Moderator George Stocker is, in my eyes, not being constructive by closing my question twice (after it having been significantly edited by me, and reopened by the community) as being non constructive, while I am putting effort in writing question and getting the answers I expect. He offers little explaination other than that "it's that it's not a constructive question. There's no canonical answer as the answers are already showing".

Since there is no way to message the moderator directly, and since he does not provide any constructive feedback on how the question could be improved; is there any way I can get request a second, motivated, opinion on this? I really want an argumented answer to my question and I put my time in writing a good question, and find it very unfair that one moderator could, in theory, have a bad day and force questions closed twice, without sufficient motivation or constructive feedback.

Of course, I understand that moderators should stand by the decisions of their fellow moderators. However, I feel I'm being treated unfairly, and this is not how I view this otherwise nice and constructive community.

You people here on meta give a lot more constructive feedback than the closing moderator. I'll take it for granted and work on the question some more.

I seriously think that when a moderator closes (or forces to close) a question multiple times, a thorough explanation of what his or her problem with the question is must be posted. It is only fair to the asker and the people that reopened the question. Otherwise, a moderator must not be allowed close the question for a second time.

When one invests time and effort in writing a question, and a community-elected moderator comes along and with the click of a finger closes it, it feels unfair. When after editing and community reopening, the same moderator closes it again, it feels personal. (It probably isn't.) If you don't have the time to explain the closing then don't close it again.

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    Sure there's a way to message the moderator directly.
    – Arjan
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:13
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    I know, you are right. As I am eager to write good questions, I eagerly await constructive feedback by eagerly closing moderators in the comments. Which is something I didn't get, so I was referring to private messaging. Aug 1 '12 at 22:18
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    If we got messaged every time someone disagreed with one of our actions, we'd never get any other work done. Nobody agrees with their own questions getting closed; if they did, they wouldn't have asked them in the first place.
    – user102937
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:24
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    If I read that right (and maybe I don’t) you are asking for a List Of Things, almost a shopping question. Really an edge case.
    – fuxia
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:25
  • I know why there is no PM. Oh well, I seem to be getting more constructive feedback here (@toscho, @RobertHarvey) than from the closing moderator. Up-votes for you all. I'll put some more time in that aspect of the question. Inevitably, this question will be downvoted as it doesn't show research effort, is unclear and not useful. Or... are downvoters here subjective...? :P Aug 1 '12 at 22:29
  • Downvotes here are often used to express disagreement. Not to say that your question is bad.
    – Bart
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:31
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    @Virtlink I am a mod on another site … and I can tell you: there is not always time enough to explain every mod action in a comment. Especially on SO. Just don’t take it personally. :)
    – fuxia
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:33
  • per my recollection, at Programmers double-closures are performed by different moderators. Can't tell if it's intentional or accidental but it looks really better than in this case or in another recent similar case. Leaves much less room for uncertainty about closures
    – gnat
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:35
  • The post has been reopened. Let's see how it goes.
    – user102937
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:36
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    With regards to your last couple of paragraphs, keep in mind that (from what I know) the workload of moderators is so significant that detailed motivations on the reason for closure are not (always) possible. Seeing the specific moderator's contributions here on MSO I am sure he would be more then glad to provide an explanation should he have the time to do so.
    – Bart
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:38
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    @Bart I hope so. I understand your argument for first-time closures, but don't agree with you for second-time closures. If after editing and reopening the moderator decides to close again, it is only fair to provide an explanation. Not doing that may cause grief and misunderstanding. Aug 1 '12 at 22:46
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    Just before Robert reopened it, it also had two reopen votes. Apparently even the community cannot agree. But that's the purpose of the community votes, I don't mind that. Non-moderators can vote only once. Aug 1 '12 at 22:48
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    Virtlink, one word of advice, you'll get better response if you refrain from passive-aggressive remarks about the moderator. Just because he closed your question doesn't mean he's "having a bad day". If you look around Meta SO, you'll find that George Stocker is a very level-headed individual who has put a lot of time and effort in helping to make Stack Overflow a great resource. Remember, they deal with something like a thousand flags per day on posts, which is a huge workload for people who are volunteering their time.
    – jmort253
    Aug 2 '12 at 3:11
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    @jmort253 I have nothing against George Stocker and am glad he responded here and helped me. I also never said that he's having a bad day, and you know it. I just don't like that questions with time and effort invested in them are surrendered to the whims of one person, in general (in that they can keep closing them if they so desire). And I was pissed, which you must surely understand. For a pissed person, I think my initial post was quite restrained. Aug 2 '12 at 10:24
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    "one moderator could, in theory", so yes I expect that of you. I explained numerous times in this Q&A that I don't like the ability of moderator double closing. For all who wish to read passive-agressiveness and be negative, be my guest. This is my last comment on that issue, I'll be positive and on my way, and thank Mr. Stocker for migrating my question. Good day. Aug 2 '12 at 11:49

You may be wondering, what in the wide world of sports is going on here? Why did I close your question twice?

Both are really good questions, and I'll state for the record that it's generally preferred if moderators do their thing and then ask other moderators to step in and check it out. I did not do that here, and it could have turned out differently if I had. However (you knew there was a 'but' coming, didn't you?).

First Closure

I closed your question the first time for the following reason:

It's not a good question. Don't get me wrong, it's well written, has plenty of caveats, and actually poses a question, but it's just not answerable. Not only that, is that it's just not googlable. It's not a problem someone has concretely on a day to day basis that makes them want to search the Internet. It's a problem that depends on style and circumstance, neither of which are present in your question.

That's what makes your question not constructive, it lacks context. It lacks circumstance.

I can tell you what to do if I can see some code, but without the code, the question is little more than gazing into the bowels of the BCL. Three different people can come up with three different answers, and all of them are correct. Sometimes.

That's not a great question for Stack Overflow. It's a great question for something else.

I sometimes wish those questions were appropriate for Stack Overflow, because they're pretty neat questions. You can learn a lot about the innards of your favorite framework, and invariably someone neat like Eric Lippert comes along and blows your mind. If we kept questions open because of what might happen, the inmates would indeed be running the asylum.

That's why I closed it the first time. Had you had a specific problem with specific code and a specific circumstance, I would not only have left it open, but I would have vociferously defended its place on Stack Overflow.

Second verse, same as the first?

It still lacked context. It asked for opinions or things that are subjective, like preferred. What is this preferred? When? How? Under what specific conditions?

The post, while well written, was still a blog post searching for an answer that cannot possibly come given the parameters, and in that state would undoubtedly result in extended discussion, subjective answers, and nothing canonical to show for it. All in all, it would just be another excuse for people to post their favorite navel-gazing question.

I didn't consult other moderators, and nor do I fault another moderator for re-opening the question. I expect people to disagree with each other. Had other moderators been around at the time (the SO Mod chat room was empty), I would have asked them about it before acting again.

All in all, I can tell you that the question really doesn't belong on Stack Overflow, and the results are bearing that out.

  • 1
    Thank you for your explanation. I just mostly disliked the second closing without much explanation, which felt wrong. I also just learned that apparently Programmers might be the place-to-be for my question. If you agree, then that's also something you could have commented. I would've happily moved to Programmers if that would answer my question. Aug 2 '12 at 1:38
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    @Virlink I'll ask the programmers mods if they want it. If they acquiesce, I'll gladly migrate it for you. Aug 2 '12 at 1:39
  • I already reposted it there (with a note that it is a repost). You may migrate, deleting the one there; or something. If they don't want it either, they'll probably also close the one there. However, thanks for your effort. Aug 2 '12 at 1:42
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    Great answer. I still think the question is an edge case, but I must say that I stepped into this discussion mostly because, like yourself, I sometimes wish those questions were appropriate for Stack Overflow. Sometimes I get disappointed with the site, but posts like this answer remind me of things I really like here. I'm really glad you were elected a moderator.
    – bfavaretto
    Aug 2 '12 at 2:22

I see where George is coming from.

Any answer to your questions that could claim to be "right" would have to be riddled with qualifiers as you must consider the particulars of each situation before making this decision.

Or if you don't expect a universal answer any answer is right for some situation. Argh!

  • ...which is something that can be said of any question that has two or three proposed alternatives. There are only three situations to be considered in my question. As a programmer, you could probably answer the question subjectively. I don't see why others couldn't. And, in your constructive opinion, what would I need to do to get the answers I want from this question? Aug 1 '12 at 22:09
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    Do you have a specific, real-world scenario that you would like to apply to your question? Otherwise, you've asked a Big List question: "Under which circumstances should I use each of these methods?"
    – user102937
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:21
  • @Virtlink, you've just demonstrated why your question is not constructive - "you could probably answer the question subjectively". Subjective answers tend to be nothing more than opinion, regardless of the intention, and any question that will result in subjective answers is therefore not constructive
    – RivieraKid
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:23
  • @RivieraKid I meant objectively. Most questions can be answered subjectively. Are questions that depend on people's opinions forbidden here? And most of the questions have only objective answers? Things like: this is more readable IMHO, more usable IMHO, more consistent IMHO, more following the framework guidelines IMHO, more how I would do it because ... . All subjective, but when supported by arguments also good answers. Aug 1 '12 at 22:27
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    @Virtlink: "Are questions that depend on people's opinions forbidden here?" That's the general idea. SO doesn't deal with readability questions, usability questions, etc. Good subjective questions go to Prog.SE; your question might fit that description. Aug 2 '12 at 0:35

I disagree with the closures, and I think the moderator was too strict, or maybe too influenced by the presence of the expression "what is the best thing to do" on your post. (By the way, I would remove that from the question; many users on SO will stop reading and downvote or vote to close as soon as they see it.)

Although I understand that questions that have no "right" answer should be closed as Not Constructive, yours seems to be a borderline case. It can get good answers (even one that could be considered "more right" than the others, unlike dmckee says), and those answers will possibly help other users in the future.

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    We don't generally evaluate question quality based on the veracity of the answers, especially answers that haven't arrived yet.
    – user102937
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:23
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    @Robert, the description of Not Constructive mentions answers explicitly: We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise. If we're judging if something is fit for the site, according to SE's concept of Q&A, you can't 100% separate "Q" from "A".
    – bfavaretto
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:27
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    If you're going to quote, don't quote out of context: "We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion."
    – user102937
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:28
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    Yes, I should have quoted the whole sentence. IMO it makes my point event more clear: while evaluating a question, sometimes we should also think of its potential answers.
    – bfavaretto
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:32
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    And it's fair to say this question has solicited debate, arguments, and extended discussion (at least no polling... yet).
    – Eric J.
    Aug 1 '12 at 22:43
  • Oftentimes, it's the borderline cases where you want to really pay attention to the words you use. Sure, editing it can fix the question, but not editing it can actually steer the answers subconsciously into a very bad and broad direction, when people just see "What is your advice" and get on their soap box without actually covering the main points in the question. There's a reason why we vote to close questions that contain those keywords, although I do believe we should try to first edit them out, if possible.
    – jmort253
    Aug 2 '12 at 3:19

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