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If I ask a question on an SE site and it skirts one of the rules of the site, but somehow you just know that it's valuable and should stay open. Maybe it has one or more excellent answers that add to the site's content, maybe some other reason.

What steps can the asker take to defend against close-votes or being put on hold?

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    Well, I just KNOW that ALL my questions/answers are valuable, should stay open and be massively upvoted. For some reason, some people disagree with me. Go figure... Jun 26, 2018 at 16:29
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    "What steps can the asker take to defend against close-votes or being put on hold?" - You can make sure the question isn't "skirting one of the rules", if it isn't doing that, then it won't be closed.
    – Ramhound
    Jun 26, 2018 at 19:03

2 Answers 2

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There's one sure-fire way to stop close votes:

Fix the question.

If a question is getting close votes or is put on hold, you are responsible for making the question fit the needs of the site. If it "skirts one of the rules of the site", it's probably going to get closed. A question being fun or interesting doesn't make it on topic or well-defined.

Listen to the feedback you get in the form of comments (if any) or the close reason (after it's on hold) and think about the question critically and address any specific issues that you can.

If you don't get enough guidance for how to improve the question and you've checked out the site's help/on topic page and poked around on their meta site a bit and still can't understand what's needed, go to the site's meta and ask for help. Be open to criticism and honest. Complaining isn't going to make you any friends.

My question [link] was put on hold but I'm not sure what's wrong. I looked at the help center and reviewed some meta posts but I'd really like some help fixing the post. The only information I have to go on is ...

Explain why you think the question is a good fit for the site - make a strong argument. I recommend avoiding basing your reasoning on similar questions, particularly if they're very old.

Hopefully, you'll get some good feedback and you'll be able to edit the question and get it reopened. In some cases, it's possible that you won't need to fix anything, that the closure was in error and sufficient users vote to reopen the question without any changes but don't make the assumption that this is the case. Be open to fixing your question.

Chat is another option for this but, again, come at it from an open place, asking for help and guidance, not complaints.


Please don't:

Mod flag.

Moderators aren't single arbiters of whether a post should be open or not and we really don't have any way to "force" a post into either an open or closed state - five users can always override us. There's actually nothing a moderator can do. We can go to a review queue and choose "leave open" to remove it from the queue but that doesn't prevent users from voting to close it on the question itself and it doesn't clear any existing votes.

In general, we tend to avoid overriding the users in this. Please don't ask us to.

Flail.

Doing random things like protecting a question isn't a good solution. There's no rush for this. If this question is a good fit for the site, it's a good fit. A few hours or a day on hold while improving the question isn't going to hurt anything and may make the question even better.

Bounty the question.

Putting a bounty on a question will prevent it from being closed but moderators can and will refund the bounty if they feel that the only reason for the bounty was to keep the question open, particularly if someone asks about it on meta and the community agrees that the question is a bad fit. This is sometimes prevented by the waiting period before being able to bounty a question but may not always.

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  • "sure-fire" -- You keep using that word. It does not mean what you think it means. (Editing to fix commented/close-reason problems is a good idea, but it is very far from being a sure-fire way to either stop close votes or garner reopen votes. I can't count the number of questions I've edited into good shape that continued gathering more close votes. Most of them were not mine, but at least a couple were.) Jun 26, 2018 at 16:47
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    Fixing is not synonymous with editing, though. If the question can't be fixed, it can't be fixed. Editing is not a panacea for a question that's out of scope. That's why the answer says "fix", not "edit".
    – Catija
    Jun 26, 2018 at 16:54
  • That assumes the conclusion. I thought I had fixed these questions adequately so that there was no remaining problem with them. Most of them were not even my questions, and I had no pre-existing bias with them. Yet on many occasions, others continued to cast close votes. So the only way you can say that the questions were not fixed is by assuming the correctness of all close votes by definition, such that the only measure of a fixed question is whether it continues to receive close votes! Of course in this case, all questions that are fixed will receive no more close votes. Jun 26, 2018 at 17:19
  • @Nathan Could you "fix" some of my worst questions asked at SO plz! :-P Jun 26, 2018 at 17:39
  • @πάνταῥεῖ: I would if I thought I could do so, but [c++] isn't a tag I frequent. (BTW: I'm not saying I can fix any question. What I am saying is that questions I thought I could fix by editing did not always successfully avoid close votes.) Jun 26, 2018 at 17:46
  • @Nathan No worries, that was more a rhetorical request :3 Jun 26, 2018 at 17:47
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Improve the question

If the close-voters have left comments about what is wrong, edit the question to address those concerns.

Flag a mod

If it's a simple misunderstanding, and editing hasn't fixed it somehow. Then if it's simple to explain in 100 words, then hit flag and write a custom message for the moderators. Sometimes a comment from a mod is enough to stave off the self-propelling momentum of the closure apparatus.

Go meta

Explain what's going on in a meta question and ask for help or clarification (maybe the site is in a period of really firming up their rules and the question might fare better in a few months under a different climate). Meta participants can often have a broader perspective of how the site functions and can help.

Put a link to the meta question in the main question so potential close-voters will be more likely to check there first.

Go to chat

If there's a main chatroom for the site, that's a good place to ask for help. If there's a mod chatroom that allows regular users, that's even better.

Flail

I once had a question start to get close-votes after I had earned the "Protect Questions" status. So I hit "protect" on it. Of course protection is completely unrelated to closure. But it confused everyone enough to slow down the knee jerks.

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    Hmm. I thought I had more when I started writing. It got shorter while typing. Jun 26, 2018 at 15:43
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    What about "improve your question" and "make sure that your question is on-topic for the site"? Jun 26, 2018 at 15:49
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    Improve the question or ask for help on meta or in chat, but don't flag and ask moderators to overrule the community. Jun 26, 2018 at 15:59

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