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Over the last few days I have been observing a feature of StackOverflow, namely “CLOSE”, through which a question can be closed to answers.

In my observation I have found that there are many questions which are closed within 10-20 minutes from the time of asking. Some of these questions have upvotes, and have answers as well, and the answers also have upvotes.

According to the rules, if a question gets five closing votes, that question will be closed immediately. Here's what I'm worried about:

If five users vote for closing, that question will be closed immediately. At the same time, if other users want to give an answer to that question, they can’t because the question is closed.

In that scenario, it does not make sense to close that question immediately.

Users who vote for closing the question give reasons like: this question cannot be answered, it is vague, etc., etc.

My suggestion is that a question should not be closed immediately. There should be a one hour time limit. If a question has five closing votes, then this question should be closed after one hour, not before that. If some users think that this question can be answered, in my scenario one hour would be sufficient for them to answer.

If you community members still think that closing a question immediately is right, then my suggestion is the question should be deleted, not closed. If a question cannot be answered, or it is vague, it does not make sense to keep the question only for viewing. It is loss of time and space.

Sometimes closing a question immediately hurts the feelings of the user who has asked the question.

So now I would like to know your opinion on the follow two suggestions:

  1. Question should be close after 1hour.
  2. Question should be deleted instead of closing.
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Mmm, deletion is much worse than closing IMO - and is bound to lead to a deluge of "where is my question" support requests. –  Pëkka May 25 '11 at 7:20
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2 Answers

up vote 33 down vote accepted

If 5 users votes for closing, that question will be closed immediately, at the same time if other users want to give answer to that question, they can’t because question is closed.

In that scenario it does not make a sense to close that question immediately.

Question should be close after 1hour.

What you don't appear to understand is that preventing other users from answering is exactly why we close questions in the first place.

If the question is bad, off-topic, subjective, or meets the criteria for any of the other close reasons, we don't want people answering those questions. They didn't belong on our site in the first place. In fact, having those questions open and answerable is actively harmful to the community. The sooner those questions get closed, the better. That prevents a bunch of bad answers from building up, in addition to bad questions. It's the classic "garbage in, garbage out" rule, and we seek to avoid that around here.

Moreover, if users start to see lots of questions remaining open that don't meet our guidelines, that creates a "broken windows" problem. It starts to look like our guidelines are meaningless, that we don't enforce them, and that you can simply ignore them when asking a question. Especially on a site as large and as active as Stack Overflow is, we simply can't stand to tolerate such a thing.

If the question is simply a duplicate, well then no harm, no foul committed in asking the question. But there's no use in keeping obvious duplicates around. Consolidating the answers all in one place makes them easier to find, both for the asker and for future guests who arrive at our site via a search engine.

Some time closing a question immediately hurts the feeling of user who has asked question.

Too bad. Why should we care about the feelings of the user who asked the question? Clearly that user didn't care enough about the site and the rest of the community members to consult the FAQ first. Hopefully next time, they'll learn to ask questions that are on-topic and contribute something positive to the community. Until then, I'll happily close their questions.

Also, closing a question is not a personal attack against the person who asked the question. It may be some form of an "attack" against the question itself, but if you can't learn to separate the two, perhaps you shouldn't be participating in an online community in the first place?

Question should be deleted instead of closing.

Closing questions is the first step to deletion. They can't be deleted until they've been closed (at least, not without requiring moderator intervention, and this shouldn't be necessary for most questions).

The other advantage of closing a question first, before deleting it, is that it gives the user who asked the question a chance to:

  1. See what happened to their question, without it just disappearing entirely.
  2. Possibly even fix their question in response to the feedback left for them in the comments and the official explanation provided for why their question was closed.

If a question is significantly improved after it is closed, it is eligible for re-opening. It only takes another 5 users (or a single moderator) who thinks the question should be re-opened to make it so. That's the same number as it takes to close a question. The system checks itself, and provides users with plenty of opportunities to help themselves.

Beyond that, I think the process works pretty darn well as is. If you happen across a question that you honestly think was closed in error, then please share a link to it here on Meta. I guarantee that myself and a number of other users will fairly re-evaluate that question, and re-open it if we agree that it was closed in error. I can honestly say that it's exceptionally rare that I ever come across such a question.

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reopening is a long process instead a user will leave that question and ask it again. so reopening is not a better option. –  user162601 May 25 '11 at 7:31
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there are a huge list of question which are closed but not deleted why? –  user162601 May 25 '11 at 7:32
    
@user: If they ask it again, it'll get closed as a duplicate of the original question. Eventually they'll learn to edit the original question. And re-opening is no longer a process than closing the question is/was. Especially if they improve the question in an obvious way, and then flag for moderator attention. A mod can immediately re-open the question, but they have pretty high standards for when they choose to do so. That's a good thing, because they're respecting the consensus of the community who voted to close it in the first place. The problems must be fixed to get it re-opened. –  Cody Gray May 25 '11 at 7:36
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one more thing, then why such questions have upvotes and answers as well? –  user162601 May 25 '11 at 7:36
    
@user: There isn't a "huge list". That's simply false. Questions that are closed are not immediately deleted. As I mentioned, we like to give users a chance to clean up the questions and get them re-opened. Beyond that, it's possible that some of the older questions contain useful answers that we don't want to lose in a deletion, but those questions no longer meet our requirements, so we don't want them to remain open. –  Cody Gray May 25 '11 at 7:37
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@user: Anyone is free to upvote questions. Someone like you who seems to resent closing questions could upvote them at the same time that other users are voting to close them. And sometimes, they get upvotes because they're good questions, but they simply don't belong on our site. And they have answers because people are trying to gain some quick rep. Just because a question is answered doesn't mean that it's on-topic or a good question. And just because an answer is left doesn't mean that it's actually a good answer. In fact, they're usually not. See "garbage in, garbage out" above. –  Cody Gray May 25 '11 at 7:38
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@Cody: isn't crappy question with just one or two crappy answers more harmful to community, than even a crappy question, but with good answers? –  vartec May 25 '11 at 9:17
    
@vartec: Yes, probably. What does that have to do with anything? That's not the choice we're making here. –  Cody Gray May 25 '11 at 9:20
    
@Cody: it's just in some cases closing is more like moderator saying "this really should be deleted, but I don't have the balls to do so". Which is kinda useless, because closed questions are still searchable and still pollute the site. –  vartec May 25 '11 at 9:22
    
"And re-opening is no longer a process than closing the question is/was" - is that really the case in 2014? New questions are closed pronto because there's a closing queue, but I've fixed and nominated several questions for reopening and eventually after a week of not activity, I had to resort to meta to have them reopened ([example](meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/222790/request-to-reopen-so-question‌​-on-javascript-error-detection)). I have other questions pending with <5 reopen votes for weeks. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 16 at 7:46
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Why wait? Some questions are duplicates, pure and simple. Why keep them around, just wasting space on the front page and wasting users' time? The answers are already on the site, since the question's been asked before, so there's no point in answering it again. In my opinion, the sooner a question gets closed, the better.

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then why not delete such a useless question? –  user162601 May 25 '11 at 7:32
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@user162601: because it's good to have multiple versions of the same question; when someone searches on Google using different wording, even if they find the duplicate, the first thing they'll see will be the link to the original, unclosed question. –  alex May 25 '11 at 7:35
    
@user: Also see: Why are closed questions kept around? –  Cody Gray May 25 '11 at 7:55
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