I had 2 questions of mine closed this week on Stack Overflow.

https://stackoverflow.com/q/1156830/ (now found here: Is there a terminal app that allows filenames to be clickable?)


What is a good pattern for using a Global Mutex in C#?

It felt bad, I vented on twitter. They are old questions, that I still do think belong on Stack Overflow and are on topic, though I can accept the first one is debatable.

What felt particularly bad was that I found out about the first closure on twitter, nothing notified me.

The second one, I found out about when I was digging in to see if my bounty was successful. I put a bounty on the linux based terminal app in response to a personal email I got from a fellow programmer who was looking for an answer. When I looked for the bounty progress, I noticed it just vanished ... poof.

Despite me being a gold class c# user, my c# question was closed with no recourse on my end. Except for rummaging through my 192 questions to see if it was closed.

I understand why users are not notified on closures, at low rep levels this can be fairly dangerous.

I don't know what the solution is to this problem, just saying, it felt really bad and made me feel like I want to contribute less.

  • 3
    On top of that, not everybody recognizes you as a former dev with full moderator powers...
    – Mysticial
    Feb 2, 2013 at 0:49
  • 1
    @UphillLuge I am trying to make stuff better, I could have just moved along and not mentioned anything. I don't even have a prescriptive solution for the problem.
    – waffles
    Feb 2, 2013 at 1:29
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    @UphillLuge Nothing in Sam's post indicates that he's not grateful for the help he received here. He interacted with the system, it left a bad taste in his mouth in these instances and he felt that it was worth discussing. This is not unlike almost every other discussion surrounding a question closure. Would you say the same thing on all of those, or are you a little more concerned with who raised the discussion than the discussion itself?
    – user50049
    Feb 2, 2013 at 1:29
  • @waffles imagine if it was deleted? You'd never be able to see it again without knowing what the PostID was or searching through the data dump. Feb 2, 2013 at 2:35
  • @GeorgeStocker Actually, he could, by clicking 'show deleted' on the reputation history tab, but that would take some work.
    – user50049
    Feb 2, 2013 at 2:41
  • @TimPost But that only shows posts that he's gotten reputation for, right? If he hasn't gotten any reputation on it in a while, it'd be hard to find, wouldn't it? Feb 2, 2013 at 2:43
  • @GeorgeStocker Oh now this is nice, I removed the wiki status of the second, and there's no trace of when it was applied and when it was removed, but I think you're correct - he would not have noticed the second. My bad :)
    – user50049
    Feb 2, 2013 at 2:47

3 Answers 3


The first question is debatable. In my opinion (and only my opinion), it falls into the realm of tools that programmers commonly use, even though lots of other people use the same tool. However, I can't reasonably articulate what makes it not a shopping question, even though it does seem rather narrow.

If it was 'Can I make links clickable in [terminal program]', I think it would be a fine question.

The second question is, and always has been objective. However, I can see why people would find it broad. As asked it's basically Concurrency is hard, how do I get it right?, where you probably wanted "I have these specific problems with Global mutexes and the mutex class, how can I avoid these problems with decoupled reusable code?" - which is the same question, just alleviating any ambiguity as to its objectiveness and scope.

As you pointed out, these are old, and asked at a time where tool recommendations were more or less tolerated by the vast majority of the community, and a time where specific quality standards were a bit less defined because we hadn't come up with them yet. Had you asked these today, you would have received instant feedback that might have avoided closure on both. I suspect you would have asked both a bit differently as well.

I think the real issue here isn't a lack of notification, it's the sting of questions that seemed perfectly acceptable several years ago being closed all of a sudden. While I see the utility value of a notice when this happens, I really feel like it would just exacerbate the sting in cases where there's just not much that could be done to make the question suitable again - which is the majority of these cases.

I don't think that's a problem we're going to have much longer going forward, as our question and quality guidelines have become much more refined and accepted. Believe me, it's no fun being on the closing end of them either, I was one of the mods who had to enforce the new standards just after being elected, it often felt horrible. I'll be very happy when 'not constructive' is redefined.

Still, the kind of notifications you're talking about would not really apply to questions asked in the recent past unless they just outright fell through the cracks, a problem that /review is doing a good job of addressing. People know quickly if their question is closed, or likely to be closed because the feedback is fast. I think the focus here should be on getting the system to the point where a question that remains open after being asked simply stays that way, changes to how the close workflow works will probably bring us much closer to this.


Is there a linux based terminal app that allows links to be clickable? is squarely off-topic on Stack Overflow. It is unrelated to programming: it's about a user application (a terminal emulator). It is on-topic on Super User or Unix & Linux.

(If your question had been “I want to parse my compiler's error message to generate clickable links”, it would have been on-topic on SO, though still marginal and better suited to SU or U&L. But you phrased that only as an example that happens to be programming-related of a more general non-programming-related question.)

This question has now been migrated to Unix & Linux. You're very lucky: you got a dispensation from the rule that forbids migrations of old questions. (Yes, this rule is silly. Explain that to your former colleagues.)

What is a good pattern for using a Global Mutex in C#? seems perfectly cromulent to me. It's been closed as non-constructive: that's a general trend on Stack Overflow — questions that aren't “debug my code” are increasingly being rejected. I wholeheartedly agree with you that the question is a good one that shouldn't have been closed.

Jeff was adamant that users should not be notified that their question is closed.

You should care about your question more than any human being on the planet. If it is closed, you should already know about that without needing a special magic notification.

I agree with you that it's bad that you weren't notified.

  • @Giles I would have been ok if my age old question was migrated away, at least I would have been notified, but it was closed as not constructive by a mod. That said, in rails land, my console is my gui, its a fairly common developer question to have (how do I use the tools of my trade to deal with those pesky rails logs)
    – waffles
    Feb 2, 2013 at 2:01
  • @waffles If a filter that prepends file:// to file names is a good answer, then the question you asked isn't the question you meant, and the question you meant is SO material but not the question you asked. Feb 2, 2013 at 2:08
  • Im not sure if you would really want to muck with the logger format to achieve this, its a bit messy.
    – waffles
    Feb 2, 2013 at 2:10

It's always painful to have doors shut on us. You're Not alone buddy .

I'm seeing that the request here is to notify high-rep users that their questions get closed.

Fair enough, I'd say. Once you reach 3000 or 5000 rep it seems that the "Community" would treat you better. So , You should get notification. It's fairly easy to do.

Also, if you put a bounty on a question... shouldn't that preclude closure? It's really really weird that someone can close a question with a bounty on it, seems totally unfair. At least let the bounty expire 1st

  • 4
    you have to either wait for the bounty to expire or a mod has to refund the bounty first
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 2, 2013 at 2:27
  • 1
    Bounties could then be used to get answers to otherwise poor questions.
    – asheeshr
    Feb 2, 2013 at 5:58

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