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We've had a few incidents recently of close votes being started but no comment given to explain why.

Even in cases where people think it's obvious I think it will really help with defining the scope of the site if people leave a comment to explain why they are voting to close.

For example "Too broad" covers a lot of potential problems with a question, and deciding what is too broad is an important part of the beta.

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Closing questions is important in order to get them clear and on topic before any answers arrive addressing the wrong question. Giving a clear statement of why will not only help the question poster to improve their question, but also help show others why the question needs to be closed, so they can close vote quickly and decisively. This allows a question to be closed quickly before answerers waste their time.

Clear explanation is good for the question poster, good for the potential answerers, and good for the process of site scope definition.

This can be in the form of a quick comment, or a comment linking to a new meta post, or linking to an old meta post if the reason has already been discussed.

For anyone who avoids leaving a comment because they don't want to be identified as the close voter, there is no reason to hide. Bear in mind two points:

  1. Once a question is closed the 5 close voters are listed for all to see.
  2. Closing questions is a good thing. It's not only helpful to defining the site scope, but helps open a discussion to make sure the question has the chance to become the best it can be.

We need close voters, they are vital to the running of the site. The other side of this is that it is helpful to welcome close votes even on your own questions. See them as positive, and ask for clarification of what you need to improve. Open a meta discussion for any difference of opinion so the outcome can benefit future questions too.

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    $\begingroup$ The votes say why they think it should be closed. If someone thinks it is off topic thye choose that. If the reason is not there then it autogenerates a comment when they choose other. $\endgroup$
    – Chad
    Sep 29 '14 at 3:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Chad is that close reason visible to others before the question is closed (at the point that it could help speed up closing)? $\endgroup$
    – trichoplax
    Sep 29 '14 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ When you vote to close you can see the reason others have chosen yes. $\endgroup$
    – Chad
    Sep 29 '14 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Chad this is only visible to people who choose to close vote, which is why I recommend an additional comment. I now wonder if this causes any problems I haven't thought of. I'll see if I can find any discussion of this on meta Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$
    – trichoplax
    Sep 29 '14 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ There are a lot of questions on meta Stack Exchange about close votes, so there may well be something relevant that I can't find... $\endgroup$
    – trichoplax
    Sep 29 '14 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ You do not actually have to vote to close to see the reasons. Just click on the link. $\endgroup$
    – Chad
    Sep 29 '14 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Chad thanks - that's useful for me and I will use it in future. I'm still going to add comments when I close vote so that people who don't think to go in and check (or don't realise you can) will see the reason and hopefully speed up the process of closing a question. $\endgroup$
    – trichoplax
    Sep 29 '14 at 16:04

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