It has often been proposed for closing a question to require giving a specific reason (1, 2, 3, 4). As often, the idea was rejected, mainly because it would discourage reviewers from quickly closing low-quality questions (remember that reviewers are not paid for this, nor do they get reputation or any extrinsic benefit).

SO gets thousands of questions every day, and most of them are low quality. As Sturgeon's law says,

90% of everything is crap

By a similar principle, the 80/20 rule (or even 90/10), crap questions come from users new to the SE family of sites, who aren't familiar with what makes a good question, don't have an incentive to read the rules, or include spam ("I'm working on this on my site" etc.). Closing such questions quickly helps keep the site clean.

The problem

Users who would be perfectly willing or knowledgeable to improve their questions are also lumped into the same bucket. This is partly because close votes are more likely to be subjective than clear-cut for these users. Experienced users who ask "in good faith" (a moderation concept from Wikipedia) are less likely to post spam or low-quality questions.

A solution...

...would be to suggest that the reviewer leave a warning comment, rather than an "On hold" vote if the question was asked by someone likely to honestly work on improving it.

How do we determine who such users are? Rep alone would be a questionable, because it might mean that once you get X votes, you get to ask low-quality questions. But there are other metrics: number of accepted edits may be a better one, for instance. The questions is open, but the gist is:

Be more constructive with users likely to improve their question

Whatever metrics we pick, they should means the person has been here long enough to appreciate constructive criticism and perhaps has a good idea about what should and what should not be on the site.


2 Answers 2


[On hold] is by design not permanent. Just as a low user's question that is improved can be reopened so can an experienced user's. There seems to be no reason to let a poor quality question gather poor quality answers just because it’s from a high rep user.

You mention that high rep users are less likely to post poor quality questions, and that’s probably true; although I do see quite a few library recommendation questions from high rep users. However; that just means there are less of these, it doesn't mean that the few that do should get any special treatment, they need just the same advice and help as any other user.

  • What I'm suggesting is different: require close explanations only for the small percentage of questions that might need closing but come from users who can improve them so they become acceptable. Library recommendations in particular should be migrated to SoftwareRecs rather than put on hold without explanation. SR is an SE site I only heard about accidentally yesterday, after being an SO contributor for five years. I've never seen a software recommendation question on SO being suggested for migration on SR (since it's still in beta, outright migration might not be possible?) Feb 23, 2014 at 23:21
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    @DanDascalescu I think SR is rediculusly new, so its not suprising there are very few migrations at present Feb 23, 2014 at 23:23
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    Actually no, it's not a good idea to migrate questions to brand new beta sites that are still trying to figure out the rules for their new community. Migrations are incredibly disruptive, especially during beta.
    – jmort253
    Feb 23, 2014 at 23:23
  • Not familiar with migrations, but if a question is on hold and there are no answers, would it be disruptive if the asker simply asked it on SR and deleted it from SO/SF? Feb 23, 2014 at 23:27
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    @DanDascalescu If the question is indeed on topic on SR, then there would be no problem. However, I don't think most recommendation questions that get closed on SO/SF would be on topic on SR. The site may be very young, but the community already came up with a concrete set of rules on what questions they welcome (see: meta.softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/455). Most recommendation questions on SO/SF don't follow these rules.
    – yannis
    Feb 23, 2014 at 23:29
  • @Yannis: Then what's the point of SR? To drive people to Quora? Feb 23, 2014 at 23:31
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    Your question is just soliciting a list, @DanDascalescu, where there is no one correct answer. This is specifically called out in the FAQ of every site as something SE doesn't do. You can also see Is there a canonical response to back up the statement that list questions are bad?, Are list questions off topic?, and, since you're focussing on this Travel question, Are we too hard on list questions? on Meta.Travel.
    – jscs
    Feb 24, 2014 at 0:06
  • But the vast majority of interesting questions will have more than one answer. If SO aimed for questions that should have only one correct answer, then it has failed miserably, because the vast majority of highly upvoted questions have more than one 100+ points answer. Feb 24, 2014 at 0:52
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    @Dan yes, each was an attempt at the one perfect answer which theoretically exists. And that perfect answer would be relatively short Feb 24, 2014 at 0:54
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    There's a wide gap between "problem which admits several possible solutions" and "every remotely on topic response is a valid 'answer'", @DanDascalescu.
    – jscs
    Feb 24, 2014 at 1:16
  • @RichardTingle: And all those attempts failed because perfection can rarely be attained even in the software world, and because humans are not computers. I think we see the world in very different numbers of shades and I believe continuing to discuss has little chance of being a good use of my time. Feb 24, 2014 at 1:53

Users who would be perfectly willing or knowledgeable to improve their questions

Which they can still do while the question is on hold.

the person has been here long enough to appreciate constructive criticism

Which we can still give while the question is on hold.

lumped into the same bucket.

There's no bucket. There's no difference for how experienced you are.

"Your question is closed" ≡ "We don't think this can be answered in a way that's suitable for our site".

It's purely about the question, in its current state. Closing problematic questions as soon as possible makes it easier for them to become useful, because they don't have irrelevant answers hanging around their necks.

  • True. However, in my experience that has repeatedly not happened. This is why I'm proposing this suggestion. Feb 23, 2014 at 23:15
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    Drawing it out longer won't help. If someone isn't going to improve their question after it's been put on hold, they're not going to improve it before it's been put on hold. All delaying it does is creates more work and makes it more likely for something to slip through the cracks.
    – jmort253
    Feb 23, 2014 at 23:17
  • Also, users can be horribly put off by the question being closed or put on hold in their face, and they may actually not be willing to improve the question once that happened. Feb 23, 2014 at 23:17
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    @DanDascalescu - If you're an experienced user, and your question was put on hold, and you're "horribly put off", then you really don't understand the process. No user should be upset by having a post put on hold, especially someone with experience in SE. Having a question put on hold is designed to give that person time to fix the problems with the post before too many answers would make it harder to fix. Closing early prevents invalidated answers.
    – jmort253
    Feb 23, 2014 at 23:19
  • That's not a question that can be "improved" to site standards, @DanDascalescu. We don't keep resource requests open, no matter how limited the answers might be currently.
    – jscs
    Feb 23, 2014 at 23:22
  • @jmort253: well, it didn't work that way, and you can see plenty of examples of users, new and experienced alike, being frustrated by downvotes without comments, questions being closed etc. Remember, most people are emotional creatures. Even programmers. Feb 23, 2014 at 23:22
  • This is where comments come in. In the review queue, are you able to leave comments or are you lobbying to make them required? I typically leave comments with suggestions on how to improve the question. Those typically get a better response than when people are mean. :)
    – jmort253
    Feb 23, 2014 at 23:25
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    @Dan It is, naturally, helpful and a good idea to leave a comment when you're voting to close so the person will know how to improve their post - if it isn't going to be made completely obvious by the close reason. However, that is a completely different matter to the one at hand: a suggestion to postpone closing questions in case they get fixed. Stay on target here. Feb 23, 2014 at 23:43

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