Some questions can obviously be re-tagged to the benefit of all. For example, if you recognize a question as "WPF" specific and it's not tagged "WPF", it's easy to add the tag.

But there are many questions, many by folks who seem fairly new to Stack Overflow, which are quite vague. The question could be interpreted many ways, and IMHO it's really not possible to re-tag unambiguously.

Here are two examples I've responded to with comments to the OP attempting to clarify the question recently:
Move Node in Tree up or Down
Making child control an IContainer

In the case of the first post I cite above, the answerer whose vote was accepted never acknowledged a problem with his code I informed him about, but now, after rejecting my suggestions as fantasies, has implemented at least one of them. :) Which I find comic, not irritating. :)

What I am seeing is that clarification inquiries are often ignored by the OP, or there is a rush of answers that assume one of the possible interpretations of the OP's question.

This does not "rock my world" :) in any way: I'm sixty-six years old, at the end of my career in software, and I had my (very satisfying) fifteen minutes of fame at Adobe decades before the iPod was an immaculate conception. :) For me, right now, writing my own novel is as important as understanding LINQ. :)

But, I wonder, is there any possible "gentle" mechanism for somehow "incubating" these really vague questions into a slightly "more ready to hatch" state before they are given full-fledged question status on Stack Overflow?

I certainly don't have any "vision" in this area of how a constructive mechanism could be created that addressed this, but I trust that the Stack Overflow collectivity might have some ideas, and so I "dare" to bring this topic up. And, certainly, it's possible that nothing could be created around this "issue" that didn't have a "cost" of dampening spontaneity... and that cost could be "unbearable."

I consider it a "less than positive thing" if I "give up" on asking clarifying questions simply because they are often ignored. Nor, since the "rep game" really doesn't mean anything to me at this point, do I wish to "rush out" with an answer to a question based on what I assume are dubious assumptions.

If it becomes apparent to me that it is a waste of time to give a solid thoughtful reply to a question that's ambiguous and for which an answer has been accepted: what does that mean for the over-all quality of Stack Overflow? Well, maybe a "big fat" "nothing". :)

  • 2
    re: lack of rep here on meta -- if you associate your accounts you'll get enough of a rep boost to your meta account to post multiple links. Feb 7, 2010 at 5:11
  • @quack Thanks for the advice : I have taken your advice and consolidated the accounts : a feature I was not aware of !
    – BillW
    Feb 7, 2010 at 8:07

2 Answers 2


If the user doesn't clarify enough so that good answers can be given, then the question will be closed, probably with the 'Not a real question' reason, but some of us have asked for better reasons here on Meta for that situation.

  • I do think there are many questions that do contain the "germ" of a very good question, but do need clarification : see the second example I just added to my fist post above, thanks.
    – BillW
    Feb 7, 2010 at 22:02

Ninety percent of SO questions are crud. We just don't notice as much because it's easy to downvote, close, and ignore. I think you answered your own question: you have more interesting and more important things to do. I know I do, so I edit, vote, and answer as I like, and move on. Just don't add negative or anti-tags to bad or vague questions.

Good behavior is strongly rewarded through reputation and badges. I can't feel responsible for fixing all bad or ignorant (in the nicest sense) behavior. I do put in my share of time—it's better than watching TV :P—but I would never feel obligated.

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