I'm talking about questions like https://stackoverflow.com/questions/3642654/asp-vs-c-comparison and https://stackoverflow.com/questions/3635054/simple-asp-net-website (full disclosure: I answered both of them).

I completely agree that questions of this kind are "ambiguous, vague, incomplete, or rhetorical," but on the other hand, I'm pretty sure answering these questions helped the people who asked them. Doesn't that count? Why not let them have answers, even if there isn't much added value for the community as a whole?

Edit: I realize you guys are experienced with this kind of user, but take a look, for example, at my first link. The poster left two (kind) comments after asking the question. Couldn't it be that the vagueness of her question came simply from not knowing? There isn't a real "answer" to what I'm asking, I just think you should be more tolerant.

Edit 2: You seem to agree that answering these questions is a mistake. I on the other hand, am quite sure closing, downvoting and cynically commenting these questions, just scare off newcomers. I believe answering kindly will make those posters want to come again, and in time they'll get the atmosphere and the manners people here share. Obviously there are questions that cross the line, and maybe we should only be extra tolerant with newcomers because they're new. Just reconsider please.


6 Answers 6


It depends on who is reading the question first. Many community users will edit the question and/or make it community instead of voting to close.

My opinion is that not doing so is the real lazyness.

Too much people here answer to get reputation, not to help sincerely.

  • ++ Nice to hear a different opinion
    – Oren A
    Sep 7, 2010 at 19:41
  • 1
    In general, if I can edit the question to make it clearer, to make a good question out of it without losing the original meaning, I will. That rarely happens. If an unacceptably vague question is asked, I'll note it and see if the OP provides the necessary information. Only if they've had a reasonable chance but failed will I vote to close. Should I edit to create an acceptable question, even if I don't know if it's what the OP wanted? Sep 7, 2010 at 19:58
  • Only the original poster or a moderator should be changing the status to Community Wiki. Sep 7, 2010 at 20:04
  • @Lance - I don't think regular users even can make it CW without ganging up to do multiple edits. Sep 7, 2010 at 21:42
  • Then moderators work hard ;)
    – user150926
    Sep 8, 2010 at 18:18

When I think these not-good-at-all questions have been written by a beginner or someone who is struggling with English, I try to leave a comment to the effect that the question is being closed because we can't understand it, and the closure can be reversed if the question is adequately clarified.

Sadly, not one poster in ten makes a good faith effort to fix them up.

This experience has convinced that most of these questions are posted by the very lazy.

My general rule is that questions that should be closed should be closed as fast as possible.

The flip side side is that questions that should be reopened should be reopened as fast as possible.

Both of these call for 3k users to be alert and use their judgment and especially for 10k users to check in with the tools from time to time to find things that need action and may have slipped down the active list.


answering these questions did help the persons who asked them

You achieved the exact opposite. Because you gave the questioner no incentive to get off his duff for that question. And the next one. Getting a good answer to a lazy question is merely an accident. A good answer requires a good question.

  • Good point 4321
    – Oren A
    Jul 21, 2012 at 10:57

I'm pretty sure answering these questions did help the persons who asked them.

maybe - but due to their ambiguity, the questions are impossible to answer correctly, and worthless for anybody else having the same question / problem.

I say they were both lazy questions, asked with zero effort, and rightly closed.


I could ask a question about how to fix the fan belt in my car, and someone answering it would help me. Does that mean it shouldn't be closed? You can't make an exception that helps one person at the cost of a slightly worse question base, because then it turns into everyone doing that and nobody wants to read through the list of new questions anymore


If I had seen that question a little earlier, I would have voted to close it.

That didn't stop me from upvoting a good answer, and downvoting a bad answer that talked about ASP.NET using C# as its codebehind language.


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