What is the best way to handle abandoned questions, which cannot be answered because they need clarifications? And the OP is not reacting any longer...

This is one example.

Is reporting / flagging them a good action? I cannot do too many things, being a newcomer.

It is not a duplicate of this, because I put the accent on "What can I do?"

  • 1
    The author of that question did leave comments that haven’t been incorporated into it. A good first step is to edit the question to get the information from the comments into the question.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 13, 2019 at 14:25
  • 1
    Also if you do suggest an edit to incorporate comments into a question and it gets approved, don't forget to mark the comments as "no longer needed".
    – ColleenV
    Feb 20, 2019 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


I see the OP in the cited example hasn't revisited ELL (or ELU, from where the question was originally migrated) for well over 2 years. Taking that into account, I suggest something along the lines of...

If it's more than a month or two (or whatever we can reach a consensus on) old, and the OP has shown no active interest in the question (and perhaps the whole site itself) the two primary options should be:

1: Vote to delete the question - if nobody wants to answer, what good is it?
2: Edit the question - if it was somehow "badly posed", but is nevertheless "salvageable".

As the meta OP here points out, not all users will have sufficient rep to be able to do either of those. But it only takes 15 rep points to be able to flag for moderator attention, and personally I don't see anything wrong with new(ish) users being able to suggest that a mod might consider taking the action on behalf of those unable to do so themselves.

Obviously that's not ideal, and it would be better if higher-rep users such as myself took responsibility for these matters without having to involve moderators. So if I were a mod myself, I'd probably only take action if at least 2-3 lower-rep users were calling for it on any given question.


At a certain point you get the privilege that allows you to mark the questions for closing, with either the reason "unclear what you're asking" or "off topic because needs detail". That will put it in the queue of questions to be closed, and it (hopefully, eventually) will be.

  • 1
    Anyone with 15 reputation or more can flag posts to put them into the close vote queue where folks with 3000 reputation or more can vote to close/leave open.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 20, 2019 at 14:33
  • Is it ok possible to flag an answer as a good answer (for old topics especially) so a moderator can choose that answer as correct answer? With the result of one less unanswered question.
    – virolino
    Feb 20, 2019 at 14:38
  • @virolino I don't believe the moderators have the ability to select an answer. All they can do is delete inappropriate answers.
    – Andrew
    Feb 20, 2019 at 14:55
  • @virolino I think that you may misunderstand what accepting an answer means. You may want to read what I've written here about it: ell.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3422/9161
    – ColleenV
    Feb 20, 2019 at 16:18
  • @ColleenV: Actually, I did not really misunderstand, I just hoped that a small miracle may happen. There are several (many?) questions with very good answers, but there is nobody to select the good answer. It would be a pity to just delete those Q's and A's.
    – virolino
    Feb 21, 2019 at 5:26
  • @virolino Questions don’t have to have an “accepted” answer.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 21, 2019 at 11:41
  • maybe I used wrong word / concept? How do I call the situation / status when an answer gets a green tick-mark?
    – virolino
    Feb 21, 2019 at 11:48
  • @virolino That’s accepting an answer. Did you get a chance to read the post I linked? It is a common misunderstanding about how SE works.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 21, 2019 at 11:52
  • sorry, I read only half of "have to have" :D Yes, I read that post. But it would be nice if we could have accepted answers for questions, right? That is (one of) the idea(s) of ell.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4586/…
    – virolino
    Feb 21, 2019 at 11:59
  • We just need answers worthy of being up-voted. Accepting an answer is a small privilege given to question authors to reward an answer that helped them personally and to show that they feel the question is answered. That doesn’t mean it is the correct answer or that the question couldn’t benefit from another answer. It makes no sense for anyone other than the author to accept an answer, because no-one but them knows which answer helped them the most!
    – ColleenV
    Feb 21, 2019 at 13:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .