I understand your points, and I want to attenuate this question (if you want to read the original, it's in the edit history)

I would like to see a shift away from one-shot closing by moderators in the GWT tag.

We don't have an extreme number of questions per day in our tag, and questions that may seem to be "not a real question" if you only know Java, may well be very clear questions to those who know and work with GWT on a daily basis. (Java is "kind of" a parent of GWT, but in reality, the relationship between Java and GWT is more complex than that).

I think it is important to improve the quality of questions in all tags, including the GWT tag, but we don't want to discourage the growing, but still comparatively small number of GWT newcomers by displaying "Not a real question" in bold letters. Rather, I'd like to be nice and add a comment (which I will do more often in the future) concerning the quality of the question. Bear in mind, that we aren't that many people, and a mod may be quicker with closing the question!

So if you have a feeling, that a question may need closing, then at most use the "5 votes required" closing mechanism - although this is already a big enough problem, since usually enough high-rep Java people come around to add their close vote, whereas there are not enough high-rep GWT people around to re-open the question.

Random example from just a few minutes ago (I understand, that this question is far from ideal): Write text on image

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    The decision is most probably not related to [gwt]. The question would be equally poor is it was Is it possible to write a text on an image in HTML5 Canvas? I know it would be possible by using a Button instead but I need an image for this special problem... – Frédéric Hamidi Nov 7 '12 at 14:12
  • It is not an ideal question (and maybe not the best example), but still it is very clear, what he means, and what the solution will usually look like. My point is mainly, that a mod should leave the closing to the people who "manage" the tag, it he's unsure at all. – Chris Lercher Nov 7 '12 at 14:15
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    I think most of these kinds of questions need to be killed with fire and I welcome mods courageous enough to unilaterally close stuff, but I can also see Chris' point in this case - the answer does not seem to be trivially googlable, so there is value to have it around on SO. – Pëkka Nov 7 '12 at 14:17
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    @Chris, but I don't think the mod was unsure at all, actually. As jonsca says, he was probably acting on flags, and the question as it stands is low quality enough to be closed, whichever tag it's decorated with. – Frédéric Hamidi Nov 7 '12 at 14:19
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    This would have been far more helpful if you had focused on the merits of the question, instead of the moderator closing it... – yannis Nov 7 '12 at 14:43
  • @Pekka Note, the answer wasn't deleted, and the question isn't deleted. If we burned it with fire, we would have lost the answer, but as it stands, the question has a chance (not sure how much, honestly, but that's conjecture on my part). – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 15:33

There are some exceptions to this, but when a moderator has elected to unilaterally close a question, it is usually due to multiple user flags (for users < 3k that are unable to cast close votes).

Bear in mind that closing is not the end of the line for a question, so editing these and either flagging them to be reopened or voting to reopen (the latter of which will put it into the Review reopening queue) is an option.

  • I'm taking your point, and I think the way to improve the overall situation is an attitude to encourage people to improve their questions. Marking them as [closed] in one shot is a little harsh especially for new users probably (who may get put off by SO quickly). So I would encourage mods to consider adding a comment instead. Please consider, that we don't have an extreme number of questions per day in our tag, and we actually like to answer even this kind of question. I will try to add a comment on question quality in the future (in the hope that this won't trigger an almost immediate close) – Chris Lercher Nov 7 '12 at 14:37
  • I think that's certainly true. The SO mods do field a monumental (100s+) amount of flags in a day's work, so they may not have time to comment on each and every one. It may have to fall to top users in the tag to look after commenting in situations like this, and I'm sure mods wouldn't mind if you try to ascertain the root cause yourselves based on the close reason. – jonsca Nov 7 '12 at 14:44
  • @ChrisLercher Again, what jonsca said; moderators are not unsympathetic to new users, but there's a reason why quality is so high here. Allowing questions to "breathe" has never produced better questions. Close reasons are indicators to the OP that they need to make something better. There's a difference between having issue with how the close message reason is conveyed, and whether or not the question has severe quality issues. – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 14:46
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    @ChrisLercher I think that you'll agree that this question does have severe quality issues, and that it can definitely be fixed. The close reason indicates this is exactly the case and even indicates that it can be reopened; the system is explicitly designed to help with improving the question. That said, the community (moderators included) reopens questions all the time, it's how the system works. If we really were doing something wrong, it would be if we deleted these outright, that sends a horrible message to the user. – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 14:48
  • @casperOne: I agree more with you, than it may seem from my question. But one of the problems is the way the "Not a real question" (in large letters) is presented, and the fact that it looks like one single person made that choice. Whenever I see this one-shot closing, it immediately feels "unfriendly" - though I know now, that you based it on flags. – Chris Lercher Nov 7 '12 at 15:02
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    @ChrisLercher Well, one person did make the choice, that isn't contested. That said, there's a number of posts on meta about the harshness (as well as a lot of confusion about what a closed question currently means by some people, especially new people) of close reason wording. It can definitely be argued that it can be better than its current incarnation. – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 15:06
  • @casperOne: I edited this meta question, in the hope that it will encourage a productive solution. My main motivation for writing this question on meta is, that I would like to keep the positive mood in the GWT tag - question closing has been too frequent there lately! – Chris Lercher Nov 7 '12 at 15:26
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    @ChrisLercher It's a bit unfair to edit it after it has been answered twice. I would say start a new question rather than confusing everyone. – jonsca Nov 7 '12 at 15:27
  • @jonsca: That's why I inserted the comment in italics. I made sure, that your answer still matches the question. – Chris Lercher Nov 7 '12 at 15:29
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    @ChrisLercher I hate to put on my mod hat here, but my job as a moderator is not to "keep the positive mood in the GWT tag". I appreciate the passion you have for the site and new users in that tag, but the moderator's commitment is to the overall quality of the site. With the huge tag taxonomy that we have here on SO (and 15 moderators, not all of which are active), there's no possible way we can say "oh, we know this tag will take care of itself while this tag wont". Simply put, it's because we apply the same quality standards to all the questions that people come to Stack Overflow. – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 15:32
  • @casperOne: I don't have a ready-made solution then. But the fact is, that a "small" tag like [gwt] works differently than a big one like [java]. Both define their own "realm", but answer speed, rep-distribution etc. are different. It's like the [gwt] tag is still more in the situation the [java] tag was several years ago (where not the same quality criteria were applied compared to today, right?) – Chris Lercher Nov 7 '12 at 15:41

What jonsca said.

Speaking to your example (which I unilaterally closed based on a flag), it has nothing to do with the tag. Rather, it has to do with fundamental things we like to see in questions on Stack Overflow.

This is a "gimme teh codez" question and we shut those down; Stack Overflow is not a code factory.

For "gimme teh codez" questions we use the "Not A Real Question" close reason when closing.

As for waiting for five close votes, there's really no reason, the flag is in the queue, and the guidelines are cut and dry about how to handle these questions.

We don't just want quality answers on Stack Overflow, the commitment is to overall quality, and that includes the questions, which this question does not exhibit.

  • Let the community do it. Stop being a one man closing machine. – GEOCHET Nov 7 '12 at 14:50
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    @GEOCHET Um, no. It's my job. But thank you for the characterization, it has a certain je ne sais quoi to it. – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 14:51
  • It is not your job to circumvent the community moderation on the site. Mods are only supposed to supplement that. – GEOCHET Nov 7 '12 at 14:52
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    @GEOCHET - moderators (on any site and especially on Stack Overflow) don't go looking for questions to close. We react to flags, comments and existing close votes. – ChrisF Nov 7 '12 at 14:54
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    @GEOCHET That's what was done in this case; flags are brought up by the community. – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 14:54
  • And those flags should be responded to with "Then vote to close it". You are circumventing the built in functionality of the system and using silly arguments to justify it. – GEOCHET Nov 7 '12 at 14:55
  • @GEOCHET If I was circumventing built in functionality, it means I'm somehow hacking the system. The system was designed this way. If you have an issue with that, you're better off asking to revoke moderators ability to close with one vote. That said, make a feature request or run for election on Stack Overflow. Your arguments are with the system as it's currently meant to be not the moderators enforcing it, I suggest you focus on changing the system and not the people currently working within it. – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 14:58
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    No, the system was designed to be moderated by the community. Utilizing close votes to close questions. Circumventing that by allowing anyone to flag a question and have an out of control moderator close it with one touch instead removes that functionality altogether. My argument is with a moderator whose ego is clearly out of control. The close vote system works fine without bad moderation circumventing it. – GEOCHET Nov 7 '12 at 15:01
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    @GEOCHET Well, we'll have to disagree about what the issue is then because someone obviously programmed it to work this way. You're fighting an uphill battle here (which isn't a bad thing, but I'm trying to offer you a path of least resistance). If your issue is truly with a moderator (me) and not the system, then by all means, make a meta post. Perhaps contribute or follow the guidelines here. – casperOne Nov 7 '12 at 15:03
  • They didn't 'program it this way'. They elected human moderators to use discretion and common sense. Just because you have a power does not make it good or right to exercise it like you do. – GEOCHET Nov 7 '12 at 15:05
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    @GEOCHET - if you want to stop "close flags" being raised by users with less than 3,000 reputation then that's a different issue. But then you'd have to stop custom flags being raised as you can type "Please close this question" into the text box. – ChrisF Nov 7 '12 at 15:11
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    Or we could expect the moderators to use common sense and decency to process those correctly. – GEOCHET Nov 7 '12 at 15:13
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    @GEOCHET 'And those flags should be responded to with "Then vote to close it".' -> Users who flag w/less than 3000 rep cannot vote to close. So leaving a comment won't really help. – jmort253 Nov 7 '12 at 15:29
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    Users who don't have 3000 rep shouldn't be able to close via vote or via flag. That was the point of designing the system like that. Again, having that person lacking the rep to close just flag instead and a mod using their single vote close is circumventing the rep requirement. Where you got the idea that I wanted people to comment is just beyond me. – GEOCHET Nov 8 '12 at 12:38

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