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Should a user have to add a comment when they vote to close

So, I had a question, and it was closed by five people as "off-topic". Now, I still think it's on-topic, but some people seem to disagree. However, the question was closed without providing any kind of feedback on how to improve the question, and that I have a problem with.

Wouldn't it be better if it was required to put a comment when voting a question to be closed? Especially off-topic is in my opinion very vague, and pointing how to make the question on-topic, or a place where the question is on-topic can motivate users (especially newbies as myself) to ask better questions.

I know there are several other questions similar to this one, but they all end up as a discussion on why the poster's specific question was closed, and end up being subsequently closed. This time I would like to ask, in general, whether or not it would be best to require a comment, even a small one when voting to close a question. The newbies will appreciate it.

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marked as duplicate by Josh Caswell, animuson, Manishearth, ChrisF, McCannot Dec 18 '12 at 19:49

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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How exactly is your question related to programming? –  animuson Dec 18 '12 at 7:52
    
It's not a specific programming question. –  Mysticial Dec 18 '12 at 7:52
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The 'closed' message does link to the FAQ, did you check that at all? It is a big hint as to what is considered on-topic. –  Martijn Pieters Dec 18 '12 at 7:59
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@Mysticial I humbly disagree. Packet loss is a serious problem in cellular networks, and anybody who makes applications for smartphones will face packet loss one time or another. Take this for instance to TCP: "How is packet loss handled in TCP?" can be answered with "A lost packet will represent itself as a hole in the ACK sequence numbers returned by the peer. The sender will eventually time out and resend from the missing packet. For more information visit the wikipedia article on TCP". How can this not be related to programming? –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 8:01
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@PandaPajama That's not specific. It's a broad problem. "Specific" would be if you have a short piece of code and it doesn't work. You're basically asking for a big solution to a big problem. –  Mysticial Dec 18 '12 at 8:02
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i would rather vote it as NARQ since It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened –  NullPoiиteя Dec 18 '12 at 8:07
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@NullPointer from my question: "I've managed to trace some lost packets as TCP retransmissions on the server side of a simple TCP application, but I would like to know if this accounts for all lost packets, or if there is some kind of packet retransmission mechanism available at the data link layer in the last hop." Isn't this a specific question that can be answered? Possible answers are "Yes, the fifth bit in the DPCCH header requests a retransmission, look at this paper for more information", or "No, retransmissions are not defined in any data link layer, please refer to RFC-xxxx for this" –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 8:15
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@Charles Thank you very much for your comment. Now, wouldn't it be nice if people who vote on closing a question left a comment such as yours so the question can be improved? It's very easy for a person with very high reputation to simply close and don't care, because "heck, I have more reputation, therefore what I think is right", and I think voting to close a question should also carry the responsibility to help the user improve his own question. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 8:29
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@PandaPajama, come hang out in php for a while, it will cure you of the notion that attempting to provide constructive feedback for the average closeable question is worth it. –  Charles Dec 18 '12 at 8:30
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@Charles "No because it's not practical" is.. well, practical. But practical does not mean optimal, as it encourages blanket closing such as what I believe happened here. It is definitely arguable that the question is poorly worded and could be improved, and isn't leaving comments the best way to solve this? Wouldn't it be the same as php? Don't you think that if some of those users who get their questions closed would become better askers would be a positive thing? Closing without any kind of feedback is rude and unlikely to help people make better questions. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 8:37
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@Charles so how about requiring a comment when closing questions made by people with some minimum amount of reputation? Maybe 10, 100, 1000 or 10000, but there are definitely better ways to help people make better questions than just shut them up with no explanations. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 8:39
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@Charles I noticed you edited my question. I stand by my original question and not the edited version. My question remains as "should comments be required on close votes?" and no "why was my question closed?". Once again, there are way too many questions that begin as mine and then get edited and downvote-raped without actually targeting the real problem. I may have less than 100 reputation, but I know what meta means. How can I get my question get taken seriously in this site? –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 8:42
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Suppose that the interface was changed so that the casters of close votes were required to leave a comment (beyond picking a particular close reason, which they are already required to do). Suppose further that the five comments you got were 1) fkldsjfksdfjlfk sdj 2) 84032843290840238904 3) cvnbvcnmb,mcvb,c 4) qpoqpoqpoqpoqopqpo 5) kdjfgoierfkdjhflksg. Has the situation improved? –  AakashM Dec 18 '12 at 8:47
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@PandaPajama perhaps their 'real reason to vote to close the question' is completely captured by what it says in the close vote faq ? –  AakashM Dec 18 '12 at 8:54
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@PandaPajama the "problem" of requring comments to downvote and/or close questions has been discussed here many times. Whether you feel its right or wrong, the Stack Exchange family of sites specifically have a disconnect between voting and commenting - not because it hasn't been considered but because it has been and the answer was "no link". As to your actual question - the overly broad nature of it would still be a problem but as you're talking about a networking issue then I'd suggest that Server Fault would be a better venue. –  RobM Dec 18 '12 at 9:54

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

So, I had a question, and it was closed by five people as "off-topic". Now, I still think it's on-topic, but some people seem to disagree.

Let's play my favorite favorite game: Ask the FAQ:

  • a specific programming problem -> Nope
  • a software algorithm -> Not really
  • software tools commonly used by programmers -> No
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession -> Uhh...well, no

That's 0 out of 4. I did not award a half point for the first point because you actually don't ask about anything programming related at all, but only about generic information on the topic. I also did not award a point for the last point because it is hardly answerable...and there is no real question there.

However, the question was closed without providing any kind of feedback on how to improve the question, and that I have a problem with.

Wouldn't it be better if it was required to put a comment when voting a question to be closed? Especially off-topic is in my opinion very vague, and pointing how to make the question on-topic, or a place where the question is on-topic can motivate users (especially newbies as myself) to ask better questions.

A picture of the question with freehand circles around the close-reason including the Read more link.

I know there are several other questions similar to this one, but they all end up as a discussion on why the poster's specific question was closed, and end up being subsequently closed.

Yes.

This time I would like to ask, in general, whether or not it would be best to require a comment, even a small one when voting to close a question. The newbies will appreciate it.

Then you failed at representing your question accordingly. We had a lot of discussions about forced comments here, and the consensus is as following:

Forced comments are leading to one of the following behaviors:

  • Appropriate and useful comments are left.
  • Bulk/Generic comments (spawned from templates, f.e. via a userscript) are left.
  • Nonsense comments are given, which are subsequently deleted.
  • People stop moderating (closing, downvoting etc.)

From all these possibilities, the last one is the most likely one. For everyone who hasn't been around SE for a longer period of time: SE does not work without users which are moderating questions.

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1  
Okay, so the answer is "a bad closed question is better than a good fixed question". That's all I wanted to know. Thank you very much for the clarification. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 9:46
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Stop laying words into my mouth, I did not say that. I said that you've been given all the necessary information and that your question is off-topic...to a degree it can not be made into "a good fixed question". –  Time Traveling Bobby Dec 18 '12 at 9:48
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Well, I disagree with "there are questions that can't be fixed". I believe the entire close-voting system should be focused on producing better questions, not discouraging people from participating. As long as there is good faith in the question, I believe anything can be fixed. In my particular question, I have a real question and good faith, but as a low-rep user, I don't know whether to fix the question or make a new fixed one. In fact I believe neither is acceptable and anything I do will get me banned. So maybe it's better to stay quiet and not ask anymore. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 9:56
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Your first wrong assumption is that closing a question is the end of the line, it is not. Closed questions can be edited and reopened. Your second wrong assumption is that every question can be fixed, that's not true or possible. All that is explained in the FAQ and the documentation. –  Time Traveling Bobby Dec 18 '12 at 10:04
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Please show me the lots of discussions where this has been discussed. I couldn't find them, which means that I am bad at searching this meta site, and I want to improve. Also, consider adding "why was my question closed without comments?" to the FAQ, since it seems to be a fairly frequently asked question. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 10:07
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@PandaPajama the whole point of closing a question is to put it on hold so that it can be fixed. Closure is not the same as deletion. You mention having good faith in the question -- fair point but how about accepting good faith on the part of the high-rep users who closed the question as off topic, which if you think about it, is effectively leaving you a comment as to what the problem is with your question. –  RobM Dec 18 '12 at 10:08
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Oh come on, the documentation mentions that the way to get a question reopened is to fix it and then flag it. If the close-voters can't even be bothered to add a one line comment when voting to close something, they will clearly not bother to check a question to reopen it (it's also less fun to build than to destroy). Please point me to the place in the documentation where it says that there are questions that can't be fixed, I couldn't find it myself. (I must be having one heck of a bad day at surfing this site, I can't find anything) –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 10:11
    
@RobM There is a huge difference between NARQ and Off-topic. NARQ implies that the question is fixable, while off-topic means (or at the very least implies) that the question does not belong to the site and therefore is not fixable. Flagging it as NARQ, or adding comments to help the user improve should be preferable to closing the question without any feedback, which should be reserved for questions which are clearly spammy or in bad faith. What is a user like me, who has a real question, only to get it treated in the same way as all those questions in php? –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 10:23
    
@PandaPajama frankly I'd agree with the closers, I think it is off-topic on this site. I think that if it was on topic anywhere in this family of sites, it would be serverfault.com (my home site) but even there we'd want to see a specific problem, rather than a general discussion of theoretical behaviour. So arguably you've got a fix because your question was closed, and you mentioned it on meta - you've got a fairly high-rep user from serverfault telling you that it might be on topic there with a few changes, and i'd have missed it if it wasn't on meta. –  RobM Dec 18 '12 at 10:30
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@RobM Thank you very much, I will take my question there. Now, if I had enough reputation to close-vote questions, I would have also included a comment recommending to take the question to Server Fault. I believe, based on seeing so many meta-questions similar to mine, that there is no culture of providing constructive criticism when pertinent (like in this case), and more of a culture of just closing questions for the heck of it. I believe something should be done to fix this, as I think it is very hostile to newcomers. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 10:38
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Also, seriously, please show me where this discussion has taken place before. Several users mention that this has been widely discussed before. If I had found it, there would have been no point in making this question in the first place. I want to see the points for and against, backed with the amount of reopens vs flags vs closes, the amount of each type of closing types and other hard data that all serious discussions have. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 10:43
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@Panda - You don't have to bother with the five people closing your question. When you edit a post it returns to the top of the front page, and any other five people (or a single moderator) can vote to open it again. The site is not run by individuals but by the community votes. –  Bo Persson Dec 18 '12 at 13:05
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I didn't know that. I remember having read in a related question on this meta that the way to get a question reopened was to appeal the closing and flag it, then wait for a higher power to trust a new user more than 5 other users of the high-rep fraternity. Editing the question, or creating a new fixed one would be disobedience, so doing so would just get you closer to permaban, so the only sensible thing to do would be to would be to leave and never come back. Or so I thought. Thank you very much for your comment. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 13:43
    
@pandapajama: editing a closed question to improve it is absolutely not "disobedience": it is highly encouraged. And improved closed questions are very frequently reopened. –  David Robinson Dec 18 '12 at 15:00
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@David Our 16.4k rep fellow up here doesn't seem to believe so. Quoting him: "to a degree it can not be made into "a good fixed question"". And that's where I think lies the difference between a no comment off-topic close and a more thoughtful commented NRAQ. I'm not a mod, but I think that the job of the mods should be more focused into encouraging better questions than discouraging bad ones. Moderating should be about quality, not quantity, so I still believe it should be required, or at least encouraged to give comments when close-voting. –  Panda Pajama Dec 18 '12 at 16:01

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