"[...] it helps people define more clearly when a question should be closed. And that's something we really need for riddles right now."

As per request of several people, including myself, I need to ask a question regarding close votes and riddles that are "too broad". History has it, creators often suspect close votes to come from users who just can't find the answer quickly enough.

I want to provide a variety of cases showing how people dealt with closings in the past:

Harder than hard
This one is my own question so I can tell some details. I received the first close votes and right after that I edited my question + added a hint. Some time later the question even got solved which provided a unique answer for the riddle beating every other answer so far. Yet, the question got closed after that.

Silent as the grave
Here we can see many answer that are not too bad in my opinion. If one or the other had been accepted I wouldn't have complained. Still I admit I felt like the question was too broad as it allowed for many answers to fit quite well. But no sign of a close vote or a comment regarding this matter.

I'm generous if you like me, but greedy if you hate me
Last one is a question with many nice answers and an OP who even edited his question saying: "This one was probably a little too broad [...]"
Yet, no sign of a close vote whatsoever!

I don't want to force a close on any of the other questions. I just mentioned them to make a point. Obvisouly we were not able to cast close votes in a reasonable way.

In order to deal with the close votes in general, not only "too broad", I think we are in need for some kind of guide lines for each of the closing reasons:

  • too broad
  • duplicate
  • off topic
  • unclear what you're asking
  • primarily opinion-based
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Some notes: first question, 18 users voted to close/leave closed, 14 users voted to reopen/leave open (but recent votes are unanimously leave closed); second question, no CVs received yet; third question received one CV, but in review was 3x leave open. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Emrakul Your stats only shows that people were more sensible back in those days as new bad questions aren't getting closed. :p $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ @manshu I wonder if "back in those days" was when the site was in beta? If so, there were probably a lot more people with VTC privileges. Once we came out of beta, the rep threshold for that privilege became a lot higher, so many people would have lost it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 17:58
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @manshu That can be changed! If you see a question, or a class/group of questions, that should be closed but is not, feel free post on meta about it! Even if it's a single question - if you think it's representative, discussion on quality's important. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ @manshu Good point, but those who can't VTC can still flag them for a mod to look at, or post on meta. $\endgroup$
    – A E
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


too broad

  • the question has already 3+ answers that all look plausible/acceptable
  • I can easily think of one or more answers for this riddle
  • Op has been contacted:
    -- OP states the intended answer is similar or even worse
    -- OP can't show that some of the clues haven't been used properly
  • OP revealed the path of solving to me and I doubt the uniqueness of the intended solution
  • OP commented on most answers in the form of "Good idea, fits all the clues. But not the intended answer."
  • I analyzed the hints:
    -- there are many hints availabe
    -- many of the hints have been added afterwards
    -- the hints are no actual hints but necessary information for solving the riddle


  • I made clear to the OP why I suspect the question as duplicate and provided a source/link
  • OP can't show why his question is any different

off topic

  • not related to puzzle creation or puzzle solving
  • obviously different topic like maths, language, grammar, ...

unclear what you're asking
primarily opinion-based

  • 12
    $\begingroup$ I see a lot of comments along the lines of "this answer is good, and fits all the clues, but isn't what I was thinking." To me, this is a red flag (especially when I see it on multiple answers) that the riddle may be underspecified. Is this trend generally true? $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 17:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul I added your item to the list. I've seen this scenario many times the past few weeks. $\endgroup$
    – Avigrail
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 18:07
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul I also see that as a red flag and VTC on that basis. $\endgroup$
    – A E
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 17:19
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ "Riddle has more hints than lines of original riddle." $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @DanRussell nice one! Where would you prefer to put that? Too broad or unclear? $\endgroup$
    – Avigrail
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 14:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Avigrail I'm not sure whether it's really a good VTC reason, or just a strong indicator you should downvote. Basically, poorly formed riddles often need many hints to clarify/narrow possibilities, and if the riddle cannot be solved without the hints, it's too broad. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 14:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ IMO, the response to @DanRussell 's scenario depends on the nature of the added hints. If hints are to rule out answers that have already been given, that's "too broad". If hints are because nobody can figure it out, that's "unclear". $\endgroup$
    – user812786
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 18:08

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