In the past few weeks, I've been noticing a number of questions in the "Close Vote" queue that already have 3 or 4 close votes - but no one has taken the time to leave a comment to indicate the problem.

Sometimes it may be obvious; other times it won't be. I will usually take the time to add a comment at that point (especially if I agree with the close vote), so the OP has some indication of what they might need to add, or how the question could possibly be changed to be reopened eventually.

(I certainly see a large number of questions that do have such comments; but, there seems to be an increase in those that don't).

It seems logical to me to have a screen that encourages comments, if not as a part of the "Close Vote" page, then when clicking "Close" on the question screen itself. This could be similar to the page to encourage a comment on a low-quality post when clicking "Recommend Deletion", where the default action is "No Comment" (and there probably wouldn't be a list of pre-written comments to choose from). It wouldn't force someone to leave some sort of a comment, but it would at least remind them that such can be helpful.

I believe this happened on 8 of the 32 close votes I've made in the past 5 days; that's 25%:

Some of the other 24 questions had no comments from anyone. 2 were migrated to stackoverflow; one was too broad, but I couldn't come up with any helpful tips.

Of these 8 questions, 5 were asked by first-timers, 1 by a existing SE user who was new to DBA.SE, and one by someone for whom this was their 4th question (first being from 3 months ago). The one asked by someone who'd been around for a while was reopened once it was edited to include an actual question.

I agree with Aaron Bertrand's comment below, that many of the close reasons are an adequate explanation of the problem with the question: in particular, most of the options under "off-topic", "duplicate", and "primarily opinion-based".

However, "unclear what you're asking" and "too broad" can be a little daunting, especially for relatively new users. And (in my opinion) giving the users a direction in fixing the problem can result in the question not needing to be closed in the first place. Even a comment that you're voting to close the question gives them a bit more advanced notice (and can help others reviewing the question see the logic of why you nominated it to be closed). Most of the examples above were closed as "too broad".

Note that we don't just have "first post" reviews to filter out/downvote those who are obnoxious, contentious, or spammers, but to help new users learn to use the system better; to encourage them to become long-term, positive contributors.

  • Do you have any examples of close votes with no comments where the close vote reason shouldn't be obvious to the average person? (I'm not challenging you that they don't exist, but just vaguely saying there seem to be more makes it hard to really investigate.) I feel like we've fine-tuned the vote to close reasons many times and tried to make the descriptions obvious enough to make comments necessary, but if there are classes of scenarios where that doesn't work, it'd be good to have specifics. Because the answer might be fine-tuning the reasons, not badgering people to comment. :-) – Aaron Bertrand Dec 1 '17 at 17:01

Unfortunately this is a "people problem" not a "tech problem". Not every close vote requires a comment, so you can't enforce it.

I mean, you could, but the site has been running for like 6-7 years at this point without that being a mandate. It's been discussed many times on https://meta.stackexchange.com so I would encourage trolling that for more details, and I could find some posts if you wanted, but suffice to say, not gonna be enforced anywhere.

I agree as a community we could do better.

  • I've not seen this exact suggestion on the main meta site, myself. It may be worth requesting it there as a formal feature-request, but I wouldn't be shocked if it gets down-voted. – John Eisbrener Dec 8 '17 at 15:29

I agree that providing a comment can help people asking questions increase the quality thereof.

Sometimes, however, I believe that no comment is really required:

When people put some effort into asking a question, then I will be inclined myself to put some effort into supporting them ask or rephrase their question.

When people put no effort into asking a question as outlined in the help section (on topic, don't ask and deleted questions), then I have the tendency to be a bit lazy myself and will just VtC.

Possible solution

We could adopt the policy of at least putting in the links to the help section(s) in a comment as the bare minimum.

  • 2
    Again, my thought isn't that a comment should be required; just that a comment should be prompted for. – RDFozz Dec 7 '17 at 16:34

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