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Is Stack Overflow turning into something similar to Wikipedia where few control the content and push their agenda upon everyone else (obviously I realize that this happens mainly on high traffic pages on Wikipedia)? There seems to be a trend of more subject matter being closed as not being relevant to Stack Overflow, and I would imagine that as this site continues to grow, that this could become even more of a problem.

Examples:

If this is the case, how can Stack Overflow prevent this sort of thing from happening? Maybe it's just the paranoid person inside of me talking here.

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    Both close reasons are valid. What's your problem with them? Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 20:51
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    Those are both questions that were not fit for this site.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 20:54
  • I'll admit that those are poor examples, Ive seen a few better examples, of things that were closed, i just didnt think to remember them before I decided to write this article.
    – Aaron M
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 22:09
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    If you knew your examples were bad, and that people would tell you such, why on earth would you "not think" to remember them?
    – snicker
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 22:12
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    You're right about Wikipedia turning bad, look at the current news about the Global Warming fanatics removing over 5000 references to the Medieval Warm Period. wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=119745 Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 22:58
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    Community wiki? Nice...
    – alex
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 22:59
  • If you have an example of a question which was closed that you believe shouldn't have been, then create a post here and either a moderator will take a look at it or users will vote to re-open it.
    – Justin
    Commented Dec 23, 2009 at 0:08
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    I like Wikipedia. There are good articles there. You know what I worry about SO turning into? NOT WIKIPEDIA. That other thing... Every other programming site on the 'Net. Where good and useful topics are ignored and banal crap is re-posted over, and over, and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 23, 2009 at 2:52
  • I guess from the down voting, a lot of people think this site isn't turning into Wikipedia
    – Aaron M
    Commented Dec 23, 2009 at 15:18
  • @Kragen: thats very true, as I see those posts quite often. The question was definately more open ended in my opinion rather than hey look at this post, and tell me why it was closed because I disagree with it.
    – Aaron M
    Commented Dec 23, 2009 at 15:19

6 Answers 6

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I think a better question to be asking is: "Is Stack Overflow turning into an advice site? And how can we fix it if it is?" -- to which the answer is: keep vigilantly closing "please give me advice for my life" questions. SO is about programming, not about how to choose between job A and job B.

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    Where's the "super upvote" button when you need it?
    – womble
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 22:00
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If you're referring to closure of the question on which you commented, that absolutely appears to be a valid closure to me.

I probably would have cited the reason as "not programming related," and who knows, maybe at least one of the closers did, but that question is not appropriate for StackOverflow. If you replace the word, "programmer," with the word, "accountant," the question is essentially identical.

The reality of that example is valid closure.

Based on some other comments here:

what if several people ... don't really like questions about vb6, so they go around and close vb6 questions.

This is absolutely possible, and there are tools in place to notify the official moderators of the Trilogy about such behavior. Additionally, other 3,000+ users can vote to reopen those likely-valid questions.

Because of the way the community works, this kind of abuse is less likely to happen, and if it does, more likely to be corrected. The Trilogy is one of the very few places where I feel that the People can, in fact, self-govern. (Largely.)

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  • +1 for using my favorite guide to "not programming related": would this question be at home on UnbalancedColumns? Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 21:34
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No.

None of the people who voted to close are official moderators. Everyone that has 3000 reputation can vote.

3000 Vote to close or reopen any questions

This is different from "where few control the content and push their agenda upon everyone else". Everyone can have 3000 reputation. I'm trying to get there.

Sometimes we don't agree with some decisions in a "democracy", unfortunately, it's how everything works.

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  • Okay, given that example, what if several people say for example we don't really like questions about vb6, so they go around and close vb6 questions. Just an example, not one that has happened yet on here, but I could see it happening.
    – Aaron M
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 20:52
  • That cannot happen Aaron. VB6 Qs are valid Qs. If the system is abused, flags exist to inform the moderators or you can mail the team. Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 20:56
  • People won't say "we don't like vb6 questions". The faq is clear in this subject:"Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion." The question you mentioned is subjective, argumentative and requires extended discussion.
    – GmonC
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 20:58
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    They would get enough people complaining to the moderators and powers that be, that the situation would be fixed. Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 20:59
  • But note, I have seen people close and downvote posts because they are in a different niche, and don't apply to their programming. So it does happen, but it's rare. Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 21:01
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    I don't just have the power to vote to close, I've got the power to vote to reopen (at least on SO). I'll use both as I see fit. A small cabal can indeed close questions, but they can't keep them closed. Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 21:35
  • @Lance - if you see something like that flag the post for moderator attention with the explanation
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 21:51
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    @Aaron: When people start roaming round in vigilante mobs closing legitimate questions about VB6, then come back here with a question. The examples you cited are legitimate targets for closure, so nothing to see here folks, move along.
    – womble
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 22:02
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That's one more reason to keep closing the subjective posts, it will probably head in a wikipedia direction the more subjective it gets.

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For the two posted samples I would say it is: status-bydesign according to the FAQ.

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It's also worth mentioning that an individual only has a limited number of "close" votes available per day. This is designed to limit the sort of potential behaviour you describe.

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  • But just like in Wikipedia, those users will form a group, connect to each other and start working as a mob for greater good or whatever they seem the best thing to be.
    – Esko
    Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 22:03
  • Do you really think that's what is happening here? Really? Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 22:14
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    just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you Commented Dec 22, 2009 at 23:19
  • Greg: Not in large quantities at least since SO doesn't support such behaviour directly, however it's well within the realm of possible things to occur. However I would be interested to track the users of this site, especially those who do any kind of moderating and analyze that tracking data to see if there's any interesting behavioral patterns such as what if certain people always vote for the closing of same questions. ...Yeah, I don't trust users enough to not monitor them.
    – Esko
    Commented Dec 23, 2009 at 7:34
  • All that data about who closed what is available in the data dump. Have at it. Commented Dec 23, 2009 at 11:04

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