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I come from the Physics site, but I can imagine this is happening in the other sites too. Very often a question is closed, and I highly respect the work of the moderators because they maintain the site clean from a lot of rubbish that otherwise would ruin it.

But sometimes a question receives a lot of upvotes, and nobody can deny that this is because, although out of scope, it is highly interesting for the typical user of the site.

So, for example, somebody asked "What are the papers every physicist should read?". I upvoted, because the answers were incredibly interesting for me as physicist. In fact, I have already read two of the recommended articles and, well, I wish I had read them before...

This is my proposal: when a closed question receives more than X upvotes, it is automatically moved to a special site. It enters there with a single tag indicating the origin site (for instance, PHYSICS) and remains there, open, with the possibility of receiving new answers.

That threshold number for the question to be migrated had to be proportional to the number of users of the site or to any similar parameter. Well, the details had to be worked out, but that is the idea.

Only automatically migrated questions would be allowed in that site.

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Wow! I have never seen a vote counter go down so quickly. Can anybody explain what is so bad in this proposal, apart from being (oh my goodness) a change? – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 20:37 ?? – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Apr 23 '13 at 20:37
Ah, ok. There I should post my question, you mean. But the site I want to have add an additional feature, that automatic migration from all other sites. – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 20:38
If you haven't seen downvotes so quick then you clearly haven't been around on meta much. This isn't bad at all. 1 DV a minute for just 4 minutes...I've seen questions go to -10 in less than 30 seconds. As for why this one is being downvoted, downvotes are different on meta. They're most likely indicating that they don't think the proposal should be implemented. – Servy Apr 23 '13 at 20:38
-10 in 30 seconds, really? Wow! Well, I have -4 now, let's see... – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 20:39
@Mephisto Such questions are generally troll questions; people deliberately being insulting, vulgar, and disruptive. That, or spam. We hate spam. – Servy Apr 23 '13 at 20:39
@Servy, yes, I hate spam and insults as much as you do, but they don't receive so many upvotes, don't they? – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 20:42
@Mephisto What? They get down votes, not up votes. They also tend to get deleted right away as well, so linking to examples isn't really productive. – Servy Apr 23 '13 at 20:43
@Servy, well, what I am clearly proposing is migrating questions with a high number of UPvotes. I think it was clear in my question. I will change the characters to bold... – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 20:45
@Mephisto I was referring to your comments in this meta question: Wow! I have never seen a vote counter go down so quickly. Can anybody explain what is so bad in this proposal, apart from being (oh my goodness) a change? None of my comments to your question are related to the actual proposed feature. My answer is what responds to the actual feature request. – Servy Apr 23 '13 at 20:47
@Servy, ah, ok, I understand. – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 20:48
@Mephisto try Reddit. – smcg Apr 23 '13 at 20:50

Once upon a time there was a site designed for all of the questions that weren't allowed on any other site but that people still found useful and wanted to have answered. It was the first generation of Programmers (the site is nothing like that now). It was a disaster. Despite the fact that a lot of people would like to see this, and think it's a good idea, it just doesn't work in practice.

There is a reason for closing the questions that are closed on SE sites, and that it happens is why the site has such high quality content.

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But this is different. I propose that only closed questions that receive a high number of UPvotes go there. That filters the crap. – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 20:49
@Mephisto But it doesn't. That's my point. Questions are closed for a reason. They have a very high probability of generating crap, as was demonstrated in the beta I'm referring to. If the questions weren't likely to generate lots of crap then those types of questions wouldn't be closed in the first place. – Servy Apr 23 '13 at 20:51
Closed crap is hardly ever upvoted in the physics site. I don't know about the other sites. Very often, closed .AND. upvoted makes a hugh difference there. That is why my proposal do is different. There was no such filter mechanism in that Programmers site. – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 20:58
The reasons for questions to be closed are not all "because this is crap/spam/insults" (etc). Very often, simply is out of the scope (too wide a question, too specific, bibliographic, etc) but it happens to be interesting for the typical user (a physicist, real or amateur) and so it becomes upvotes. Never a crap is highly upvoted. That DOES make a difference with that Programmers site that once existed... – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 21:02
@Mephisto I don't spend time on physics, but I've seen a lot of crap questions that have been upvoted a lot. In fact, until some time was spent a little while ago to purge them, most of the highest voted questions on SO were all crap (mostly closed) questions. For a lot of the questions that seem like they might be okay, you'll often find that if you re-open them and leave them around for a while they tend to turn into crap real quick, even if the question itself appears to be of high quality. It's in the nature of most questions that are closed. – Servy Apr 23 '13 at 21:03
@Mephisto Content that is spam/insulting/etc. just gets deleted, right away, with a vengeance. It's only really closed as a means to deleting it, and doesn't stick around in a closed state. Questions that are overly broad, highly subjective, polling questions, etc. are what I'm referring to when I'm referring to "crap" in my comments here. Even when the questions seem okay, then very rarely result in high quality answers, and then are a magnet for terrible answers that tend to drown out the rare gem. – Servy Apr 23 '13 at 21:04
@Mephisto "Closed crap is hardly ever upvoted in the physics site." You have to understand that we've tried several ways of keeping make-a-list questions around on several sites during the history of Stack Exchange. I know they are popular. I know people like them and vote for them. They are still crap on a Q&A site. Not because they are crap in and of themselves, but because they don't fit the model worth a bent penny. – dmckee Apr 24 '13 at 3:36
@Mephisto "high number of UPvotes... filters the crap" is wrong assumption, check The Trouble With Popularity for an explanation why this ain't so – gnat May 1 '13 at 5:40
@gnat, that trouble with popularity is the same problem as with democracy (the unwashed masses electing an actor or simply whoever is more handsome or promises something impossible) and it is inherent to any system where people vote. Some high-voted crap doesn't invalidate the general validity of many upvoted questions. This site at least seems to rely on votes for validating useful answers. That, as in any other voting or simply human system, has its drawbacks. This remains me of Hitler's reasons against democracy given in the 1932 campaign speeches. – Mephisto May 1 '13 at 13:34

SE sites form around topics. What you propose would be one giant "misc" site. Further, you propose taking those questions away from their original sites where, per the votes, they are relevant even if off-topic.

A suitably industrious person could set up a web site (not an SE site) to collect links to these questions (or even the questions and answers, if the license is followed), but I see no reason to create an SE site for this, and certainly not if it will damage the source sites.

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But the fact that they are closed .AND. relevant is strange combination... – Mephisto Apr 23 '13 at 21:41
Not necessarily. Site scope can change over time, which is why we also have historical locks. Especially for beta sites, "it seemed like a good idea at the time" happens and produces useful results, but we shouldn't keep doing that, hence the close and sometimes lock. Still, you want the (e.g.) physics answers to be on the physics site. – Monica Cellio Apr 23 '13 at 21:53

There are already a lot of options for what can be done with this kind of content.

  1. If it's narrow enough that it applies to a single tag on your site ("What books should I read to learn X?") then it could be added to a tag wiki. For example, on Stack Overflow a lot of the programming language tags have lists of books and other resources for learning the language.

  2. If it's broad enough that it applies to the entire topic of your site, it could be turned into a community blog post. (You can still do this with narrower topics too.)

  3. A historical lock can be applied to a post to preserve the content, but at the same time let visitors know that the post is technically out of scope for the site.

  4. If all else fails, you can always post the content on your own blog. Just make sure you follow the rules of the attribution policy. (Jeff Atwood gives a good example of how this is done in his New Programming Jargon blog post.)

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The structure of Stack Exchange is such that it is designed for a Q&A format - a problem and a solution. To make this useful and easy for people to work with, it was designed in a way that made questions that are not a problem that can have a solution awkward to ask and answer (and even more awkward to coment).

Whether or not this is a good thing is up to the people who use it. In general, it prevents a large number of problems that are associated with virtual communities.

Questions of the form "What are the [resources] every [profession] should read?" have a large number of possible answers, and no right answer. These questions, while interesting, do not solve a problem that a person is having, and a person would need to go through every answer (I've seen instances of questions like these with over 100 answers) to glean all of the information.

As such, these questions get closed as not constructive.

This doesn't mean there isn't a place for them on Stack Exchange. Asking the question in chat is encouraged in some SE sites. In very high traffic chat sites, one could even create a dedicated chat room for "Neat papers I've read". Blog posts are also a place where one can list large amounts of interesting material. I'm active in the former, not the later, so if I'm wrong there, please correct me.

An interesting (paper? talk? I'll settle with) post (and if gnat wasn't on vacation, he would accuse me of understating its importantce) to read is A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy by Clay Shirky. If you poke around in some of the early podcasts you can find Jeff mentioning things that indicates that he read this and valued it highly in its design of SE.

Reading A Group... should help you gain insight into why certain things, while interesting, just don't fit well in Stack Exchange (and why it was designed to not make them fit).

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