As per this post there's some confusion on what some close vote reasons mean. It was brought up that on CS Theory.SE, questions that are too basic fall outside of the scope since it is a site for advanced CS problems, not easy to look up stuff.

My problem with "off topic" is that while "out of scope" fits that definition, it makes it appear that the topic of a post is out of scope, rather than the specific question. In my opinion, Not a Real Question (too vague ect) is a better close reason for questions that are either too basic or lack attempts at research. NARQ implies that the basis of the question is sound but the specific question needs fixing. Off topic, IMO, implies that the question is unsalvagable and not fit for the site even if it was an outstanding question.

What close reason should we give to questions that are too basic or lacking in research effort?


1 Answer 1


I dislike using the "Off-topic" close reason in such a scenario for the following reasons:

  • As Ben mentioned: it appear that the topic of a post is out of scope, rather than the specific question. This can easily send out a wrong signal to the OP. E.g. this meta topic.
  • Basic questions are welcome, as long as they are proper questions. (Here is an example on how even basic questions can be phrased properly.)
  • A question being "too basic" isn't a timeless fact, it depends on 'common' scientific knowledge and available resources at the time of asking. Users could start referring to other questions which weren't closed as "Off-topic".

Two other more appropriate close reasons are:

Not a real question:

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.

Not constructive:

This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

I prefer to restrict the usage of "Not constructive" to those questions which aren't expected to be salvageable. E.g. poll-type questions, subjective questions, ...

The description of "Not a real question" implies the question can be salvageable: "cannot be reasonably answered in its current form"

Therefore I find "Not a real question" to be most suitable.

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