Can a question be closed without even a single comment?

I have an example here in which I do understand that several voters close the question without asking for clarification: https://askubuntu.com/questions/261358/dont-open-http-all-site-in-ubuntu-12-10 is closed

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, see the FAQ.

So this guy is a complete noob, cannot get on internet, goes to another computer, creates an AU login and ask a question. Our reaction: CV without a single comment.

  1. No 'do you have an internet connection',
  2. nor 'did you modify your host file?',
  3. nor 'did you install/mess with firestarter/iptables?'

I am not sure about this, but I feel that with a comment or two the user could have been helped. Isn't the first step to post a comment rather than vote to close?


3 Answers 3


I agree with your concern — we should engage with people more before closing things — but I think put in the position to close this question, I might followed suit and might have pulled the trigger without explanation.

While it may sound snobby, my only excuse is I expect a certain level of English and technical understanding here. If you can't explain even the rudimentary symptoms of the problem, how are people expected to answer it? You'll only get a load of people blabbering out every solution for every networking problem there's ever been. That is not a good use of anybody's time.

To go further, I'm tempted to retroactively reject Stephen Myall's heroic edit. Editing is what you should do when there's a language problem like this but only when you can be sure you're editing it to mean what the author meant.

In this case, I can't see where ports factor in except being a word in the original post. Ubuntu doesn't block outbound ports (the ones that would stop you connecting to Facebook) by default. Whatever is being explained here has likely nothing to do with ports and everything to do with some random network quirk.

So no, if anything, I'd be looking to direct Ripon (the OP) to a site or Loco that speaks their language. While we like to think we can provide all the help, we honestly can't handle users who can't explain things. They'll get much better service with a native group. We need understandable or nearly-understandable English.

  • I think that @Stephen Myall's edit or any other heroic edits are fine, if the questions that result are intelligible and general enough to be useful to others. If the editor has guessed meaning incorrectly, this forces a situation where either the OP makes clarifications, or a new but intelligible question is created and stands as is.
    – belacqua
    Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 23:25
  • @belacqua There are diminishing returns when dealing with somebody who can't speak English here. Edits are guesses and there's no guarantee the OP can understand them or the questions being asked in return. In this case the OP never came back to reply and the question died. That's a lot of wasted effort. Generally speaking if people can't or won't speak English we should be sending them to places that can help them.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 9:22
  • I don't disagree -- in my opinion, if effort is wasted, it is the editor's, and if the OP can't grok the changes and leaves, this is desired. Effort on the part of editors and answerers is not necessarily fungible -- some people make heroic edits because they enjoy doing so, and might not spend a similar amount of effort to do something which is closer to a site-ideal efficiency.
    – belacqua
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 16:29

People get closed posts wrong.

Closing a posts means that either there is no quality in it enough to meet the site's standards, or simply its a useless question (either a dupe, or really not a post per se).

That is an opportunity to actually improve the post, should be taken as one and its meant to be taken as such.

No comments? What do you mean? There is a big obvious one already:

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, see the FAQ.

Is that not enough? What would adding an extra comment add to explaining why that question was closed? Redundancy?

Closing is making better, its not by all means punishing anyone, should not be taken as such.

Do you think it deserves a comment and further investigation of what issue the OP is facing? Go ahead: closed posts can be commented on, information can be obtained, post can be edited, flagged, re-opened.

No issues, no fuzz. Comment, edit, help.

That post, as it is, is closed for a good reason. If you can improve it make it so.

  • People get closed posts wrong. people = me? :)
    – don.joey
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 11:24
  • @Private: Everyone :-)
    – Aditya
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 11:25
  • 2
    People get closed posts wrong. Nothing can summarize the situation better. I actually understood that closing the question is a temporary means of improving the post (if it could be) - I understood the true meaning of closing when @ManishEarth asked the meaning of closing the question and answering it in the Moderator Election Chat Room. Although, we keep mentioning to the OP to flag it for moderators if they think it shouldn't be closed - I think this needs to be advertised a bit better while closing. True meaning of closing should accompany every closure.
    – Aditya
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 11:27
  • @Aditya I agree. The metaphor of closuse is one of the weakest spots of the SE user interface.
    – don.joey
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 11:30
  • 1
    People get closed posts wrong. We all perceive what we perceive. To one one struggling with their computer, worried about their email, and generally stressed out; "Closed" means "your not important enough to bother to try to help". Specially if English isn't their first language. I mean think of driving around list for 30 mins and finally pulling over to ask for directions at Bob's Map Hut, only to be told, "You didn't phrase your request correctly so were not going to give you directions." Granted, that's not what happens from our perspective, but from theirs.... I'd be pissed.
    – coteyr
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 10:38
  • @coteyr we are working, for free, helping hundreds of users per day, there are some rules to use the site, they are written on the FAQ... We are actually trying to fix things all the time and make the site better. If there is need for more information or a question lacks it totally then why should it stay on the site? If get mugged on the street I can't just run in to a police station saying "I got mugged, solve it", there will be a battalion of questions to be answered before anything is done, not because the police officers don't care, they just need to know more information... Simple Commented May 22, 2013 at 13:41
  • "I got mugged, solve it" -- actually that happens a lot. Doesn't get the crime solved but the police still have to hand hold a bit. And again I am not talking about "right" from our perspective, I am saying look at it from both sides before just closing a question. Sometimes helping means prying for information. "Close" is just [perceived] final. The Map Hut example: Bob could have said "Try asking your question this way" instead of "Go away, not worth my time".
    – coteyr
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 13:48
  • Help does not come without information supplied, a simple affirmation is not a help request. Look, we get a lot of questions where the OP will not supply the needed information to solve the issue, instead of spending several days and hours trying to squeeze it from them we should focus on making sure we can help users that can and want to be helped, if I close a question with the reason "please supply more information about x and y" how is that not prying? Comments are allowed on closed questions, use them and abuse them... Commented May 22, 2013 at 13:58
  • ...once you have the needed information or the OP actually knows how to use the site help will be provided, Ask Ubuntu is not a forum shaped site, learn how to use it. Commented May 22, 2013 at 13:59
  • "...the site help will be provided..." See that's what I mean. You didn't phrase your question correctly so were not going to answer it. Go away. Shoo Shoo, your not worthy of knowing my knowledge. Pfft, are you still here? Can't you it from their perspective? Close might be the correct option from our perspective but how are we ever going to get past bug #1 if when someone asks a question we screem "NUB" and hide. I don't hae the perfect answer, but try looking at it from their side.
    – coteyr
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 16:25
  • Bugs are off-topic for the site btw. From my point of view you just dont really understand how this site works, that is why you give importance to closed posts, else you would not, sorry. Commented May 22, 2013 at 18:35

I too find this wrong. We should give the OP a chance to correct their post. And I'm not referring to the example you provided - I see this all the time in the Close Review queue.

For the "possible duplicate" they usually have some time to check it out and comment back if it's not applicable and/or edit their question to explain why.

When there's an "off topic" or a "not a real question" often the OP won't know until it's closed already. I think this is too harsh as many people don't always know how to describe the problem, and a comment or too can help them explain their problem more clearly.

What I tend to do with these is to leave a comment, and then vote to close or keep open as appropriate. Either way, they get notified that something is happening on their question and have a chance to jump in and edit it or ask for more help.

Leaving a comment doesn't hurt and is polite. I think a comment should be mandatory for questions in the Close Review queue.

I understand that an OP can edit their question after it's closed, but this is not the 'easy path'. If they can fix it right away give them the heads up, and avoid having to wait another day for the Reopen Review, before someone can answer.

  • Leaving a comment doesn't hurt and is polite. I think a comment should be mandatory for questions in the Close Review queue. I agree 99%. I don't want to have to comment on spam though. Perhaps certian close types could have required (manual) comments.
    – coteyr
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 10:40
  • Duplicates probably should not have comments either. Though I do think their part of the problem as well.
    – coteyr
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 10:40
  • @coteyr When you vote to close as a dupe the system auto comments for you. Also, we shouldn't close spam, just flag it ;)
    – Seth
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 15:07
  • Yes dupes auto add the link, that's what I mean, I don't that we should have to comment on them because of that. Dupes seem to be handled well from a system standpoint. As for spam your right, for some reason I thought we got "is this spam" in the close queue, but we don't.
    – coteyr
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 16:19

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