Following on from this question. I made a comment there:
By the same token, we shouldn't automatically close any question that says "virus" anywhere in the subject or body, because it may be that the user is mistaken in believing that they have a virus, when in fact, it's just good old fashioned broken software that may be able to be fixed somehow. My dad, for one, being extremely tech-unsavvy, thinks it's a virus when almost anything goes wrong with his PC. Many users come to us having already "pre-diagnosed" the symptoms they're seeing with their PC, and, not being experts, can easily get the diagnosis wrong and mislead themselves and us.
This led me to continue the discussion in Root Access, where this chat line drummed up some more discussion about the issue.
The general gradient of reasoning of the proponents of closing these types of questions goes something like this:
- Assumption: We have a canonical question/answer about how to deal with viruses. (Valid)
- Assertion: When the user thinks they have a virus, they should take the advice in the canonical question, i.e. nuke their system. Then we should nuke their question as a duplicate. (Debated)
- Assertion: If the user is incorrect in their diagnosis that it's a virus, then it will take a lot of back and forth comments and tooth-pulling to get them to provide us the info we need to properly diagnose the problem. (Valid)
- Assertion: Even if the user does not even attempt to provide an alleged diagnosis of their problems, and instead merely reports their symptoms, the question shifts from being a duplicate to being too localized, and is still a bad question. (Citation)
This seems like we're sliding down a slippery slope of becoming increasingly strict. I don't think it makes sense to close all questions which don't have encyclopedic significance; that would make us a clone of Wikipedia. Also, not every question that's asked, and not every set of symptoms that are reported, will already have a question previously asked about those symptoms. But the fact is, troubleshooting very often, if not always, requires a lot of "back and forth" chit-chat. Troubleshooting fundamentally involves:
- Having limited information about what the symptoms are;
- Having limited information about what the root cause is;
- Having limited information about what the solution is;
- Trying various things that either provide more information, or potentially reveal / shed light on root causes, or actually resolve the problem;
- Referring to help manuals, forum posts, technical knowledge bases, and possibly related SE network questions/answers which may or may not help.
When we encounter a question with limited information about what the symptoms and root cause of the problem are, should we:
- Close the question because it's going to be too chatty?
- Close the question because it's too localized?
- Leave it open and attempt to help them in comments until we have a definite answer, then post the answer?
- Invite them into a chat.stackexchange.com chat room (in our case, Root Access)? If we do so, what becomes of the question?
What I'm trying to accomplish with this question is just to collate some different opinions on what should be done in these cases.