Please consider the following made up question.

I have something wrong with my computer and I can't do this and that. Usually I can but in this case, something goes wrong. I have also provided an amgiguous error message and/or logs

In this case, the post contains loads of good information but maybe the OS is missing, or the name of the application is missing etc.

Without this vital detail(s), it means the quesiton is unclear. As such we can vote to close.

Any opinion if we should just go ahead and vote to close or do we wait? The OP may respond within a short time frame, or days, or never!

Can I assume we should vote to close and then remove it if they respond (and edit and add the extra detail to ensure the question is then of good quality)?

  • 3
    I would add a comment asking for the missing information and also VTC. – DavidPostill Jun 27 '17 at 19:21

There are a few considerations that can influence how long to wait.

  • How serious are the issues?

    Distinguish between a basically good question that is missing some diagnostic information, which makes it a little overly broad, and a question with serious issues that doesn't belong on the site in anything close to its current form. If it has serious issues, VTC immediately. If not, weigh other considerations.

  • Will people waste time trying to answer?

    By the time you see the question, people may already have jumped in with answers that reflect completely different interpretations of the question. Or, you may get there early and see that the question is ambiguous, inviting answers that are likely to miss the mark of whatever is in the OP's mind. There's value in helping people avoid wasting their time if they miss the ambiguity.

    In a similar vein, if the question is overly broad, people may waste time writing an encyclopedic answer to cover all the bases. The OP and other readers will have to wade through a lot of stuff to find the tidbit that answers their question.

    The problem may be minimized if there is already a lot of discussion in comments making the issues obvious. Or you could ask detailed clarifying questions in comments, which would also serve as a heads up to answerers.

    But if you think people may waste time developing answers before the question is clarified, VTC immediately.

  • Is the OP actively engaged?

    If the OP is actively responding to comments on the question or editing to improve it, VTC is probably unnecessary, or at least premature, and counter-productive.

    If they are active on the site (check their "last seen" status) but unaware of the issue, they may quickly respond to a comment and fix it. If they have been seen on the site a brief time ago or are a regular who is known to visit often each day, try a comment. You can VTC if there is no response in a time that's appropriate for the seriousness of the issues.

    If the OP hasn't been seen for days or more, leave a comment and VTC.

    There's another situation that sometimes comes up -- the OP is actively engaged but clearly not interested in fixing the question, or able to. They may disagree and claim it's perfectly clear as is, or be unable to provide the needed detail, or be acting out after taking comments defensively.

    You may be able to help tease the needed clarification from them through comments or a chat. But if the question can't or won't be salvaged, VTC.

  • Will you check back and retract the VTC after the issue is fixed?

    Once there are sufficient close votes, you can't simply retract yours after the issues are fixed; the question is closed until and unless there are sufficient votes to reopen it. A marginal question might not get closed in its "fixed" condition, but if closed, might have difficulty attracting votes to reopen. At best, it will delay the OP getting an answer. So there's a risk to jumping the gun with a close vote.

    If you plan to practice good "VTC hygiene" (revisit the question in a timely way to retract the close vote after the issues have been fixed), it's less of a risk. If not, weigh that in deciding how soon you need to VTC. It may be worth holding off on the close vote if immediate closure isn't needed.

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