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Taking this question as an example (there are others of course):

What are allocators and when is their use necessary?

Now the topic in question typically isn't well covered from many of the C++ books I've seen with many of them merely mentioning the topic of allocators in passing. In that regard I can certainly see why the OP would seek clarification about it.

And yet somehow this question accumulated 3 close votes, 2 of which claims the question is unclear or overly vague. I cannot see how that can be the case. The title itself poses a very direct and specific question. He also mentions some respectable resources where the topic's mentioned so it isn't the case where the OP didn't do any research either.

How did this happen? Are people getting too "close-happy"? Is it something we should be concerned about going forward?

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    Maybe because its a somewhat new user, people jump on the "downvote and close" train without thinking if this is a good (not valid) question to keep.
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 8:54

2 Answers 2

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Some thoughts on why close votes were cast on this specific question.

The question title and the first sentence: "What are allocators?" might give the impression that the question is "too broad". To illustrate, there's an entire Wikipedia article (a fairly lengthy one) written on the subject of "What are allocator?", so that would have fulfilled the "good answers would be too long for this format" condition.

But upon further inspection

it seems like the asker is asking about something more specific about allocators instead of what allocators are in general. Particularly,

So, how allocators represents a special memory model and is there any restriction and conventions ?

Is default STL memory management is not good enough ?

So I think it's an alright question. But I'm not a C++ person, so C++ folks might think it is still too broad or not being specific enough. I don't think the "unclear what you are asking" is that suitable of a close reason though, since the main issue is with specificity, not with comprehensibility.

In any case, making the title more specific would help.

Also, I think some users don't really read questions carefully before casting their close votes. I don't think it is a phenomenon introduced by the new closing reasons though.

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    Yeah, I don't really think "general reference" is a legitimate close reason, but this question is awfully broad. Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 10:07
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the topic in question typically isn't well covered from many of the C++ books I've seen with many of them merely mentioning the topic of allocators in passing.

That's because most C++ books are terrible. The question mentions Meyers's books, which are an exception, but they're not meant to teach you the language. They assume some degree of familiarity and mainly intend to advise on "best practices".

But as unfortunate as the state of C++ books is, that in itself does not make something a good question for Stack Overflow.

In particular, users who actively participate on the C++ tag tend to have high standards for questions. Their thoughts upon reading this question were almost certainly that it is merely "general reference", and then turned to the close box to find a reason that approximated that concern.

So the close reasons are not the source of the problem. The real problem is either:

How did this happen? Are people getting too "close-happy"? Is it something we should be concerned about going forward?

There's little cause to get excited yet: the question you bring up has only 3 close votes. It still needs 2 more in order to be closed.

More generally, please don't assume that there's a general problem or conspiracy afoot just based on a single, isolated incident. Even if you've seen a couple of questions that you feel have been closed inappropriately, that's no reason to raise a red flag or worry that the closing system is broken. That's always happened, and always will happen—people make mistakes, and people have different standards/expectations.

The existing system handles this quite well, in fact. If you see a question that you feel has been closed inappropriately, you should cast a vote to re-open it. You might also leave a comment explaining why you have voted to re-open it. That will help encourage other people to agree with you and cast the remaining 4 votes. It is significant that you cannot cast a re-open vote until after the question has been closed.

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