I often see a question in the reopen queue that was closed as unclear what you are asking, but was also lacking context.

If the OP edits the unclear what you are asking part, and it enters the reopen queue, should it be reopened? I now mostly skip these, or click reopen, depending on whether there is a little context or none at all. I don't want to reopen a question that should and will be closed again, but I also don't want the OP give the impression that it still unclear what he is asking.

I also considered leaving a comment, but what then? Skip, reopen or leave closed?

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    $\begingroup$ Your cases seem to be ones where the OP is still engaged, so leaving a Comment about adding context may be productive. I generally skip the review after leaving a note of this sort. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Aug 17, 2015 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ What if it also seems like a duplicate? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Aug 17, 2015 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila If it is unclear what one is asking, how can it be clear enough to be viewed as duplicate? $\endgroup$ Aug 18, 2015 at 6:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Hagen: It could be clear the duplicate is one of several questions, or maybe there was one post with all these combined. The current question would be unclear as to what exactly is meant, but it would be clear that either way the answer lies in some other specified thread. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Aug 18, 2015 at 6:58
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sometimes surprised by what gets flagged as off-topic. In some cases I think that what we really want to say is that the question comes from the most boring part of the OP's math homework. $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2015 at 0:24

2 Answers 2


If a question is not on-topic for this site, it is not on-topic. The actual close reason, while important, is less important than that the question gets closed (and in more extreme cases, deleted).

Questions that are both "unclear what you're asking" and "missing context" are very common--this happens when, by failing to show any context, the asker also fails to define all the relevant terms of his/her question. In all of these cases, it would be pointless to reopen until ALL of the question's problems were resolved.

I suggest you leave a comment, but do not vote to reopen a question that is (still) not fit for this site.

P.S. A similar situation is when a question gets closed as missing context, but is also a duplicate. Same thing--I don't see any need to re-open and re-close the question, just comment what the question is a duplicate of. This will link the two questions on the "Linked" list on the side of the webpage.


The most common course here would be for the question to be reopened and reclosed (multiple times, if needed). I think reopening a bad question is better than leaving a question closed for the wrong reason -- such can only serve to confuse.

Leaving comments can speed up this process, and I'd say this should be strongly encouraged. Frankly, most votes in the review queues could do with an accompanying comment (but I admit that I often don't heed this advice myself).

In summary, the quickest way to a reopened question of reasonable quality is probably the combination of a reopen vote and a comment.

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    $\begingroup$ Closed questions normally get deleted, thus eliminating any potential confusion over the close reason. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Aug 17, 2015 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @NormalHuman But the vast majority of those questions is not in the topic of this thread, for they are not edited to remedy the named reason(s) for their closing. My answer solely addresses cases where OP is involved in the thread and tries to improve their question. It would be a shame if a question is deleted just because the OP was given incomplete information about what needed change. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Aug 18, 2015 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ @NormalHuman: I'm not aware that "Closed questions normally get deleted." This seems quite different from the original StackExchange philosophy. Has this been discussed? $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Aug 18, 2015 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath "Ideally, off-topic closures (as well as most non-dupe closures) should get deleted. The reason they're not immediately deleted is because sometimes they can be fixed to no longer be off-topic. -- Grace Note ♦" See also this blog post (note the date, if you're interested in the "original SE philosophy"), in particular the section "Why do you allow content to be deleted?". $\endgroup$ Aug 18, 2015 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Let me in particular quote this from the blog post (which also applies to @Lord_Farin's last comment): "Let me be clear: we do not seek out deletion, by any means. But we believe not having the guts to cull some of your worst content is much, much more dangerous to your community than letting it sit around forever in the vague hope that it will magically get better over time." $\endgroup$ Aug 18, 2015 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath "Outside of duplicates, rare is the question that should be kept around, closed but not deleted. And we have locking for those." meta.stackexchange.com/a/124841 $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Aug 18, 2015 at 22:00

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