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I'm new to the site. I asked a question and got 5 valuable answers and 6 "up" votes. Then someone commented saying that my question was argumentative. A second commenter disagreed. The next day, the first commenter plus four other users, who neither answered nor commented, voted to close the question.

So, gangs of friends with enough reputation can go around closing questions at will? That's stupid. Votes to close are already effected by the up/down vote system of viewers. A separate vote to close system is unnecessary. A broken one dissuades new users like me from participating.

I vote to remove voting to close.


Update: @Pekka and @Diago have convinced me that the "gang of friends" scenario is unlikely and that, instead, individual high-rep users voted to close my question. But the core problem remains. 5 users voted to close while approx 75 viewers either voted up my question or provided valuable answers and comments. That just doesn't seem right.

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Link to question: stackoverflow.com/questions/3451018/… –  Diago Aug 17 '10 at 21:01
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Tom, it's an interesting topic for discussion, but... No one here has a crystal ball. I've tried to edit your question into something a bit more answerable while still preserving your tone (and hopefully without invalidating the existing answers) - if the changes are acceptable, I'll vote to re-open. –  Shog9 Aug 17 '10 at 21:04
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It's impossible for people (regardless how high their reputation) to see who the other voters are until the question is closed. The notion of "gangs of friends" who follow each other's vote blindly is a myth. –  Pëkka Aug 17 '10 at 21:13
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Also, I find it a bit arrogant to deduct from one closing decision you don't agree with that "the system is broken." Not that I agree with every aspect of how the trilogy is being run, but voting to close is undeniably one of the things that has made S[OFU] great. –  Pëkka Aug 17 '10 at 21:14
    
@Pekka, to be fair, I could theoretically know four other >3k users and have some kind of question-closing pact with them. We could hypothetically discuss which questions to close somewhere offsite. –  Pops Aug 17 '10 at 21:18
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@Pop: hypothetically, you'd also have to all agree and/or be dedicated enough to the group to not break your pact... –  Shog9 Aug 17 '10 at 21:25
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@Shog9, I can't believe you're questioning my loyalty! I mean, supposed loyalty. To this imaginary group. –  Pops Aug 17 '10 at 21:29
    
It seems like we get one of these discussions once a week here on Meta that closing isn't fair and should be removed. –  Earlz Aug 17 '10 at 22:46
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At last, such a gang is possible within the bounds of the SO network: chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/rooms/179/close-vote-gang –  Michael Mrozek Aug 18 '10 at 0:29
    
@Shog9, that rewrite works for me. –  Tom Quigley Aug 18 '10 at 1:50
    
The "gang" problem does indeed happen - it's been a huge problem on electronics.stackexchange lately. By closing so many of the questions they aren't personally interested in answering, a tiny handful of high-rep users drives away brand new members, and prevents moderate-reputation users from gaining more reputation from answers, thus (perhaps unintentionally, but still quite effectively) keeping the pool of users with sufficient reputation to cast open/close votes too small for the site to function smoothly. The voting system really only works when you have a large electorate. –  Chris Stratton Jan 6 '12 at 15:11
    
+1 I've had users simultaneously vote to close AND answer the question AND get upvoted on their answers. Then, of course, I cannot delete the closed question because it's got upvotes. Anyway, if anyone wants to invite me to a question-closing group, I'd be delighted, but only if there are tee-shirts. –  Yar Feb 11 '12 at 17:56

6 Answers 6

I disagree

The vote-to-close system works exactly as designed, and has nothing to do with up- or down- votes. New users tend to have a fair number of sympathy (or, "welcome to the site") votes initially.

The sites are community moderated, and the "gang of friends" have the right to decide if a question meets the site's criteria. At the same time, 5 "friends" can also choose to re-open a question if they disagree with the closure, and the system is pretty democratic overall.

After looking at the question, I agree it is subjective and does not meet the criteria for the site. SO is a Q&A site where questions should have a 100% provable answer. It is not a forum for discussions, and no one can give a 100% conclusive answer to your question. Therefore, it is subjective and argumentative.

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Don't forget that once those 5 users reopen the question, the first 5 users cannot vote again to close it! –  Grace Note Aug 17 '10 at 21:02
    
Questions on SO have to be 100% provable? I was not aware of that. I had been under the assumption (until now anyway) that there was some wiggle room. Are you saying that the border line questions should be marked as community wiki? –  Brian Gideon Aug 17 '10 at 21:29
    
I'm going to argue to save this one as ozk's answer puts it firmly to bed. @Brian: Tea leave reading questions are generally closed, thus most "Does Foo spell the end of Bar?" questions should go, this one is not in that category because the answer is "Obviously not.". –  dmckee Aug 17 '10 at 21:53
    
@dmckee: No, I meant like how rigidly do we stick to this 100% provable rule. Are there exceptions to the rule? The reason I ask is because I tend to let a lot of questions slide buy. Maybe I should participate more in the close voting? –  Brian Gideon Aug 17 '10 at 22:32
    
@Brian: You should use your own judgment as informed by reading the ceaseless discussions of the topic on meta. Given that I wrote * Should we encourage more closing?, * you can guess how I feel. 100% provable might be too strong, but I try to discourage speculative questions: they should have an answer and it should be supportable. –  dmckee Aug 18 '10 at 0:11
    
@Diago, shortly before the question was closed, over 80 people had viewed it. 5 voted to close it. That doesn't seem democratic. Am I missing something about how voting works? –  Tom Quigley Aug 18 '10 at 1:57
    
@dmckee, I find Tea Leaves questions even more valuable than 100% provable ones, and I think SO is a great system for asking them. They are a powerful way to get a sense of consensus in a community of experts. In my case, the ambiguity of the answers was, in itself, the important fact I was looking for. I encourage people not to close tea leaves questions automatically. –  Tom Quigley Aug 18 '10 at 2:07
    
@Grace Note: I thought everybody could only ever vote once per question. –  txwikinger Aug 18 '10 at 5:49
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@Tom Yes you are missing something. You need 3000 reputation to be able to vote to close. Subjective questions tend to draw a crowd quickly, but if you read the FAQ you will see that discussion type questions are intensely discouraged. Also, we suggest most new users spend a few days reading the FAQ, and also understanding the system by lurking in the background before just diving in. –  Diago Aug 18 '10 at 6:46
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@Tom As can be seen on your question already the system works. A slight change by a high rep user change your question from should I to what is the facts. Instantly the community was happy and the question re-opened. SO is about question and answer quality, not about people, which is why all these processes exist. –  Diago Aug 18 '10 at 6:48
    
@txwikinger One close vote and one re-open vote ever, yes, but until it gets reopened the impact of not being able to cast another close vote is completely nonexistent and irrelevant. –  Grace Note Aug 18 '10 at 12:01
    
@txwikinger: An addendum to @Grace's comments. I believe that when a close vote times out without being consummated it is as if if were never cast, and you can participate in another go at the question. I've never had cause to experiment with reopen votes in that context, but I assume they work the same. –  dmckee Aug 19 '10 at 23:21
    
@Grace Note, @dmckee: thanks , that clarifies it. –  txwikinger Aug 21 '10 at 2:28

With any community-driven site, it will lead to...

My gang of friends...

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kicks Michael with powerful hind legs –  Shog9 Aug 18 '10 at 1:20
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@Shog9 - Sarcasm is just plain awesome... –  Michael Kniskern Aug 18 '10 at 1:22

While the question is a "yes/no" question, it is certainly "subjective" and could be "argumentative". These aren't the type of technical questions that StackOverflow is designed to handle.

I hope you realize that closing doesn't kill a question, it just keeps more answers from being posted.

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closed as subjective and argumentative by ...

It's impossible to objectively answer this question; questions of this type are too open ended and usually lead to confrontation and argument.

Having read the question I think that I agree with the closers.

It could be reworded to make it less argumentative. In fact I see that Shog9 has changed the title from:

Will HTML5 make writing native mobile apps unnecessary?

to

What can be achieved in a native mobile application that can't be done in a HTML5 web app?

which is less confrontational.

If you reword the question then it might get reopened.

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So, gangs of friends with enough reputation can go around closing questions at will?

The same applies to gang who want to keep questions open.

The system works well because as soon as a question closes, it can be re-opened by another gang of friends. And, the gang with the most people on its side wins. We want the community to decide what content belongs on the site.

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I have a gang of friends who is always looking to cause trouble. The riff-raff of SO.... –  Michael Kniskern Aug 18 '10 at 1:01
    
The problem is that on smaller sites you get a positive feedback loop. Hyperactive close voting keeps membership small and limits opportunity for reputation growth, thus preventing dilution of the influence of the close-vote lobby by the growth of a more diverse community of high-rep users as would be found on a healthy site. –  Chris Stratton Jan 6 '12 at 15:17

I wouldn't say remove, but I'm in the group that says people should be forced to comment on something as severe closing. However I'm the minority I guess, in a system of people not willing to change.

Anyway, are their any 10ks that even look at closed questions?

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Yes, I look at closed questions. (mostly to see if they should be deleted, but...) –  Shog9 Aug 17 '10 at 21:07
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The selected close reason is a comment. And more than a few regular closes will come back to questions to defend (or occasionally disown) their choice. And yes, I look a closed questions. Especially at those with more than one pending re-open vote. –  dmckee Aug 17 '10 at 21:57

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