As of a few weeks ago, the "unclear what you're asking" close reason now links to a page in the help center:

closed as unclear banner

The moderators here can edit this page to customize it. So my questions are,

  1. Should they do so?
  2. What should they add or change to make it more useful to folks asking questions here?

Note that this page is currently very similar to a different page, one that we modified slightly a few months back. The results of that change weren't very impressive, and frankly I don't expect the results of this one to be noticeable either - very, very few people care enough to click through to the guidance linked to on these close reasons.

That said, it could provide a useful guide for folks struggling to ask Server Fault questions, if y'all care to make it one. Thoughts?

  • 2
    We also link to this page in one of the mod messages, so I am definitely interested in customizing it. Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 21:25
  • 1
    How effective are the links in the current close reasons? How many OPs for example read the How to Ask page linked to in the reason you quote after their question is closed ? What about the other helpful links for other close reasons ?
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 8:34
  • 2
    The vast, vast, vast majority of people who ask the really bad questions have (somehow) managed to avoid reading the SF FAQ, looking around the site even a little, or even consulting Google. And when ServerFault doesn't provide them "teh codez for fixing [foo]" they vanish, never to be seen on ServerFault again. So while we can provide some more helpful text, I am in complete agreement with Iain that it's not something worth putting much effort into. Anyone who actually cares about asking better questions has no problems finding the resources we already have for that purpose. Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 8:44
  • Not particularly effective, @Iain. I've been struggling a bit to get accurate numbers on how many folks actually follow these links, but 1-2% is a rough estimate. The hard truth is that relatively few people will read anything that you put in front of them - you can hope to target the conscientious minority, and nothing more.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 17:14
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    @Shog9: That's actually worse than I would have guessed. Perhaps it's time to stop wasting time on people who don't want to help themselves and direct energies towards the people who want to make this a better place ?
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 18:31
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    Well, any time you do something like this you have to assume you're doing it for the productive minority, @Iain - you can't get blood from a turnip. Y'all seem to have an exceptionally difficult time attracting that minority, but Sturgeon's Law applies pretty much everywhere.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 18:40
  • @Shog9 If we could just stop the turnips from asking questions though ...
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 22:51
  • A month passes, it'll soon be spring at this rate ... is anything going to happen here ?
    – user9517
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 12:40
  • 1
    Tempus fugit, another month passes with no apparent movement on this. Is anything likely to happen? At least it's spring so we have the other idea you have to look forward too.
    – user9517
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 6:59
  • @Iain 4 to 6 weeks (I've got a diamond, I'm allowed to use that excuse right?) -- Are there any more of these hanging around?
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 3:20
  • @voretaq7: Not that I'm aware of but as Michael notes there is a mod message that may need tweaking.
    – user9517
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 9:09

1 Answer 1


I recently stole Jon Skeet's excellent check list and modified it for use on Server Fault. I've left a link to it in quite a few comments recently and on a several occasions people have responded positively to it. Perhaps it (or something similar) could be used?

I think this has the advantage over @voretaq7's excellent How can I ask a better question ... simply because there is less to read but that should be considerer too.

The people who need to read this are least likely to be bothered so I don't think there should be a lot of effort put into this.

  • 8
    +1 Unfortunately I have to agree with the last part.
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 4:32
  • @ChrisS: Sadly, it will most likely just become a link target for the ever decreasing number of people who care to point the clueless at.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 8:36
  • I basically snarfed the major points from the default page and your checklist (tried to distill it down to 5 items, wound up with 6) and added links to some of the canonical meta questions on how to write a decent (main site) question. It all fits on one of my screens, so hopefully it won't be too intimidating for new users and maybe the truly exceptional will follow the links
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 3:24
  • @voretaq7: Cheers. I think that it's still too much wall of text (the bullet points of the cheklist are better) but given that it will almost never be read by the people who need to read it ...
    – user9517
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 5:43
  • @Iain I'm definitely open to suggestions for tightening it up - I just didn't want to throw 20 "Do these things noob!" bullet points up - that's almost as intimidating to some folks as a wall of text (and because of markdown's formatting.... eccentricities it can be tough to read too)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 6:14
  • I prefer the imperative style of Do this ... myself but hey we're spending more time that will be useful to the "My server is herping, and I need it to derp, what CPU should I buy?" crowd already.
    – user9517
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 6:25

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