There are certain types of questions which are being asked on a regular basis, should be put on hold and don't fit properly within any of the existing reasons for putting a question on hold.

All the situations below these lines can be fitted within a wide interpretation of some of the current on-hold categories. But why bringing restricted definitions to their pure limits, instead of extending them as much as required? It has to be borne in mind that the whole point of the reasons to put a question on hold is to help the OP understand what needs to be changed.

The main types of questions/behaviours which I think that should be accounted for are:

  1. "Jeta" subtype:

    • Questions consisting of plain requests to write a piece of code by merely providing the inputs/outputs (or the original code in case of migrations).
    • Questions with a more or less big code (which the asker is clearly not even understanding), no description and a generic request (e.g., why doesn't it work?).
  2. Nonsense subtype:

    • Spam or sets of random words.
    • Question written so badly that it is impossible to understand what is being asked.
    • Questions written in a language different than English.
  3. Clueless subtype:

    • Very basic questions implying that the asker doesn't have a minimum understanding about the given language (or even about programming in general).
    • Questions which are too abstract or unprecise.
    • Questions which can easily be answered after a 1-min. online research.
    • Questions complaining about errors which are not properly defined (e.g., error message and code line where it happens) or which occur in parts of the code not being shown in the description.
  • 13
    Most of these are already easily into the "unclear what you're smoking" close reason – random Nov 27 '15 at 14:53
  • @random very funny (this one should also be included). – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 14:54
  • 4
    So you've never seen the "too broad", "unclear what you're asking" and "off topic - incomplete debugging" reasons at all then? – random Nov 27 '15 at 14:56
  • @random Sure and? Are you perfectly describing all the aforementioned behaviours with these 3 sentences? – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 14:59
  • @random For example: a person writing in Spanish put on hold because of Off-topic whatever... -> no idea that was Spanish. A person saying, I have 1, 5, 3 and I want to order this ascendently -> the same thing, etc. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:01
  • @random The point is: if you give reasons, you should be clear. Otherwise, don't give any reasons and just say "on hold because of being off-topic; take a look at the help pages and learn how to use this site properly". A big proportion of the last quite a few questions which I have voted to put on hold didn't fit the definition I chose (but there wasn't any better option). – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:03
  • 3
    What do you mean by "Jeta"? – HDE 226868 Nov 27 '15 at 15:11
  • @HDE226868 It is a funny reference :) In Spanish, "jeta" is slang for a person who wants to get something without paying the associated cost/bearing the responsibility. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:15
  • 2
    When you close a question are you only reading the bold part or do you see the description that is underneath each close reason? Some of which include links for further explanation – random Nov 27 '15 at 15:31
  • @random Thanks for your detailed indications about how to face the understanding of a piece of text, but I think that can deal with it by my own. As said, I am voting (mostly lately) a lot and I know all the short-listed reasons perfectly. My suggestion was expecting to help (askers and on-hold voters). You (I mean all of you) don't think that is a good idea? It is OK. I will accept the decision and continue doing what I have been doing so far without saying a word. But I do have a well-formed opinion on this front. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:43
  • This feature-request seems to be aimed at Stack Overflow. So to get a better opinion (which would probably be this x100), you should probably post on meta.stackoverflow.com – ᔕᖺᘎᕊ Nov 27 '15 at 21:23
  • 1
    @ᔕᖺᘎᕊ Thanks for the advice. I will do it but other day, because today it has been a veeeery long day already. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 21:29
  • I have created a new version of this proposal in SO Meta: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/311369/… – varocarbas Nov 29 '15 at 13:03
  • Curious note: question "what do you mean with jeta?" +3; answer (explaining what I mean with jeta) 0. I love Meta, makes so much sense to me! And the voting system is so objective, accurate and reliable! :) – varocarbas Dec 11 '15 at 8:32
  • Curious note: the question "what do you mean with jeta?" got +3; the answer (clearly explaining the meaning of "jeta") got 0. I love Meta, makes so much sense to me! And the voting system is so objective, accurate and reliable! :) – varocarbas Dec 11 '15 at 8:37

There are ways of dealing with all three classes of question that you mentioned.

"Jeta" subtype

Questions that ask for someone to write a piece of code and/or questions that the asker knows there's a bug but is too lazy to find it can be considered off-topic. In fact, they are often cited as examples of "Plz snd me the codez" questions - yes, that's a technical term here on Stack Exchange - and are closed as off-topic. I don't know of a Stack Exchange site that will allow really crappy questions like these. Different sites have different standards, true, but they all have standards.

Nonsense subtype

This has "unclear what you're asking" written all over it. There are ways of dealing with these questions, and they general involve closing them as . . . well, unclear what you're asking. Not many people can understand nonsense.

Clueless subtype

Sites often have close reasons for these questions. They can be considered off-topic for showing a lack of research effort. Trolls sometimes ask these questions, too - not just naïve beginners - and those are dealt with a accordingly.

If you think that any one of the these reasons is insufficient, you can always leave a comment - this is very helpful for the asker - or choose the custom off-topic close reason option when voting to close, to expand on your close vote. See Add a custom close reason and Closing changes: on hold, unclear, too broad, opinion-based, off-topic reasons, bye-bye to Too Localized.

  • First of all, clarifying that I am referring just to StackOverflow. As said in my question, It is definetively possible to include all these behaviours in the current categories (I am voting to put on hold various questions per day and I do have to choose a category every time). What I am saying is that the options are not descriptive enough. For example: can you please indicate the exact reasons you would choose for each of the proposed types? – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:13
  • @varocarbas See my last paragraph. That's why we have comments and custom close reasons. – HDE 226868 Nov 27 '15 at 15:14
  • Are you usually voting to put questions on hold? I do it pretty regularly and haven't almost ever chosen the custom option (same thing with all the other people -> take a look at the reason why the questions are put on hold; 99% of the times are short-listed reasons). Unless under very specific situations, why thinking about a convincing reason and writing it instead of just selecting a pre-made option? – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:17
  • 1
    @varocarbas Yes, I vote to close often, because on some sites where I have close vote privileges, there are a decent amount of crappy questions. I feel like your question in your comment is rhetorical - why, then, do you choose the pre-made options if they aren't sufficient? – HDE 226868 Nov 27 '15 at 15:20
  • Why making an extra-effort within a system promoting no-efforts (as said, almost everyone selects pre-made options and I am certain that lots of cases are not properly-defined by them). For example: now I see something which might (slightly) improve SO, I come here and write my ideas; I get a ton of downvotes and people almost attacking me (not saying that this is the case now); I would not make any proposal in the future. Why?... Seeing that a question is not SO-material and spending 15s by chosing an option to put it on hold is fine (writing a custom reason every time, is not). – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:27
  • 1
    @varocarbas 1) It's not that the system encourages a lack of effort; it's that the cases that could plausibly not fall under one of the main close reasons - and would need some other reason, covered by the custom close dialog box - are few and far between. 2) Honestly, 2 downvotes (disclaimer: not me) are not a "ton" on Meta. A couple folks disagree; that's not bad. 3) Questions that are only for Stack Overflow should be asked on Meta Stack Overflow. Questions asked on Meta Stack Exchange should pertain to the entire network - this implementation would be network-wide. – HDE 226868 Nov 27 '15 at 15:31
  • Ah! I am not a meta expert and just clicked on the Meta link. Should I delete this question, then and ask just in SO Meta? PS: I didn't mean the downvotes in this situation (got plently of them in my previous questions). – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:33
  • @varocarbas I'm not sure if you'll be able to delete it, now that there are answers. At any rate, though, this feature doesn't contain anything specific to Stack Overflow - that is, it wouldn't be more useful there than anywhere else (I think). My only point there was saying that only basing the argument on SO questions isn't a good one - the feature would be helpful or unhelpful elsewhere, too - and we shouldn't restrict ourselves to situations on SO. – HDE 226868 Nov 27 '15 at 15:36
  • OK (I highlighted SO because this is what I know; wasn't sure whether the other SE sites have the exact same reasons). – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:41
  • @varocarbas Yeah, the reasons are the same, although the specifics (e.g. different things may be off-topic for different reasons on different sites) change. – HDE 226868 Nov 27 '15 at 15:43
  • I don't agree with either of the answers, but as far as I am always saying that some answer has to be accepted... I preferred yours because some of your comments have been quite helpful. Note that I have created a version-2 post in SO Meta: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/311369/… – varocarbas Nov 29 '15 at 13:02

These are already covered by the existing close reasons

Unclear what you're asking

  • Code dumps with no description or context
  • Random sets of words
  • Incomprehensible and impossible to understand
  • Ill-defined errors or missing context
  • Written in anything other than English

Too broad

  • Too abstract or imprecise

Off topic - Incomplete debugging

  • Code dumps with no description or context
  • Ill-defined errors or missing context

Flag as spam

  • Spam


Declined: A "general reference" close reason.

If you wanted more nuance, that's where the free-form field finds you under "Off topic - Other".

  • As explained in my question, I think that these reasons are not clear enough. The solution would be writing a custom reason, but as explained to HDE 226868 in a comment to his answer, nobody does that. Can we live without my proposal? Sure. But is not the goal of Meta proposing modifications which might improve the SE sites? This would be a low-effort modifications which might be quite useful. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:21
  • 1
    Your request doesn't hint that you know that there are suitable reasons already that will cover the examples you brought up. You also do not explain how they do not already explain what they're explaining in the detail already given – random Nov 27 '15 at 15:23
  • 1
    Yes, I did: "All the situations below these lines can be fitted within a wide interpretation of some of the current on-hold categories". Regarding why I think that more reasons are required is because the higher is the level of detail, the better. I have just enumerated some situations with which I have been dealing on a regular basis which I think that are not properly defined by the current reasons. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 15:29
  • 2
    "the higher is the level of detail, the better" - this is the issue, it's not true that more detail is always better. Close reasons should have just enough detail to indicate what the asker should do next. "As simple as possible, and no simpler". Both "unclear" and "nonsense" indicate "closed, until you re-write this to be clearer". Why separate them? Both "Jeta" and "incomplete" indicate "closed, until you show what you've tried", why separate them? etc etc. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 27 '15 at 16:02
  • 2
    @varocarbas trying to have a sub-close-reason for every possible variant of each main close reason is a road to madness (and to a horribly cluttered UI, and to users confused by a seemingly endless barrage of different rules). The aim is the smallest, clearest, simplest, most efficient set of rules that covers all problems and indicates in each case what action if any should be taken next. The existing set does this. If you really want to explain in more detail, that's what comments are for. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 27 '15 at 16:08
  • @user568458 Sorry if the way in which I have summarised my ideas wasn't clear enough. During the last months (when I have been particularly active on the voting-to-put-on-hold front), I have seen various behaviours which are repeated quite regularly and which are not properly defined by the current generic reasons. The asker cannot be sure about the reason for having the question on hold. Examples: written in a different language (solution: translate it); not showing any effort (solution: show what you tried); extremely simple questions (solution: do a quick internet research)... – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 16:08
  • @user568458 I have been writing (and seeing other people writing) over and over and over the same clarifications via comments. Why? Because the standard information is not enough. Do you think that people keep misusing the sites because they like?! On-hold (or closed) questions shouldn't ideally happen; they are the consequence of having a set of not-clear-enough rules and a very wide audience for whom English might even not be their primary language. I do think that there are many things unclear which might be easily improved. But as said: continuing like so far wouldn't be a problem either. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 16:12
  • 1
    @user568458 "trying to have a sub-close-reason for every possible variant of each main close reason..." -> I am not saying that. From my experience, I know that most of off-topic behaviours obbey to a more or less restricted set of misunderstandings (the ones I listed are pretty much all of them); that's why my proposal: if I see people doing the same thing wrongly one time and another time and another time, etc. I come to the conclusion that this behaviour is likely to occur (on account of the current information) and should be addressed. This is the whole point of my proposal. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 16:16
  • @varocarbas I think you've identified a genuine problem - but the consensus seems to be, that creating new close types that overlap existing close types isn't the best solution. How about, for example, a feature request that, after choosing a close reason like "Unclear...", users can choose an auto-comment, or a sub-type similar to choosing an "Off-topic" type, for known common patterns like these? Some solution like that which doesn't involve creating overlapping close reasons might be popular. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 27 '15 at 16:19
  • 1
    @varocarbas Check out Categories other than “off-topic” should allow custom close reasons - it discusses what looks like a good potential solution to what you're talking about, and there's some very good discussion of the pros and cons. Nathan Tuggy's answer in particular. I'm not sure why it hasn't been acted on. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 27 '15 at 16:25
  • @user568458 This would be definetively helpful. In fact all the options should have a second-level menu like off-topic; in this way, it would be possible to provide a much clear description of the problem without having to write a custom reason (what most of people will certainly not do). – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 16:26
  • @user568458 The problem with the custom reasons is that nobody uses them (not regularly). It is much easier to chose from the short-listed options. I think that your previous proposal of a second-level reasons for unclear (or too broad or all of them) would be very helpful. Implementing this (even thinking about all the options) is easy/quick and I think that will have a quite positive impact. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 16:28
  • 1
    @varocarbas The argument would be more persuasive if you could definitively prove that custom close reasons aren't used regularly, and that these extensions would be used more regularly. – HDE 226868 Nov 27 '15 at 16:46
  • @HDE226868 Take a look at all the last questions which have been put on hold and tell me how many of them have a custom reason. I have experience in SO and the tags C#, VB.NET and PHP; and there almost no question is put on hold for a custom reason. – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 16:58
  • @HDE226868 I have gone right now to the closed-questions queue (under Review in SO) and confirmed that, out of the first 30 questions (of any tag), not a single one had received a custom vote (I stopped looking; should I keep looking until 100/500?). – varocarbas Nov 27 '15 at 17:03

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