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I just noticed this is closed since several minutes as off topic. But IMO, it's a prime example of "Not Constructive".

I'll admit the line between closing reasons are blurred to me - I never really think "Not Constructive" and NARQ have much of a difference. But in this case, I think it's rather clear.

What I saw is this - within a minute this question gets asked, 3 people vote on Not Constructive. I opened the close dialog without knowing the votes, thinking about voting as "Not Constructive", but confused upon seeing the votes. I decide to wait and see, and the next two votes both go to OT.

Am I off in the judgement, or do close voters have a tendency of following the current votes blindly? If so, it is enough of a concern to somehow discourage it?

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Great question. I have seen similar scenarios in the past and always wondered if we should not hide the close reasons chosen by other. Then again, seeing them can be useful and I'm not sure if it's all that harmful. –  Bart Jun 25 '13 at 13:59
    
Note that when there are disparate votes to close, the majority rules. So it is entirely possible that the question you have linked to had 3 off-topic votes and 2 not constructive vote, for instance. –  Al E. Jun 25 '13 at 14:02
    
@AlEverett That's true, but at least the 4th vote is also off topic (I followed the dialog). But since you pointed it out, I am not sure about the fifth. –  Ziyao Wei Jun 25 '13 at 14:03
    
The other consideration is that sometimes you see close votes on a question and you wonder "why did someone vote to close this?", only to find the reason makes sense when you see why. Duplicate comes to mind, but I think any of the reasons could fit this category. –  psubsee2003 Jun 25 '13 at 14:03
    
if i were to prioritize it i would say its off topic first. then very poor, then not constructive. –  user221081 Jun 25 '13 at 14:04
    
@mehow How is it offtopic? Also, "very poor" isn't a close reason. If you meant "not a real question" then yes, that would also apply here. –  Servy Jun 25 '13 at 14:36
    
offtopic as it doesnt ask specifically to solve a code problem. there are many other exchange sites maybe not as popular as SO where you ask questions like that one. very poor as it doesnt show any research by the op and asking a question consisting of 2 sentences is just poor to me. <- IMO –  user221081 Jun 25 '13 at 14:40
    
@mehow A question doesn't need to involve code to be on topic for SO. –  Servy Jun 25 '13 at 15:07
    
well in my opinion it just doesnt belong here. –  user221081 Jun 25 '13 at 15:12

2 Answers 2

Am I off in the judgement, or do close voters have a tendency of following the current votes blindly? If so, it is enough of a concern to somehow discourage it?

I see this a lot in the flag queue. One person flags 'Not an answer', and 4 more follow it, even if it is an answer.

If you measure something, you get more of it. We measure close votes in the review queue; we measure flag weight (though not shown publicly). We even measure moderator participation. I can guarantee that measuring something affects behavior surrounding it.

There isn't really much we can do, except hide which close reason people had previously voted for; but that doesn't seem like enough of a benefit to outweigh the confusion.

Normally if multiple people vote for different reasons, the reason with the most votes win. If a question has two reasons that tie, one of those gets chosen (I don't know the exact algorithm).

So possibly, 2 people could have chosen "Not Constructive", 2 could have chosen "off topic" and one could have chosen "too localized".

I've re-opened and closed it for the 'correct' reason.

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Thanks for reclosing it (made me sure that my hunch was right:)), but I am rather sure that at least 4 of the votes went for off-topic. –  Ziyao Wei Jun 25 '13 at 14:04
    
@ZiyaoWei People get it wrong. Just because the wrong reason was used doesn't mean the post shouldn't be closed. –  George Stocker Jun 25 '13 at 14:04
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@GeorgeStocker That's not the point of this post though (it seems). The question is whether or not an initial (possibly wrong) close reason makes the following voters choose the same one. Even if closure is the correct thing to do. –  Bart Jun 25 '13 at 14:13
    
@Bart How do you propose we correct herd mentality? Or resolve the "idiot in a hurry" problem? We're fighting against human behavior, here, and we need to have a good reason to change a fundamental portion of the system for what appears to me to be a very minor point. –  Michael Todd Jun 25 '13 at 14:18
    
@GeorgeStocker I'm reasonably sure that the tiebreaker is based on which reason had the most recent vote; i.e. if the last vote was in one of the tied categories, then that category is the winner. –  Servy Jun 25 '13 at 14:22
    
@MichaelTodd I have my thoughts on that. You could hide the other reasons chosen so far. But as I said in my first comment on the question, I'm not sure it's a real problem that needs solving. I'm merely commenting that while George's answer and comment are fine, they miss the point of the discussion. –  Bart Jun 25 '13 at 14:22
    
@MichaelTodd It doesn't happen all that much; when it does, that's what reopening (and re-closing if appropriate) is for. –  Servy Jun 25 '13 at 14:22
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@Bart I've edited my post to address your larger point. –  George Stocker Jun 25 '13 at 14:56

Yes, it's a prime example of "not constructive", but it also perfectly fits the text under "off-topic" in the close vote dialog:

Questions on Stack Overflow are expected to relate to programming or software development within the scope defined in the FAQ.

The FAQ does a good job of defining what is and what isn't within scope, and that question is clearly outside of that. The problem is that there's a huge overlap between the close reasons, and I think one could reasonably argue that any question that's not constructive, or not a real question, or spam, or offensive, all fall under the general umbrella of "off-topic" if the definition of "off-topic" is "outside the scope of the FAQ."

Am I off in the judgement, or do close voters have a tendency of following the current votes blindly? If so, it is enough of a concern to somehow discourage it?

No, you're not off in your judgement. I'm more than happy to admit that, on occasion, I run across a question that just feels wrong to me and I know needs to be closed, but I can't quite decide on which specific reason is the best fit; in those instances I'll be swayed towards reasons that have attracted votes already (provided they make at least some sense).

All that said, doing anything about it right now seems a bit pointless with the changes to close vote reasons being discussed and planned for roll out to the entire network at some point in the future. This seems to be one of the issues they're intended to address.

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By that definition of "off topic" there's no reason to have any other close reason. That's not appropriate use of the close reasons. –  Servy Jun 25 '13 at 15:20
    
@Servy I feel perhaps you've missed the point of my answer. I'm not saying that's an appropriate use, I'm saying that the current close reasons are badly worded, overlap far too much, and there's far too much ambiguity, and that worrying because a question that needed to be closed wasn't closed for the "best" reason is pointless when there are changes already planned that will (hopefully) address it. –  Anthony Grist Jun 25 '13 at 15:25

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