There are some questions that are incredibly broad. These used to be closed under the "too broad" reason, but that went away. These questions now fall right between two of the new categories:

Needs details or clarity

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.


Needs more focus

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

The question does address a specific problem that the asker is experiencing. However, it's not hard to tell what they are asking - it's quite clear. The question is also not asking multiple unrelated questions.

I think that, with some minor tweaks to either of the supporting text, it can be made clear that questions should be answerable by answers of reasonable length and not something that would require an answerer to write a chapter or an entire book.

  • This isn't really an issue with the new close reasons; the updated wording for "needs more focus" had actually been implemented for "too broad" a couple years earlier. – Sonic the Curiouser Hedgehog Feb 26 '20 at 17:26
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Maybe it wasn't "too broad", then? It's been a while, but I just came across a good question that just couldn't be answered in a length that makes sense for this format and couldn't figure out what reason provided the best guidance to users because neither of the the options and their wording do (IMO). – Thomas Owens Feb 26 '20 at 17:29
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    Yeah, the wording used to be "there are too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long...please edit this question so it can be answered in a few paragraphs". But the text was changed in March 2017. – Sonic the Curiouser Hedgehog Feb 26 '20 at 17:30
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog I may not have noticed that. I may have just gotten used to "too broad" as the thing to use for such cases. When I ran into this case again (it doesn't happen terribly often on SESE), I took the time to read and couldn't make a good choice. – Thomas Owens Feb 26 '20 at 17:34

I agree with this; I'm not a fan of how these got reworded.

On one hand, we always tell users that the exact close reason doesn't matter. In a lot of cases, the community knows that a question needs to be closed and there are multiple reasons.

On the other hand, there are users who read a lot into the post notice that gets attached to a closed post. We tend to get Meta posts or questions about "my question isn't ...", which then get reponses, and the conversation goes sour.

Not having something more closely aligned to the previous "too broad" text is a problem for new users to SE who don't quite get the pointed Q/A aspect yet. I get that it may have been offputting to some people, but the intent is needed. We are trying to get around this now with updating custom close reasons, but sites only get three.

  • I do agree that people do indeed latch too much onto the notice. Sadly, there are too few people who actually "tell users that the exact close reason doesn't matter" or comment about further reasons. See this example complaint. – Sonic the Curiouser Hedgehog Feb 26 '20 at 17:34
  • Going on a tangent here: sometimes, multiple close reasons apply, but since only one can be shown, sometimes what happens is that the author edits the question to address the shown close reason, but is never notified of the other close reason or why (or the mere fact that) others reviewed to leave the post closed. I've detailed about this in the question linked above. – Sonic the Curiouser Hedgehog Feb 26 '20 at 17:37
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    I'd argue that having a close reason that expresses what the poster needs to do to improve in the future would be more constructive than "the close reason doesn't matter". Especially when closed questions will be invisible to other users in the coming future. Having multiple close reasons being selectable might be a better approach than telling users to disregard the specifics of a close reason. Or, why have close reasons at all? – RageFoxx Feb 26 '20 at 20:47
  • @RageFoxx Every time I have used the "the close reason doesn't matter" it is always in the context of trying to explain why a question isn't a good fit, and very often it can be both "needs details or clarity" and "needs more focus" at the same time. But, in my experience since the changes, users focus more on the close reason than the help to try to get questions reopened. – mpdonadio Feb 26 '20 at 23:38

What about adding "concise", that is, changing this:

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.

to this:

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate, concise answer.

  • Yes, I believe that this is one possible change that would solve the problem. I'm not sure if it's the right one, though. – Thomas Owens Feb 26 '20 at 17:21
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    I don't this this works. There are some very concise questions that can have fantastic, long answers to put everything in context (eg, good answers w/ background on History.SE). – mpdonadio Feb 26 '20 at 23:42

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that the community decided a long while ago that if the question is looking for an answer which is so long it could fill an entire book or section/chapter, then it should be closed for being too broad.

With these questions and situations such as How big is too big for questions? where the stipulated requirements for an acceptable answer is unreasonably large, the ability to do this has gone now, since the old Too broad closure reason has been relabelled to Needs more focus.

I like the new wording when it comes to questions which have more than one question or criteria inside it, and it is more intuitive this way, but it does not help with the situations I have mentioned above.

I propose that if we can, keep the new close reason and wording, while adding the old too broad back in for this purpose.

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