When I mouse over the downvote button of a question, I see this:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

However, there is also a flag for unclear questions (at least in SO) with the following description:

unclear what you're asking
Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

My question is:

What's the difference and, thus, which option to choose?

  • 8
    Both. Both. Both is good.
    – Oded
    Jul 15, 2015 at 9:09
  • 1
    I believe the technical term is downclosing.
    – user259867
    Jul 16, 2015 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


Usually a question gets closed when it is unclear. That will prevent others to answer and let the author to clarify his post. This doesn't affect the reputation of the author.

The down-vote is a way to 'reward' the bad question (just like we reward good questions with up-votes) and it resembles the general opinion about that post. In the bigger picture this is the same for the usefulness of the contributions of the author to the community.

If you feel like it, you can both down-vote and flag / vote to close, which is the same I do most the time dealing with such posts.

  • 4
    ... In the name of the down-vote, the flag, and the vote to close.
    – user50049
    Jul 16, 2015 at 7:02
  • 1
    @TimPost Pale Horse Rider prayer?
    – gnat
    Jul 16, 2015 at 16:54
  • 1
    @gnat +1 for giving me a motive to read the New Testament from a question regarding the flagging on SO :)
    – vefthym
    Jul 21, 2015 at 10:16

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