Recently I have noticed that a number of questions about wireless problems that lack the hardware information necessary to answer them are being closed as duplicates of this question:

My wireless/WiFi connection does not work. What information is needed to diagnose the issue?

That post is indeed likely to be helpful to those struggling to ask a good question about wifi here, but unless the question is really literally asking something like "What information do I need to figure out why my wifi doesn't work?", I think that these questions should be closed as unclear what you're asking.

Here's an example of the posts I've seen. For any question that's unclear, it is a good idea to make a comment suggesting what information is needed to improve the question, like the one made there by David Foerster. We could make comments on such questions suggesting OP take a look at that post and edit their question to provide further info (here is a useful userscript for magically making hyperlinks to posts). That would be a lot less confusing and stressful for them than a weird duplicate closure.

Apart from the fact that it's confusing and might seem rude to the OP, making it less likely they will engage and improve their question, it's also potentially confusing for reviewers. Questions that are edited within a few days of being closed for any reason will be sent to the reopen queue, where changes between revisions will be highlighted. Edits to the question that don't add the necessary information might cause reviewers to vote to reopen (because it's not a duplicate), and edits that do fix the problem might not cause reviewers to vote to reopen (because the question is as much a duplicate as it was before, i.e. not much at all).

Also, duplicates are treated specially with regard to deletion. Closed questions with no upvotes and no upvoted or accepted answers are deleted automatically after a certain time (unless they are edited). This clears the site of noise that would otherwise clutter search results. Because they are potentially very useful, unlike off-topic and otherwise unanswerable questions, questions closed as duplicates are never deleted, unless they meet the much more generous conditions that apply to automatic deletion of open questions, or they are deleted by vote by a minimum of 3 users with more than 10k reputation (that's the difference - 10k voters can't delete open questions) or one almighty mod. This means that if we close bad, unclear, unanswerable questions as duplicates, they will potentially hang around a lot longer than they would have if we had closed them as unclear.


If the question isn't a duplicate, don't vote to close it as a duplicate. If it lacks information, just vote to close it as unclear and leave a comment suggesting how to improve it if possible.

  • 5
    Please. Unclear what you're asking is for questions that doesn't have enough information to be answered. Duplicates are for people asking the same question, not other questions that may have similar or the same answers. VTC as unclear and leave a helpful comment. – Seth Feb 26 '18 at 22:23
  • 2
    I agree wholeheartedly. I've come across several of these recently and try to leave an instructional comment such as "Please review this and then edit this post to include needed information. Thank you for helping us help you!" – Elder Geek Feb 27 '18 at 16:20
  • While I do agree on this specific instance, @Seth we can (and should, and have done already) close questions if there are slightly different questions that have the same answer. Of course the instance shown by Zanna is not such a case because the "what information is needed to diagnose the issue?" is not a duplicate of "how do I fix this issue?". – Andrea Lazzarotto Mar 1 '18 at 16:45
  • @AndreaLazzarotto there are exceptions to every rule, but in general same answers do not a duplicate make. – Seth Mar 1 '18 at 16:47
  • @Seth I've got to search and find where this was discussed before, because I am sure this was discussed before... and the consensus was "if the question is somehow similar and the answer is absolutely the same, it's a duplicate". – Andrea Lazzarotto Mar 1 '18 at 16:51
  • @AndreaLazzarotto every time that discussion came about, I would know about it, and no, that wasn't the consensus, that was a point of view. This is a recent-ish discussion which rehash what was said here: vote to close duplicate questions not answers. Note the lack of dissenting opinion. – Braiam Mar 11 '18 at 17:30

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