That's right, I'm starting this out with a pun. Featuring a Poison song. I'm good with it.
We're looking at replacing [closed] with [on hold]. This sort of thing was proposed in a popular post before and rejected. But we think it's worth revisiting, and that we can address the prior concerns by adding one thing: after five days, if the post isn't re-opened, it'll go back to displaying as [closed]
By now, you pretty surely know we're working on improving closing network-wide. So far:
- Dupe changes are live
- Your suggestions to create site-specific "Off Topic" sub-reasons are headed to production
- We're going to replace NARQ and NC with more specific reasons
- Edits by the OP within 5 days of closure trigger automatic addition to the re-open queue.
What's wrong with "closed"?
One key goal we've throughout this process has been to optimize for improvement, not argument. The more specific close reasons and re-open queue changes go a long way to helping that. But there's another issue that pops up before you even see the specific problem:
The word "closed" sounds final. Now, we don't mean it to - but right out of the gate, we're leading with a word that tends to evoke finality. Sure, things can be "closed" for repairs, but that's not the most common use of the word. Think of when someone says they've "closed" an issue, or an application, or or a real estate purchase, or a forum thread.
In each of those cases, it means that the process in in question is:
no longer eligible for additional revisions, and
won't be considered any further
So, before we even tell you what you can do better, we hit you with:
Now, the language in some reasons already encourages editing, and the updated ones will be even better at it, but before we even get to that, we hit them with a big, bold Closed.
It's a little like having someone respond to a proposal you wrote with:
My first response is somewhere between frustration and defensiveness. Why was it rejected? Who decided? Who can overrule them? I am ready to debate something, and will go all Lincoln Douglas on you, bro. So, when they go on to say...
Your submission was too conceptual, and we're looking for pieces with more tangible examples.
...sure, I'm reading it, but its in the context of preparing my retort.
"'Too' conceptual? Who is the arbiter of that? Were they elected? Who can vote? Just noob-haters?"
Now, imagine that they conveyed the exact same problem, with one minor tweak:
Revisions requested - your submission was too conceptual, and we're looking for pieces with more tangible examples.
Other than the word "rejected", it's exactly the same, but my reaction is dramatically different. I'm starting from, "Okay, they're open to my idea if I can improve it" vs. "I'll teach them to shut me down!"
Should we just change "closed" to "could be even awesomer"?
If all closed questions started with, "could be even awesomer," we'd lose some of what "closed" was really effective at:
- Conveying "no response necessary" - Unlike "more awesomesauce", the final nature of the word "closed" is good at conveying that you can't currently answer the question. We can solve that problem by using "on hold," (hat tip) which can do the same thing, but without the final and provocative lead-in that "closed" has.
"On hold" would work great during the initial period, when we're optimizing for post improvement. But it still fails pretty badly at some other things that "closed" is great at conveying after those first few days:
No more of these, please. Closed questions are signposts that convey what doesn't belong here. The final nature of "closed," is actually quite helpful in that regard. Unredeemable questions being "on-hold" ad infinitum incorrectly imply that they just need some encouragement and pluck.
Establishing, ahem... closure. Having questions listed as "on-hold" months after closure would make the site look sloppy and unmoderated. It impiles a long queue of unresolved items.
Blah, blah, background, cheap "McBain" straw man argument. So what can we do about it?
Well, I'm glad I pretended you asked. Since we believe that...
- We'll get more improvement if we start with language that invites edits, not debates, but
- When that fails to happen, "closed" was near perfect at conveying what's not wanted
...we've come up with a proposed change that is actually very minor (yes, after all that talking):
For the first five days after a question is closed, questions will display as [on hold] rather than [closed]
- Combined with better clarity on what to fix, this should give questions their best shot at being improved right after closure (which gets them added to the re-open queue)
- If the question is not reopened within five days, the indicator will automatically change to [closed]
- During the [on hold] period, the only difference is the temporary verbiage change; all the closing mechanics remain the same, so it still can't get new answers, etc.
That means there's no loss of signpost value after the first five days, no change in closers' workflow, and less arguing - there'll always be some, but posting this on HN makes you sound crazypants:
"Those SO fascists have put my question temporarily on hold and asked me to fix something!!"
Seriously. You can't make these shorter? Did you want something?
Always! We want your input. Any tweaks we should consider? Anything else we should add? Tell us what you think.
Part of the close reason rework project: