Updated; see examples at the bottom of this question
I've seen many examples of questions that were closed with the reason "Unclear what you're asking" that had received multiple answers. This feels like a "he said/she said" situation: the close voters say the question is too unclear to answer, while the answer-ers say (by answering) that it was clear enough to answer. At the moment the close voters win by fiat. It seems that there are better ways to handle this situation. I have two suggestions, the first and most radical is suggested in the title of this question (burninate the "Unclear what you're asking" close reason), while the second is more moderate (restrict the use of the "Unclear what you're asking" close reason to questions that have remained unanswered for a while). What do you guys think?
Here's a little more of my reasoning:
- Not getting answers is the best signal of an unclear question. If a question receives no answers, this is the ultimate way for the entire community rather than just a few close voters to indicate that a question is unclear. Other users can then helpfully add comments suggesting edits or even make edits themselves to help. But ultimately this approach--letting the community show that they find a question unclear by not answering it--is the most democratic approach and best fits within the StackExchange culture.
- Answers implies the question is clear enough. If a question does receive answers, this implies that someone finds the question clear enough to answer, and is the opposite of the community implicitly saying it is unclear by not answering it. Allowing it to be closed because a small number of users think it is unclear doesn't really make sense and feels undemocratic (see the bullet point above). As with the first bullet, any user can always comment with suggestions if they personally feel the question is unclear, or make edits themselves.
- Maybe the close reason in question can become a house-keeping function? if burninating this close option seems a step too far (I can see why we might want to keep it), can we at least restrict its use to questions that go a long time (say at least couple weeks) without being answered? That way it serves as a house-cleaning function rather than as a judicial process.
Edit: Per comments, here are some examples, found thanks to the excellent SEDE script provided by rene:
- Sometimes the question is hard to understand but valid (not everyone has the same level of expertise, and I know this site is trying to become more friendly):
- Sometimes the question is inscrutable at least to me, but someone figured out what OP meant, and then it made sense as a package; questions like this should ideally be back-edited after this happens rather than being closed (and I humbly submit that this approach rather than closing would make SE more friendly to a wider audience):
- Sometimes the question was simply posted in the wrong stack; this one should have been in Code Review (to be fair, it also needed some editing):
- Some questions aren't unclear, they're just asking the reader to do too much work:
- Some could use a good edit cycle; this one is clearly asking about code structuring best practices:
- Some are 100% crystal clear; no idea why they were closed (and they received many upvotes):
- And some questions perhaps ask too many questions in one but are very popular indicating a conflict between upvoting and closing due to lack of clarity: