The issue has been addressed ealier. I'm mainly active on tex.stackexchange. There are some thousands of unanswered questions. I suggested to introduce a new reason for closing questions: an abandoned question, to get as much of them as possible out of the way when answering the unanswered. The moderator there declined, because tex.stackexchange can't extend the core closing reasons.

So here I am. Can we have a new reason to close questions: abandoned questions?

Definition: A question is abandoned, if it has no answer + somebody required additional information + the person who asked did not log in for a week after the additional information has been requested.

In general, I'm not a friend of closing questions. But people who ask "doesn't work" questions and never ever come back, cause unnecessary effort, because the question will be opened once in a while by somebody, totally in vain.

  • 3
    Note that we currently automatically delete questions that are "abandoned" under certain conditions (you can read more about it here). Perhaps this process needs to evolve somehow (we're always open to feedback), but adding a new close reason seems like it might not be the best approach. Since you accepted the answer that "unclear" was fine as a reason, I'll mark this as status-declined, but just let me know if you disagree. Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 10:12
  • meta.stackexchange.com/questions/78048/…
    – p._phidot_
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 7:07

1 Answer 1


Definition: A question is abandoned, if it has no answer + somebody required additional information + the person who asked did not log in for a week after the additional information has been requested.

If additional information is required then just close the question as "unclear". That is the appropriate close reason for a question that is lacking sufficient information to be answered.

You should not wait a week to close the question. You should close the question immediately if it doesn't contain enough information to be answered. Doing so:

  1. Prevents people from posting low quality answers as a result of the question not containing enough information for a quality answer.
  2. Makes it clear to the user that the question lacks sufficient information and that they need to fix the question in order to get an answer.
  3. Allows the question to be deleted, either automatically or even manually, if the question is not improved for an extended period of time after being closed.
  4. Is a signal to other automated systems, such as the question ban, as to the quality of the user's contributions, making sure that they improve over time, or, if they don't improve, that they are prevented from consuming time better spent on users who are willing to post useful content.

If/when the author provides enough information for the question to become answerable, it can then be reopened.

  • Sorry, but many people don't have enough knowledge to provide the necessary information. Especially on tex.stackexchange there are lots of beginners who are writing their first document. I'd like them to amend their questions with information, even if the question is clear.
    – Keks Dose
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 17:15
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    @KeksDose That doesn't in any way conflict with this process. We're talking about closing questions, not deleting them. The question is closed to give the author an opportunity to fix it without it attracting low quality answers in the meantime. If they do fix it, it can be reopened. That they didn't know how to provide the necessary information doesn't change anything here. The question should be closed until they can figure out how to improve the question regardless.
    – Servy
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 17:17
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    @KeksDose: Close questions early, then feed as many back into Reopen as possible. That's a healthier flow than just allowing questions to remain open with no one really in charge of making sure they get fixed, since it incentivizes the asker to really make changes, and only if experienced members agree that those changes did the job can things resume. Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 18:39
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    @Servy I accept your answer in its main aspect: an abandoned question can be closed as unclear. But we have many unexperienced newcomers from all over the world at tex.SX, so I really hope that people don't close questions early. We -- the LaTeX community -- are happy about newcomers, at least this is my impression.
    – Keks Dose
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 13:52
  • @KeksDose The fact that there are lots of newcomers doesn't mean that unclear questions should be left open. I'm happy about newcomers too; just because you're happy about newcomers doesn't mean you shouldn't close their questions when they merit closure. Closing unclear questions quickly is going to increase the odds of the user getting a quality answer. Refusing to close close-worthy content decreases the odds of them getting a good answer.
    – Servy
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 12:30
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    @Servy Sorry but you obviously do not know TeX SE very well. For better or worse, this is not how the site works. Indeed, voting to close questions will just subject you to abuse from more established users. (Or one established user, actually.) Regardless of the rights and wrongs of it, it is better to stay away from the review queues, never vote to close and, to be really safe, never down-vote. The idea is that close votes get cast on very old unclear questions once-a-month in 'answer the unanswered' and should not be cast in the meantime.
    – cfr
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 3:05
  • @Servy Although I think the enforcement mechanism abhorrent and harmful, there is something to be said for the strategy. Closed questions are more often abandoned than non-closed ones. Moreover, it is hard to get closed questions re-opened. (See point about staying away from review queues.) Eventually they may get re-opened, but the OP may well have given up by then. Unless somebody can russell up enough people in chat - but that is a lot of hassle and involves considerable expenditures of effort on all sides.
    – cfr
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 3:09
  • @KeksDose I agree about not closing too early. For one thing, it can take a long time for questions to be re-opened and that is dispiriting and off-putting. I also have the impression that users are more likely to abandon questions which are closed quickly. Hence, closing quickly tends to just frustrate newcomers and create more work for everybody. So it is a lose-lose situation. However, I think never closing anything except in answer-the-unanswered will tend to lead to an increasing number of unanswered and unanswerable questions.
    – cfr
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 3:14
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    @cfr If you feel you are being abused by any user on TeX-sx (or indeed any network site) then please flag it. That's the only way moderators and the SE staff can have a real sense of any issues to address. Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 9:37

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