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I flagged this question as "Too localized. The problem was a syntax error of misplacing a quote.", but my flag was rejected.

To be able to flag correctly in the future, I would like to understand why it's not too localized.

Should this question then be editted to describe the problem in a more generic way so that people who suffer from the same problem can find it more easily?


The question is now closed by votes. I guess that indicates that I flagged it correctly. As Pekka 웃 mentioned, it is still interesting to know why the flag was declined. I.e. do I need to word the reason differently, or was it just a mistake (I can imagine mods have a lot of flags to review).

I've changed the title of the question accordingly.

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I don't see why this question shouldn't be closed. –  Pëkka Jan 30 '13 at 8:47
It already has 3 close votes, so give it a few minutes. –  Toon Krijthe Jan 30 '13 at 8:49
@ToonKrijthe, ah ok, I can't see the close votes. –  Matthijs Wessels Jan 30 '13 at 8:51
They were triggered by this question though. It would still be interesting to know whether mods generally reject these kinds of flags, and why. –  Pëkka Jan 30 '13 at 8:52
Maybe it wasn't too obvious. Mods handle lots of flags so the syntax error might not have been to evident when looking at the question itself. –  slhck Jan 30 '13 at 9:18
@MatthijsWessels which flag option did you select? To Localized? or a custom message? –  psubsee2003 Jan 30 '13 at 9:38
@psubsee2003 There was no "Too Localized" option. Only "very low quality" or "other". I selected "other" with the extra comment: "Too localized. The problem was a syntax error of misplacing a quote." –  Matthijs Wessels Jan 30 '13 at 10:31
@slhck It's not "too localized" because there is a small syntax error, it's too localized because the OP pretty much just dumped a bunch of code and said "What's wrong with it?". That means that whatever the problem is, it only ever applies to his code block. If the question described the underlying problem in more detail, described the steps taken by the OP to attempt to resolve the issue, etc. then it could be an acceptable question, regardless of the actual problem. The question is actually a decent candidate for editing and reopening because of that. –  Servy Jan 30 '13 at 16:06
@Servy I did consider editting it, but I don't see how this question can be editted to not be too localized without changing it to something completely different. What generic problem did the user run into that other people can also run into other than a forgotten '? I actually did edit another question by the same user today to do just that. –  Matthijs Wessels Jan 30 '13 at 16:21
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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

There was no "Too Localized" option. Only "very low quality" or "other". I selected "other" with the extra comment: "Too localized. The problem was a syntax error of misplacing a quote."

In such cases, at least on high-traffic sites like Stack Overflow and Super User, please use canned flags. Canned flags send the post to a queue where it can be reviewed and dealt with by high-reputation users who are not ♦moderators, thus easing the burden on ♦moderators.

The canned flag for “too localized” is found under “it doesn't belong here, or it is a duplicate” in the flag dialog, which brings up the same screen as the close dialog does for users with the close privilege (3000 rep).

It is common practice on SO to close questions as too localized when the sole reason for the question is a syntax error and there is nothing interesting to answer other than “you made a typo at line 42”, as is the case here. The closure is justified because it is highly unlikely that anyone else will make exactly the same typo and be able to find the existing question. On the other hand, if an answer goes into explanations of how to locate and fix such an error, the thread should be kept around because it is useful to future visitors confronted with a similar but not identical problem. If there is such an answer, edit the question to match if necessary. In other words, for this kind of questions, close if it's “where's that fish”, but keep if it's “teach me how to find fish”.

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+1 for the fish! –  ryan Jan 30 '13 at 19:49
I understand now, as I mentioned in the comment to Won't's answer: I didn't realize that the second option expands like that. –  Matthijs Wessels Jan 30 '13 at 20:22
@MatthijsWessels Sounds like a usability problem. We have lots of users who choose very low quality for anything they don't like, even if they should actually choose it doesn't belong here » off topic. –  slhck Jan 30 '13 at 21:34
@slhck I was actually looking for the "Too Localized" option. When I didn't see it, I thought that maybe that was just for when voting to close. Here's another meta about it: meta.stackoverflow.com/q/142218/139162 –  Matthijs Wessels Jan 31 '13 at 6:26
+1 Absolutely correct. :) –  Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 31 '13 at 7:26
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It's a new user, who asked a decent question. Well, an okay question. Well, okay, its not that great, but at least he formatted the question decently.

The question had an answer, and that answer was accepted.

I didn't see a problem big enough that required moderator attention and, if taken, would put this new user in jeopardy of a question ban.

As for why it wasn't just marked helpful (without action) rather than rejected? The fickle hammer of justice swung your way. We have to keep flaggers on their toes, or they'll forget they can simply vote to close.

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Well, some just don't have yet the right to vote to close... –  Adinia Jan 30 '13 at 13:52
The OP can't vote to close yet. About the ban thing, does a binding close vote from a mod count towards a question ban? Or only if the mod deletes a post? –  bfavaretto Jan 30 '13 at 14:34
@bfavaretto: We don't know what contributes, but closed questions early in your membership is definitely bad. –  Won't Jan 30 '13 at 14:37
As I understood from the stackexchange podcast with John Skeet and the podcast after that, is that these kind of syntax error questions can be answered to help the user. However, there is no value in keeping them on the site for a long time afterwards (unless they can be editted to represent a more generic problem). What should I do next time I see a question like this? –  Matthijs Wessels Jan 30 '13 at 16:24
@MatthijsWessels: Unfortunately, there isn't a definitive answer, as the area is very gray and very large. Remember, just because it got rejected doesn't mean you did something bad. I'd recommend, if you see a situation exactly like this (particularly when it has an accepted answer), don't waste your time on it. –  Won't Jan 30 '13 at 16:45
@Won't I think I understand what you mean. However, the problem is that this question already wasted my time in the "signal to noise" way: I ended up on that particular question by looking for an answer to a problem I was having with showing popups through Javascript. Isn't it bad for the site if people have to wade through these kinds of questions before arriving at a question that matches their problem or before they can decide to ask the question myself? –  Matthijs Wessels Jan 30 '13 at 16:55
@MatthijsWessels: Again, does this really rise to the point where moderators need to be involved? Is it not something that can be handled by the community? Do you want mods running around, closing every question that deals with a syntax error? I'd rather err on the side of being more open than more reactionary, in cases like these. –  Won't Jan 30 '13 at 18:38
@Won't Ok so now I understand. I shouldn't have flagged it as other because then a mod specifically needs to look at it. I didn't see the option to flag as too localized, but I guess I didn't look closely enough. I didn't realize that the second option expands like that. –  Matthijs Wessels Jan 30 '13 at 20:21
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