Regarding "too broad". I think there are two sorts of ways a question could be too broad. One is the sort of question that amounts to summarizing an entire course or text book: "Please tell me all about regression and how I can do it on my data. Go step by step." That seems clearly way too broad and an easy vote to close.

But there are other questions that ask for "general recommendations" that, I think, can be answered briefly in ways that are often helpful to the questioner. "What are some ways I might analyze these data?" and the answer might be "try XXX which does XXXX, also try YYY and ZZZ" or even a list of methods, without a whole lot of detail.

What do others think?

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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't worry much about "too broad" being too broad. It can mean "too big" or "too vague", which perhaps are your meanings. The question makes sense, but it's too big to expect anyone to answer. Or, it's not clear what you mean within a larger territory; that grades into "unclear what you're asking". Both sub-reasons to close, in any case. (I think we've (almost) seen questions where everyone voting to close chose a different reason. Sometimes you know it's a poor question, but it's a struggle to explain the top reason why. Compare lousy movies, politicians you despise, etc.) $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Feb 24, 2018 at 7:30

2 Answers 2


This is StackExchange. However you might feel about it, it's a little different than an ask-anything-you-want site.

Our help is clear:

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

When questions of a more diffuse or extensive nature appear, we request that they be narrowed, clarified, and/or re-focused. In the meantime, to stave off the appearance of answers that may be confusing or even wrong once the question is improved, we close such questions. The standard reasons are "too broad" or "unclear what you're asking."

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    $\begingroup$ W/i the SE system, there is some leeway for interpretation of the rules. I'm sympathetic to Peter's position. Consider that, under our current standards, a question like, 'What skills are required to perform large scale statistical analyses?' would be closed as too broad to be answerable. But I suspect a good (maybe even great) answer could be given to that question, & would create a lot of value. Most questions closed as too broad undoubtedly should be closed, but I do wonder if sometimes we are too strict & preempt helpful possibilities. $\endgroup$ Feb 25, 2018 at 12:49

Like Peter I sometimes wish we had less generalized closure reasons because the description that comes with "too broad" seems very catch-all. However, that can sometimes be useful when dealing with questions which actually demonstrate several of the listed problems!

I think the remedy if the close-reason text seems (however ironically) unhelpfully broad for a closed question, is to post a comment explaining what the specific issues are, hopefully in a form that is actionable by the original poster.


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