I would like to understand what “too broad” means on SE Interpersonal.

The SE official ‘handbook’ states

  • too broad - if your question could be answered by an entire book, or has many valid answers (but no way to determine which - if any - are correct), then it is probably too broad for our format

The following citations seem to suggest that a question can be put on hold for the aforementioned reason if it meets certain conditions:

N.B Statements are not attributed; however, I have provided the source for each one.

  1. A question is too broad if it elicits an array of answers. (link)
  2. As of now, folks here can only guess what information might help you specifically. That is why it is closed as too broad. (link)
  3. I think questions of the form: "here's my tale of woe; what do I do now?" are too broad and opinion-based on many sites, especially here [IPS]. (link)
  4. Questions should be specific enough that the general user can find a question with answers that apply to their problem. If a question is too general, it might get a wide array of answers, all of which are decent, with no clear winners that stand out as the "best" answers. (link)
  5. We want specific answers to specific questions, because that is the only way we will fulfill our purpose, while serving people from all backgrounds, cultures, languages and faith traditions. (link)

How to cure a “too broad” question?

  1. If I can be helpful in terms of advice for a specific situation, and be able to do so in the course of several paragraphs, then it's worth posting. (link)

  2. Think of a specific situation, and ask about the specific situation. (link)

  3. For this site to work I really think that we have to limit ourselves to well focused questions. Questions need to focus on specific situations and the skills to use in them. (link)

  4. We want questions that aren't just "Which skills do I use?" or "How do I use this skill in this situation?" but also "When do I use this skill?" and "Why is this a useful skill at all?" (link)

  5. …then you have a real world example to discuss, and the problem stops being imaginary or theoretical. (link)

It would be best to define more precisely what this site infers when a question is labelled as too broad and how it is significantly different from too vague. The SE standard description for the former is inadequate, it should either be improved, or possibly, reworded as too vague.


1.1 Thinking or communicating in an unfocused or imprecise way.

What do users think?


Case No.1

For example, the following question was put on hold for being too broad.

How should I address scheduling phone or video calls with my long distance girlfriend?

Originally entitled: How can I ensure my girlfriend and we continue to communicate effectively? (link) The OP later changed the title to:

Should my long distance girlfriend and I have a schedule for when we phone / video chat?

this edit proved to be successful, and the question has now been reopened.

However, the problem described in the body is specific. The locations mentioned are very specific. The OP proposed several specific ideas but does not know which one to choose.
Why is was it judged to be too broad?

Case No.2

The following question was closed July 5, 2017. I have no qualms with it remaining closed–it doesn't feel right for the site–I chose it because it's easier for me to understand why it was closed for being "too broad" And because the question is brief, its contents are copied below.

Getting rid of differing political/ideological views?

A major drawback in human interactions when politics come up. This field fundamentally affects our lives and shapes who we are, and why we do what we do.
The incredibly violent consequences are detrimental for us, though. How to deal with people who, while would be great partners at any aspect of life (from drinking buddies to wives/husbands), are hard or even impossible to bear, due to said conflicts?

I don't consider that question to be either vague or unclear. On the other hand, it is teetering on verbosity.

It is clearly related to interpersonal skills inasmuch that the problem described is between two or more people, and the skills required to handle this type of disagreement will involve tact, diplomacy, courtesy, respect and, finally, assertiveness. But it covers so many different scenarios, so many different cultural aspects, and cultural habitats, it would be impossible to reply in a single answer. That, to me, is the quintessential “your question could be answered by an entire book” example.

Case No. 3

The following question was closed for being too broad, it was edited (minor additions) and subsequently reopened. Five answers, not dissertations, have been submitted.

What expressions or phrases can I use to close jewelry sales with female customers?

Case No. 4

The following question is currently closed as being too broad.

Is it mistaken to express feelings clearly and fully in an email?

The post appears to be neither vague nor unclear, but it is verbose. The question in the body is specific, the related question title (edited by me) is focused and answerable. I think it's a good fit for the site, much better than case No.2 for example.

Why is No.4 considered off-topic, i.e. too broad for IPS? I sincerely don't understand.

  • As I was writing it I felt “this is way too broad”. Because of that I decided to narrow it down to the simple question of “schedule or no schedule”. I’ve edited the title to be that narrow question, and I hope it gets reopened.
    – Tim
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:43
  • @Tim I don't feel it was too broad. But limiting it to a Y/N answer is not inviting users to post tried and tested alternative solutions.
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:46
  • Do you feel it is not too broad without that? I felt it might be too opinion based if I left out those options. And while it first encourage, people can still offer a different method...
    – Tim
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:47
  • @Tim I feel the question title is now very specific but did the users who voted to close your question cast their votes because of the title or something else?
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:50
  • @Tim let's see what the others have to say. In my opinion, you supplied very specific information and detail, and that is what I thought IPS is looking for. So, what does "too broad" actually mean on this site?
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:54
  • @Mari-LouA I know when I review I can be very quick to judge by the title.
    – Tim
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:54
  • 1
    @Tim if users are closing questions based on titles, I'd hope not, then that is very wrong.
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 10:55
  • 1
    Sometimes, the title has almost nothing in common or isn't explicitly related to the content of the question that a good and fair edit of the title will be enough IMHO
    – OldPadawan
    Sep 17 '17 at 11:26
  • It is mind-blowing that the question you linked was closed as too broad. OP has now edited to change nothing but the title, which did sound broad, but the question itself does not sound broad and not at all a Q to be closed for any other reason. Am I missing something? The close voters ought to share their reasoning with the community in the form of answers here. Sep 17 '17 at 13:04
  • 2
    @EnglishStudent "mind-blowing" is a bit of hyperbole, I'd say "head-scratching" :)
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 13:13
  • 2
    OTOH, if the question body and title have two different questions, it is impossible to know which of the two should be answered. So we should refrain from answering until that is cleared up, ergo put on hold.
    – JAD
    Sep 17 '17 at 13:22
  • 2
    @JarkoDubbeldam So some users are judging a book by its cover? What about suggesting that the OP edit the title in a comment? It takes longer to reopen a closed question than to "fix" a title.
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 13:26
  • 1
    Mind-blowing because broader questions have been allowed here, though I don't want to point to specific questions, @Mari-lou A. I intensely dislike close-voting unless a question obviously needs to be closed, but some members here (not necessarily at all the 5 persons who voted that question closed) apparently believe in fully using up their daily/weekly quota of close votes. Again that's fine if ordinary readers can easily agree the Q needs to be closed. Or else the close-voters should explain their reasoning with a comment before or after close-voting. (See my answer for details.) Sep 17 '17 at 13:32
  • @EnglishStudent I want to upvote your answer because I don't think it deserves 3 downvotes. But I don't agree with everything you said. So, in spirit, I am giving you a pat on your back and saying " bravo!"
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 19:55
  • 1
    Your last comment is assuming that the answers are all starkly different. I find that most of the answers - even when there are 10-20 of them are saying largely the same thing, with different flavors/specific stories etc. They're not usually saying completely different things. On a subjective site, this is good... so don't base question broadness on answer count.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 18 '17 at 2:08

This is going to sound weird but I'm going to say, first, let's focus on deciding what is detailed enough before we get picky about the exact reason being used for closing questions that don't meet that bar. We want unclear, unspecific questions closed and we want overly broad nebulous questions closed. I don't think it's worth being picky about which close reason gets used. On a subjective site like this, it's simply not always so easy to tell which is which. Both may be possible simultaneously.

Right now we have no custom close reasons, which may be part of the problem. If anyone has a suggestion for what would be a more useful custom close reason, please, suggest it! We get three by default. It would be more helpful to have a meta question about what sorts of details we would like/need/require (?) in questions and a close reason with a link to that meta question or the help page (once it's filled it) than to use one of the default reasons and rely on users to write an explanation of what's needed.

We could combine this effort with the well-received question - Should we encourage the use of stock comments on this site? I have an answer here that outlines how I think we should move forward but, despite the high number of upvotes on the question, my answer isn't particularly popular, though none of the answers seem to be.

I think that, of the close reasons we have, there's nothing wrong with using "too broad" to mean "too vague". They are the same and there is no "too vague" close reason but "vague" questions should be closed. If a question isn't narrow enough, it's both too broad and too vague. Too broad means that "your question does not address a specific problem". Lacking detail is part of being too broad and adding detail is often a solution to breadth and vagueness. "How can I solve my problem?" is too broad if it doesn't say what your preferred outcome is.

All of those too broad explanations in your question seem perfectly correct to me. I agree with them all. There's no singular reason that a question is "too broad"... there can be many.

Now, I'm not sure where "too verbose" comes in... if people are voting to close because they're too lazy to actually read the question, that's a problem but it's not this problem. The question you're talking about in your example is too short, if anything.

"Unclear what you're asking" is a close reason that I think should generally be used when the question is unclear - either there is no question or there are so many questions (either asked or implied), it's impossible to understand what they're really wanting to know.

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

Some examples of questions that have been closed as "unclear":

With this question, there are a few problems. The title isn't a question, it's a statement, which implies the OP is looking for validation, not actually asking for help. As my comment states, they're so focused on the other people in the explanation that we can't possibly judge (nor, really should we) whether or not they are "too eccentric" because we have no information to go off of. There's no "thesis" to the question, so it's confusing. It's appropriately closed as "unclear what you're asking".

Here's an example of a question that I unilaterally closed as "unclear". The OP, despite requests, never clarified why they were trying to ask someone whether they smoke, so the question is unclear because we can't properly answer the title question if we don't understand why they want to ask. One of the things we need to do here is to look past the question asked and understand a bit why the person is asking this question because doing so helps us write better answers.

If this person wants to know whether their classmate smokes because they'd like to borrow a lighter, how to ask is quite different than if they are allergic to the smoke and would like to ask them to not smoke before coming to class. All that said, it could just as easily been closed as "too broad" for much the same reason... any of the answers might be the "right" answer to some version of the question... but we can't tell because the question is unclear.

This is all explained by my long answer on the related meta question What to do with questions about "getting around" peoples' boundaries / autonomy. It doesn't have a ton of support but I lay out some (I think) helpful ground rules for when to comment, down vote, and close vote (among other things) when questions aren't specific enough.

Case 1

Looking at the original revision of your example question, on initial inspection it seems to have enough background detail... though, I think it seems like an "idea generation" type question. The end question is essentially "How do I keep up a long distance relationship with my my girlfriend who is a 4 hour commute away?" This is an "all answers are equally valid" question, which is generally a type of question that's not a good fit for the SE model. As such, I can understand closing this as "too broad"... there are many, many solutions for staying in contact when you're in a long distance relationship and all solutions are viable. As you quote in your question from the close reason:

or has many valid answers (but no way to determine which - if any - are correct)

The OP also wrote in a comment on one of the answers:

Perhaps I should have clarified this, but this question is asking for advice on communication between visits, not advice on how to visit.

Both of the current answers talk about how to visit over how to communicate between visits (though Bradley's does address both), so clearly, this needs to be clarified in the question to include this and any other limiting information the OP is willing to provide. It's also worth noting that the question says that the OP wishes to continue the relationship but doesn't note whether their girlfriend does (or even how long the relationship has been going on for), which may change the situation.

As a note, having specific details about a situation doesn't by default make a question answerable. As an example, telling us everything about the situation and then asking "what should I do?" is still too broad if they haven't explained what their goal for the solution is. This is exactly what Monica's answer you linked to is saying.

I think questions of the form: "here's my tale of woe; what do I do now?" are too broad and opinion-based on many sites, especially here. You need to get askers to focus on the goal -- are you trying to avoid having to deal with that person in the future, are you trying to repair the relationship, are you trying to prevent rumors from spreading, what?

And, yes, this does mean that we could have several very similar situations with a different end goal and these questions would not be duplicates.

Case 2

Fellow Moderator HDE 226868 explains why this is too broad in the comments:

I cast the fifth close vote here. My rationale was that the relationships here vary wildly, and the solution to your problem depends strongly on the details of the relationship.

The question is asking us to generally explain how to deal with all people in all situations. That is the exact definition of "too broad". Nothing applies to all people in all situations. How I talk to a friend about our religious differences is different than how I talk to my spouse about political differences.

To be honest, I'm not actually even sure what this question is asking - "How to get rid of differing political views?" Does that even sound like something that's possible? If it were, surely we'd have solved world peace by now...

Remember, questions on Stack Exchange need to be about specific problems you actually face. This is all problems with everyone who disagrees with you at the same time. How do you fix this? You tell a story about a specific issue:

My best friend and I get along in everything but we have very different religious views. He's a very strict Catholic and I'm about as Athiestic as you can get. Most of the time we try to avoid religious conversations but with the Pope in the news so much right now, it's difficult. How can we keep the peace while retaining our own views?

This we can answer, especially if it has more details. That other question, not so much.

Case 3

I personally don't like this question. "What tips can you give me"... Stack Exchange isn't a tips sharing site. We're a Q&A site. This falls into the same problem as Case 1 - every answer is equally valid. Other than that sentence the question is better but that sentence really makes it too "give me everything that works and I'll try it all". Adding two paragraphs that help explain the OP's history and experience... In SE questions "what have you tried" is an important element, so it's understandable that these details would help the question be reopened.

"Too broad" doesn't always mean that the answers you get will be "dissertations". Don't forget the close reason:

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.

It says nothing about book-length answers. It actually focuses on questions that have many possible answers and only the OP can determine what the "right" one is because they have the details in their head and we're merely guessing at them.

Case 4

Wow, that's a huge wall of text. TBC.

  • ...there are many, many solutions for staying in contact...1. The OP specifically supplied two possible solutions and asked if a third one was available. 2. My question is also asking what does "too broad" mean for users on this community? 3. I think "vague" is closer in meaning to "unclear" than to "broad". 4. I think the community should begin to analyse and agree what type of questions are considered too broad because I'm still confused.
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 19:45
  • 1
    Asking if a third one is available is exactly the "what are all the other options" that makes the question too broad. Their personalities determine whether a regiment of communication will work or whether spontaneous communication will. There's no way, based on the question for anyone to tell the OP which option of the two is "better" for the OP. Vague is not unclear. If you can understand the question being asked (and there is a question )then it's not unclear. I tend to reserve "unclear" for questions that aren't actually questions. See my comment on the other answer.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 17 '17 at 19:58
  • The original question in no way limited this. The question title needs to reflect the body of the question. So if the op wants to limit the communication types, that needs to be in the question body, not the title.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 17 '17 at 20:00
  • I didn't want the focus to be solely on the question that was closed, I used it as an example. But I am forced to remind myself that the OP in the body asked: (1) Should we have a schedule where we phone every evening on specified days, or (2) should we aim to communicate more spontaneously? I wasn't a fan of the revised title, but if nothing else it was without doubt very specific, and it was written by the OP himself. Ergo, he wanted answers that addressed that issue.
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 20:10
  • 1
    Which is why you ask questions of the OP to ascertain what they want. If you think an edit was unhelpful, you poke them to explain it. If you feel a question isn't specific enough, you ask them to be more explicit... If you don't "want the focus to be solely on the question that was closed" you need to talk about more than one question. Make it a case study. If you only talk about one question, the answers will likely only address one question.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 17 '17 at 20:21
  • Which is why I asked on meta why the question was classed as too broad because frankly, I didn't see anything "wrong" with it. I can see that I am going to have problems on this site. again, the main focus on "my" question is clarifying what is meant by "too broad". In the time I have joined, I have only voted to close three questions because I am not clear about the criteria. When I see a duplicate I can cast my vote, that's relatively easy. The other closing votes I am reluctant to use. On EL&U it is much easier to identify an off-topic question.
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 20:29
  • Please add at least one other borderline question that was closed as 'too broad', preferably one that was later reopened as 'no longer too broad' after editing, @Mari-lou A. Sep 17 '17 at 21:37
  • Moderators are not the most active close-voters, being restrained due to the binding nature of their votes, but I suppose a moderator wouldn't want to discourage dedicated close-voters who constitute the 'quality control team' especially in a young and reapidly growing SE site like IPS. Better more closed-questions than not enough, is the quality control mantra on Stack Exchange. Sep 17 '17 at 21:45
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Where did I say there wasn't generally a problem... I said that I don't see a problem with this example and why I felt that way. Also, mods do not make policy. All we do is help guide. The users set policy. We will make our thoughts known but we don't write edicts or force our opinions on others. If someone is asking you to add more examples, it doesn't matter if they are a mod or not or whether they think there is a problem or not. Either your question is about a general problem you see - and needs multiple examples, or it's about a single question, and it doesn't.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 17 '17 at 23:00
  • That is one big revision/edit. I like it, it makes greater sense of the closures. But authors need to understand why their Qs are being closed, the "too broad" banner needs to be improved on, or its title changed to something else.
    – user3114
    Sep 18 '17 at 8:09
  • I've added four examples of questions that were closed for being too broad. Only for No. 2 do I understand (and agree) the right reason for closure was selected.
    – user3114
    Sep 18 '17 at 9:16
  • 1
    We can not change the default close reasons, @Mari-LouA. It's not an option. If you think they need to be reworded, that's an issue for MSE.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 18 '17 at 12:17
  • If the off-topic banners cannot be modified or reworded in any way (which I didn't know) then the help center page should include a more detailed description and definition of "too broad".
    – user3114
    Sep 19 '17 at 6:52
  • Just to give me an idea. I know the DVs are not a reflection on me..., but why has a meta post that points out a problem, in a very civil and well-supported fashion, a problem which you said existed (in the comments), why has this post attracted 8 DVs? I mean, you can't say the post is rushed, flimsy or biased. The post is objective, and I've given concrete examples.
    – user3114
    Sep 19 '17 at 15:41
  • Ironically, the post attracted more downvotes when added further examples.
    – user3114
    Sep 19 '17 at 15:42

Please note I am not specifically criticizing the 5 members who closed the question linked by @Mari-lou A, and that's because you 5 are not really the most frequent close-voters here. However I should like to know why you thought the question too broad or otherwise deserving of being closed, because to my mind it looks on-topic, quite specific, detailed and clear.

I am well aware that the primary purpose of putting a 'vague' question on hold is to avoid vague answers that may go far off-target and help neither OP nor other readers. However, the close reason that covers it is 'unclear what you are asking' and 'too broad' as applied on Interpersonal.SE often means 'not specific enough to one interpersonal situation.' As in,

How do I interact interestingly with my school friends = too broad.

My best friend has many hobbies and no longer very keen for my company. I need to retain his/her interest. [Many details follow.] How do I interact interestingly enough not to bore my friend away? = probably not too broad.

However the question you linked is already limited to a specific interpersonal situation so it is mind-blowing that that question was closed as too broad, because I think broader questions have been allowed here, though I don't want to point to specific questions.

OP has now edited to change nothing but the title, which did sound broad, but the question itself does not sound broad and appears not at all a Q to be closed for any other reason. Am I missing something? If so you need not blame me because not I but another experienced member posted this meta question asking why. The close voters ought to share their reasoning with the community in the form of answers here.

Part of the problem is that a close-voter almost never advises the OP before or after casting a close vote, though I can remember one decent exception. If this is not mandatory, which it is not, then it is simple courtesy to explain your close vote in a comment when you vote to shut down somebody's question, IMHO, and what is the harm in doing so? Note too that close votes and close reasons are not visible to low-reputation members.

It is no coincidence that the most contentious issues on SE meta sites revolve around close-voting, because the close-voters hardly ever explain their reasoning in a comment and we need to extract that reasoning like pulling a tooth by asking such meta questions. Some of them later say that the Q was ambiguous or there was insufficient detail to elicit proper answers but if so, then why not ask for clarification in comments instead of close-voting without explanation. [Exceptions: 1. some questions obviously need to be closed but this is not one of those questions. 2. If the question was too broad or not clear and OP did not respond soon enough to your requests for clarification then you are perfectly justified in voting to close the question.]

So I am baffled with that case and waiting for explanations from the close-voters in the form of answers here. It is my theory that in such borderline cases, existing close-votes unconsciously prejudice at least some reviewers to cast their own close vote (which they might not have thought to cast if they were simply reading the Q and it did not already have 1 or more close votes) though I have insufficient information to suggest that is what happened here.

Therefore the first close vote must always be considered most important and should be cast with very good reason, preferably explained in a comment for the enlightenment of the community and to help OP quickly correct the defect.

This question now needs only 2 reopen votes so if it gets reopened without OP significantly editing the body of the content then it should be considered 'originally closed by misunderstanding', since close voting is not supposed to be primarily opinion based, is what I am saying. There are explicit guidelines for why questions should be closed, and the decision on whether those apply shouldn't be too much a matter of opinion. The defect leading to close-voting must be clearly apparent to the community or else pointed out by the close-voters in comments.

As I know from plenty of direct experience, questions that were closed with proper logical basis never get reopened without substantial edits to the body of the question.

  • While I agree with what you say, could you clarify this: since close voting is not supposed to be primarily opinion based, is what I am saying. There are guidelines for why questions should be closed, and the decision on whether those apply is a matter of opinion.
    – JAD
    Sep 17 '17 at 13:31
  • There are guidelines for why questions should be closed, and the decision on whether those apply shouldn't be too much a matter of opinion. The defect leading to close-voting must be clearly apparent to the community or else pointed out by the close-voters in comments, @Jarko Dubbeldam. After 5 members voted that Q closed, if 5 others vote it reopened without OP changing much, that'll indicate the original closure was primarily opinion based, for no good reason. Questions that were closed with proper logical basis never get reopened without substantial edits to the body of the question. Sep 17 '17 at 13:39
  • When I close vote, sometimes I'm not sure if I can give a constructive feedback for the OP to edit the question, so I only cast the vote and move on.
    – Vylix
    Sep 17 '17 at 15:34
  • It is not necessary the feedback be constructive, @Vylix -- closing is itself quite constructive or not at all depending how a user looks at it -- a close-reason is necessarily generic but documenting the specific reason you found the Q close-worthy in its current condition can be useful not only for OP but also for us to understand what is wrong with such a question. it can also help avoid such meta-questions by OP or third-party members. Sep 17 '17 at 15:39
  • While this answer has collected at least 1 downvote, the closed-by-misunderstanding question referenced herein got reopened without any edits in the body of the content, by 5 users different from the 5 close-voters, which proves to my satisfaction that the original closure was an unjustified faulty decision. Moreover one of the close-voters has promptly written an answer to the question they initially closed, after it got reopened with edit in the title only -- so what were they objecting to and it hasn't been corrected, I think -- it's a funny world! Thanks for voting to reopen, @Vylix. Sep 17 '17 at 16:49
  • We can not judge one question that is closed by all other questions on the site. There are zero explicit guidelines on this site for when to close a question because we have not made any. At this point, all the close voting people are doing is based on opinion. I'd argue that we have yet to actually have a useful discussion on when a question is too broad or lacking in detail that will guide users to close vote appropriately. As such, as a user, I feel that we are leaving too many questions open, not overusing close votes.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 17 '17 at 19:27
  • Most sites do not tell people why their question is closed or why it's being voted closed. That's what the close reasons are for. There is no "harm" in doing so but expecting users to do so will make them less likely to actually vote to close, which is detrimental to the site. Much as we do not require explanation of DVs, we do not and can not require or expect explanations of Close Votes.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 17 '17 at 19:30
  • 1
    I'd argue that we have yet to actually have a useful discussion on when a question is too broad or lacking in detail that will guide users to close vote appropriately. Can we have this discussion now, then?
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 19:57
  • The difference between downvotes and close-votes is that DV are always anonymous and therefore we can't ask for a comment but the identity close voters is public information once a Q gets closed (and so too is the identity of those who voted to reopen, @Catija) -- so once a voter votes to close with the intention and expectatoon that others will chime in, there is no reason not to leave an explanatory comment which can possibly help OP edit the Q, and certainly will avoid these tedious meta questions. Not that it should be made a rule but it's well worth making it unofficial 'good practice.' Sep 17 '17 at 21:09
  • In these 5 months I found that members who believe in much close-voting tend to dislike that sort of discussion about objective guidelines and standards for close-voting which you rightly want to promote here @Mari-lou A. I know more than one instance a few months back that a prominent member has close-voted on 'gut feeling' or instinct and then,without the same question being substantially improved by editing, voted to reopen 'for no reason in particular' by his own description, but very possibly due to an attack of propriety for having cast a close vote for no good reason in the first place. Sep 17 '17 at 21:18
  • "There are zero explicit guidelines on this site for when to close a question because we have not made any. At this point, all the close voting people are doing is based on opinion. I'd argue that we have yet to actually have a useful discussion on when a question is too broad or lacking in detail that will guide users to close vote appropriately." -- you are totally right, @Catija. If at all we are to be a close community then we must strive to be the most logical, consistent and objective closers in all of SE! Sep 17 '17 at 21:20
  • I just want to know how to recognise a "too broad" question, on EL&U and ELL I don't have any difficulty. But this site is different, by its very nature there cannot be one single right answer.
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 21:21
  • 2
    A too broad question as interpreted on IPS is one that lacks focus or presents multiple interpersonal situations @Mari-lou A. Our questions should necessarily focus on one specific real-world interpersonal situation with enough details to enable members to give precise not-primarily-opinion-based answers."How can I make friends and allies" is too broad."How can I be more successful in relationships" is too broad if it cites OP's general struggles in multiple relationships."How can I improve my relationship with my spouse" is also too broad unless it focuses on a specific interpersonal issue. Sep 17 '17 at 21:27
  • 1
    Right, I understand your explanation but how does the LDR question fit in there? How does the question asking advice on how to persuade female customers to buy jewelry that he sells, fit in there? That too was first closed as being too broad. How does this other Q fit in there?
    – user3114
    Sep 17 '17 at 21:37
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    Done, @Mari-lou A. You will certainly get more inputs from other members here after the weekend. Any more comments right now and this D will be moved to C. Sep 17 '17 at 21:47

While this issue is being discussed, why not gather some additional information on "Too Broad" usage?

I would recommend any close-voters using the "too broad" reason add a comment (directed to the OP specifically, as opposed to side discussions) as to why the question is too broad. While SE does not require any such comment, it would be helpful to understand how "Too Broad" is actually being used.

If the comment includes wording like "I am voting to close this question because..." it shouldn't be too hard to extract data in order to evaluate its usage.

I realize some users hazard to add such comments when close-voting, since it can draw inappropriate responses from the affected OP (or other users), however in this case the value in tweaking the close reasons outweighs any such discomfort. Any serious conflicts could certainly be flagged for moderator action.

Honestly speaking though, I think defining and documenting on-topic vs. off-topic is far more important, because without that only general SE guidelines for closing questions are applicable, and may not be helpful for specific sites to use.

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