Reviewing first posts I often find ones not fitting to the site's rules.

I generally comment on them and ask for improvement, but I fear closing them as that could be considered as rude by the new users and could repel them from here.
What should be the best practice?

Just an example is here: Excel - IF statement to find out if two cells contain same keyword, it already has a comment asking for clarification, and in current state it should be closed as unclear.

  • If you feel it is unclear then you should do one of more of the following: 1/ add a comment asking for particular clarification 2/ down vote 3/ VTC as "unclear what you are asking". If there are sufficient VTC (5) and the question is put on hold the OP can still edit and it will go into to the reopen queue.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Feb 10, 2016 at 8:33
  • 2
    I don't think worrying overmuch about people's feelings is the way to go. If you want to help them, make specific suggestions for improvement. Voting to close isn't a problem per se, but if people aren't giving feedback about how to improve their posts, and their question is closed, that doesn't seem very friendly. Feb 10, 2016 at 9:15
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    @FaheemMitha - The close reason is enough feedback in my opinion. I have found most people just argue with you if you provide to much feedback.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 10, 2016 at 11:56
  • @Ramhound Yes, I've heard that too. But I regularly provide feedback, and I have not personally experienced it. Having said that, the posters don't usually use the feedback either. Feb 10, 2016 at 13:09
  • @FaheemMitha - While I don't provide feedback on the close vote, I do provide reason for the downvote, I figure if they choose to fix their question/answer then there is a good chance they give me a reason to retract my close vote also.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 10, 2016 at 13:19
  • @Ramhound Do you usually downvote when you vote to close? Or just some of the time? Feb 10, 2016 at 13:22
  • If a question isn't on topic I almost always issue a downvote. If a question is on topic but the question isn't clear it depends on the quality of the question itself.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 10, 2016 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


I started this as a comment but it got too long, so I'll post it as an answer. Since you're talking about closing, I assume this is limited to question posts.

If the question basically doesn't belong here (for example, off-topic, ridiculously over-broad, or not constructive), I vote to close immediately.

If the question just lacks needed details, I leave a comment and revisit it in a day or two to see if it's been improved. If the OP hasn't returned and the question isn't answerable as is, I vote to close at that point.

Ambiguous questions are a different matter. It's a potential problem with any question, but especially Excel ones. People invest a lot of time developing answers to a misinterpreted question. I've seen poorly worded questions with numerous detailed answers, none of which addressed what the OP actually wanted to know.

If the question is ambiguous and likely to waste people's time responding incorrectly, I usually comment and vote to close immediately. But I check back over the next few days to see if it's been improved and retract the close vote if the problem's fixed.

The aspect of closing being seen by a new user as rude, and potentially repelling them, is largely related to the comments (or lack thereof). It isn't really an issue if there is a polite comment that explains the reason.

  • Thanks @fixer! It's almost exactly what I've also thought. Last question is: how can you revisit questions in a day? Mark them as favorite / leave open tab? Feb 11, 2016 at 11:50
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    @MátéJuhász: I post a comment (like clarifying questions). The comments are then in a tab on your profile page, linking back to the questions.
    – fixer1234
    Feb 11, 2016 at 17:35

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