When I see a poorly asked question, should I immediately vote to close, or should I comment, and give the OP a chance to improve their question?

Waiting increases the chance that I'll forget, and never vote to close, potentially leading to a cluttered site.

Voting to close immediately increases the chance that the question will be closed, and the author will be forced to re-post their (hopefully improved) question, which leads to a cluttered site.

  • 5
    Yep, it's both a paradox and a dilemma. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 7:21
  • 1
    It's a chicken-and-egg problem. A "poorly asked question" is certainly asked by a person with an incomplete understanding. This question may represent the best way such a person, and persons like them, can ask it. Working through a clarification, then changing the question, removes the original incomplete question, which may be exactly how other querents would phrase it, thus removing a clue for the perplexed. I have learned many things from questions marked in such a way, but not removed.
    – lysdexia
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


Always vote to close immediately. I explain the rationale behind this approach in further detail here.

In summary: Yes, it increases the chances that the question will be closed, but that's actually a good thing for a couple of reasons:

  1. It increases the likelihood that the user will take notice and actually fix their question in response to your suggestions. Unless you're dealing with a particularly conscientious user (and this is rare, because their questions are unlikely to be candidates to close in the first place), it's more likely that they'll ignore your comments as long as they can continue to get answers.

  2. It prevents a flood of immediate answers (arguably a symptom of the well-known "Fastest Gun in the West" problem) that are speculative at best and/or will be completely invalidated after the question is modified to turn it into a real question. Those answers don't do anyone any good, and they're best avoided if at all possible.

And no, it does not force the author to re-post their question, not immediately or ever. Even questions that have been closed can be edited by the owner. So once the question is closed, that would be an appropriate time to sit up and take notice of the helpful comments that have been provided by the close voters. And once the question has been sufficiently improved, it can be re-opened, either with the vote of 5 different users (they can be the same ones who voted to close) or the binding vote of a moderator.

If you see a user posting a second question because their first one was closed, flag and/or close the second one as a duplicate of the first and ask them to go back and edit the original question instead.

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    +1 (as soon as I have more votes) -- Could we please add this to the faq?? Under the closed description
    – M. Tibbits
    Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 7:45
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    @Mti, NO, this answer isn't completely suitable, because it assumes all questions worth closing are bad questions. In this context, that is ok, because the OP asked about poorly asked questions, but in a FAQ context it wouldn't be as clear. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 8:18
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    @Lance: Please give me an example of a good question that is worth closing. Even in the case of migration (wherein you could have a good question that simply doesn't belong on the site) I don't see any particular reason to delay voting. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 8:26
  • I never said you need to delay voting. There are a lot of duplicate questions that are good, that I would still vote immediately to close. Answers to these questions won't be speculative or invalidated. Every good question deserves a good answer. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 8:29
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    @Lance: If the question is truly a duplicate, then why would you need to post an answer? Scattering quality answers out amongst all the possible iterations of a question just makes that knowledge more difficult to find, and is potentially problematic considering that closing a question is the first step to deletion. And of course, if the answer to the question isn't actually found in the proposed duplicate, then you probably shouldn't be voting to close in the first place. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 8:32
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    There are many questions closed as duplicates, that don't have answers in the referenced question. That's just how the site works. I believe that what comes around goes around, and if I posted a dupe, I'd still want an answer quickly, so therefore I may vote to close, but if I know the answer I'm going to give it. It's called the Golden Rule. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 8:35
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    Maybe add a note that you can now retract your close vote if the post is amended before the on-holding kicks in?
    – Mat
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 11:21
  • 1
    I see that we think along the same lines ;-)
    – MTL
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 20:24
  • Maybe it would work... if reopen votes were not so uncommon compared to close votes. Maybe a badge for reopening fixed question or closed based on a misreading (like false duplicates) would do the trick.
    – kriss
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 14:13

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