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5 of the 10 highest voted questions on SO are now closed. Does this statistic concern the SO team that the most popular questions in the minds of the users are also the ones that are unpopular enough in the minds of the admins to get closed?

What does this say about the SO community? Is the SO community really being steered in the right direction by the site and being properly "stroked" for performing the correct behaviors and are they being properly "punished" for performing undesirable behaviors?

Just putting this out there for discussion because it struck me in looking at the top voted questions that if they have such a high close rate, that maybe even putting a "Votes" tab there for people to click on is not as worthwhile as was once originally thought. Maybe it is making it easy for users to perform undesirable behavior, like upvoting questions that don't even belong on the site?

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    Three of the five that are closed are actually moved - you can tell because they have 0 answers. Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 20:21
  • Only two of the top 10 are closed but not moved. One of them is locked (stackoverflow.com/questions/184618/…). That leaves only one to try to delete. Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 2:33

4 Answers 4

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I think there are a two main reasons for this:

  • "Fun" questions are popular but not really on-topic. That's just human nature, I think. If everyone agreed that fun questions should be allowed some of the time but disallowed some of the time, you'd get exactly this situation, for example.
  • Popular questions tend to get more people looking at them, but it still only requires a relatively small number of votes to close (and then reopen). Therefore a popular question is more likely to be closed and reopened multiple times.
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    GAH! Curse you Jon Skeet and your god-like typing reflexes again! Better said in fewer words. 8^D
    – Dillie-O
    Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 20:20
  • And probably typed in in under 20 seconds. Mr. Golden Fingers :P Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 20:21
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    I'm honored to have the famous Jon Skeet answer my question! Thanks! Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 20:25
  • To be fair, it's not unlikely!
    – Alex Angas
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 11:35
  • Be a Fundamentalist: always make sure the Fun comes before da Mental.
    – user291305
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 23:56
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I see this as perfectly normal behaviour. It is very much to be expected.

This is a very technical oriented site, but it also has an internet community built into it. The internet community is very plagued by the "dancing bunny" problem.

For example: If you post two youtube videos. One video that discussed the physics and chemistry behind Mentos and Diet-Coke, and one which involved a Symphony of Spraying Bottles of Coke-fizz, which one do you think would get more views? (<1000 vs. almost 10 million).

Basically, there are items which are going to attract a huge audience because they seem fun and engaging, but they do not benefit the education of the community. These are simply fluff pieces that generate interest because of their easy accessibility compared to the density of the rest of the site.

To the argument that these are the things that generate community involvement, I don't believe that is true. This site was designed around the fact that if you create an environment of incredibly smart people with a common interest, they will help each other and pool their resources. StackOverflow is not meant to be a social outlet, it is meant to be a technical outlet.

But, as the laws of entropy tell us, there will always be more people trying to detract from order, than there are people trying to keep order.

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  • Well... good answer!
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 21:06
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A few reasons:

  • Some of those closed questions are closed on SO because they have been migrated here to MetaSO, like the FAQ.

  • Many of the "fun" questions also have 100's of answers (like so), and at this point there probably isn't much of a reason to add any more (especially since they get redundant), hence they are closed.

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  • I was just going to write that. Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 20:26
  • Why must a question that has hundreds of answers be closed? The Internet is forever, right? Granted, a late answer will be hard-pressed to be read by very many people, but still. Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 20:28
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    The reason why a question with hundreds of answers should be closed is that it is CLEARLY not a question with a single answer. We are trying to discourage questions that are wide-open like that. Similar to "How can I read a file in any language?"
    – devinb
    Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 20:34
  • @Kurt: Late answers for those questions are often repeats of earlier answers, since there are too many answers for people to actually bother reading through first to see if their answer is already there. I recall seeing a few repeated 5 or more times. Commented Jul 30, 2009 at 20:35
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I don't have the uber search going right now, but I'll wager a vote that most of those top questions are the "favorite programmer cartoon" type questions that originated early on in the site. In the grand scheme of this this is good because it is reflecting the goal of the community to create a "serious" programmer Q&A site.

Now that meta stackoverflow is here, A lot of those type of questions are starting to merge themselves over here, or even to SuperUser, where the restrictions are a little more lax and "casual"

In short...business as usual, and business is good.

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