"Don't make me use my brain" edition:
How do we correctly convey the intent behind close voting on SE 2.0 sites and encourage question improvement, with particular focus on natives (i.e. non SO-pedians)? Are there any technical measures we can use (some are highlighted, with relavent links, in the "essay" bit).
"I like reading essays" edition:
So this discussion has been rumbling around a bit all over the chatosphere wherever I go, so I thought it was time for a meta post. I'm a moderator over on an excellent site that you should all visit (and ask sensible questions having read the FAQ, of course. You should also totally visit our meta) as an additional background.
One of the things I've learnt from this experience is that if you close someone's question, then they get quite upset about that, particularly if they're not experienced SO users. It's the SE equivalent of slamming the door in your face.
I don't personally see close voting that way and that is not how I understand its purpose. If I have it right, the purpose of close voting is to "stop" or "hold" bad questions until such a point as they are either improved or eventually deleted (if not). The question is, if that interpretation is right, how do we go about conveying it?
My major concern is that we are possibly doing two things - putting new users off when their questions are closed and not encouraging users to close questions. There also seems to be a problem distinguishing between "this is not a question" and "this is not a question that is suitable for Stack Exchange".
There have been a number of discussions on this topic:
On the podcast there was a discussion about dis-disincentivising pointless questions. That focuses on preventing people answering the questions, or rather, editing or closing before answering, the idea being you should be either closing or editing and you shouldn't benefit from answers on a closed question. Opinions vary.
This request was put in on wordpress.se's meta for the ability to handle something slightly different - timed close votes, or "improve your question or it will be closed". This is borne out of another issue - users do not like straight out closure, apparently, and would much prefer a warning. It was also borne out of the moderator issue - how do we track/respond to re-open requests.
A request for warning was sort-of made on programmers, albeit as part of a wider issue. Specifically,
Content should no longer be blocked without prior warning.
blocked? That's the wrong word, I feel, and it's use and the fact closing appears that way is slightly concerning in my opinion.
So, the way I see it there are several possible solutions:
- Moderators/users always leave comments. I usually do, unless it is absolutely, blatantly obvious why a question is rubbish (e.g. spam). It's still clearly upsetting people though and "force users to leave comments" is never a popular option. There was a question on that recently somewhere too.
- We change the close messages. They're fine as they are, but how about adding a little bit of extra text, maybe with a link to this (perhaps copying it over to SE.com wth permission and generalising it in case of 410s?). We would also need to, I think, imply some sort of temporary wording in there and a big, obvious link to the edit page preferably with the words "improve" on.
- We rename "closed" to "temporarily closed".
- We implement some form of holding queue for these questions.
- We implement Jack Bauer ("Dammit, you're running out of time!") style closes. See above.
- Something else? A different level of closed for "rubbish" vs "probably could improve"?
- A way for the OP to signal to privileged users (3ks?) that they've edited their question and would like it re-opening, with the option to dismiss? Yes, we have a questions with re-open votes in the 10k-tools, but could we make it more prominent (like suggested edits is)?
I'm not sure which is best - I think perhaps a little more user education via an altered close message might be the least contentious and by far the easiest to implement, as well as having the least impact on new user introductions (there's a danger with new question queues that not enough new questions are approved, etc). I also do not have numbers, just various pieces of feedback, to back any of my various assertions. So I am interested in what you think. So, thoughts? Is there something that will allow us to easily allow questions from new users (v important) and encourage them to improve when faced with an experienced user(s) (to the format) closing their question whilst maintaining our current (excellent) ability to close "noise" an keep "signal"?