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This SO question triggered this puzzle for me, although I am not looking for a specific answer in this case.

Speaking generally, if I see a question that I think might be off topic (but I'm not sure) should I vote to close and trust that the voting system will work as desired and either result in the question being closed or not?

Or (as I did) should I flag the question for moderator attention with all my blabber about why I think it maybe should be closed but wasn't sure and answered it anyway and blah de blah?

Or some other option, leave it alone? Add a comment? Downvote? It's these sorts of edge cases (from my perspective they're edge cases :) that I never know what to do with.

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Speaking generally, if I see a question that I think might be off topic (but I'm not sure) should I vote to close and trust that the voting system will work as desired and either result in the question being closed or not?

No. Never vote-to-close unless you are absolutely sure that the question should be closed.

  • If you come across the question in the review queue, use "Skip".
  • If you come across the question outside the review queue, leave it alone.

should I flag the question for moderator attention with all my blabber about why I think it maybe should be closed but wasn't sure and answered it anyway and blah de blah?

No. Moderator attention flags are for serious issues which the community can't handle on its own and requires their intervention. Closing questions should be handled by community, it is not appropriate to use flags in this case.

Or some other option, leave it alone? Add a comment? Downvote?

Yes, you can use the first two options. Either comment or just leave it alone, but downvotes should be cast solely based on the quality of a question, not as an alternative for close votes. So down voting is not appropriate if the concern is that you are unsure about it's closure.

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    Thank you, that's a very definitive explanation. Much appreciated. – smathy Mar 20 '15 at 16:53
  • You should be able to join chat again. – Travis J May 15 '15 at 19:57
5

If I were your situation, I'd just comment:

I think this question may be [dupe / off-topic because of / too broad / some other reason you think of]

Or, even better, bring it to the chat ("should this question be closed as insert your reason there", or something else which lets other understand that you think this question should probably be closed).

Without voting to close, flagging, or downvoting specifically because of not knowing whether you should close or not.

  • Thanks for that. Can you tell me which chat you're talking about? – smathy Mar 20 '15 at 16:00
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    @sma There is a Stack Overflow chat. In this case you probably want the "ruby sometimes on rails" room :) – nicael Mar 20 '15 at 16:01
  • Oh right, I thought those were for discussing content issues, not for discussing moderation/flagging issues? – smathy Mar 20 '15 at 16:16
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    @sma No, those things are of course allowed too, this is the chat, after all :) Also we do this sometimes in Tavern on the Meta, come here if you want :) – nicael Mar 20 '15 at 16:18
  • OK, perfect, thanks again. – smathy Mar 20 '15 at 16:51

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