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This question was closed as unclear.

There were also attempts to delete the accepted answer as "not providing an answer."

The question is a poor one; it doesn't show any research effort. It seems perfectly clear, though. The answer is very succinct, but it does answer the question, apparently to the asker's satisfaction. The close/delete reasons don't really fit in either case.

At least one user marked both the question as "unclear" and the answer as "not an answer." These seem like incompatible views; if you're not clear about the question, how can you be sure about whether an answer to it is any good?

Are close/delete reasons meant to be taken literally? Is there a better way to handle closure of a question like this, or should this kind of thing just be downvoted and left open?

For the record, I have no problem with the question being closed. I'm just trying to understand how close/delete reasons are used on this site, and how much thought is given to the reason behind the closure.

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The close reasons probably shouldn't be taken too literally - often you vote to close with the closest reason you can see rather than one that 100% accurate - not least because there are only 5 basic close reasons (duplicate, opinion based, too broad, unclear and off-topic). The last one splits down into further reasons (including migration).

However, I can see that because the "off-topic" route takes an extra click over the other four people might be tempted to choose one the others.

You should take closure serious - it indicates that there is something wrong with the question. Take a good look and edit the question.

On to answers. "Not an answer" means that what has been posted doesn't even attempt to answer the question. It doesn't mean the answer is wrong or incomplete or just a link. All of these are attempts to answer the question. So a question can be unclear and an answer "not an answer" is it is certainly possible to attempt to answer an unclear question - it's just that you're not going to get very far.

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  • Makes sense. It's deleted now, I gather the closure was just a way to fast-track deletion so the close reason didn't really matter.
    – Hey
    Jan 18 '15 at 1:48
  • So, should link-only-answers be flagged? If so, how? On SO, it would be the NAA flag which you seem to say doesn't apply here. Jan 21 '15 at 13:43
  • @Deduplicator - In my opinion link only answers shouldn't be flagged. They are answers, just very bad ones. However, I am in a minority with this view.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jan 21 '15 at 13:47
  • Yes, but as a moderator, your opinion has lots of extra weight, as you have the authority and the power to enforce which comes with it... thus, if you decide to reject NAA on them, flagging them anyway is very risky. Jan 21 '15 at 13:56

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