Could we at least attempt to understand questions prior to voting them as unclear? Here's just one example: "cp "command is not working properly

I'll grant you that the question is very basic and it doesn't appear that any research was done in an attempt to solve the problem, but the question itself couldn't be more clear as both the command issued and the error message are given. I think that failing to answer these painfully simple questions only results in more of the same. Am I psychic? Or are we as a community voting to close as unclear questions that can and should be answered?

1 Answer 1


As it currently stands, this question is totally unclear – the many comments show how many question are left open. To just list the most pressing ones:

  • Does /home/thiru/Pictures exist?
  • Is /home/thiru/Pictures a directory?
  • Why is OP using sudo?
  • How did OP get this error message? I’m only able to get these, none of which even resembles the one from the question:

    cp: cannot create regular file '/home/dessert/Pictures/': Not a directory
    cp: failed to access '/home/dessert/Pictures/': Not a directory

This last point shows that there’s something fishy here, and nobody can know what before OP answered the questions from the comments. In my opinion, that’s the very definition of unclear. Note that we don’t close a question for good when we close it as unclear, this close reason on the contrary gives OP strong hints how to improve the question and get it reopened once it’s answerable.

Citing What does it mean if a question is "closed" or "on hold"?:

unclear what you're asking

sometimes we need more information in order to help solve your problem

Edit your post to be more specific about what you're looking for, and be sure to address any concerns that other users brought up in the comments.

Questions that are edited within five days of being put on hold are automatically added to a reopening queue for community review.

It doesn’t say: “Your question is unclear, go away.”
It does say “Edit your post and react to comments, it’ll get automatically queued for reopening.”

  • 1
    I can get cannot stat if the source file doesn't exist. Perhaps I assumed too much.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 21:40
  • 1
    @ElderGeek but the cannot stat error here is for the destination, not the source.
    – muru
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 3:55
  • @muru That's a valid point and clearly the OP has no intention of providing any clarity. I stand corrected.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 20:32
  • 1
    @ElderGeek Thanks for asking, I think discussing closure is a good thing even if we do it over and over again – we do close questions too fast sometimes, especially as duplicates.
    – dessert
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 20:54
  • @dessert True fact. This one was not a good example but it does happen pretty regularly.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 21:41
  • @ElderGeek actually, you are the ones in the slowest side of the distribution of the 5 mayor sites per traffic or per questions/day. SO: 122, AU: 303, SU:203, Math.SE: 176, ru.SO: 198, es.SO: 263, ELU: 166, SF: 206. Those are average hours between asking and closing in the entire 2017.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 10:44
  • @Braiam Thank you for sharing. I have no doubt that we also top the ranks of unanswered questions. Some of us focus on answering, some of us focus on closing and I think we know who we are.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 12:07
  • @ElderGeek I don't get what you are hinting at. My point was that you said that "we do close questions too fast sometimes", when in fact, in average you are of the slowest.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 13:51
  • @Braiam It's never my intent to be obtuse. I'm sorry for any confusion you may have experienced. The quote that you are attributing to me actually is not my comment (although I did agree that sometimes we do.) I think I do my bit here both in terms of answers (1000+) and close votes (5000+) so I'm not sure what you are "hinting at" either.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 12:23
  • I think you’re both misunderstanding each other here. As this will get us nowhere let’s just leave it be.
    – dessert
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 12:35

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