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Recently, several of my StackOverflow questions have been flagged to be closed.

Here is an example that I don't understand: Is it safe to click on a jsfiddle or jsbin link?

The question is related to "software tools commonly used by programmers", in accordance with the StackOverflow FAQ http://stackoverflow.com/faq

My two cents: flags to close a question should come with a comment or some kind of hint. This would at least give the author a chance to rephrase his/her question.

In the above example, I still have no idea why it was closed. And btw I received an excellent answer (in the comments, as the post was closed).

Another example (question related to svg and canvas): Indicators library in svg, vml or canvas

[Update] The jsfiddle question was moved to the WebApps forum. I have rephrased the svg/canvas question and hopefully clarified the context.

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See and upvote this related question: Off topic questions and redirect to affiliated sites. –  Awesome Poodles Jan 24 '12 at 2:22
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And now my question has been downvoted without explanation. That's really cool! –  Christophe Jan 24 '12 at 6:26
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@Christophe You might not be aware of this, but voting on Meta works slightly different: meta.stackoverflow.com/faq#vote-differences It might therefore be a simple "I think your post was rightfully closed" or "I don't agree there should be a comment/hint for closed questions". I'm just guessing though. –  Bart Jan 24 '12 at 9:54
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You mean you didn't see this explanation: 'closed as off topic [...] Questions on Stack Overflow are expected to generally relate to programming or software development in some way, within the scope defined in the faq.'? –  Grant Thomas Jan 24 '12 at 10:08
    
@Mr.Disappointment I saw the message, I read the FAQ, and after that I still didn't understand (see the excerpt from the FAQ in my post). And now that I understand, the post is closed and I have no clue how to redirect it to another more adapted forum. –  Christophe Jan 24 '12 at 16:13
    
@Bart thanks. I still think that a comment would help understand the downvote. –  Christophe Jan 24 '12 at 16:16

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I agree that a quick reason might be nice, since it's not always clear, and there is a lot of gray area when people vote to close.

Especially, when a question is closed as "Off Topic", a breakdown of the recommended sites -- plus allowing a write-in for the choices without a radio-button -- would be especially helpful.
Often times, voters will agree that a Q is "off topic" but disagree about where it should go.

This question is off topic, because it is more about the user experience then programming. It probably belongs on webapps.

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ok, this makes sense. The issue with gray areas and the way they are currently handled, is that if out of 100 people 80 think it's in the right place and 20 think it's not, the question will still be closed. –  Christophe Jan 24 '12 at 2:06
    
@BrockAdams: Since the question is about a website, it would most likely get closed on SuperUser too... –  Dennis Jan 24 '12 at 2:21

Your question was closed because it was judged to be off topic by five high-rep users. I can see how you might think that your question is on topic, since jsfiddle and jsbin could be called tools that programmers use. But the question you asked was from a user's point of view: "Is it safe [for the user] to click on a jsfiddle or jsbin link?" A question about how to modify jsfiddle code would probably be okay, but the question you asked has nothing to do with programming.

Your question about icons is also off topic. SO is for questions about code, not help finding artwork. There's nothing wrong with asking for help finding a library of icons, and it's not a bad question; SO just isn't the place for that question.

People often do leave comments when voting to close, just as they often leave comments when downvoting. Comments are optional, though, not required. It'd be a little silly to try to require comments with close votes -- someone who didn't feel like providing helpful feedback would just write "off topic" or "not constructive" as their comment.

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What bothers me is that none of these 5 high-rep users bothered to leave an explanation. And apparently one still found the time to down-vote the question. –  Christophe Jan 24 '12 at 2:13
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@Christophe I would strongly discourage you from making assumptions about voting patterns based on anything you see. It might seem safe to assume that out of five close-votes, one also down voted, but you might be surprised. Some people (myself included) specifically try to avoid down voting when also taking any public, negative action on a post. –  Andrew Barber Jan 24 '12 at 2:19
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@Christophe Look at it from the other side. It gets a little tedious typing explanations of why yet another question doesn't meet the criteria spelled out in the FAQ. If enough people agree that a question is off topic, the question is closed and a message stating why is automatically posted, saving everyone from typing the same thing over and over. I appreciate that you may have misunderstood what the FAQ means by "programming tools", but it happens much more often that new users don't bother to read the FAQ at all. –  Caleb Jan 24 '12 at 2:24
    
Points well taken. –  Christophe Jan 24 '12 at 2:25
    
@Caleb: still, it's sad that good questions just end in the trash. Mine had already received 4 upvotes, maybe these voters would deserve more attention. –  Christophe Jan 24 '12 at 2:46
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@Christophe They don't have to end up in the trash. The people who create them just have to put a little thought into finding appropriate forums in which to pose them. Many SE sites are victims of their own success: people find them useful because the signal/noise ratio is high. Then those people think: "I have a question! I'll post it on SO! The answers there are always good!" But if that question is off topic, poorly written, etc. it decreases the S/N ratio and diminishes the site. Please help us avoid that by staying on topic and posting your Q in an appropriate place. –  Caleb Jan 24 '12 at 2:58
    
@Caleb: first, the whole point of my thread here is that even after the post was closed I still didn't have a clue what was wrong. Second, it's not that simple. Look at the other answers and comments of this thread to see an example. Now, if you tell me that I can go to my closed post and I'll find a way to repost it in a more adequate forum, I'll be more than happy to oblige. –  Christophe Jan 24 '12 at 3:36

The first question

Is it safe to click on a jsfiddle or jsbin link?

was somewhat close to being on topic, but as others pointed out, it was not asked from the perspective of a programmer. I understand your confusion in this case, and it's not a bad question, but this belongs on webapps and I migrated it there.

The other question

Icons library in svg, vml or canvas

Is soliciting a list of opinions (or worse, a poll), which is directly covered in http://stackoverflow.com/faq#dontask and quite clearly off-topic.

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thanks for the update! I'm glad my question found a home :-) –  Christophe Jan 25 '12 at 15:47
    
I am not sure where you see opinions or a poll in my icons library question. There is no "better" or "wrong" involved, just facts. And the answers I received are very straightforward. Anyway, I am going to rephrase it and hopefully make it clear. –  Christophe Jan 25 '12 at 15:50
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@Christophe: the answer you chose for that question is a list of libraries... –  user7116 Jan 25 '12 at 17:32

I'd like to add my own answer to my post, because today I understood how flagging works - I hadn't had an opportunity to use it before.

I came across a SharePoint question, and thought it would get better answers on SharePoint Stackexchange. So I clicked on flag > doesn't belong here, and then... I was stuck. None of the options was what I wanted. The question was not off topic, it's just that there was a better forum for it. But the menu didn't give me this option.

What I did was go back to the previous menu and leave a message to the moderator.

Based on this recent experience, my suggestion is to add another option under "doesn't belong here" that says "there's a better forum for this question", or provides a text box for free comments.

share|improve this answer
    
What you mention was already suggested. :) –  Shadow Wizard Feb 1 '12 at 9:00
    
@ShaDowWizArd ok :-) I upvoted the other thread. –  Christophe Feb 1 '12 at 16:24

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