Questions that are closed as off topic or not a real question automatically carry a downvote. These are what I call "fault" closes.

Questions that are closed as "duplicate" or "too localized" do NOT carry a downvote. They need to be closed for the sake of the site, but the questioner is not expected to know that, and the close is "no fault."

Right now, "not constructive" is considered a "no fault" close. But I can think of TWO versions of "not constructive," one of which would be a "fault" close, and one of which would be "no fault."

This would be the "fault" version, which I would describe as "subjective and argumentive":

As written, this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion, although it might be answerable in a different form.

This would be the "no fault" version, which I would describe as "not constructive":

This question is not a good fit for the site. It will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion because there is no known body of fact or literature on which to reasonably base an answer.

The downvote for the "fault" version would reflect a belief that the question could be improved, and encourage the OP (or other editors) to do so.

With a "no fault" close, the question can't be improved BY DEFINITION. But it also reflects the fact that the OP did his "best," and that it is being closed because (like duplicates and localized questions) it is BAD FOR THE SITE as opposed to being "objectively" bad.

Should we separate "not constructive" closes into "fault" (subjectie and arugmentive") and "no fault" ("not constructive")versions as outlined above?

  • 5
    It's an interesting thought, but it sounds like splitting a hair for some unclear gain. Can you elaborate a little on the expected benefit? Also, it probably won't fit in with whatever's being planned by SE Inc. -- Help us make not constructive and not a real question closures more effectiv.
    – jscs
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 17:15
  • @JoshCaswell: I was wondering why "not constructive" was considered a "no fault" close, while NARQ and "off topic" were "fault" closes. The conclusion I came to was that SOME "not constructive" closes should be "no fault" closes, while others should be "fault" closes, rather than all one or all the other. You may even choose to subdivide the group a different way.
    – Tom Au
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 17:30
  • Wow, after years on SO I never knew that some close votes carried an automatic downvote with them. Don't know how I never noticed this! Learn something new every day.
    – Ben Lee
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 0:41

2 Answers 2


As described here we're looking at replacing NARQ and NC with three new close reasons:

  • unclear what you’re asking - this will trigger an automatic down-vote (which is lifted if the question is reopened).

  • too broad - this will trigger an automatic down-vote (which is lifted if the question is reopened).

  • primarily opinion-based - this will not trigger an automatic down-vote.

In addition, Off Topic is being re-worked as well, and may have some overlap with the range of questions formerly encapsulated by NC; OT closures that don't result in migration will continue to grant an automatic down-vote (unless/until re-opened).

See also: Questions closed as "not constructive" should get an automatic downvote

  • What's the purpose of the automatic downvote? Have you considered the effect on well-willing new users, who are not yet "educated" to SO etiquette?
    – Andomar
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 18:27
  • 2
    You can read the rationale here. There are a few different reasons, but IMHO the best one is simply that it uses the information already provided by closing to add a bit more strength to the (traditionally weak) question-score. I'm against applying it for all close reasons because of new users: it's reasonable to expect a new user unfamiliar with SO to still ask a reasonable, on-topic question, but finding duplicates or understanding subjectivity guidelines is harder.
    – Shog9
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 18:48
  • Most close votes express dislike. For example, a question about regex html parsers would be closed. Not because it's a bad question, but because people (rightfully) dislike regex html parsers. It seems obvious that dislike translates more easily to a free downvote (by way of close) than to a paid downvote.
    – Andomar
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 18:58
  • Questions on parsing HTML with regex get asked just about every day. Not all of them get closed. Not all of them even get downvoted. Obviously, some folks do find them irritating, but... There are reasons to allow them, at least some of the time. Plenty of questions get down-voted but not closed. Plenty of questions get closed but not down-voted. They're separate systems with some significant overlap. See also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/174755/…
    – Shog9
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 19:08

I'm the guessing the underlying problem here is that veteran users are too attached to their reputation to spend it on downvotes. Veterans see scaring away new users as a service that they should be rewarded for.

Scaring away new users should be discouraged instead of automated. No close vote should come with an automatic free downvote.

  • 6
    Worth remembering that down-votes are "free" on questions...
    – Shog9
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 19:09
  • @Shog9: Thanks, haha omg. Maybe that's why so many new user questions receive downvotes-- it's free!
    – Andomar
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 19:11
  • 1
    Well, that's the idea, sorta. The change to make question votes free was made after other attempts to get folks to vote more on questions (and the automatic close-downvotes) were implemented; it did increase down-voting noticeably, although I must note that over 90% of votes on questions are still up-votes.
    – Shog9
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 19:15

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