We have a lot of questions (often several per day) which are too vague to answer. These are the ones I see in the last 24 hours:

They aren't necissarily bad questions, but they are missing vital information--often just the citizenship of the OP, which is necessary for answering many visa-related questions.

In every one of these cases, someone asked the OP to provide the necessary information, but left the question open. In this case I find it particularly amusing... 11 people have up-voted the comment asking for clarification, yet not a single person (until me) voted to close the question as "Unclear what you're asking."

I'm appealing to all of you to please vote to close these questions! I know we don't want to be hard on new users, but putting a question on hold is anything but a death sentence. What it does is prevents our site from being filled up with opened, but unanswerable questions!

When a question is unanswerable, a comment is good, but always vote to close immediately, as well!

If you don't have the reputation to vote yet, you can always flag a question for moderator attention as well!

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    I also suggest not to down vote these question, I see them getting downvotes just because they forgot to mention vital information, a close vote I agree with you, a down vote I think is a bad idea. I know you did not say that but it is just a reminder. Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 20:50
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    @MeNoTalk: I agree! A down vote is not necessary in these cases.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 20:52
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    Yes, keep seeing downvotes recently on newbies - we only need to put unclear questions on hold, not penalise them.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 14:17
  • @pnuts: You can flag, though :)
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 17:21
  • @pnuts: Has this happened to you in such a case?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 17:33
  • @pnuts: Well, declined flags don't really hurt... I encourage you to flag in obvious cases, at minimum.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 17:37
  • @pnuts: Well, on SO that's more of an issue than it is on the lower-traffic sites like Travel.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 17:40

2 Answers 2


I still think closing questions quickly is too harsh. We can tell ourselves repeatedly that it's called “on hold”, that they can always be reopened, I am not convinced it's OK. (Incidentally, the change from “closed” to “on hold” is not enough to address the problem in my view but it is an implicit acknowledgment that closing is not as innocuous as we liked to pretend).

That's why I did not vote to close at the time I commented on https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/31607/usa-to-london-heathrow and I will continue to do so in the future. (I did ultimately vote to close).

Incidentally, we might disagree on whether it's would have been better to just close and delete Transit visa for travel to US from India via Frankfurt and Zurich or Cross Border Canada with B1/B2 Visa but once it has an upvoted answer, it's not more at risk of remaining open than anything else…

Closing such questions as a duplicate or keeping them around as closed questions does not make much sense. The maze of related questions closed as duplicates when there are in fact some small differences (or perhaps the relevance of the previous answer is not obvious to the OP) is a much bigger problem than questions not being closed quickly enough.

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    But if the question is unanswerable, leaving it open adds only clutter, not value. It doesn't help "make the Internet a better place" to have a bunch of unanswerable questions around.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 13:45
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    My general practice is to: VtC as "Unclear what you're asking," comment "What is your citizenship?" Then when they answer/update the question, I retract my close vote. Even if I never do the last step, if they actually add the relevant info, it will never accumulate 5 close votes.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 13:46
  • @Flimzy If there is an answer, it's not unanswerable…
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 16:20
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    That's not always true... there are often bogus answers posed to vague questions. Sometimes they might get lucky and get the OP's true question answered. But just as often, they lead to confusion, and answer some other question entirely.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 16:23
  • @Flimzy Possibly but that's another discussion. Point is, if there is an answer (especially if it's upvoted and/or accepted), the question won't remain “unanswered” in the sense of “no answer posted” like the USA/London question. Whether any given question is a good one is a matter of opinion whereas we should all be able to agree that questions that cannot possibly receive an answer should be deleted.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 10:04

Most people when they come to any SE site for the first time, they will deal with it as if it was a forum, because most websites which offer Q&A services are forums or forums-like, where a clear understanding of what a Question and Answer are not really defined the same way as in SE platform. In addition to that, no one really follows the 2 minutes tutorial, you can clearly see that from how new users post questions and answers.

With that being said, "Close Votes" is something will not be easily understandable by most of them, not because the concept is rocket science, but because most Q&A platforms around the internet are just messed up, answers can act as comments or questions, questions can be stories, etc.

So, the best thing is not to downvote nor vote to close, a brief comment asking the OP to enhance the question should do this, we have a lot of examples where a single good comment made the OP change the question to fit our platform and change it from a bad question to good question and then gets a lot of answers. If the question starts to get old "a day or so" then I can say it is safe to vote to close it, especially if the user is "unregistered", most of these folks do not show up again.

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    As the link in my question suggests, we should always vote to close immediately--not "in a day or two." Waiting a day or two usually means forgetting (except for a very few of the most avid users).
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 16:25

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