When a question is closed as "unclear what you're asking", it gets attached the following message:

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

According to this statistics, during the last 90 days following this advice was successful precisely zero times -- i.e. no question on MathOverflow which was closed as "unclear what you're asking" has been edited and then reopened.

A total of 141 questions were closed as "unclear what you're asking" during this time, of which 41 were edited without being reopened and 5 were reopened without having been edited.

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ It's unclear if you're asking any question. :) $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    May 10, 2016 at 22:17
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Lucia: I thought it's clear that I'm asking no question :) $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    May 10, 2016 at 22:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Do the moderators or the 10k+ users get a notification when a closed question is edited? Maybe the problem is simply that when the question is edited and clarified it is already buried "below the fold" and no one looks at it to vote for reopening. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2016 at 10:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Edits to closed questions bump them to the top of the active question list as usual. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2016 at 12:37
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In addition, when a closed question is edited, it is added to the reopen votes review queue where 3k+ users can decide whether or not to vote to reopen. A question (usually) remains in this queue until it is either reopened or 3 users have chosen "leave closed". $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    May 11, 2016 at 13:17
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ There is a vote to close as "unclear". Is this vote ironically cast, or is it for real? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    May 12, 2016 at 9:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: yes. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2016 at 13:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Andrej: Your comment is not constructive! ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    May 13, 2016 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: yes. $\endgroup$ May 14, 2016 at 9:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrej: I'm sorry, we were looking for the answer "Well, it's not not constructive, but that doesn't mean it's constructive either.", but thanks for playing! :-P $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    May 14, 2016 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Stefan Kohl: Which conclusion do you draw out of the data you present? $\endgroup$ May 20, 2016 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Helene Sigloch: I just found it worth pointing out that so few questions closed as "unclear what you're asking" are reopened after a clarifying edit. -- I'm not sure whether there is anything one should do about this, and if yes, what. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    May 20, 2016 at 23:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Often this seems to mean: "this question does not show the sophistication expected of a research-level mathematician". If so, it's no surprise that edits for clarity are unsuccessful. $\endgroup$
    – user44143
    Aug 27, 2016 at 22:11


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .