Edit: This is not a proposal. I am just asking what I should be doing.

In this question: Number theory - Primitive root of $338$ the question as stated doesn't make any sense. However, in the comments a user has explained what the OP (probably) means. I sometimes see these questions where the question as stated doesn't make sense, but I (or someone else) can make a good guess as to what the OP really wants to know.

Is it better to just close the question, or should one just edit the question so that it makes sense (with the risk of changing the questions so that it actually isn't what the OP wants to know)?

Obviously, if the OP clarifies in the comments what the question really is, one can make the edit, but what about when the OP remains silent?

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I didn't mean to get specific about this one question. I was trying to be more general. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Mar 31, 2013 at 12:54

1 Answer 1


The main issue with guessing is that the OP might come back, change the question to mean something else, and render all answers obsolete. This is why I think we should:

  • Comment asking the OP to clarify.
  • If the OP doesn't respond within a certain timeframe, we start voting to close. With the new review system, such questions will pick up votes in no time once the first vote is cast.

The OP can always edit and ask to reopen, or post a new question if the old one is unsalvageable. If the OP can't bother to respond to comments, I don't think guessing and answering the wrong question is worth our time.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I don't think that "order of minutes" is reasonable. Not everyone is me, and not everyone is mainlining this website like oxygen. Some people would post a question and come back after a few hours. I do agree than 12 hours or so is probably reasonable, but a full day (perhaps two over the weekend) is more reasonable to me. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Mar 31, 2013 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I expect the OP to hang around for a few minutes after posting a question. Not everyone does I guess. I'll change this part of my answer. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2013 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ Just to be clear: I wasn't proposing anything! I was just asking whether to close or edit... $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Mar 31, 2013 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas Removed the word proposal. :) $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2013 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ @AymanHourieh: Thanks :) $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Mar 31, 2013 at 12:56

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