I just failed this audit:


I thought it should be left closed as though they answered the "what have you tried?" they were asking for a tool recommendation. I did notice that it wasn't closed for that reason (I forget what reason it was now, but it wasn't the offtopic recommendation close reason), but I figured that's not a reason to reopen.

Was I too harsh and should the question have been re-opened? (maybe because specific requirements could be inferred based on the problem with tools/libraries tried before).

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    The actual question was never closed, it was deemed as good on-topic question by being open for some time and having enough upvotes, thus selected to be an audit. According to this logic yes, if you see such question being closed you should vote to reopen it. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Aug 8 '13 at 11:44
  • It happened to me too. In close vote review if the question has more than 1 up vote I now click skip (rather than close) even if I find the question as sure close worthy, fearing an audit. Either this audit questions should be peer reviewed, or there is no need of audit. – Krishnabhadra Aug 8 '13 at 11:48

I'm afraid that sometimes, people try to apply the close reasons a bit too literally. If you simply tick through all those reasons to determine whether a question is a good question, it's going to be extremely hard to find any questions on Stack Overflow that should remain open. There is always more code that you could show, more evidence of effort, more details you could add, ways you could be more specific, some degree of subjectivity involved, etc. etc.

I think it works better to read the question, evaluate it on its own merits, and decide whether or not it's a good question. If you decide that the question is poor and needs to be closed, then you open the close box and decide which one of the given reasons is the most appropriate. If none of them fit, you choose the "other" option and write a custom reason.

We don't want to be closing questions in spite of themselves. That is self-defeating for a Q&A site.

There is nothing wrong with this question. It is perfectly valid, well-asked, on-topic, and most importantly, answerable (evidenced, if nothing else, by the fact it has received an accepted answer with score >10).

Obviously what bothered you was this sentence:

Does anyone know a good tool to do what I want?

But we don't close questions because of keywords that they contain. If so, we could just write a script that did this and get the close queue that gnat keeps complaining about down to size in short order. Such an approach, however, is fundamentally broken because it ignores context and understanding—the very reason that we require voting to close a question.

Don't get caught up on key words and phrases. Consider how that question would look if it were rewritten without that sentence, or with a slightly-modified phrasing.

Maybe something like:

How can I do this?

Look OK to you? Yup, me too. Leave Open

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  • 1
    I understand what you're saying and you're right, I can now see how it could be phrased to be a perfectly good question. I wasn't just looking at keywords though. Ok, it has upvotes but as far as I could see in the audit it had been closed so my reasoning was that clearly enough people agreed with my thinking. Possibly assuming that the close vote was ok in the first place was wrong as it's in the reopen queue after all, but I looked at the wording as it was and I guess confirmation bias kicked in..... – George Duckett Aug 8 '13 at 11:58
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    That is sort of the point of an audit. – Cody Gray Aug 8 '13 at 11:58
  • Point taken. I'll not be so robotic in future. :) – George Duckett Aug 8 '13 at 12:05
  • Not saying you're an idiot or anything. I see your point here, I just think it's a common mistake and took the opportunity to give a more general opinion. – Cody Gray Aug 8 '13 at 12:07

I don't really think this is such a clear cut case.

True, the question is well written. The OP has shown effort, showing the different tools he has tried, and pointing how they don't satisfy his requirement. Healthy amounts of upvotes on both question and its answers.

Yes, you shouldn't cast close/reopen votes based on particular keywords/phrases. So let's look at the question, which translates roughly to this

I want to do Y.

  • I have tried tool A, but it's ...
  • I have tried tool B, but it's ...
  • I have tried tool C, but it's ...

What's a good tool for doing Y? I think tool D has potential but...

Even if you rephrase/remove the "Does anyone know a good tool to do what I want?" part, in view of the question in whole, it does resemble a recommendation-type question. This is mainly because it isn't asking about how to use a specific tool to do something, it's asking for ideas/suggestions for a good tool to do something.

On the other hand, if the question is about how to do Y using tool A and shows the difficulty faced by the OP doing so, then it clearly should be reopened if it was closed.

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  • The question is fundamentally, "How can I do x?"; he explains what he's tried, why it hasn't worked, and what he wishes to accomplish. Seriously, if people keep taking the no-recommmendation-questions guideline so literally, we won't be able to ask any questions anymore. Any good programming question can be contorted into, "Can someone recommend to me some lines of code that will..." – Cody Gray Aug 9 '13 at 1:21

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