By old, I mean about six months or older. By abandoned, I meant that people have asked for clarifications in the comments so that they can answer the question better but the OP hasn't responded in months. I was thinking of closing them under the not a real question justification.

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Shall I go through with it or should I leave those questions alone?

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@whuber I like this idea, needs to be done. However, is there a way, when I flag to close a question, to leave notes along with my flag? It would be nice to be able to put in a small note, something like "Abandoned by OP" to clarify why I think the question should be closed. –  Chad Cooper Jan 5 '13 at 14:55
    
@Chad There is an "other" option you can use when flagging. It only gives you about 200 characters to explain, so you have to be brief! –  whuber Jan 5 '13 at 17:43
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up vote 10 down vote accepted

I thoroughly agree, and would go even further: when the O.P. has been asked explicitly for clarification and has not provided it within a day (not counting weekends), I think it's fair to close the thread.

All rules have exceptions: sometimes a perceptive reader offers a helpful answer in the meantime and it is marked as accepted. That can (and probably should) be viewed as a form of clarification of the question. But overall the principle stands: the community should consider closing any thread that has been languishing for more than a day or two in a state of uncertainty about what the question really is.

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I better get started then. Lots of old questions to examine :) –  R.K. Dec 21 '12 at 3:57
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A week might be a little less agressive. "Weekend" is a timezone (and sometimes cultural / regional) dependent issue, so a few days grace might be reasonable. –  BradHards Dec 24 '12 at 6:09
    
@Brad My recommendation strikes a balance between the desire to keep questions open and active and the need to improve ill-formed questions as quickly as possible. Such questions often get downvoted, which newer users can perceive as being unfriendly. If a request for clarification is made in a comment and there is not a quick response, we at least know the O.P. is not closely monitoring the question and therefore they should not be too concerned if it is closed while we are awaiting a response. –  whuber Dec 24 '12 at 15:39
    
I agree with Brad, a day to answer is a little tight. –  Nigel Law Dec 25 '12 at 19:58
    
@Nigel Before voting to close I first check to see whether the O.P. has logged in after the request(s) for clarification were posted. Then I allow a few more hours for them to respond. If they have not, it's a fair presumption that they do not attach much importance to their question and/or have little intention of improving it, so I see no reason to wait any longer before taking appropriate action. Many (if not all) users can do this check, too: look at the O.P.'s profile to see when they were last logged in. –  whuber Dec 30 '12 at 15:31
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Sorry Whubber but I can think of many occasions when it just hasn't been possible for me to login for more than 24 hours. Life is like that sometimes. –  Nigel Law Dec 30 '12 at 22:25
    
You miss the point, @Nigel: I am saying that we can wait until several hours after you have logged in. –  whuber Dec 30 '12 at 23:15
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Apologies Whuber, I had missed that point. I agree that if the OP logs on, and is logged on for a couple of hours, then it is unacceptable to ignore comments designed to help them. –  Nigel Law Dec 31 '12 at 9:20
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