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My question mainly regards Stack Overflow, since that's where I spend most of my SE time, but I'm posting this here since this may apply to other Stack Exchange sites as well.

The Problem

Lots of questions are closed each day (on SO at least). These closed questions clutter the questions pages, making it difficult to sift through, spot hidden gems, and draw one's attention to the posts that are actually worth one's time. (Note these are my opinions and might not apply to everyone else.)

The Feature Request

Stack Overflow has a question filter. I'm suggesting that a Hide Closed/Duplicate/On-Hold Questions checkbox should be added in order to filter out the closed questions, retaining the ones that are still open. Here's a mockup of what it might resemble (on SO):

Screenshot

Why a filter?

  1. Making it a filter allows the feature to be used across different question tabs (e.g. Newest, Active, Bounties, Unanswered).
  2. I'm guessing that some people (maybe moderators and power-users) might wish to continue seeing closed questions. Having this feature as a filter allows users to turn the functionality on/off.

However, some other SE sites might not have a question filter (e.g. Mathematics SE). This is currently under development, I hope? But I'm guessing that SO is ahead in myriads of ways.

No filter? How about actual tags?

I'm aware that SO and other SE sites have an Ignore Tags functionality. Why not automatically assign closed tags, duplicate tags, and on-hold tags to the question? Then one can simply choose to ignore these tags and presto! Problem solved. Note that this may also apply to locked or protected questions.

So maybe something like these:

A nice thing about this is that one can specifically choose to ignore only closed questions, ignore only duplicates questions, or ignore only on-hold questions. (But of course, the filter feature could also incorporate this by using three separate checkboxes. This is just another idea/workaround).

Note: SO already has a tag. Maybe an appropriate tag for this feature might be instead.


I've already taken a look at another old Meta post concerning the same question (also regarding SO particularly). This, however, seems to be historical due to changes in the question-navigation layout on SO.

I've also browsed through the new-nav articles but couldn't find any information regarding "hiding closed questions".

Other than that I've tried searching SE Meta and SO Meta for news regarding this issue. Sad to say, but I couldn't find anything else.

I would be more than happy to hear if the SE/SO development teams have queued this feature into production and if so, whether there are any updates on this. Any other thoughts are also welcome.

  • 2
    How about the closed:no search operator? – Jenayah Nov 27 '18 at 11:32
  • Cool, never used it before. But does the search results also update like the question-page normally does? I mean, if all we had to do was rely on the search bar, what'd be the use of the question-navigation? 🤔 I'm... not seeing how that answers my question. But do post an answer if you think it's a suitable answer. – TrebuchetMS Nov 27 '18 at 11:36
  • By "update" do you mean live new questions? I'm not sure, but I guess this can be tweaked with keeping another tab open or something - TBH SO is out of control anyway :-) and yeah, I know it's not a full-fledged answer, hence the comment, which was mainly to check whether or not you knew about the thing – Jenayah Nov 27 '18 at 11:52
  • @Jenayah Yep, I meant the live updates. E.g. 13 questions with new activity. With the closed:no search results, I need to manually refresh the page. It's definitely a workaround, though. – TrebuchetMS Nov 27 '18 at 12:38
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In theory, we actually do want people to see and find closed questions.

Someone might actually know how to fix up a question that's on hold, or the dupe might be a better fit to what they searched for.

Practically speaking- rather ironically, if its not deleted we actually want closed and on hold questions findable as part of being a knowledge base for the future.

Just because someone closed a question might not necessarily means it has no value - simply that it had problems at the time.

  • I think your answer is insightful, and I agree that some people may find value in closed questions. But.. does that make a hide-closed-questions feature is entirely unnecessary? – TrebuchetMS Nov 27 '18 at 11:43
  • I feel its not entirely in the broader "SE" spirit of things - at least as I understand it. I see the appeal of it but it really feels like you'll miss a lot that way – Journeyman Geek Nov 27 '18 at 11:47
  • As a moderator, can you clarify what you mean by "SE spirit of things"? I'm getting a lot of mixed signals from the community as to what SE/SO values (as well as from external sites). :-) – TrebuchetMS Nov 27 '18 at 12:26
  • Well - that SE's supposed to form a knowledge base eventually - and that closed questions are not always not redeemable. The problem I have with hiding closed stuff is you're literally trying to sift out what's current, when the stuff you're hiding might be useful, fixable or even a pointer at what you need. – Journeyman Geek Nov 27 '18 at 12:44
  • So closed/on-hold questions are actually shown on purpose as it encourages the community to double-check on potential moderation mistakes while offering transparency and an archived state. It emphasises the community as a collective and (partly) discourages rep-hounds. Thus, this feature request should be rejected. Is that accurate? (Trying to rephrase it in my own words so that I could understand it clearly.) My problem's are mostly with the duplicate posts since most of the time, the flags are pretty accurate. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ I guess I could always do duplicate:no if it comes down to it. – TrebuchetMS Nov 27 '18 at 14:00
  • I'm not really in a position to say that it should be rejected - I don't work here. I'm saying it is at odds with how I think SE should work – Journeyman Geek Nov 27 '18 at 23:13
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I agree with this answer that we generally want the community to see those questions so they can help fix them (or downvote them off the front page, if they're unsalvagable). But filters are a power-user feature, not on by default, and maybe it's ok to give power users the option to focus their energies elsewhere.

Adding "not closed" to the filter options alongside "no answers" and "no accepted answer" (and, maybe someday, "not answered by me") seems like a reasonable enhancement to the power-user filtering tool. I predict that only a small fraction of users will use it, so having it shouldn't harm the community curation of the unfiltered question list.

If we're averse to offering it as a baked-in option because it dangles "you can skip all that!" in front of too many users, then we could achieve the same outcome with a bit more work by making filters work with search. If you could filter based on all the options you have now plus the contents of a search box, then you, as somebody who never wants to see closed questions, could add closed:no to your own filter. I think filters are intended to replace search, not interact with it, but maybe there are enough use cases to reconsider. (Or maybe I misunderstand.)

Whatever we do, though, we shouldn't use tags like you proposed. First off, there is a general aversion to meta-tags (tags that are not about the question itself but about some property of the question). Second, you'd have to edit the tags when questions get closed or reopened, and people won't always do that -- so they're not going to stay accurate even if they were otherwise a good idea.

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