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Should people be copying old close reasons to use for close votes? For example, take the following question (the first close vote was after the introduction of the new reasons): Bootstrap 2.0 Not displaying properly

One of the users had used a custom close reason with exactly the same content as the old close reason, which had been auto-posted as a comment by the system:

Questions concerning problems with code you've written must describe the specific problem — and include valid code to reproduce it — in the question itself. See SSCCE.org for guidance.

It was subsequently closed under this custom reason. Now, doesn't this defeat the point of having the new reasons for close votes? Not realising that it was in fact a custom reason comment, I had flagged the comment, and it was declined. Is this acceptable, and should people be doing this?

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    A large part of me feels like close reasons are squarely in the communities domain rather than stack exchange's. So i guess if theres enough community support for this its hard to argue with – Richard Tingle Jan 17 '14 at 8:29
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    This is a very hot topic right now. I feel that a lot of users are displeased with the new close reasons. – Jonathon Reinhart Jan 17 '14 at 9:48
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I was wondering when you are going to bring this up on meta. Let me explain my reasons doing so.

Background

Ever since the latest change in the close reasons, I found that none of the reasons adequately describe some of the worst questions on Stack Overflow. They are either very vague at best, or are plainly incorrect in describing the unanswerable questions. I have seen some of the community members abusing the other close reasons on questions that are not going to be helpful to whoever asked those very bad questions. For example,

  • "unclear what you're asking" is very unclear to the asker which part of his/her question is unclear, especially when he carefully crafted the very detailed requirements and wish that people on Stack Overflow will do their work for them

  • "a problem that can't be reproduced or a simple typographical error" is plainly wrong when there are no syntax errors in the question but a list full of "I want to do this but I don't know how" features that the asker want to implement but has no basic understanding in the technology being used

Action

So I thought, since there is an "other" field in the close dialog, why not abuse it to convey a better (read: old) message to the asker?

That's why I've spent 3 days creating a userscript that let me save all my favorite close reasons and use them whenever it is appropriate. I am sorry, Shog9.

Reflection

So does it defeat the point of having the new reasons? Yes and no. I am on meta everyday (yeah I know I am horrible) and I do read the meta posts on the close reason changes. I can see there are some disagreement and debate about them, and I do realize that the major part of the change is due to the abuse from community members on these old close reasons. That's why I try to use other reasons as much as possible, and use the old ones only when I am pretty certain that it fits, or when I see an even worse abuse by the community on the new ones.

In the past few days I have been carefully monitoring my use of old close reasons and its results. I tried make sure they are not abused in any way and I tried to use other reasons that the SE team recommends whenever it is possible. I kept checking my votes tab to see how other community members respond to my close reasons, and if any closed questions should be reopened.

I actually had some success doing so. I closed a question with the "SSCCE" reason, the asker improved his/her question and I voted to reopen it. This is what closing is partly about: there are some serious problems in your question that makes it unanswerable, but you still have a chance to improve it and get it reopened. Had I voted it for "unclear what you're asking", it would cause the asker much confusion about what is wrong with the question, and how to improve it.

Conclusion

These are just some little experiments I have on the close reasons. I have no intention to completely defeat the purpose of the change in close reasons, nor am I worried that another form of abuse is going to arise. I treat it as a temporary solution to the current unstable close reason dispute. I hope the SE team would come up with a better solution that can satisfy the majority of the community members.

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  • Flagging questions so the limited pool of Diamond moderators have to examine them seems like it would bog down the system. – Amicable Jan 17 '14 at 10:33
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    @Amicable I have >3k on Stack Overflow, so it is a close vote, not flag, and does not involve any diamond moderators. And the "other" field in the close dialog is available to >3k users only. – Antony Jan 17 '14 at 10:36
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    Could you do an experiment for me? Use "unclear what help you need" instead? We could se if it inspires good edits... meta.stackexchange.com/a/215806/147247 – Kate Gregory Jan 17 '14 at 12:44
  • @KateGregory Sure, if you can install userscripts, you can try this out as well. – Antony Jan 17 '14 at 12:46
  • It's good to see you backing up your reasoning -- I can understand that but I just thought that using them wasn't quite what SE would have intended by changing the reasons. Of course, no matter what the name of the close reason (I'd like to think) our intention is the same. – Qantas 94 Heavy Jan 18 '14 at 12:07
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This is fine. If it wasn't, we wouldn't offer an "other" option!

Just bear in mind that, although you can put whatever you want into that text field, it will be attributed directly to you (in the form of a comment) and can be replied to, flagged, deleted, etc. So if you're relying on a reason that is confusing, controversial, or outright rude, you're probably creating more problems for yourself than you really need to.

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