I've always had qualms about "unclear what you're asking" being a bit problematic on Skeptics because it's not clear who is "you" in there. Due to the Skeptics question format, which is about challenging others' claims, it can be the case that the "first order" question is (trivially) clear "is X correct when he states Y", but the claim Y itself (the "second layer", i.e. underlying claim) can be quite unclear. Often, the reason for the lameness in the claim Y is the lack of any quantification, typical of "yellow journalism", a prime characteristic of which is (according to Wikipedia) "scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news".

So how do you VTC such questions? My recently invented solution is to use a custom reason since nothing pre-made really seems to fit. I simply (planning) to write:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the claim itself is too vague (and unremarkable).

from now on on such questions (and just did so on a recent question).

Examples on which I've applies this reason:

Soldiers from World War One actually died from lack of dental care.


Chinese markets are still selling bats and slaughtering rabbits on blood-soaked floors.

You thoughts/comments on this approach?

  • 1
    Seems maybe too subjective. How's this different than "I don't find this interesting". Also maybe a hint of incredulity, like "I can't imagine why someone would care?" I'm fine with making subjective close votes. I might cast with yours, but how does this help the asker or the site? If an answer is no good, you have to classify it into a known "not good type".
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 4 '20 at 21:42
  • For so called yellow journalism, I'd leave that to answers, but I've had an answer that harshly toppled that sort of thing deleted. :/ The answer was basically "Trivially answered, btw, what nonsense".
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 4 '20 at 21:45
  • So your new answer fits here I think. Why didn't you just vote to close the question?
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 6 '20 at 17:51
  • @fredsbend: the question being based on false premises/analogy is different than the claim being vague/trivial. I haven't even addressed the actual claim there, which is actually quantified, quite strongly (all [US] journalists who directly participated in an election campaign got fired). Surveying journalists who may have gotten in trouble for something like that is actually quite a bit of work... Yes, that claim may be vague too as to what participation means, but we could see it as a relatively unambiguous claim by strict analogy with what Hannity did, e.g. get up on a stage at a rally.
    – Fizz
    Apr 6 '20 at 19:54
  • @fredsbend: note Charles' comment there who "got me" with his comment, although I was fully aware I was posting a frame challenge rather than addressing the claim.
    – Fizz
    Apr 6 '20 at 19:56
  • Ok, that makes some sense. FTR, I like the answer. But it's technically against the current rules. My referenced deleted answer was also political in nature and made hnq. Sklivvz deleted it after a few days.
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 6 '20 at 23:52
  • 1
    @fredsbend: I don't know which answer you're referring to, but Sklivvz indeed had a somewhat hardline approach to the rules (but not when he asked the questions, alas)
    – Fizz
    Apr 6 '20 at 23:55
  • 1
    The answer was hard to find, because it seems the question was also deleted later. And I was mistaken, Odd actually pulled the trigger, but Sklivvz commented a lot under it.
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 7 '20 at 0:17
  • We did discuss the fall out of multiple close votes by a moderator on that specific question in meta: Diamond moderator closehammers should override the rest of the community only in exceptional circumstances
    – fredsbend Mod
    Apr 7 '20 at 0:23

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