The system for closing questions on an SE site is rather simple. There are various types of close reasons and votes, that fit in roughly three categories:

Low Quality Posts

The close reaons "unclear what you're asking", "primarily opinion-based" and "too broad" are intended for questions that, while potentially valuable and on-topic, currently do not fulfill our quality criteria. They may be hard to answer because information is missing, or the way they're asked does not work well with our format. These questions should be edited so they can be answered properly, or deleted. Once edited, the question can be reopened and answered.

"This does not belong on the site"

Primarily, this is about closure as Off-Topic. These are questions that, even if they fit all the quality criteria, don't belong here and are accompanied by a description as to why that is the case. Because of this, the close system also allows for custom close reasons under the Off-Topic label. Every site can define its own reasons for closing a question as Off-Topic, and every user casting a close vote can detail their own specific reason if the given ones are insufficient. These questions are meant to be deleted, they add little to no value to the site.


Duplicate closures are special: These questions are meant to stay. They are usually alternate ways of asking a question, and are therefore valuable for anyone else looking for the solution. Duplicates point at other questions, the duplicate targets, which should contain an answer to the question - and all of its duplicates. For unregistered users, duplicate questions even automatically redirect to the target.

That said, there are some pitfalls with duplicate questions: The same answer a duplicate does not make. Just because two questions have the same answer, doesn't mean the questions are actually the same. Duplicates are for good reason named exact duplicates: This should only be applied when the question itself is actually the same, and not just superficially.

Now, as for the issue we're facing:

Questions are not closed, or closed for the wrong reasons

As I said, each of these three categories has its own future route. Some can and should be fixed, some should be deleted. With the tools we have, closing a question early and properly is a very important thing. A closure shows the user why the question currently has faults and tells them what to do about it. If we close for the wrong reasons (such as an incorrect duplicate target, or Off-Topic instead of low quality), we make it harder for users to find the information they're looking for and we don't actually tell the users what they should have done instead.

Ideally, when a question is asked, it is either closed or answered before it vanishes off the front page. Of course some questions are harder to answer, or the experts aren't available sometimes, but this is the ideal state no less. If you have to ask for more information, cast a close vote as "unclear what you're asking" as well - it can still be reopened when the information was provided. If the question is opinion-based, try editing it and making it more objective, or cast a "primarily opinion-based" close vote. This goes for the other close reasons as well.

If we can get on top of our new questions and start closing them better, we can keep the quality of our site on a good level and make sure the site doesn't get cluttered with hundreds of identical questions, or questions that are bound to never get an answer because they just cannot be answered without speculation.

  • I want to stress the fact that duplicates are only meant for questions that doesn't already fall in any other closure reason, for any motive.
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 0:40
  • 7
    @Braiam While that is not necessarily the case, it would definitely be preferable to only keep reasonably valid questions around. As I noted, duplicate closures are meant to stay, so there's no reason to keep an incredibly low quality post as a duplicate when it really doesn't add anything at all.
    – user98085
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 0:42
  • 1
    I think that you said it better than I could.
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 0:52
  • 1
    Somewhat related with what comes after closure. meta.askubuntu.com/q/8075/169736
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 0:58
  • Is funny to see that people evade this post but seriously upvote your other two. We maybe should demystify that "closing" questions is a bad thing.
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 1:51

1 Answer 1


Given that AU is an official support channel for Ubuntu, there really is no good way to prevent an influx of duplicate questions, nor should this really be a problem provided that the question is clear enough to answer.

Thus you are spot on, the best way to handle the large amount of questions AU gets is to *mark all questions that cannot be answered with the information as unclear as early as possible. This not only give the questioner a better understanding of the sites expectations, but makes clean-up eaiser

Similarly, I would argue that just because a questions isn't a perfect duplicate does not mean you should avoid marking it as one.

Part of asking good questions is discussing what you have already tried, and why other references are not working for you. If someone who asks a question that appears to have accidentally duplicated another question, and fails reference that other question, go a head and mark it a duplicate. However, you should also leave them a comment such as:

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question explaining why that answer did not work for you.

  • AU is neither official, nor endorsed by Canonical. We are just a group of users that banded together.
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 15:26
  • 5
    @Braiam This isn't true: AU has official permission to use some Ubuntu branding elements, and is referenced from official Ubuntu resources such as the installer. Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 22:54
  • @Gilles not from the point of view of the community meta.askubuntu.com/q/5444/169736 specially Marco Ceppi answer.
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 22:58
  • 3
    @Braiam Read that thread… Canonical doesn't run AU, but it officially endorses AU in several ways. Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 23:03

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