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Recently I asked this question on There was some discussion there about whether it was a stats question or a programming question, and ultimately it was called the latter and migrated to SO.

Once on SO, it was almost immediately closed as "not constructive", even though several people had already given good and helpful answers, and it got 4 upvotes. To my mind, the close reason makes no sense, since I was asking a pretty targeted question, which had already yielded concrete recommendations, and was actually helpful toward answering my question. On stats, there had been no question that it sounded like a programming question.

Because of the close, I wasn't able to edit my post nor add a comment, and so I flagged the question and asked the moderators the same thing I'm asking here, but got no response. So instead of being able to sort this out democratically, this forced me to use the invisible flagging system, which appears to have been ignored.

So (1), I'd like to ask about getting this question re-opened and (2) I'd like to ask about a system for disputing question closings in public instead of private, because this seems much more in the democratic SO spirit.

share|improve this question
Note that usually one can edit and comment on closed questions. It was also locked due to it being migrated first. (This is in place to prevent ping pong between sites) – Shadow Wizard Aug 14 '12 at 15:07
Because of the close, I wasn't able to edit my post nor add a comment, and so I flagged the question and asked the moderators the same thing I'm asking here, but got no response. Are you sure you are being ignored? Did you check to see if your flag was declined? – Yannis Aug 14 '12 at 15:11
Can you look at your Stack Overflow profile to see if you have 'helpful flags' listed there? I can see it, so you should be able to as well, but I'm not 100% sure. – Bill the Lizard Aug 14 '12 at 15:18
@ShaWizDowArd: Why not lock it from migration but allow comments? Or at the very least provide some sort of help text explaining what was going on. I was just baffled why I couldn't add anything. – Joshua Frank Aug 14 '12 at 19:52
@BilltheLizard: I checked and I have 0 (zero) helpful flags, but this is incorrect. It was not at all obvious, but the 0 was a hyperlink, and when I clicked it, I finally saw the moderator's response. Big UI fail here: the moderator's comment should be visible in the post; it never occurred to me to check my profile. And the link was all but invisible. If you hadn't steered me directly to it, I wouldn't have ever noticed. And finally, the 0 is apparently just plain wrong, since there was a reply. Is this a bug? Also, I can't comment on the moderator's reply, but maybe this is by design. – Joshua Frank Aug 14 '12 at 19:55
The 0 is your number of helpful flags, the (1) is your declined flags. I agree that having this information only accessible through your profile is a design flaw. I was actually thinking exactly that as I wrote up the last paragraph in my answer. They should probably insert an additional 'flags' link on posts you've already flagged so it's easier to discover. – Bill the Lizard Aug 14 '12 at 20:08
So "helpful" is whether your flag was helpful, or whether the moderator's response was helpful? I think it should say "accepted" and "declined", if that's what is meant, and the word should be linked, not the number. – Joshua Frank Aug 14 '12 at 20:21
"helpful" is the number of your flags that moderators marked as being helpful. Basically any of your flags that we did not decline. For most people the vast majority of flags will be helpful, so separating them with two links makes it (relatively) easier to see what the reasons were for any declined flags you had. – Bill the Lizard Aug 14 '12 at 20:27
Locked is locked, there is currently only one such status for a post that means no action can be performed whatsoever - maybe it's worth asking for a feature request to add new status though I doubt how popular it would be. – Shadow Wizard Aug 14 '12 at 20:30
@ShaWizDowArd: can it at least have a link to an explanation of why it's locked and what locked means? I thought it was something to do with being closed, and was totally confused. – Joshua Frank Aug 14 '12 at 20:38
Here is the official faq - as for why, as I told before to prevent the post from being migrated again by non moderator users, as there's no "migration lock" available. – Shadow Wizard Aug 14 '12 at 20:57
It's all pretty new, since March this year - source (closing the question on the destination site caused the migration to be rejected) – Shadow Wizard Aug 14 '12 at 20:59
up vote 8 down vote accepted

A moderator did respond to your flag.

See the close reason about "extended discussion". The answers will be guesswork at best and there is no actual programming problem being solved.

You can see your flag responses by going to your profile and looking for "helpful flags." The numbers to the right of that are your flags that have been marked helpful and the ones that have been declined. Both of those numbers are links that will take you to a list of your flags and their responses (if there are any).

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Isn't the "helpful flags" link invisible until you have at least one "helpful flag"? I.e. if the first flag is declined the link remains invisible on the profile. (Guessing here that it might be the first flag on SO from the user) – Flexo Aug 14 '12 at 15:15
@Flexo Good question! I know it's invisible if you've never flagged anything, but I assumed it would show up for either a helpful or declined flag. – Bill the Lizard Aug 14 '12 at 15:17
@Bill maybe showing "0 helpful flag"? Where's the sock puppet account when we need it, lol! :) – Shadow Wizard Aug 14 '12 at 15:22
Please see my comment above:… – Joshua Frank Aug 14 '12 at 19:57
Also, for me the link just says "flag". There's no clue at all that there was any reply to my flag. – Joshua Frank Aug 14 '12 at 19:58
Accepting this answer, but I guess I don't think the fact that something requires guesswork makes it a bad question. I was looking for technique recommendations and got quite a few, and that seems like a good question to me, and relevant to others, and the upvoters must have agreed. However, I will defer to the guidelines. – Joshua Frank Aug 14 '12 at 20:01

Stack Overflow is for specific programming questions. All of the details and minutiae for replicating a complex effect like the one you showed isn't very specific anymore. It was closed as "Not constructive" because it's just too open-ended and broad. Even moreso when you didn't provide a particular language or set of technologies you wanted an answer in.

Your question would generally not be acceptable anywhere on the Stack Exchange network.

I'd like to ask about a system for disputing question closings in public instead of private, because this seems much more in the democratic SO spirit.

There is one; you're using it right now.

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Agree. Especially the "Does anyone have any idea how this might have been done" is quite a big red flag to me for a "Not Constructive" question. – Bart Aug 14 '12 at 15:03
If you ask how some object was built, someone suggests a few tools and technologies, and you obtain, learn, and use them to go and build one for yourself, how is that not constructive? – Joshua Frank Aug 14 '12 at 20:03
@JoshuaFrank: It's too big for what we do here. We don't deal in "suggestions"; we deal in more-or-less objective inquiries. We want questions for which there are objectively correct answers, not simply the most popular answer or the one that you personally pick. – Nicol Bolas Aug 15 '12 at 0:53

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