I am curious to know what the protocol is for moderators if a question is closed for being broad but before it was closed the question received answers and after going back and auditing questions to clean comments I notice that the questioner did accept one of the answers. Would the acceptance of an answer out weigh the close vote for being broad? Personally, when I see a broad question with an accepted answer I want to re-open it to allow further answers since it would mean someone else may understand what the OP wants and reopening would add the option for a better answer. I've noticed some of the best Q&As typically lean on a side of opinionated or broad. However, I am unsure if this methodology is allowed.


I think what I am saying is being confused. What I am asking, is if a new member's question was closed by others as too broad does get an answer before the community closed it and one of those answers was chosen as the accepted answer by the questioner does that warrant a reopen and an edit to bring the question in scope to the accepted answer? Isn't the format of SE to ask questions that in fact get answered and if additional info can be made great?


4 Answers 4


No I don't think they should.

  1. If your question is closed then the correct course of action if you want it reopened is to edit the question to make it acceptable to the relevant community, not to accept one of the answers.

  2. Given that the same person asks a question and accepts an answer, the fact that an answer is accepted doesn't legitimise a question.

  • So would it be ideal to edit the question to be more fitting of the accepted answer and re-open? Dec 21, 2016 at 14:18
  • 2
    No, answers should depend on questions, not the other way round.
    – Bathsheba
    Dec 21, 2016 at 14:19
  • But wouldn't the accepted indicate that is what actually answered the questioner? If the OP is new, they may not understand the format or how to properly word their question. Dec 21, 2016 at 14:20
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    @DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ No - Accepted is not the same as 'Correct'. It just means it was accepted as being the best answer.
    – JonW
    Dec 21, 2016 at 14:22
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    @DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ “Too broad” doesn't mean a question is unanswerable, so the fact that an answer arrived and was accepted doesn't contradict “too broad”. “Too broad” means that either or both of these is true: 1) it can only be well answered by a very long answer, or 2) it will attract many, possibly infinite, answers if it stayed open. Acceptance doesn't contradict (1) either, since accepting doesn't actually mean the answer was good or best. And reopening “because it might get more answers” is exactly the problem with situation (2) that closing is designed to avoid. Dec 21, 2016 at 18:56


Whether or not a question is Too Broad to answer is dependent entirely on the question itself, not the activity that question receives.

If you ask a question like 'How do I look after a cat', someone could well answer with 'give them a bowl, some cat litter and some food. Clean and refresh them every day'. That answer may be marked as Accepted. That doesn't mean the question wasn't too broad to be asked in the first place.

Definition of too broad:

"Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much."

Just because someone found the answer helpful enough to click the Tick icon next to it, that doesn't mean it's a good question for the site in the first place.


An accepted answer in and of itself means nothing more than "this helped OP the most". It shouldn't have any affect at all on whether a question is on-topic or not.

If you can edit the question to be within scope (not too broad, less opinionated etc.) then of course do that and if the question can be reopened because of that, great! The acceptance of an answer shouldn't come in to the decision though.


I think what you propose is exactly right. The question may be too broad, but with an accepted answer there is evidence that both the asker and at least one other member of the community were able to agree on the scope.

Editing the question – especially in low traffic areas or areas where there is a large community of active participants – seems like a good way to build the community and train the new members. Plus it's a way to build reputation.

The question doesn't have to stay open…

  • 7
    One member of the community does not get to determine that a question is appropriate for a site. That's not how it works. If five people closed the question as too broad, that trumps one person answering the question. And, honestly, lots of people answer questions that even they know are bad questions for the site... people just like to answer questions, regardless of whether they're appropriate or not.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Dec 21, 2016 at 16:17
  • @Catija, You raise good points, but it's not "one person" it's one person plus the moderator (who is or should be a "special" person) combined with editing the question. Really, I think it's a question of how we build community and develop the skills in the community to ask good questions. I don't think that anybody is saying the moderator has to reopen the question, only that it might be a reasonable thing to do and that it might be worth another look.
    – dlu
    Dec 21, 2016 at 16:24
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    The moderators work to uphold the decisions of the site. They don't unilaterally do things. Moderators get a lot of trust that they're doing what's good for the community but they still don't get to run rough-shod over the site hammering questions open that everyone else on the site thinks should be closed.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Dec 21, 2016 at 16:46

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