I normally have arguments when VTC'ing a Q with several answers, good or bad, because they tell me "but it's a good question, look at the answers". IMO, that's not a good excuse to leave open a question. If a question is unclear, even if some answers try to take stabs in the dark with awesome explanations of what could be wrong, we still wouldn't know until OP tries and fail and then add the new results, you know, the usual troubleshooting. Or worse, when the question is actually a poll or just trying to gather opinion on some topics, in which almost any answer could be equally valid.

Either way, should I actually read the answers when voting to close, or I should vote to close the question, independently of the answers that may have.


4 Answers 4


You should vote to close the question independently of the answers.

Could the "answers" potentially help someone? Sure. But if they are guessing what is wrong with the post in order to answer the "question" then people are probably more likely to find an answer to their problem elsewhere...one that specifies a direct/valid question. And if there are answers then they will still be there if the question is edited into shape to be considered for reopening. Besides the fact that the answers will still be on the post, those people really shouldn't be answering a question that should be closed.

I don't think I ever look at answers when voting to close a question. You are voting on the validity of the question not the answer.

As far as, "a poll or just trying to gather opinion on some topics..." that is obviously off-topic as it is opinion-based so surely should be closed. So, read the answers if you want for your own knowledge but you should still vote to close.


I normally have arguments when VTC'ing a Q with several answers, good or bad, because they tell me "but it's a good question, look at the answers". IMO, that's not a good excuse to leave open a question.

Quite correct. In and of itself, the presence of a answer is not a reason to leave open a question. For instance, I've gotten claims that a question cannot possibly be "unclear" if someone posted an answer and the answer was accepted by the OP. Really? That someone managed to guess an answer that satisfied the OP does not mean the question was clear after all. It just means that someone made a lucky guess.

However, if I'm getting ready to cast a close vote on a question, I prefer to take a look at the comments and the answers. Usually, what I read there either confirms what I thought in the first place, or is irrelevant to the problems inherent in the question. However, it is not impossible that I misunderstood the question. Maybe it just needs a bit of editing to bring it back into shape. If I can do the editing myself I can do it right there instead of voting to close. (If not then the question should be closed until the OP can do it.) So I'm open to the possibility that answers could, maybe, make me rethink how I understood the question and change my mind.

  • If it needs a bit of editing, though, then shouldn't you either make the edit (if you can) or vote to close until someone else does? Mar 28, 2014 at 2:56
  • @MonicaCellio IMO, sometimes only OP can do the edit. Of course, if someone else does, the question goes to the reopen queue.
    – Braiam
    Mar 28, 2014 at 3:25
  • 1
    If only the OP can make the edit then it should definitely be put on hold until he does so. Mar 28, 2014 at 3:30
  • @MonicaCellio Sure. Edited answer to clarify.
    – Louis
    Mar 28, 2014 at 10:34

In a perfect ideal world, questions should either be closed or answered, not both. Thus, ideally, a close-voted question should be judged in the absence of answers, since it shouldn't have any answers in the first place.

Of course, we don't actually live in that ideal world. If a question does have both close votes and answers, that can mean (e.g.) that:

  • a) the close votes are bogus,
  • b) the answers are bogus,
  • c) the answers are correct, but the question is off-topic and should never have been asked or answered on this site, or
  • d) the answers are correct and on topic, but the same question has already been asked and answered before (i.e. it's a duplicate).

Especially for close-as-duplicate votes, I find comparing the answers the question has received with those of its suggested duplicate very useful in distinguishing between options (a) and (d) above. If both questions indeed have essentially identical answers, then they're clearly duplicates; conversely, if the answers to the current question include some relevant information that is not found in the answers to the suggested duplicate, then the question should probably not be closed as a dupe after all.

Seeing the answers can also be useful for judging the validity of some other types of close votes. For example, if a question has been close-voted as "unclear what you're asking" or "insufficient information", but it does have a clear and accepted answer, then it probably should not be closed for that reason. (Of course, it might need editing to clarify it based on the given answers and comments, or it might deserve to be closed for some other reason.) The same goes e.g. for "too broad" questions that have a concise accepted answer, too.

There's an existing feature request to show answers to questions in the close review queue. The SOUP user script I've written includes a client-side implementation of this feature. I can't really speak for anyone else, but I've at least found it very helpful for reviewing close votes, particularly duplicates.


There is no black and white rule. My process goes something like this:

  • read the question.
  • Is it clearly and obviously something that doesn't belong, even after possible editing? Vote to close.
  • Could it belong if it was edited?
    • Am I able to willing to edit it now? If so, edit. If not, vote to close to motivate someone else to edit
  • Am I not sure, is it perhaps unclear to me because of the technical area, but clear to others? Look at the comments to see if a general tone is emerging. Look at the answers (and the comments on the answers) to see if anyone is able to understand this question
    • Edit it myself if I learned enough from the comments and answers
    • or comment requesting some specific change, and vote to close.
    • leave it alone if it's clear everyone involved considers it an ordinary question that doesn't need any work

I rarely need to look at the answers, but I see no value at all in a "rule" that says "never take the answers into account" or "always take the answers into account". Sometimes there is information in the answers that can help you. Sometimes you don't need them. That's why humans do the review queues.

You must log in to answer this question.

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