Every now and then, questions come up that look like:

Hello, I want to do XYZ. Can you suggest a plan of action?


How can I get started building SuchAndSuch?


I have no idea how to start making a SuperGizmo. Can someone point me in the right direction?

These questions are usually rather vague (or with a very broad goal), often lack basic details such as language/platform, but do show a lot of enthusiasm - they're not bad in the sense "failed to do basic research" or "has been asked a zillion times already", but they are certainly (at best) hard to answer.

What should be done with this type of question?

  • Vote to close as off-topic/overly broad/too localized depending on contents?
  • Leave a comment in the hope that the questioner narrows the scope down?
  • Answer with a list of links/books/general advice/best wishes in their endeavor?
  • Just ignore it and get on with life?
  • I'm resolutely in the "leave a comment" camp. Depending on the enthusiasm and evidence of research, I may or may not also leave a close vote. Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 14:04
  • There was just recently a question asked about how to prompt or otherwise encourage users to provide more information along with their questions (i.e., how to solve the source of this problem), but alas I can't find it. I suspect it was deleted, and I infuriatingly don't have 10k+ on Meta... Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 14:13
  • well there What's the protocol for teaching people to ask better questions? that actually fits pretty well with solving the source of the issue. Both answers make sens too. (Hadn't thought about searching for that.) What's the protocol here? should I vote/flag as dup, or delete this?
    – Mat
    Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 14:33
  • You can vote to close if you want, but I don't know that this is an exact duplicate. Solving the source of the problem is certainly useful, but your question is specific to the response the community thinks is most appropriate. That's got value, too, as I don't think we're actually going to fix it. I'd leave it open for a while. (That wasn't the question I was thinking of, btw.) Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 15:01


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .