On all the stack exchange sites I've seen "closed as not a real question" being way overused.... I found this question just a little while ago... I not only clearly understood what was being asked, but I also had a possible answer... https://wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/81854/autopublish-to-fb-without-using-admin-fb-account

Now, this question may or may not be off-topic, but it IS a real question with valid answers, and I just don't agree with the reason given for it being closed. I honestly feel like that closure reason is used as a catch-all - possibly even to close questions for purely personal reasons.

Maybe closing a question as "not a real question" should require more votes than other reasons, as in a lot of cases it's a matter of opinion as to whether the question is clear enough... I've asked friends questions where 2 out of 10 didn't understand what I was asking... I would've been really unhappy if I couldn't ask all of them just because a couple people couldn't understand my question (especially since it might've been their reading comprehension that was the problem and not the way I asked my question!)

Actually, it probably wouldn't bother me as much if there was a way to message people on here... at least then when I saw a question like the one above I could at least message the person with my idea... it just doesn't seem fair to me that the author of that post misses out on help just because a couple people didn't understand what they were asking (and I don't know why... seemed clear enough to me... how do I auto-post to facebook without my admin name showing up? Seems like a very clear, very valid question to me!)

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    Don't wonder if you get downvotes. Votes on meta are different to the main site. They're basically saying "I agree/disagree". No reason to get mad on someone in this case :)
    – kaiser
    Jan 17, 2013 at 6:15
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    I close voted this question. From the close vote reason: "this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion." And this is already the case. So please STOP it here (get too many notifications on this one), as I want to invest my time here on WP.SE into helping people.
    – kaiser
    Jan 18, 2013 at 22:17
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    @kaiser strange... I thought the discussion tag was for discussing stuff about the site? A discussion tag when extended discussion isn't allowed? Oh well, I give up anyways since no one wants to discuss the using and effectiveness of the 'closed as not a real question' reason - they only want to dissect the question I used as an example... I thought SE was a community site, but that's not true when the ability of a handful of people to understand a question makes it possible to close that question... this site is not community moderated when that handful of people are really in charge. Jan 18, 2013 at 23:21
  • @kaiser in fact, here is the description of the <discussion> tag "The question you're asking is designed to solicit opinions or best-practices on a particular topic, with the goal of reaching community consensus." Why have a tag that you aren't supposed to use? Jan 18, 2013 at 23:24
  • "with the goal of reaching community consensus" ... which we have. Only you disagree. Sorry for being so harsh, but this extended and seems to have no end goal. About that hand full of people: Become one of us. Answer, comment, gain reputation (and privileges). Then make a change. You're welcome to do so (as you can see from out immense effort to help you here and discuss things).
    – kaiser
    Jan 18, 2013 at 23:29
  • @kaiser Honestly I don't see how community consensus was reached... everyone seems to be in agreement about the question I used as an example, yes.... but this post was NOT specifically about that question and nobody really discussed my main points, such as that reason being used as a catch-all, and it not being very helpful to new users. No one really even tried to see my side of it, just stuck to what they think... not even considering whether I have a valid point and that maybe changes should be made in how things work... why is everyone so close-minded and set in their ways? Jan 18, 2013 at 23:37
  • us newer users see things from a different perspective from the rest of you, and we see things that you guys have been around to long to notice. And no one listens to us! Jan 18, 2013 at 23:38

4 Answers 4


It is in fact a question that is outside of the scope for WPSE.

WPSE focuses on questions that can be reasonably answered and in turn requires that the question has something tangible to work on, in most cases that's an example of what code the question-asker is using in order to achieve his or her outcome.

In fact, if you read the question, you'll actually notice that there's no real question contained within the main body itself. Its only later within the comments after EAMann attempts to clarify the question where the original poster then offers an explanation of what they are trying to achieve, one that could finally be understood.

Overall the question was closed because (important keywords highlighted in bold):

This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

Asking whether or not if someone has "bumped into" such and such before is a little open ended.

The original poster would have better been served by asking the question whilst showing exactly what they have tried so far and what research they have already conducted.

In fact, this question is much more related to Facebook than anything to do with WordPress. It just so happens to be that WordPress is the vehicle for which the original poster is trying to achieve their outcome.

There are numerous questions on StackOverflow that deal with these kinds of Facebook related application/permission based problems. That's where this question should be asked - first.

Then once the user has an answer that can be translated into a practical working example (i.e. WordPress plugin or functions.php snippet) then coming to WPSE for assistance is perfectly fine.

They would get a lot of help if that were the case.

That aside, you are still able to post comments in the question thread so if you have something useful to contribute then add it as an comment. I've done this myself in previous cases where questions were closed but I felt like I had some supporting information that could assist the overall completeness of the Q&A thread which I placed into the comments.

  • Actually, I DON'T seem to be able to post comments on that... maybe I don't have enough rep (doesn't make sense you can answer but not comment... if you can't answer without more info, and you can't comment, then you can't answer)... and I understood what they wanted without having to read the comments, although I have adhd which means my brain works weird... Jan 17, 2013 at 6:35
  • I just wanted to suggest to them that maybe they could make a facebook PAGE with the same name as the website and use that for posting... if pages can post... that would hopefully solve their problem without exposing their admin name or creating a fake account... maybe someone reading this that CAN comment would share that suggestion since I don't care about rep Jan 17, 2013 at 6:36
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    Your suggestion is valid, but do you notice how your suggestion has nothing to do with WordPress and everything to do with Facebook so far? That's why this question is better suited to StackOverflow until such time it becomes relative to WordPress. This is a primary reason why it was closed. Also its unfortunate that you need min-50 rep points to comment on Q&A threads. However if they stopped you from answering questions, then you'd never be able to build rep. So that's why you can answer but not comment :)
    – Adam
    Jan 17, 2013 at 6:41
  • and just to clarify... I never argued the fact that the question may have been off topic, out of scope.. whatever the right term is lol... not that it was closed but why it was closed... Jan 17, 2013 at 6:46
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    Its all good man, I don't think you are arguing the fact, but that aside, the reason that it was closed and the reason why it was closed in this case are one-in-the-same thing.
    – Adam
    Jan 17, 2013 at 8:28
  • It should have been closed as "off topic", not as "not a real question" especially since the question probably couldn't be edited to make it 'on topic'... especially not when the closing reason basically states it was closed because it wasn't clear enough meaning they'll edit for clarity, not topic, which will waste their time Jan 17, 2013 at 8:38
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    This question is both off-topic and not a real question. Even if migrating this question over to SO: would it constitute a real question there, either? Would it become less vague, broad, or open-ended? Jan 17, 2013 at 18:42

Maybe closing a question as "not a real question" should require more votes than other reasons, as in a lot of cases it's a matter of opinion as to whether the question is clear enough...

Note that people can give different reasons when voting to close question. What is shown is one of them, picked by the system. All close votes are kinda matter of opinion.

I've asked friends questions where 2 out of 10 didn't understand what I was asking... I would've been really unhappy if I couldn't ask all of them just because a couple people couldn't understand my question (especially since it might've been their reading comprehension that was the problem and not the way I asked my question!)

So what do you say to the two people who didn't get it? "You are useless, get lost.", as comments on that question went?

When you ask question the aim should be to make it as clear as possible with as much detail as possible. Sometimes that includes bit of conversation with people who didn't get it and listening why didn't they.

Trying to shift the blame of unclear question to others is nonconstructive attitude and major signal of low quality.

what I said is that it shouldn't have been closed as not a real question... especially since not a real question can be edited and reopened, where an off topic question probably can't, so it's actually a doubly wrong classification...

Closed is not game over for the question. Question closed for any reason can be edited and reopened if the issues with them are resolved. As above - sometimes there are multiple issues with it, as in this case.

From my personal point of view (since it was my binding moderator vote to close it early) - there wasn't enough detail to even determine if it is off topic - is it about customizing code WP makes request with? Is it about modifying the type of request that is made? Is it about trying to post without credentials? Is it about figuring out how Facebook API works?

So "ambiguous, vague, incomplete" signs of "not a real question" as reason apply just fine in my opinion.

  • Sometimes questions HAVE to be vague though... his question was about ANY way to solve the problem - a plugin for wordpress, changing a plugin, doing it with the api... when you're at your wits end with a problem you tend to go vague because you'll accept ANY answer that solves the problem... and I agree they let their frustration show a little too much in their comments, but in a way I don't blame them... I get frustrated sometimes trying to get a simple answer on these sites too Jan 17, 2013 at 21:40
  • I just hate the 'not a real question, can't reasonably be answered' thing because it's not very helpful! Maybe your FAQ is better than SO... but I had a question closed as unanswerable over there after it had a great, clear answer proving it COULD be answered in the form it's in, and the FAQ gave me no clue how to fix my question... turned out I was too 'chatty' in describing my problem, and someone was nice enough to edit it for me, as my ADHD brain couldn't figure out how to explain the question without explaining in depth... Jan 17, 2013 at 21:45
  • and searching for answers on SO,I've often found my answer in 'closed as unanswerable' questions following a link from google, and even if the question could have been easier to understand, it kept me from having to post a question and wait 2 days for an answer when I was working on a time sensitive project... I just feel that it doesn't work the way it should, and also most newbies won't come back to edit their question... why should they? They get slammed down with no real explanation of why, and they need an answer NOW! They don't feel like jumping through hoops first... Jan 17, 2013 at 21:50
  • I know, make an SE for the newbies!!! Where you move all the questions that are closed for 'not a real question' where maybe they can get an answer from the few of us that are good at figuring out what they mean... then all those good questions that a million people want the answer to can still be found... and even if we don't feel confident editing their question because we aren't 100% clear on what they are asking we can add comments to help them make their question better. If it gets a valid answer or edited move it back... then we aren't punishing them by refusing help WHEN they need it! Jan 17, 2013 at 21:58
  • I edited it, in 2 minutes... hopefully my ADHD brain was able to clarify (and bring onto topic) enough that it can be reopened and the poor guy can get an answer to his question Jan 17, 2013 at 22:15
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    @krazykat1980 personally I don't feel your edit sufficiently clarifies it. You might have experience with this topic (Facebook authorization), someone else might not. Also wording it as "is there plugin" doesn't help the case since plugin recommendations are off topic. If you want to continue improving try to focus on clearly explaining Facebook aspect of it and how it relates to WordPress.
    – Rarst
    Jan 18, 2013 at 0:06
  • Now I'M getting confused... I think it's completely clear (although possibly needs to go to SO)... how it relates to wordpress? they are trying to post a wordpress post onto facebook. And it also asks for ways other than a plugin to do the task as well. This isn't fair! You closed it instead of editing it, and now I, or the original poster, or some other good Samaritan has to try to figure out what would be acceptable to you. I feel sorry for the guy since he won't get an answer... but I can't waste any more of MY time trying to fix something that doesn't meet 1 or 2 peoples criteria Jan 18, 2013 at 0:25
  • personally I don't feel your edit sufficiently clarifies it. You might have experience with this topic (Facebook authorization), someone else might not. Doesn't the same go for any aspect of programming or really anything in life? I didn't know questions had to be able to be understood by a layperson... Jan 18, 2013 at 0:29
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    @krazykat1980 You don't have to prove anything to me personally. There are other moderators as well as users with enough reputation can vote to re-open. The question has to be able to understood by WordPress developer. How Facebook authorization works has nothing to do with WordPress, which is precisely why the question is struggling in first place. It is in realm of entirely unrelated thing in WordPress context, not WordPress-specific.
    – Rarst
    Jan 18, 2013 at 0:44
  • I know it's off topic... but it is now clear.... I think it should be reopened then closed as off topic and moved to stack overflow in the facebook section... sigh Jan 18, 2013 at 1:28
  • "Sometimes questions HAVE to be vague though..." - bear in mind that SE is a question and answer site, designed to solicit specific answers to specific questions. On any Se network site, the best thing you can do is to make questions as specific/detailed as possible. If the quality of the question is thus high enough, even if the question is off-topic on one site, it can more-easily be migrated to a more-appropriate site, and ultimately receive answers. Jan 18, 2013 at 13:18
  • One of the more frustrating things that I notice is that, even when WPSE members post comments explaining why a question is not written well enough, or high-enough quality, whether the question is closed or not, the OP never comes back to try to fix the question. As has been said: a closed question is not the end of the world; it often just means that the question needs to be improved. (Now, would I have chosen question closure as the mechanism for improving questions? Probably not. But we work with the conventions that apply network-wide.) Jan 18, 2013 at 13:21
  • @ChipBennett I agree, closure isn't the best way... it frustrates newbies, and keeps them from getting an answer they may need quickly... they can get an answer and then the question could be closed until edited or something... maybe if editing were worth more rep points (or there weren't badges for close votes or using all votes) maybe more people would edit instead of closing... only 2 points for spending possibly 30 minutes or more editing someone elses question? Seriously! Thanks, Chip... at least you understood the purpose of this post better than most... Jan 19, 2013 at 0:55

Help yourself or let someone help you

You're not as helpless as you think. Here're your options:

  • Gain enough rep on a network site, then cast "reopen"-votes. You need the same amount of people to reopen a question as you needed to close one: 5 (or...)
  • Flag it and explain the mod (in the flag box) why exactly you want to reopen a question.
  • Jump in chat (needs 20 rep) and tell us higher rep users (and the present mods) what exactly you have in mind. You'll either get an explanation, some help with reopen votes or a mod that might help you. Or maybe you get nothing as no one is interested or has time (which only happens if you're rude or offensive).

Ad question)

After reading the question, I can only tell you one thing: I didn't understand the problem. There's someone who has "some" admin account and doesn't clarify what this is (not everyone uses FB, right?). Then he has "some other" account he wants to "post" with (and again doesn't clarify what this other account is. WP? FB?). Then there's the point that WP doesn't have this functionality built in (still author of the question not explaining what plugin this is, if it's commercial, free, written by her/him, etc.). If you really understand all this and got the missing information, then I suspect, you're the author of this question (but with a second account).

Summing it up is easy: I just add the automated close message again.

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, see the FAQ.

You can see that the author (or you) are allowed to edit the question, then flag or vote to reopen.

Ad "not a real question" reason)

I'm sorry, but this is not true. The most used close reason is off topic. People tend to ask a lot of plain CSS or PHP questions here. Those get closed or moved to another network site.

Ad possible answer)

Point is, this is a site about WordPress (see the [faq]). If you can answer the question in a way that brings in on topic, you've my full support. But so far I think it's more a Hip-Hop PHP question and would belong to SO (if clarified).

  • It must be my adhd that helps me understand questions like that... I read it as: he's trying to use a wordpress plugin to post to facebook but it wants to show his admin name (assumed they logged in with their personal account which is the same as the name they use for wp admin) and he doesn't want his family to know this is his post (or his name makes a bad impression) so he wants to post without the name showing... But that just proves my point of how that classification really isn't fair as it depends on a personal ability to understand questions... I understood it and you didn't... Jan 17, 2013 at 6:42
  • @krazykat1980 Point ist that this doesn't bring it on topic. And point also is that this is a site about WordPress (not facebook) and code help and I can't see any code. What I can't see also (and you didn't answer as well) is how they post. Because just telling them what they should use instead of the name doesn't help anyone if she/he doesn't even have this possibility (from their plugin settings). But as long as neither you or me knows those details, the question stays vague and therefore closed and the close reason valid.
    – kaiser
    Jan 17, 2013 at 7:20
  • They said they tried a bunch of plugins that all allowed them to post, but all needed a facebook account.. so IF a page can post (log into facebook) than that's the answer... Jan 17, 2013 at 8:33
  • and for the 2000th time... I never said their question was on topic and shouldn't be closed... what I said is that it shouldn't have been closed as not a real question... especially since not a real question can be edited and reopened, where an off topic question probably can't, so it's actually a doubly wrong classification... Jan 17, 2013 at 8:35
  • @krazykat1980 I'm sorry, but I get the feeling that you don't want to understand what I answered.
    – kaiser
    Jan 17, 2013 at 15:40
  • I understand your answer... you don't understand mine... they used lots of wp plugins to post... their problem has nothing to do with the ability to post... and doesn't really fit WPSE, it's a facebook question... their question is: Is there any way to keep facebook from showing the name I use to post with, or any other way I can do this without a fake account so it doesn't show my WP admin name on my posts... exactly my point with the close reason - some people understand the question but they never get the chance to answer because some people don't understand and close it Jan 17, 2013 at 22:06
  • Maybe have a thing when you post that grabs keywords out of your question and suggests other SE sites (like FB would suggest SO), that would cut down on off-topic posts as they would know where they SHOULD post the question Jan 17, 2013 at 22:08
  • @krazykat1980 Discussing internals of SE/SO it far out of scope. //Switching Topic:// About facebook and "any way (plugin) to solve the problem": As per our FAQ, "asking for recommendations for plugins, themes, books or hosting services." More about it here.
    – kaiser
    Jan 18, 2013 at 2:22
  • I thought meta WAS for discussing the way the site works? And my comments are completely on topic to my original post as well, while most of you have focused completely on the question I used as an example instead of my original point! //Switching Topic:// Plugin OR ANY OTHER SOLUTION including I would assume a line of code to add into a plugin, a facebook api trick etc... so no possible solutions could mention a plugin? I actually added the 'plugin or other solutions' to make it clearer as the original question said 'any way to do this' which I assumed wouldn't be clear enough Jan 18, 2013 at 2:45

Without any further comments

as this meta already the most mess I've ever seen on any meta site

enter image description here

  • Some of us can't vote to reopen... and I agree this turned into a mess... it turned into a discussion about 1 question instead of a discussion of the use of a close reason because people focused on my example rather than the meat of my post Jan 18, 2013 at 2:50
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    That's okay, though. Not many people can even vote to close questions. That shouldn't be a hindrance, though. Engage in the comments, try to understand the concerns others have with the question, then edit the question to attempt to address those concerns, and comment to ask if the edits are sufficient to reopen the question. Jan 18, 2013 at 13:15
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    @krazykat1980, that's why everyone is able to [edit] a Question: to focus on the meat, when it's clear by Answers and Comments that something is being mis-understood or not clearly explained. ::: Editing Answers is another department.
    – brasofilo
    Jan 18, 2013 at 17:45
  • @brasofilo The 'meat' of the first post on this page should be clear enough... I don't know people are insisting on discussing the question I used as an example rather than the subject I actually brought up, although maybe it's easier to take apart that question than to try to understand the point I'm trying to make. Jan 18, 2013 at 21:30
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    @krazykat1980, formatting the text and highlighting the important parts is there to help with this. Related: How to ask a smart question.
    – brasofilo
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:39
  • @brasofilo I'm sorry, I assumed people on meta would have at least a certain level of reading comprehension, and would realize that in most writing the first or last sentence usually states the problem, and yes I'm being snarky now and I apologize, but I'm getting really frustrated here, especially now that we are discussing how my post is formatted instead of the main issue which I thought I just tried to point people back to. Jan 19, 2013 at 0:59
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    kaiser, apologies for extended comments here in your A. @krazykat1980: what I'm trying to hint you is: The better the Question, the better the Answer. :::: I can't do nothing if you are not getting the answers that you'd like to hear. What I can do, having read thousands of Q&A's in the Stack and a lot of the Main Meta, is say "hey, here are some hints to improve your Question". :::: Here ends my participation in this one.
    – brasofilo
    Jan 19, 2013 at 1:10
  • @brasofilo n/p, mate.
    – kaiser
    Jan 19, 2013 at 9:07

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