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My question Where can I buy a good-quality TNG uniform? is reportedly, As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. Huh? How is that not clear and unambiguous? Seriously, I find this rather frustrating. My English is quite good. If I asked a sentence of that form to random people in the street, most would not know the answer, but would have no trouble parsing and understand what is being asked.

How about "where I can get a high-quality [Star Trek TNG uniform] in a 6-week time frame?" A lot of people agree that "it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking". I cannot fathom that, and since a bunch of folks feel that way, would someone tell me what is not understandable about it? Am I writing Polish and not knowing it conciously? Seriously, what?

  • whatever the problem with your question is (I haven't read it), popping over to meta to be a smartass to the very people you're asking for help sounds like an excellent strategy to me. – KutuluMike Apr 1 '15 at 8:37
  • It's a serious question. But I need to be clear. What's not understandable? Just stating that could not understand how it was so would not provide a handle on what I'm perceving. – JDługosz Apr 1 '15 at 8:45
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    (for the record, I don't personally think the question should be closed, it's an obscure item that's related to a sci-fi work in a behind-the-scenes way and you're already explained why the obvious outlets don't work for you, I'm just saying being snarky is unlikely to improve things.) – KutuluMike Apr 1 '15 at 13:01
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    I personally downvoted the question, as I think these questions (shopping questions) are generally poor fits and of limited use, but the community waffles on shopping questions, so I left it alone without voting to close. – phantom42 Apr 1 '15 at 13:11
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    I think, as a community, we need to do a better job of explaining to folks why their questions aren't good. Anecdotally, there's a general SE trend of aggressive downvoting (usually justified) with little explanation. Obviously people who ask wrong questions or questions wrong don't know they're doing something wrong; if they knew, they wouldn't do it. We need to be more considerate and focus on educating, instead of downvoting. Otherwise, this has the potential to alienate the more casual members of our various communities. – Jay Apr 6 '15 at 23:31
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    Could some moderator delete the question? People are still downvoting it, and it's just a continued source of irritation. – JDługosz Apr 7 '15 at 2:09
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The problem with "shopping" questions is that there's no definitive answer that works for everybody. What constitutes an acceptable uniform? What sizes does the supplier cater for? Where do they delivery exactly? Etc etc.

With these sorts of open-ended questions, they're far better asked in the Mos Eisley chatroom rather than on the main site.

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    is there a more approprate close reason than unclear, tho? wouldn't these be "off-topic" if they didn't meet our shopping question criteria? – KutuluMike Apr 1 '15 at 12:09
  • @MichaelEdenfield Per Meta, some shopping questions are on topic. – user1027 Apr 1 '15 at 12:56
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    I know that, but if this shopping question was closed because it didn't seem to have the information we expect from a shopping question, wouldn't "off-topic" has been a better close reason than "Unclear what you're asking"? it's pretty clear what's being asked, it's just not the kind of shopping question we usually answer. – KutuluMike Apr 1 '15 at 12:59
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    Definitely, an inaccurate reason will be confusing and possibly frustrating. But I would not expect folks to pile on without fixing an obvious mistake: they clearly indicate agreement with what's listed as the hold/close reason. – JDługosz Apr 1 '15 at 13:09
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    When I first saw the close votes starting to come in, the first vote was for being off-topic because it was a shopping question. I really wish the system would display all the different selected close reasons instead of just the majority one. – phantom42 Apr 1 '15 at 13:10
  • @MichaelEdenfield Eh, the fine print on the built-in close reasons are preferable to 'off-topic', as they include guidelines for salvaging the question. I added the comment to be more concrete in pointing out how to get it reopened. – user1027 Apr 1 '15 at 15:34
  • @Keen Not the "unclear" reason. The whole thing revolves around that one word, which more often than not I see interpreted as "this question was worded so badly we can't figure out what you meant" (and is generally what "unclear means). That close reason is terribly worded for what it's meant to be used for (and the description's suggestions almost perfectly fit "too broad"!). – Izkata Apr 2 '15 at 1:22
  • @Izkata that is a fine example if irony. Can the close reason be reworded to be not only understandable but less problematic in befuddling the recipient? – JDługosz Apr 3 '15 at 16:29
  • @Izkata What do you mean, "generally"? What else could "unclear" possibly mean, besides "this question was worded so badly we can't figure out what you mean"? – user14111 Apr 4 '15 at 10:13
  • @user14111 The explanation I got from Meta.SE is that the question can be written totally clearly, but we're supposed to use "too broad" when the description of the problem isn't specific enough, and "unclear what you're asking" when the question isn't specific enough (as in the OP's question). Which is weird because "too broad" covers both anyway, and (especially with people who have English as a second/third/etc language) "unclear what you're asking" means - well, it means what I said above, because that's the main meaning of "unclear", instead of what SE intended – Izkata Apr 4 '15 at 18:49
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Majority votes aren't always as accurate as we'd like.

By the look of things, your question has two possible issues with it - one, that it's a shopping rec, and two, that it's not clear if it's the sort of shopping rec question we can answer.

Some of the close votes (Less than 3) marked it as a shopping-rec question, while the others (at least 3) marked it as unclear, because they wanted to give the benefit of the doubt that you could clarify your post to make it clear that it's an acceptable shopping rec question. This happens sometimes - many users have the ability to vote on a close reason, and not all of them are always clear about which reason is the 'best'.

That being said, you'll note that the question is not actually 'closed', but 'on hold'. This means that the users have come to a consensus that the question requires some attention to clarify or redirect it into an answerable form. Coming here and asking for clarification on how to make your question acceptable was a good first step, and now that you have some solid answers, you can focus on re-writing your question to address those issues.

Don't be discouraged if your question is put on hold, or even closed, in the future. Question quality is not what determines whether or not this happens (I have one question that, rightfully, was closed as a duplicate, despite receiving 20+ upvotes). Take it in stride, find out how you can improve the question, and work to make it even better

  • Aren't built-in close reasons always chosen over custom off-topic ones, even if the votes are 4-1? – Izkata Apr 4 '15 at 3:09
  • @Izkata I've never heard that before, but it would explain things. – Zibbobz Apr 4 '15 at 11:22

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