Help! My question was closed, what should I do?!

  • 6
    Throw a fit on Meta!
    – yossarian
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 15:56

3 Answers 3


First, don't panic! Closing is not intended to be a punishment, insult, or any form of disrespect.

Second, closing is not final. You can edit your question to make it acceptable for the site, and people can vote to reopen it.

These are the possible reasons your question was closed, as well as their definitions, and what you should do about it.

exact duplicate

This question covers exactly the same ground as earlier questions on this topic; its answers may be merged with another identical question.

There is no further action required on your part. This close reason is typically not accompanied with any commentary, the definition and the link to the duplicate is enough, and will direct you to your answer.

off topic

Questions on Food and Cooking are expected to generally relate to cooking, within the scope defined in the faq.

This is one of the more common reasons your question may have been closed. We have several broad categories of what is and is not on topic for this site in the faq. This close reason should always be accompanied with one or more comments telling you specifically why it was considered off-topic. It will likely include a link to the relevant meta discussion, or to the FAQ if it is covered there. The FAQ is not all-inclusive with regards to what is on or off topic. It merely provides the broad bullet points of what we think are the most common or important topics to clarify. Additional discussions can be found on Meta (here) under the [off-topic] tag.

Ideally your question also contains commentary suggesting ways to improve or reword your question. You should follow these suggestions and edit your question appropriately. Feel free to let the other commenters know that you've updated it, and ask that they consider voting to reopen. You can grab their attention by using the @ symbol before their username.

e.g. @hobodave @Aaronut @yossarian: Thanks for the suggestions. I updated my question. Could you vote to reopen?

subjective and argumentative

It's impossible to objectively answer this question; questions of this type are too open ended and usually lead to confrontation and argument.


not a real question

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

This is a somewhat uncommon close reason. It usually is due to a very confusing wording and our general inability to tell what exactly you're asking. Or you could could have posted a statement as a question. "I like pie?"

If it's a matter of confusion it will be accompanied by commentary attempting to elicit further information and clarification from you. You can provide such clarification in the comments, but it is preferred that you edit the question yourself to clarify, but feel free to comment letting people know you've clarified, and request a reopen.

too localized

This question would only be relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet.

The definition applies here. Generally this means you've asked a question that is so narrowly defined as to not be useful to the community as a whole, or that it is time localized. What is time localized? Ask yourself, "Will this question and answer be useful in a week/month/year?", if the answer is "no", well it's time localized.

These tend to be more difficult to salvage into an acceptable question, and the commentary suggesting improvements may be lacking. However, the commentary should identify why your question is too localized. If you can edit this out and ask it in a more general sense, then please do so and ask that it be reopened.

belongs on meta

This question is a discussion of this web site or community itself, and is a better fit for Meta.

The definition should be pretty clear. Perhaps you asked "Why was my question closed?" or "What is up with this crazy moderator?!". Those questions belong here on meta, not the parent site. This may come with commentary, but the closing reason should be sufficient.

This close reason is special, in that it clones your question here on meta, and closes the original. You'll have to come to meta to discuss it.

more to come

  • That's actually a bad example of a comment. When you use the @ to address a user, only the first name on the list gets used. So writing a single comment that says @hobodave @Aaronut @yossarian will only send a notification to hobodave.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 20:00
  • @Aaronut: I did not know that. :)
    – hobodave
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 20:06
  • 1
    And I didn't know that the @ symbol had special behavior for notification! Cool. I thought it was just twitter convention carried over here, not a functional thing. Commented Sep 1, 2010 at 5:53

What does "closed" mean, exactly?

It means that no new answers will be accepted. Comments can still be added, and the question and answers can still be edited.

Why was it closed?

Either the community or one of the moderators has decided that your question doesn't meet one or more of the criteria defined in the FAQ. See this answer for a more detailed explanation of the reasons for closure.

Questions are closed for your benefit as well; very often, a closed question is an indication that the community doesn't think you'll get good or reliable answers. Closing the question helps prevent it from accumulating random, biased, or unclear answers while we try to gather more detail about your situation.

Can I still get my question answered?

Yes, you can! Most of the time, somebody should have left a suggestion or two for how to make your question a better fit for this site. Follow them; edit your question, reply to the people who left comments, and your question has a good chance of getting reopened.

If nobody left you any comments and you're not sure what changes you should make, or if you're having trouble getting people to notice your changes, don't be afraid to start a meta question about it. Please remember to include a link to your question and above all, please be civil; the community is not obligated to reopen your question but will generally be much more willing to oblige if you ask nicely.

What if I disagree with the reasons for closing?

You're welcome to appeal the decision, but please take note that if other people felt the same way, they would likely have already voted to reopen your question. While questions can and do get reopened after being "tightened up", it is considerably rarer for them to be reopened with no changes at all.

Why can't you just let it slide? What's the harm?

The reason you came here (we hope) is that you were looking for a good, accurate, trustworthy answer to your question. We can only provide that for questions that fit into our site's guidelines.

Questions that don't fit cause "noise" - they make it harder to find the questions that we really should be answering, and that makes the site less useful for everyone else. We are committed to keeping this site as a place to get great answers to cooking/kitchen questions, and in order to do that, we have to make sure that we stay focused.

  • I was planning on putting some of these points in my answer above, below the close reasons. Think we should combine?
    – hobodave
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 20:42
  • @hobodave: I'd prefer not to have one monolithic mega-answer, which is actually why I started a separate answer. I think your list of explanations is great, but it's pretty long as it is, so the general handwavey stuff should be separate.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 20:44

Try and get your question re-opened!

Your question may have been closed for a number of reasons, but it can be reopened too. If there are comments about the question suggesting changes, go ahead and make those changes. You can continue to discuss closed questions in comments and make edits to the question. Once you've made the question better, people can vote to reopen your question.

In fact, this is how borderline question are supposed to be handled. It's not a good idea to get a bunch of (inevitably bad) answers to a poorly worded or bounded question. Instead, we close the question while we talk about it and try and make the question better. That allows us to "call a time out" to get everything resolved and then reopen the question once everything is worked out.

  • So I think this is a good process; my only concern is I'm not sure it has been working. Are there many reopened questions? I may just not have noticed them. If not, is there something we need to do to make this process a reality and not simply theoretical? Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 16:43
  • As @yossarian pointed out in my (self deleted) answer below, there are only 3 questions with votes to reopen! Which makes rather clear that this process isn't working. I don't feel good about a CW answer that directs people to do something that sounds good but isn't functional. Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 16:45
  • 1
    @Michael: There have been dozens of reopened questions since the site launched. The current number of questions with reopen votes doesn't really indicate anything. I looked at 6 random currently closed questions with no reopen votes. They were all unchanged from their original format.
    – hobodave
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 16:56
  • @Michael, hehe, everyone sees things their own way. I was actually pointing that out as indicative of it working. A number of questions have been reopened based on discussion. I was trying to point out that there are a low number of questions on the bubble.
    – yossarian
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 17:50
  • @Michael: Also, if questions aren't getting reopened, that's not necessarily an indication that the system doesn't work. Many users simply aren't willing to put in the effort to get them reopened. It may sound like I'm blaming the victim, but many of us are intimately aware of this simple truth from experience.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 20:03

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