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More specifically: Is there a functional purpose to closing an answered question that had a specific, right answer and is highly unlikely to elicit any further answers?

Closing a question prevents new answers, but if there is already a right answer and it's obvious that no one else is going to be answering it then from a functional standpoint this isn't really necessary for that purpose.

Of course someone may be closing a question because they want to make a statement to the author and any passer by's about the quality of the question and perhaps guide them not to ask similarly bad questions in the future. That's all good and fine, but does this do anything to the question aside from preventing the already unlikely chance of a new answer?

I'm thinking that it doesn't since closed questions still appear in searches, but I was just curious.

Edit: To be more clear, what I meant by 'functional' is whether the software handles closed questions any differently aside from disallowing more answers. The software doesn't know or care anything about how people perceive questions.

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@JoshCaswell See edit. –  Brandon Moore May 28 '13 at 1:04
    
"it's obvious that no one else is going to be answering..." -- this assumption is where your reasoning breaks. This just ain't so, see for example: Lots of not-always-useful but well-intentioned answers or 30 answers ought to be enough for anybody. What's "obvious" to you isn't necessarily obvious to others –  gnat May 28 '13 at 17:27
    
@gnat Well I think I covered everything in you comment already. I said the question would have a "specific, right answer". Also I did say 'highly unlikely' and not 'never ever'. :) Anyway, I was just thinking out loud. –  Brandon Moore May 29 '13 at 23:59

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

To answer your new question,

  • closed questions can be deleted more easily, subject to other business rules. See here.

  • closed questions can be voted to be re-opened (and appear in the re-open queue).

  • (as noted) new answers cannot be added to closed questions.

  • contribute to a question ban

  • If a question is closed after migration, it is converted to a locked question.

Those are the only differences I am aware of.

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If we're sticking strictly to direct effects on the system (unlike the indirect effects discussed in other answers) then we can also add that closed questions contribute to the metric for being question banned. They also have special implications with respect to migrated questions. –  Servy May 28 '13 at 16:53
    
Migrated questions are locked when closed, and it influences migration stats. –  Servy May 28 '13 at 17:14
    
You can't migrate a question that is already closed, as far as I know. If a mod could, hopefully they'd know enough to know that they shouldn't. I'm referring to a question that is migrated and then closed; such questions are locked. –  Servy May 28 '13 at 17:17
    
Thanks @djechlin. Just for the record though, it wasn't a new question. I did originally ask if closing would "do anything to the question". :) –  Brandon Moore May 30 '13 at 0:02

In a nutshell, broken windows theory. Keep the site "cleaned up," don't leave bad examples of questions that inform users for what they can and can't ask here. Don't let people point to questions of similar level of quality that got answers. But also, closed questions are how we educate on our quality standards. Letting someone off the hook is passing up a chance to teach them about how to ask a better question here next time.

In the case of duplicates, it's to link to, presumably, better answers, or at least keep the information centralized. They're kind of an exception as far as close reasons go.

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+1 for the Broken Windows Theory. –  ChristopherW May 27 '13 at 23:42
    
@ChristopherW thx. That's what it is, and that's what we call it. Don't know if it works for cities and crime, but the shoe fits on our little corner of the internet and it's definitely among our ideals. –  AAA May 28 '13 at 0:07
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@BradLarson thanks, first link added. –  AAA May 28 '13 at 0:23
    
@djechlin This is a good answer, but to a different question. See edit. –  Brandon Moore May 28 '13 at 5:55

5 reasons:

  • It's off topic.
  • It's a duplicate.
  • It's not constructive.
  • It's not a real question.
  • It's too localized.

Just because a question is answerable doesn't mean it shouldn't be closed. Stack Exchange has these "policies" saying that questions should be closed for particular reasons to make sure that the network is full of quality, helpful, expert questions. Closing questions makes sure that low quality question doesn't get out of control.

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Thanks Dynamic, take a look at my edit though. –  Brandon Moore May 28 '13 at 4:50

Of course someone may be closing a question because they want to make a statement to the author and any passer by's about the quality of the question and perhaps guide them not to ask similarly bad questions in the future. That's all good and fine, but does this do anything to the question aside from preventing the already unlikely chance of a new answer?

You hit the nail on the head. The purpose of closing a question is to state that the post, in its current format, isn't really fit for the site. If the answer is really useful, the question can possibly be edited and reopened by the community.

Closed questions are also eligible for deletion. If the question isn't useful in that no future visitors will likely find it helpful, and if it isn't possible to edit and improve it, the community may delete it either via direct moderator action as a result of flags or by voting to delete the post.

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So a closed question is easier to delete than an open one... thanks for the most helpful answer thus far jmort. –  Brandon Moore May 28 '13 at 4:54

Closing is still necessary for answered questions, because it serves as a signpost.

If someone (gasp) actually searches for "how to make a shopping cart in PHP" before they post, it would be nice for each and every question they see to be closed as NARQ - it might keep them from posting one more low quality, overly broad, question.

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Yes Undo, I also mentioned that there were reasons why it's a legitimate thing to do. See my edit. –  Brandon Moore May 28 '13 at 4:51

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