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I start to see more and more questions where a user sees something interesting UX related, describes it and concludes with something like "Any thoughts?" (this question is a good example). As I learned, UX.SE is about practical, answerable questions, so I usually flag questions with no distinct question, questions that merely describe UX.

Personally, I like such questions as there's a lot of interesting (and sometimes funny) UX stuff around, especially in the real world. This is why I posted this question about hotel DND tags, but I felt obliged to add a concrete question with some restrictions in order to avoid too broad answers. I was proved right there, as the answers are IMHO fantastic.

So my question: how broad can a question really be? Is "Any thoughts?" without describing a problem ok?

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As is the answer to most questions on the main site: "It Depends".

Often, people will close off a question with 'any thoughts?' purely as a way to finish writing the question itself. It's perhaps a more polite way of saying "tell me the answer".

Questions such as the ones you speak of can tread a fine line between what works here and what doesn't. I think that if a question:

  1. Explains what the particular problem is
  2. Provides a possible or current solution
  3. Explains what is wrong with that and why it doesn't fully solve the problem
  4. Then asks for an alternative solution

Then such questions are probably OK for the site. (I say 'probably' because there are likely cases where the question just isn't suitable). This is the case whether it is a web UI issue or a physical product / interface.

Questions are closed as 'Too Broad' not just because there are lots of answers, but because there is no one single 'correct' answer that either completely solves the problem or is objectively more appropriate than any other answer.

So if you agree that these points qualify a question as appropriate and still find questions that don't really meet those requirements then carry on flagging for closure. The good thing about Stack Exchange sites is that individual users don't have binding votes (well, except for Moderators) so if you think a question should be closed then flagging it will add it to the Close Vote review queue for other users to review and see if they agree or not. And only after 5 close votes have been cast will the question be closed off.

Any thoughts?

  • well done closing the answer with Any thoughts? :). I think this answer could also be useful to post as reference for questions that cross the line. – msp Jul 30 '14 at 9:17

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