If I encounter a question in the Review Queue for Close Votes that is partly off-topic and partly on-topic, how should I proceed?

  1. Vote to close?
  2. Leave Open?
  3. Suggest edits to the author to make it on-topic?
  4. Edit the question myself (if I have enough rep) and remove the part that is off-topic? Of course, while keeping the guidelines for editing in mind.
  5. Answer the part that is on-topic if I can?
  6. Refrain from answering the part that is on-topic although I could?
  7. Answer both parts although one part is off-topic?
  8. Flood the question with electricity?

Which one of the above is it? Or is it several in a certain order? I usually go with suggesting edits and / or answering the on-topic part if I can.

Here's a recent example: CISCO EPC3008 vs CISCO EPC3208 = has either of them had security issues?

  • 1
    It's worth noting that example has since been edited to remove the off-topic bit :)
    – user173641
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 14:54
  • I do not think any part of the question you linked is on topic :(
    – schroeder Mod
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 16:06
  • 1
    @schroeder What would the correct close reason for the first part be? Not saying it's good, just not sure what close reason would fid.
    – Anders
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 16:51

2 Answers 2


Setting aside the current example, here is my general approach:

  • If the on topic parts it the major thing, and the off topic part is more of a side issue, I would comment and ask the OP to remove the off topic part. If I was feeling brave (or if the question is old, with no OP around), I might go right ahead and edit, leaving a comment explaining to OP what I did and why.
  • If it's the reverse - something mostly off topic with a little bit of on topic stacked on top, I would vote to close and comment recommending OP to refocus to keep the question open.

So the approach depends on the context. But the end goal is the same - if there is something good in there, try to separate it from the bad and keep it.

  • I'm inclined to accept this answer. Would you define "old" though? I think I would edit a question that was not touched by the op him/herself for 24 hours. And: Can we make this the "official" line? As in: Let's decide there's a certain timeframe after which we will just edit out off-topic parts of a question if there are also on-topc parts.
    – Tom K.
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 12:57
  • @TomK. Not sure I could say a specific time frame. I think I go on gut feeling on how active OP seems to be.
    – Anders
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 9:06

Personally, I would say the "best" way of handling this would be to edit the question and remove the section that is off-topic, leave a comment to say you've edited this as well as an edit summary of course just so the OP knows what's happened and then answer if possible.

I would say context is an amazing thing in these scenarios also, for example in the case of CISCO EPC3008 vs CISCO EPC3208 = has either of them had security issues? his question was on-topic however he also asked an off-topic question, I would argue that because his original question was on-topic but his additional question is off-topic that removing the off-topic question is far better than closing the question altogether.

Whilst we shouldn't encourage poor questions - if the OP has asked something which is on-topic but then added an additional off-topic question he has still asked a valid question. Why should we remove a post when we have the ability to edit in this case? It's salvageable by editing so why would we just outright remove it?

I feel that if we just delete a question because of the addition being off-topic then we're just deleting because we can, rather than deleting because it's a poor question.

  • 1
    Imagine this scenario: "has X ever had a vulnerability and has it been patched?" This cannot be considered on topic. We would get flooded with awful quality questions that are answered every single time by doing exactly what you did in your answer: to look up the vendor's patch notes for the product. I would encourage you to create a canonical question about how to look up if a product has a vulnerability and if vulns have been patched, then make the question in question a dupe of that.
    – schroeder Mod
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 16:09
  • @schroeder Hmm - when you put it like that I see where you're coming from. As I mentioned in The DMZ I might have a slight bias here being that I answered the question. I would agree that questions like this one, for example, are indeed awful quality in-fact the OP showed no research effort at all. However, I feel that we don't actually get these types of questions often enough (Correct me if I am wrong) to warrant a need for outright deleting them.
    – user173641
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 16:16
  • 1
    Questions like this one have very limited value for anyone aside from the asker - and yes, it's down to a lack of research effort. Because of these 2 factors, we tend to shut them down. Could the community do the research for the OP and help them out? Sure. Is this a high volume problem that would bring down the quality of the site overall? Probably not. Should we encourage better questions? Absolutely. That's why I'm suggesting a more general approach instead of just bringing this (old) question down.
    – schroeder Mod
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 16:23
  • @schroeder I completely see where you're coming from. And I agree the best thing to do here is a canonical question.
    – user173641
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 16:36
  • Just to further add to this - in this case, perhaps a canonical question is better however what about in other cases? Let's say in a situation where a canonical question cannot be applied and the OP has one off-topic question and one on-topic question. Would my proposal in my post fit there?
    – user173641
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 16:38

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