I recently voted to close a question on SO, and thought I could be helpful by leaving a comment explaining why.

I was slightly taken aback by the hostile response to this, both from the OP and the user who answered, as I was genuinely trying to be helpful.

What's the best course of action in this scenario? Should you respond to comments defending how you placed your vote, or just let it go? Also, was I correct to vote the way I did?

I am asking because if I see a similar question in the future, I would probably vote the same way, and want to make sure I am voting/understanding what's on/off topic correctly.

  • 23
    Best way? Walk away.
    – Oded
    Nov 25 '13 at 14:08
  • 14
    I think your comment was stellar. You stated the problem clearly - and yet offered some good, related advice. That said, @Oded has answered your question here. Nov 25 '13 at 14:08
  • 4
    It is one of those things, to be honest I don't know how you could have done anything different. You've given your feedback, leave it to them to take it on board or not Nov 25 '13 at 14:08
  • 8
    I think you handled it fine. You voted to close, left a comment, and your response comment was exactly right. I wouldn't respond beyond that though. Nov 25 '13 at 14:08
  • 5
    No good deed is unpunished ;) Smile and go on, and when they will return to meta to cry about question ban, they will get pointed to old comments that could have save them.
    – Mołot
    Nov 25 '13 at 14:10
  • 1
    Very similar to meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135/… Nov 25 '13 at 14:35
  • 9
    A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.
    – jscs
    Nov 25 '13 at 20:19

I do that frequently, myself. I think it's a good practice though I don't push others to do it. Leave a little note saying why it's going to be closed, and you hope the OP understands and learns from it. Just make sure the note is very explanitory, and not just "I'm voting to close this".

As for what to do in the aftermath? Simply ignore it. Pretend the page doesn't exist. No need to be drawn into a flame war or give anyone reason to serial downvote you (as some would do), even though most of the time they're auto-adjusted by the system.

  • Superb answer + great comments also, thanks!
    – JMK
    Nov 25 '13 at 15:18

To calm things down, just stop writing anything about it. This works best in my humble opinion.

If you could, you may also edit your first comment. Here is my suggestion for this eventual editing:

You may inform him that he should provide more details, and if possible an example, because the current state of his question might not be understood identically by different readers and hence generate a fruitless discussion.

If you can provide in that comment a link to some page with the sentence "Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise" it would be positive also.


I don't leave comments for down votes and votes to close any more. Not after the second time a spitful user took revenge by downvoting some of my posts (the SE controls for detecting and discarding such voting were not entirely successful).

I'm note entirely sure such comments are useful. Almost all questions I downvote or vote to close are by new users who have clearly not bothered to find out the kind of site SO is, or not done basic research, or are trying to get us to do their work for them. Those are all kinds or laziness. Why spend more time working on helping such a person than they have spent to be a good citizen? If they have any ability to reflect on and correct their behaviour they will do so when they see their question has negative votes or is closed. That is, votes are a form of communication, to those who want to engage.

I make the occasional exception, for higher reputation users, or otherwise well written questions, because in only those cases do I think the comment will do something useful.

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