I came across a question with an tag that had been closed by four names (some with really high rep) all of whom I did not recognize.

Given the fact that I have a pretty solid SO rep by focusing just on I think I would expect to have seen these names (not named here unless that is needed) in other related questions. Now admittedly it was a "what are the most useful?" sort of question. But the answers were useful and generally constructive. However, it appears that there is a roving group of users that like to close questions.

I realize there are not formal boundaries for "groups" but with a popular tag like (and probably other languages) I think there ought to be some recognition that there is a subculture that may have developed and ought to be respected.

Edit: I suppose it's a good thing my self image isn't dependent on my first posting to "Meta", since my rep is descending rapidly in this domain. If you want to see the question I liked then here it is:


Yes I do realize R users do not set the rules for SO (although my Title may not reflect that knowledge.) My question is whether persons who are not R users should be voting to close a question which has useful information and multiple 10+upvotes for diverse answers from persons who are following the [r] tag? Shouldn't the level of positive interest in a question by the user community protect a question from closure?

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    Mind sharing the exact question you're talking about? – Bart Jan 4 '12 at 19:59
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    Worth noting: the r community doesn't set their own rules. An off-topic question is an off-topic question regardless of its tags. – Robert Harvey Jan 4 '12 at 19:59
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    To add - there are no "groups" in SO. There are tags that people may or may not be active in. There is no exclusivity. – Oded Jan 4 '12 at 20:06
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    As @bart said, please consider sharing a link to a question. It may be informative for you, us, or (perhaps) people who wrongly voted to close, if that's what happened. – Andrew Barber Jan 4 '12 at 20:07
  • A related question, asked a few days ago: Require activity within a question's topic in order to cast close votes . Also, don't worry so much about downvotes on Meta, they just mean that people disagree with your suggestion. – Brad Larson Jan 4 '12 at 21:34
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    Hey DWin! Don't take the downvoting here too personally; people downvote on meta merely to express disagreement/agreement. – joran Jan 4 '12 at 21:36
  • Hey joran: Good to see another [r] follower and thanks for the reassuring comment. – DWin Jan 4 '12 at 21:44
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    @Dwin I think most people don't vote to close unless they know the subject or its obvious that it needs to be closed. Have you seen non-r active people that vote to close in a non-obvious case? There are only 239 closed r questions. so its easy to check. I ask this because most of the answers seem to reflect the fact that you picked an obvious question. – Some Helpful Commenter Jan 4 '12 at 22:49
  • I have not seen what I would call many extra votes to close "non-obvious" question. I have seen an occasional 'super-user' closure that I did not completely agree with. My efforts at duplicating your efforts at selecting closed-[r] Q's has been unsuccessful so far. – DWin Jan 4 '12 at 23:01
  • So what happens when you Meta::rep goes below zero? I tried to delete this as it seemed to be annoying a lot of people but that seems to be another difference of this section. No deletions? – DWin Jan 5 '12 at 5:13
  • @DWin - your rep will never go under 1. The no deletion rule is for ALL sites if there are answers posted. You would be deleting the work of others too, which is why you can't delete it. – JNK Jan 5 '12 at 13:08
  • Yeah, don't sweat meta rep. People are far, far more generous (and harsh) with the upvotes and downvotes here, where they basically mean "I agree"/"I disagree." Rep mining is as easy as posting things that people would agree with. – Charles Jan 5 '12 at 17:07
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    as one of the people who offered an answer to that [r] question, I feel quite annoyed that the effort I put into it was simply deleted, even though it was upvoted by people who have interest in the [r] tag. I understand why such questions should be closed, but deletion after answers have been given seems wrong. I only noticed this thread today, when trying to link to that specific answer I had given. And I can't even see it because I'm not at 10k yet. – baptiste Jun 6 '13 at 20:41

I feel your pain. I love perusing lists of vim tips and tricks:

What is in your .vimrc?
Vim and Ctags tips and tricks
tips and tricks for using vim with ruby/ruby on rails
Tips for using Vim as a Java IDE?
What are the dark corners of Vim your mom never told you about?

It's amazing what you can learn in those. But each and every one gets closed as "not a good fit for SO". And I just cast my close votes on two of those now, because they are a poor fit for SO.

I'd be sad to see them deleted because the accumulation of knowledge in those lists is astonishing. But thankfully, most of the time people don't bother casting delete votes once these questions are closed. (My theory is we've all got our own soft spot for something and would hate to see our own favorite list deleted.)

So, if you see my vote to close a question you liked, I'm sorry, but I genuinely think the site is better for sticking closely to its purpose. If you see me vote to delete a question, it's because the question is poor or offensive and doesn't deserve free hosting.

  • I agree with your feelings on deletion. I'll vote to close something that no longer appears to fit on the site, but I'm loath to delete content where there's some lasting value in the answers. Looking at the delete votes in the 10-20k tools, others are not so forgiving. – Brad Larson Jan 5 '12 at 18:55
  • I'm wondering if the recent "arbitration" blow-up and the recent "unwelcoming" blow-up will mean that there is less slavish adherence to the "stated goal" and a shift in focus by users to what is really useful to the target audience: us programming enthusiasts? – DWin May 12 '18 at 1:43
  • @DWin, you may be right. Now that I'm a far more casual user of stack exchange family of sites, I find the closed questions a bit more onerous and wish the voters were a little less quick to judge. It's interesting to see how my own opinion on closing questions has changed over the last six years. (I'm still upset to see content deleted, however.) – sarnold May 23 '18 at 18:58

Now admittedly it was a "what are the most useful?" sort of question

On SO, that type of question is always off-topic / not constructive / NARQ depending on the context, regardless of the tags that they're posted under.

You generally don't need to understand the technology being used to understand what is and is not a good question for SO.

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    True - when I notice a question on these lines, I will click through and vote to close it, whether it is on one of "my" topics or not. – Oded Jan 4 '12 at 20:03
  • Yup; I can recall only one time when I had any doubt about a flag/close vote because I was not familiar with the tech in question. It turns out my doubt was unwarranted in that case, though... +1 – Andrew Barber Jan 4 '12 at 20:05
  • Just because those precise words were used does not mean that the intent wasn't for responses that would address efficiency in code execution or efficiency in programmer effort. Both of those plausible possibilities are legitimate questions for a programming forum. Many languages have coding tools for measuring the first, but the second one might require fome opinion. What's wrong with opinion from reputable users? – DWin May 12 '18 at 1:46
  • SO is not a forum. It's not a place for discussions of a highly opinionated nature. Also, dude, this question is like six years old. – Charles May 15 '18 at 19:10

If they were all high rep, it's very likely that someone else read the question, flagged it, and it showed up in the moderator tools and those other users did a close vote to clean it up.

This is how it should work - those moderator tools exist for the sole purpose of attracting high-rep users to questions in tags they wouldn't normally frequent to clean up issues.

  • Yup; with only so many moderators/10K users, there are bound to be tags that such users don't see often. – Andrew Barber Jan 4 '12 at 20:13
  • It's worth noting that the asker is a member of the 20k club on SO, so he would also have access to the 10k tools that may well explain the mob-like behavior. – Charles Jan 4 '12 at 20:56

As another [r] tag regular, I thought I'd add my two cents.

Sadly, DWin, I agree with the folks here that that question is Not Constructive, and should be closed.

I would suggest that popularity and useful answers may be mitigating factors when considering voting to delete a question, but not so much with close votes.

I don't know how often sub-communities try to assert themselves like this on SO, but for people not familiar with R here is a partial explanation (but not a justification!):

The only other game in town, really, for R is the collection of mailing lists. Many people really dislike them for the usual reasons (poor quality questions, answering the same basic questions over and over, etc.). The main one, R-Help, is also often considered fairly hostile. Asking and answering R questions on SO has been such a relief to many people that it has attracted a small community of very active folks who really only participate in R questions.

I think it's pretty natural that this will lead to some self-isolation on SO, and a feeling of a "tag community" will develop. I mean, any R question asked right now is almost certain to be answered by one of only 10-15 folks (usually within just a few minutes) that I could probably list off the top of my head.

I offer this description not to imply that R questions should be given special consideration. We're just tenants here, so we have to abide by the rules. But I thought it may be helpful for others to be aware of the sorts of micro-communities that exist on SO. (I'm sure there are others.)

  • It's 6 years later. You have moved over to dplyr, which is arguably a different language. I've retired. The number of R contributors is now substantially larger. I suspect there are even more 'micro-communities' now. I don't see the dominance of the C-community as necessarily a healthy state of affairs. – DWin May 12 '18 at 1:56

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