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Recently I've come across a large number of questions in the Home Improvement Stack Review Close Votes queue that are marked to be closed for "a community-specific reason", with the written-in reason "I’m voting to close this question because it's been abandoned." They all have no answer accepted, and no response from the OP for quite a while, although a number of them seem to be reasonable questions with reasonable answers. To my mind, if a question is reasonable, on-topic, and has useful answers, they should be left open in case the OP does come back to accept an answer, or (more likely) another answer is added. It also seems to waste reviewer time as three other reviewers have to confirm the original nomination for closure.

Is it appropriate and useful to close questions that are reasonable, on-topic, have answers, but have no answer accepted?

Some examples:

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  • Doesn't this simply mean they should be closed for lacking details ("Needs details or clarity")?
    – Mast
    Jan 9 at 16:06
  • If that's true, then sure: let's close them. But if not, then I think we should leave them open. Jan 9 at 17:28
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tl;dr no, we shouldn't be closing well-written, on-topic questions.

The longer answer:

Judge each question on its own merits. If it's on-topic, and has enough detail to get good answers, then it should remain open. Most of the traffic to the site comes from Google searches, so we're building a library of knowledge not just for the people who post the questions, but all future users that run into the same issue. As you point out, closing prevents new answers from being posted. That could mean we miss out on valuable new information if someone spots a nuance in the question that no-one else did because they had the exact same problem and came up with a novel solution.


Looking at the timeline of the example posts that you linked to, all of them had a Community bump right before the first vote to close, which means they had no upvoted answers. Again, upvote good answers, or provide a better answer than the existing ones. We've talked about this before:

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We already have close reasons for those cases.

Abandonment doesn't matter if the question is answerable

That is, if there's enough there for answers to be meaningful, then that's it. Here's an example.

Question: I am bringing electrical service to a shed where I'll feed a subpanel. Fed off a 100A breaker in the main panel. Sites on the internet say to use #1, #1, #1 and #6 aluminum wire (smaller is for ground). But my electrician buddy says I should use #1/0 aluminum. Who's right?

Comment: How far is the distance?
Comment: Are you in Canada?

See, it would be nice to have that additional information so we can try to figure out what the electrician is thinking. But the question is answerable straight-up.

Other close reasons already exist - use those.

Generally, "abandonment" is only a problem because a question was left incomplete for some reason.

The problem is the problem. The reason for the problem is that they abandoned the questions, but that isn't the problem. See how that's sorta like the XY problem? Or the general advice to avoid assigning motive.

Question: I am bringing electrical service to a shed where I'll feed a subpanel. What size of wire should I use?

Comment: How many amps do you want to deliver? silkwor Comment: Yeah, what size breaker will this feed off of?

(wait awhile)

Close - needs details or clarity

Question: What kind of smart switch do I need for /2 wiring in a 3-way network? (it was miswired before)

Comment: Shopping questions are off-topic. Can you rephrase into an allowed question?

(wait awhile)

Close: Product Recommendations tend to go obsolete quickly.

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I'm the guilty party, and I've had my hand well and truly slapped.

I agree 100% with manassehkatz (on multiple counts...) about them being annoying, especially on posts that are 2+ years old by someone with all of one question to his name.

I based my VTC on the response to this meta-qeuestion. VtC was one of the options given there. It seems, based on that question that having a score of -1 should be sufficient to stop it from being bumped, so if I could do that, I did. If I couldn't get it to -1, I still DV'd and also VtC.

Obviously that was very much the wrong thing to do and has gotten everyone all bent out of shape, so I'll happily stop. We don't want cranky users...

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    I'm grateful for your efforts, and I in no way meant to "slap" you (I also don't think I was bent out of shape...). I wasn't sure of the answer myself (e.g. just what does it mean for a question to be "closed"?), so I reached out to the broader community for feedback. So, keep up the good work! Jan 5 at 19:51
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    -1. Don't stop now ;) ... "@Mazura FreeMan's been trying to deal with one of our old bugbears, that being questions that drew a couple of half-baked, no-votes answers, but were abandoned before anyone could produce a proper answer, often because the OP didn't quite provide enough details for such of course, if you think some of those need to be disposed of in a different way (by upvoting an answer, answering it yourself, or such) knock your socks off" – Shalvenay, in chat
    – Mazura
    Jan 6 at 1:53
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    That different way being if we DV them enough then Community will stop bumping them, at least. (I think; it's confusing....)
    – Mazura
    Jan 6 at 1:56
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    I appreciate the support. I did get a nasty-gram from the mods asking me to cease & desist with the "because abandoned" reason. I'll just stick to the DV for now. I suppose since a bit of a stink has been raised, maybe people will join in and we'll get them to stop popping to the top quite so often...
    – FreeMan
    Jan 6 at 13:10
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    It sounds to me like the ideal solution (but which ain't gonna happen as SE doesn't often change things for the little sites) is to have a tag or status "abandoned" where the question isn't "Closed" (because it isn't inherently bad) but is blocked from "Community bump" unless/until OP comes back and makes some sort of change or someone adds a new answer. Jan 6 at 15:54
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact -- what we need is to get through the backlog of cruft that's been allowed to pile up without resolution (whether by upvoting an existing answer, adding a new answer, or closing the Q) Jan 7 at 1:01
  • I asked about this in chat (actually, lowering the close vote threshold) because I was hoping to capitalize on FreeMan's efforts, with no effort on my part, as I've been in accord with every 'abandoned' vote they've cast, but I cast none (because it take 5 anyway) and I'm not going to follow them around and cast DVs when there's mechanisms like the review queue to do things like this. Not enough info is a valid close reason for most of them usually. If -2 is really all it would take, just make a sock puppet and get it done ;) but I think that doesn't work if there's any answers.
    – Mazura
    Jan 7 at 2:04
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    Also, welcome to the 10k club, where the questions are all made up and the points don't matter.
    – Mazura
    Jan 7 at 2:06
  • I jumped on your band wagon too. So many questions asked and totally forgotten about by the OP. who never provides any of the info asked for. +
    – JACK
    Jan 14 at 12:47
  • To flog a dead horse: I'm grateful for the work you do in flushing out old, stale, non-helpful questions. It's just a question of focus; the goal is to accumulate knowledge, whether or not there is a "one best answer" chosen. You've done an enormous amount of work, coming from nowhere in the past year to a deserved 10+K rep. So, yet again: keep up the good work. Jan 15 at 22:55
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In general, closing abandoned unclear questions without any good answer is often appropriate. In fact, it can sometimes be the only appropriate thing to do with them, if they cannot be answered or edited into shape by anyone but their absent author.

The subtlety here is that "abandoned" alone isn't really a valid question close reason. "Abandoned and missing essential information" is, however. The current formal SE term for such questions, as used in the close menu, is "needs details or clarity":

Needs details or clarity
This question should include more details and clarify the problem.

(For that matter, this is a valid close reason even if the question isn't abandoned. If the asker does come back and provide the missing details, the question can always be reopened.)

Of course, not all questions bumped by Community♦ deserve to be closed for this reason; there are also several other ways to handle them. In particular, if the question already has a decent answer, upvoting the answer will stop it from being bumped. If it doesn't, but is on-topic and clear enough that you can answer it yourself, doing so (and having someone else upvote your answer) will also work. If you can't answer it, but think that someone else can and should, upvoting and possibly editing the question to improve it is also a valid option.

Conversely, if the question is of low quality and you don't think it adds value to the side, you should downvote it (possibly in addition to voting to close it). In particular, downvoting a question to -1 or lower will prevent it from being bumped and in some cases can actually lead to it being deleted by an automatic cleanup script.

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I don't know if it is the case with these particular questions, but I am constantly annoyed by the "Community bump". It has gotten to the point that when I scroll through the list of questions to see what's new/updated, I zip right past anything marked "Community". These questions keep getting bumped over and over, and there seems to be no way of stopping it except for closing a question. Closing is truly not the right thing to do most of the time. Is there something else we can do? Any way to tag the question such that "Community bump" will ignore it? For that matter, the "Community bump" almost never makes much sense here. Let OP come back and edit their own question, which will be a real bump, if they want to get more activity. < /rant>

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    Here's a Q&A that addresses how to get Community to stop bumping a post: diy.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1403/22
    – Niall C. Mod
    Jan 3 at 1:47
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    Oh...looks like I complained about this more than 2 years ago! Jan 3 at 1:51
  • Apparently the only real option is to DV them to -4. "Questions with sufficiently low score will not show on the homepage when either they or their answers are edited, though they will still be shown on the Questions page. The "sufficiently low" threshold is -4 on main sites and -8 on meta sites (as of Aug 25, '10)" – What can cause a question to be bumped?
    – Mazura
    Jan 5 at 3:31
  • I thought it was -2 (that post is 11yo...). They may not need to be closed but they need to gtfo. +1
    – Mazura
    Jan 5 at 3:33
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    I started writing a reply to this answer, but it ended up long enough that I made it a separate answer instead. Jan 12 at 19:02
  • You could throw some bounty on the "good ones" and see if that helps them get un-abandoned? Jan 15 at 12:34

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