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I've a bit of a quandary with the site. It seems we get a lot of questions which are very poorly written and are in need of attention from the OP's. These question are vague or lacking needed detail. We often see these questions and leave comments in the hope the asking party will edit their question and clarify the situation ... sometimes this works ... most of the time it doesn't.

To that end, I was just reading over on a Mods only site (a site designed to help us as Mods understand how to do the job correctly), that we should actually be closing these questions right away, while still giving comments so hopefully the OP will return, edit their question with the needed information, and we can then re-open the question which should now be answerable.

The idea of this thinking is, the question isn't actually closed, but rather put On-Hold (as can be seen in the question title in the questions list). This gives the OP the needed time to edit their question and get it reopened. A mod can reopen a question with a click, though I myself would be deign to reopen with the hammer if the community had closed it with their five votes. If I or one of my fellow mods had closed a question directly, I'd have no problem using the hammer to reopen.

Please let me know if you think we should keep on with the way we've been working it, or if we need to be more discerning in how we deal with questions which are not quite what we want to be shown here. I don't want to appear to be "mean" to new users, however, I think the quality of the site has been decreasing for a while now, so want to see what we can do to get things looking better and being more inline with what we'd like to see and how we'd like it to be behaving.

Please take a look at a few older Meta posts which may provide some insights:

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I still take the position that this site should over-compensate on the “nice” side of the spectrum. The “why are we so mean” post was a good summary of what happens when we let things fall back to the default state.

This isn’t an area with deep and broad cross-demographic penetration. We have people who come to the site who don’t even have the vocabulary to ask an answerable question until we’ve had a chance to help them understand that, for example, a disc rotor is not the same as a wheel. Once we get there, though, we have a solid track record of helping people with real problems and their gratitude is striking.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with a timer that says an abandoned poorly written question is not expected to last longer than 30 days, for example.

Back in the old days when I was effectively the only active mod, I would regularly go through the list of unanswered questions that were more than two months old. If it didn’t look like the OP was interested in making a better question after that long, I considered it to be overcome by events and closed it. No feelings were hurt and I was cleaning the clutter.

In short, I think we can do things like what they’re describing but I would prefer not to do it exactly the same way.

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Aside from bad writing, there is one type of question which IMO is basically unanswerable here, and could be summarized as "my car/bike has started acting funny, how can I fix it?"

Sometimes the asker demonstrates their level of "knowledge" by describing what they tried already (caricature: "my car wouldn't start so I bought a new set of tires...") but often the only reasonable answer is "get a qualified person to look at it and diagnose what's wrong". The fact that the asker might already have been ripped off by unprofessional advice doesn't really change the situation.

The fact that some members here are "qualified" to diagnose the problem if they were looking at the vehicle doesn't help much - and those members usually know better than to post an answer that is just a guess in any case.

The problem is, spotting these questions tends to be a "know it when you see it" procedure, which can't easily be reduced to a vote-to-close option.

Some recent examples:

AC clutch doesn't get engaged

Long start then Check Engine Light On

Humming noise while turning right

  • "A/C Clutch doesn't get engaged" ... I take it it never gets married either? :o) J/K – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Apr 16 at 15:38
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It's a tough call distinguishing between earnest questions asked by a mechanical novice (perhaps English not as a first language), and somebody simply too lazy to provide sufficient detail.

It's a non-sequitur to expect detailed problem descriptions, tool requirements (eg scan tolls, fuel pressure gauges), and diagnostic expertise (do a voltage drop test on the starter circuits) from our posters. After all, unless they are trying to circumvent the cost of "professional" repair, they are ostensibly lacking knowledge and merely crying for help. And I think we all recognize that "professional" help has a full spectrum of competence, whether Dealer or Shadetree.

I have the same frustration when new contributors post a seemingly similar question as an answer (2001 Saab cold start issue ; "My 2014 Camry is doing this too") or even worse offer up an answer that worked for them on a completely different vehicle.

I would echo Bob's sentiments. The real SME gurus here can smell the quality of the question and the earnestness of the poster. It's up to "us" (I included myself in a fit of vanity) to moderate alongside the actual Mods.

The acid test in my opinion is the response time to additional probative questions asked by all of us that are trying to help. What are the codes? You mean doesn't crank, or cranks but doesn't start? What is the year/make/model/mileage?

Failure to answer within a reasonable time is a prime candidate for removal. After all, you can't help those that refuse to be helped. How many posters return to say thanks, or even confirm the problem was fixed via our FREE advice? Not enough.

Thank God this site pays me handsomely for my erudite input. [cough] Besides, my uncle learnt me a long time ago that 95% of car troubles can be cured by adding a quart of transmission fluid to the gas tank . . .

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