though. Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:17
  • @TheCommunity Yes, but there is no "minimal understanding" reason any more. Thus, questions are wrongfully closed, aren't they?
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:20
  • @TheCommunity You misunderstood my question and I don't see why because neither lack of effort or lack of understanding are included in the closing reasons at the moment, so it is not either/or question.
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:27
  • @sashkello, my comments were based on an earlier revision of your question, which seemed to imply that the "minimal understanding" reason had been used improperly because the questions just showed lack of effort. Anyway, if you think "minimal understanding" will be removed from the FAQ, I guess you can wait until that happens and then try to resurrect some of these questions, on the grounds that they aren't OT per the FAQ (if you see some value in having them around, anyway). Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:47
  • @TheCommunity I edited it to clarify what I mean, yes. I don't see how FAQ is relevant. There is a new set of closing reasons and I linked to a discussion on meta from which I draw my conclusions. FAQ is a guide for users asking questions, and is not a guideline for reviewers.
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:51
  • 1
    @sashkello I definitely agree that the FAQ is geared towards askers more than closers, but I still think it's relevant, and is the best canonical resource we have as far as what's OT. As long as that's in the FAQ, I think those things are clearly OT, with or without a boilerplate close reason. Hopefully, a semi-static resource like that will always trump meta discussion. It can always be updated if meta discussions lead to better language. Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:04
  • @TheCommunity If FAQ or whatever else is unclear, the next step is meta. That's why I refer to the discussion on this topic in my question.
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:20

2 Answers 2


Here's what you should do when you encounter a question that is closed for any reason:


Note that this also doubles as a handy Stack Overflow drinking game.

  • But Beer.SE isn't in private beta yet.
    – user213963
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:28
  • 1
    I will have a coffee instead of beer.
    – Himanshu
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:29
  • 2
    You forgot the arrow with a ??? leading to 'Profit' from 'Go have a beer'.
    – jmac
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:34
  • @hims056 that one is still in definition.
    – user213963
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:35
  • 1
    Now this is the kind of leadership I could get used to. Belgian White for me. :D Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:40
  • 12
    Thanks, now I've got to blow in this little tube before I can access the developer tools because I've reopened eight questions.
    – user50049
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 6:13
  • Can you make one of these (this good) for closing questions? I saw one already, but this describes everything more clearly... it would be nice to have a reference. Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 2:19

You don't go around reopening all the "not constructive" closed questions just because the reason can't be used anymore, do you? If you honestly feel that the question should be open, then vote to reopen. Whether or not the reason can still be used shouldn't be relevant in your decision.

  • So, your answer basically means that I can just close and reopen whatever I want to, irrelevant to the provided closing reasons. The closing reasons are relevant, the are representing the community guidelines.
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 3:55
  • 9
    I'm saying you need to evaluate the question without thinking "this reason isn't used anymore, so it should be reopened." Just because that reason no longer exists doesn't magically make the question a good, acceptable question in our community. Do other close reasons still apply to it? The "minimal understanding" reason wasn't removed, it was replaced.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 3:57
  • OK, so, if a question is old, rules have changed and it is no longer valid, we close it. If the question is old, was closed and the closing reason is no longer valid, my understanding is that it should be reopened. I'm mostly referring now to "give me teh codez" questions - apparently, they are OK now, but were not OK before.
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:00
  • @sashkello Why do you think they are ok now?
    – user213963
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:01
  • @MichaelT this meta.stackexchange.com/questions/216491/…
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:01
  • 1
    @sashkello it's still the second item in stackoverflow.com/help/on-topic - it's just not a canned close reason.
    – user213963
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:07
  • @MichaelT That page needs updating, and it will be changed.
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:16
  • "Just because that reason no longer exists doesn't magically make the question a good, acceptable question in our community." Please refer to the meta discussion linked in the question. It seems like, this is not the case.
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:29
  • 2
    @sash, it seems to me Tim is very clear on what you're supposed to do: "Close questions that can't be answered. Ignore those you don't feel deserve to be answered." If you think a question deserves to be answered and can be answered, then go ahead and cast a re-open vote for it. Where is the issue with the current guidelines exactly?
    – jmac
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:07
  • @jmac So, all the questions I linked above can (and should) be reopened?
    – sashkello
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:17
  • 4
    @sash, "If you think a question deserves to be answered and can be answered, then go ahead and cast a re-open vote for it." They all can be re-opened if you and 4 people agree that they should be. Why is this so complicated? If you think they can't be answered or don't deserve to be, then don't cast a re-open vote.
    – jmac
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 5:21

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