I have been a member of stackoverflow for more than a year now. I love this website. I love it for the community that answers, discusses and questions my questions. I have been more of a question bag on this site (almost 60 questions - thats one question per week). And, that's coz I am someone who is learning a lot - I don't treat myself as a guru or something. Now, here is a question that I asked recently. This question was recommended for close by people 5 people and it was closed. I can't seem to fathom the logic behind preventive closure. And I am not sure why there is no option to undo your recommendation for closure. Please read my comments on the question to understand why it frustrates me. I hope I got my point across.

EDIT I see how people tend to miss the point and generalize this as a yet another 'we've-seen-it-all-every-day' question. My complaint is about how it hurts and upsets me (and this particular case how I was offended), when everyone with 3k+ reputation gets to have a say, and how they can say anything they want and get away with it. I am not just talking about the process, I am trying to suggest that when you give powers to people, you need to have a control system over it. Now, I am beginning to think, if I should answer more questions and be more worried about my rep, so that I can one day feel priviliged and behave like a bully.

I read the FAQ and I see that there is no logical answers to some questions:

  1. Why is the number of minimum votes required for close at 5? What calculation brings you to this number? Why is not 10 or 20?
  2. Why not have basic criteria defined for vote-to-close? Something on the lines of... any question with too much activity in a day (too many people discussing it, which means too many comments/ replies). You close it as argumentative when you see people arguing over it - this is how it is done real life, but preventively killing it before arguments begin, cannot be justified.
  3. Why not let the moderators do this work? Why give powers to everyone with rep? Why rep is the only measure to get there?
  4. I was offended by someone's comments - what do I have to do about it?

EDIT2 Ok, I want this end on a constructive note. I would like to suggest this feature/enhancement for betterment of the community here: Whenever, a vote-to-close is requested on a question, please have the voter quote a reason-for-close. It will help the OP understand why his/her question is off-track and it would give him/her enough input to correct it.

I hope my suggestion made sense.

  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/915/… – Gnoupi Jul 23 '10 at 9:21
  • Gentle suggestion. Read through your edit again, note the dramatic change in tone. Consider rolling it back for now. Think about the points you're going for in the edit, if any, that are missing from the OP that aren't directly confrontational or emotional, and repost those. I think you were expressing understandable frustration, but the change in tone in your edit is going to undermine your goal of getting thoughtful responses to your question. And if you're truly offended (not just in disagreement with) anything, you should flag for mod attention. – Jaydles Jul 23 '10 at 12:27
  • jaydles Thank You. I will consider your advice. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 12:29
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    when you vote to close, you have to specify a reason; it might be helpful if the reasons for the current close votes were listed so the OP could adjust – Steven A. Lowe Jul 23 '10 at 15:05
  • I think @Steven is spot-on. When wouldn't it be better for the reasons (but not the users) to be shown prior to enough votes coming in to close it? It either A) makes no difference, or B) helps the OP to edit his question (or merge/delete it). This is covered here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11183/… – Jaydles Jul 23 '10 at 15:12
  1. The community has decided that subjective/discussion-y things are bad.
  2. The community has decided that anything that sounds like it will generate lists, "I do" & "me too" answers, or any answer or comment that contains "love," "favorite," or "you're just being a fanboy," is subjective, and is therefore bad. (See #1)

Now, whether one agrees or not, I think it's safe to say that it's been discussed to the point of stability. (Whether it's optimal or not, it's not changing soon.)

You raise a valid point in one of your comments that high-rep users should remind themselves to think of what's good for the broad community, and not lose sight of what might have been valuable to them when they were lower on the 'expert' scale, but at the end of the day, there is a need to ensure that the sites don't become a new home for flame wars and inane lists. The intent of most of those high-rep users is good, and on balance, helpful.

How to solve your problem:

This isn't a panacea, but I feel like you can get a lot of what you're looking for by rewording your question to make it less likely to appear to trigger the problems listed in 1&2 above.

Rather than taking a stab at yours (I'm not a programmer,) I'll use an easier example for me. If I essentially wanted to know if anyone on SuperUser was using LaunchBar (a "launcher" app for OSX) and if they like it, I know I can't ask,

Is anyone using LaunchBar? Do you love it?

That's basically what I want to know. But I know I'll get shut down instantly. But I can ask,

What are the key features and capabilities that LaunchBar provides that aren't already provided by OSX's built-in Spotlight function?

That question is almost certain to survive, because unlike the first one, it doesn't seem to elicit hand-raising answers, or discussions of anyone's affection for an app, and it has provable, specific answers.

And most importantly, even though I'm not asking quite the same question, I'll get the same answers.

No one who hasn't used LaunchBar is likely to answer, and the Spotlight reference doesn't confuse anything, because it's the simplest, base-case launcher - anyone on OSX who could have possibly installed LaunchBar knows what Spotlight does.

It's actually better than that, because I'll actually get the same answers I would have with the first question in cases where someone can articulate why and how it helps them, but I won't get the answers that would have muddied the waters from people who love it because they like loving things, or who felt the Spotlight/LaunchBar cold war was finally about to go hot, and it was time to pick sides.

Which raises an important point: It's important to note that you're not just dressing up your question so it slips by the high-rep users. There's a little of that, as some folks do react fast to verbiage that's a "flag" for subjectivity, but more importantly, your re-structuring of the question actually eliminates or reduces the noise and problem answers those users are afraid of without preventing you from getting your answer.

  • I appreciate your detailed answer. It does pacify my frustration to a great extent at this point. Thank You. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 12:33
  • you're very welcome. Don't let the little things throw you off where you started: "You love the website and community". – Jaydles Jul 23 '10 at 12:37
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    This one instance definetly won't/can't throw me off stackoverflow. :-) I was upset/frustrated today, more than I have ever been in a year, hence, the outburst. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 12:43
  • +1 for sticking with it – Pops Jul 23 '10 at 13:15

Welcome to Meta (and SO), Jay! You have stumbled into one of the longest-running debates in SO history.

What you don't know is that every few days a new person comes along from Stack Overflow and asks this exact question. So although for you it is something new to discuss, here we have already discussed this issue to death.
–devinb Aug 7 '09

I recommend reading the FAQ entry about closing questions. It's inadequate on its own, but a good starting point.

I'm sorry to say that I disagree with you, and that the general consensus of the community is not on your side. In your most recent (as of this writing) comment, you cite the Favorite Programmer Cartoon question. It was recently discussed in gory detail here. The executive summary is that it's not an appropriate SO question, but gets grandfathered into "undeletable" status because it got so popular early on when the rules weren't as solid. See also Why did my question get closed as subjective when other CLEARLY subjective questions are left with thousands of upvotes.

More generally, subjective/argumentative. In a nutshell, this covers questions that invite users to discuss something or give their opinions about something. "What is the best X"-type questions are prime examples. Interpreted loosely, anything that doesn't have provably correct answers qualifies.

Finally, your specific question. You asked whether anyone uses Roo. By its very nature, that question will get different answers from different people. Perhaps more importantly, there is no single correct answer or finite number of correct answers. You also invited people to discuss the benefits of Roo, though you didn't explicitly use the word "discuss." So, you asked a good question, just not one that belongs at Stack Overflow.

  • "You also invited people to discuss the benefits of Roo, though you didn't explicitly use the word discuss." I guess you missed this line in my post "I would need to understand how much Roo is loved and where!". This is a very specific question. I didnt want to discuss anything, I wanted to know who and why it is being used. Now, let me tell you, my question was very honest, I did it for no rep count. And I am met with reponses such as these "Wait and see what happens. Oh, and I just added my vote". I hope you notice how people with rep are taking to their reponsibility. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 11:11
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    No disrespect intended, but I don't see how "I would need to understand how much Roo is loved and where!" could be construed as specific in any circumstances. That's simply not quantifiable. As to "I did it for no rep count," I never accused you of rep gaming. And regarding the responses, I'm not happy that you were offended. But bad word choice doesn't mean closing was the wrong choice. – Pops Jul 23 '10 at 11:27
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    +1 I think nobody on Meta has ever had their complaint explained in such a friendly and extensive way. – Pekka Jul 23 '10 at 11:35
  • "But bad word choice doesn't mean closing was the wrong choice" - The same could be applied for my question. If you think the question had any credibility, but it was just poor choice of words, then everyone is free to edit it to make more sense. Why close it? Why have double standards? And why give superpowers to everyone with reputation?! I don't have reputation coz I dont answer much, but I have asked a LOT of questions! Why don't I have any super powers based on the number of questions I asked? – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 11:47
  • The same cannot be applied to your question. In your case, the problem was not word choice, but intent. You wanted to ask a question -- and I repeat, it was a good question -- that fostered discussion, rather than having an objectively correct answer. No amount of wordsmithing can turn that into an appropriate question for a Q&A site. – Pops Jul 23 '10 at 12:17
  • Separate comment for a separate topic. Why wouldn't you give superpowers to everyone with reputation? By definition, rep is a rough measure of how much the community trusts you. The trust has to do with two things: your technical skills and your understanding of how SO works. Honestly, I'm glad when new people like you come to Meta and ask about how things work, because hey, it's nice that other people care about stuff I care about. But from the discussion so far, it's clear that your idea of how SO works doesn't mesh with the community's, so you shouldn't have superpowers (yet). – Pops Jul 23 '10 at 12:20
  • Finally, regarding asking lots of questions: this was discussed at great length about half a year ago. Check out the first three bullet points of this blog post (and then the rest of the blog post). – Pops Jul 23 '10 at 12:23
  • well, you definetly have to agree that the fact your ground rules of trust are flawed. Coz, this is one of things where you get away by saying.. 'nobody is perfect, the world is not perfect, and there could be people who are misusing their powers but hey this had done more good so far than bad'. Yes, I will take that answer, once you agree that your system has flaws. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 12:26
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    I didn't say that at all. We have a system here that does what we want it to do. You've come in with a different goal in mind and say that our system is bad. It's as if you're saying that a hammer has flaws because it's bad at turning screws. If you use it to hammer nails, I think you'll be much happier with the results. If you insist on using it as a Phillips-head, there's nothing anyone can do. One last comment: I would recommend against accepting my answer. Acceptance is supposed to indicate the answer that helped you the most, and I don't feel that my... conversation... did that. – Pops Jul 23 '10 at 13:06

About your complaint in general: people can vote to close a question when they have 3000 of reputation. They don't need to ask questions for that, they can provide answers too. They earned this reputation, these are not some new comers.

It needs 5 votes to close a question by the community. Community can as well vote to reopen it. Finally, if you feel it's really unfair, the solution is or to talk about it on Meta (like you did), or to flag for moderator's attention.

However, your question was closed rightly, because it's a discussion. You are asking opinions of people, and this doesn't fit in a Q&A site.


Your question is a great question. It's just not meant for Stack Overflow. It's meant for Hacker News or Reddit or Slashdot. I recommend you ask this specific question there.

Stack Overflow questions should be of "the answer to this question will help me solve this specific programming problem I'm having right now." type. Finding out who uses Roo is more a 'discussion' question; where you want to know people's experiences with it, where they use it, etc.

The bottom line is, if you don't have some sort of idea of what the accepted answer would look like, it probably doesn't belong here.

  • the whole problem is, I don't want my questions to be judged by a lot of people who don't understand it. And, at StackOverflow, there is no system in place which ensures that when a question is closed, it is being closed by people who truly understand it. They are only looking at the tone of it, and instead of rewording it / or sending a warning to the OP about how it should be changed, they get away with voting for close. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 12:40
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    @Jay, wait, I didn't see this comment before. Closure is an invitation to an asker to edit his question to make it better; it's not hard to get an improved question reopened. Closure does not mean a question is locked away or deleted forever. – Pops Jul 23 '10 at 13:09
  • For one, its human tendency to follow popular opinion. So, when someone begins with voting for closure, you will very quickly see enough votes requesting for closing the same question. Now, in this regard, 5 votes is too small a number for the number of votes required to close a question. Honestly, it gives no time for the OP to correct anything. Secondly, how would the OP even know why the post is being closed when half of the time people who close it don't necessarily leave a feedback to why they are voting? – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 16:27
  • And about how you say, 'Closure does not mean a question is locked away or deleted forever' - This again works against the human psyche. When you see a closed question, not many people would want to reopen it, coz people tend to go with popular opinion - which would be closing that question. And most of the users who would have otherwise seen that post, wouldn't even take a look at it coz its closed. I believe the right way to address this sort of thing would be to increase the number of votes required for closure to a larger number and also make it mandatory to specify a comment while voting. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 16:29
  • All I am saying is that its human tendency (more of mob culture!) to vote-to-close something (which is kind of a destructive act by definition) and not to vote-to-reopen. Like it or not, but thats just reality. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 16:31
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    @Jay instead of building up all these reasons why the community around you is wrong, wouldn't it be easier to say, "Hm. Maybe something was wrong with the question I asked?" – George Stocker Jul 23 '10 at 16:41
  • @George Alrite. For a moment, I will accept that there was something wrong with my question. Now, will you accept that there was something wrong with how the question was closed? Dont you think I should know why my question is getting closed? Don't you think that if there is something that can be improved about SO, I should make a suggestion? – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 21:40
  • @Jay No, there was nothing wrong with how the question was closed. The system is working as designed. Yes, you should know why your question was closed, and the closed reason (as well as asking the question on meta) fulfills that requirement. and finally, you're always welcome to make a suggestion, but the suggestions you've made have been made many times before and all shot down for various reasons. – George Stocker Jul 23 '10 at 22:08
  • @George "the suggestions you've made have been made many times before and all shot down for various reasons" - well, that will only daunt my further attempts in future to making any suggestions. A more democratic system to taking suggestions would be using a poll system. That is when you will see what majority of the users want. – Jay Jul 23 '10 at 22:40
  • @Jay democracy is only tyranny of the majority. The highest voted feature requests usually are done. It just so happens that your particular feature request is not voted very highly. – George Stocker Jul 24 '10 at 5:04

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