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Not only the flag but also the close reason is utterly useless by itself. If you cannot be bothered to leave a comment explaining why you think the question is unclear or which further details are needed, do not vote or flag, period. You must clarify yourself what is missing. Maybe more implicit knowledge must be made explicit. Maybe you misunderstood.

If you do not spell it out, the question will at least receive a canned comment leading precisely nowhere, or, worse, remain closed forever. Others cannot look inside your head, they do not know what’s wrong/missing.

Thank you.

Recent examples (not closed, but voted on)

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  • Perhaps you could point to some questions that have been closed recently which fall into this category. I couldn't find any in the last 24 hours.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Feb 17 at 19:43
  • No closed questions (at the moment) but some close votes, most likely from review queues.
    – Daniel B
    Feb 17 at 21:08
  • So your 3 examples have a single close vote and also have comments. None have been closed...
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Feb 17 at 22:14
  • Of course the close voters may just have felt that the questions were not good for the same reasons as on the down vote tool tip.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Feb 17 at 22:21
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  • 1
  • 1
    What are you hoping to achieve from this question?
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Feb 17 at 22:28
  • I concur. When reviewing questions that received close votes as "needs details or clarity," my rule is to always vote to leave open if it's unclear what "needs details or clarity" in the question. Feb 18 at 1:39
  • @DavidPostill I am hoping to raise awareness that there is no easy way out: flagging or casting in a close vote will not magically improve a question/answer.
    – Daniel B
    Feb 18 at 6:51
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    I will stop using Needs details or clarity when there is a better way to provide feedback to questions that need more details, which will prevent users who disagree their question requires additional details and serial downvote those who do ask for additional details. This answer needs additional details. I try to provide feedback and formulate the words, to describe what additional information might be required to answer the question. Sometimes I can't formulate those words, but I know additional information is still required.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 18 at 19:25

2 Answers 2

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I agree with this; even if it reads like a rant to me.

If you can’t provide a comment explaining what details are needed, the flag should not be used.

I often use “Needs details or clarity” and I honestly find it the most useful of the flags. Whenever I use it I always ask a comment requesting more details and sometimes say, “Hey! I flagged you for more details. Please provide more details.” In fact I often retract close votes for lack of details when someone has added the additional details.

Many times it is simply the exact make and model of a PC or OS or similar. Sometimes I have gotten responses that push back with “Who cares?” or “Does it matter?” and I assert more details allows for more things to exist to help a question get a decent answer.

I agree that just flagging without a comment is a “drive by” that adds up to nothing. But if used properly this is one of the best flags Super User has.

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  • What about the situation where, I can typically provide a 500 character comment explaining the reasons the question should be closed, but I have done so in the past only to be serial downvoted and verbally (written form) abused and lost all will to explain my vote to close a question since the author will never agree with the fact the question actually should be improved? Users have literally told me to get lost, that they will NOT improve the question, despite what needed to be done was a relatively simple improvement (but an improvement I couldn’t perform myself)
    – Ramhound
    Mar 21 at 21:41
  • @Ramhound That happens. And it is annoying. But someone who cannot provide basic details will have their question closed. And serial downvoting is often detected and reversed as well. So no harm from what I can see. I will say that if I leave a comment I do a quick check of the poster’s history on SE sites and gauge my involvement level based on that. It is all a “play it by ear” scenario. Just roll with it. Mar 22 at 0:40
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Funny thing, it looks that this question might needs more details

First. I'm still learning the workings of Super User. As an assidous participant on Meta Stack Overflow, Meta and Meta Web Applications (disclaimer, I'm a mod in that last site) I'm aware that while the platform is the same each communiy is different, but have some common circumstances.


I usually leave comments when I flag/vote to close, but I don't always do it, so when I read this title I though that it was addressed to me, due to some recent cases that I not remember if were on this site or anothe were I didn't left a comment.

While I think that might be worthy to leave comments asking for specific details I strongly disagree making leaving comments for closing flags/votes as a "obligation". Also I don't think that the lack of comment should be a reason to vote to keep a question open when it clearly should be closed as needs details / is unclear.

The Ask Question page already show a modal to new users that they should discard before be able to fill anything

Ask question modal for new users

Then the fields already have help, and the side panel have tips, as is mendtioned in the above modal.

Then it's asked the the user to review their question to review it before posting providing guidance about what they should review.

If they ignore all that help (rethoric question ahead) what tell us that the OP will read the comments?

P.S. The modal might be customized, i.e., to point to FAQs with guidance about the typical details required for the most common questions. Personally I think that questions about using application software should mention what was found in the official help and why it didn't meet the OP needs.


Trying to integrate stuff from the following posts:

I think that this request might eventually made more specific at least for two audiences:

  • "local fandom" (active assidous Super User members that regularly flag/vote to close, having or not access to the review queues, that follow Meta / Chat)
    • For this people, maybe nothing special to add, maybe adding some statistics if you find that they might help to support an idea.
  • "the others" (occasional users, including no longer assidous users and users with high reputation that doesn't follow Meta / chat)
    • Having a "welcome" / "welcome back" about what are the current Super User workings regarding closing questions (i.e. a list of the "must read" meta post) could be helpful to have a place to point these users.

For those who likes to thing for the long term, check out How might the Staging Ground & the new Ask Wizard work on the Stack Exchange network?

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  • I never assume the author has malicious intent. Question writers, especially those not-so-experienced with PCs, cannot judge which details are required. We, as experienced users of PCs and this site, must guide them. // In the first place, questions should not generally be closed, at all. We already had that discussion.. Askers must be given a chance to improve their questions before it is closed.
    – Daniel B
    Feb 18 at 16:20
  • Finding a post that needs details / is unclear doesn't make me assume OP intents, just sometimes make me "lazy" regarding posting a comment. Askers doesn't loose the chance to improve their question because it was closed... anyway, thanks for point me to the other discussion. I will read it later.
    – Rubén
    Feb 18 at 16:31

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