Lately I've noticed quite a few of such "Do I need a visa ... ?" questions in which the OP does not specify any information regarding the passport he/she holds, the citizenship, etc. Here and here are examples of such questions.

Assuming that including such information is part of the "asking a good question" conduct, what should I do when this happens? Of course I could (should) add a comment asking for such information. But I feel that this type of behaviour should also somehow be "punished", very much in the style of the questions lacking a mvce in StackOverflow.

  • 5
    Somewhat irrelevant, but I wanted to mention that this site is the 6th largest social referral source to the UK government site for visas. More interestingly, it is the second largest site with a zero bounce rate. It means the links provided here are generally spot on.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 15:11
  • People frequently omit genuinely important information but if you don't know the rules yourself, it's better not to presume that something is relevant. For example, it is occasionally perfectly possible to answer without knowing precisely which citizenship the OP has.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 16:18
  • @GayotFow are you in the UK govt? Was curious how you got that stat?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 12:31
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    @MarkMayo I'm not a guvvie, I'm a semi-retired practitioner who is closely associated with the immigration law lobby and several trade associations representing immigration practitioners. So from time-to-time I review drafts of their new policies and guidance. At the moment, they have a web page in BETA RELEASE which I have been tracking. It's very BETA, but I think the social media referrals and bounce rates have stabilized. See gov.uk/performance/site-activity-uk-visas-and-immigration and remember that it's BETA.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 13:06
  • @GayotFow wow, thanks for the link, will peruse with great interest!
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 13:07
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    @MarkMayo note that they are deeply changing the visitor rules with target release for end of December. I am reviewing drafts now, and when it's released a whole lot of info on the net will be out-of-date. Including answers at Stack Overflow, and even some of mine :( Answers on visitor/tourist questions should be caveated.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 13:11

2 Answers 2


Close them as "unclear what you're asking." Add a comment explaining that closing prevents answers from being answered while the question is unanswerable, and urging the OP to edit in their citizenship, the purpose of their visit, or whatever other information is missing from the question. This is precisely what closing is for - not as a punishment, but as a "pause" while the question gets fixed.

If you're up to it, monitoring the question and re-opening it after the OP edits in what's needed would help ensure a happy experience for the asker, who is probably new to the site.

  • Ok seems reasonable. Will start doing this from now on.
    – JoErNanO Mod
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 16:34

Another option other than Unclear, is to find (or make!) a duplicate master question (and then close as duplicate of that, or point to it while closing).

How do I know if I need a visa to travel to a particular country? What information do I need to gather?

with answer(s) appropriate to guide a person to either find the answer themselves, or to gather the right kind of information. That seems more helpful than just closing with Unclear, and would avoid having to have a lot of that in comments. (This could be a FAQ question, if this is that common.)

  • thing is, closing is supposed to be temporary. Once they fix the question, it gets reopened. That's why it's called On Hold at first. I agree permanently and irrevocably closing would be unproductive. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 12:14
  • Sure, but realistically if most of the "I need a visa" questions even when made good still will end up with the same place, isn't that a good result?
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 14:42
  • the canonical question shouldn't be too general. I love closing dupes of the "do I need a visa to transit at heathrow" question - but one question to cover all visa-needings is too general for me. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 16:03
  • It would be almost as bad as pointing them to the Wikipedia article on visa requirements. Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 5:52

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