In case you've forgotten the Stack Exchange system's black sheep, Programmers.SE, it's still around and is still in need of serious direction. Even after the Great Subjective Debate of 2010, tons of questions on Programmers.SE are still low-quality and flaunt the guidelines of both the FAQ and Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

I'd give you examples, but there are so many of them a quick visit to Programmers.SE should provide you several.

Furthermore, there's very little incentive to vote to close questions because there are more people interested in maintaining the anarchistic status quo than there are that are interested in implementing the new guidelines. Many of the questions that are closed are reopened in much less time than it took to get enough votes to close them: right now 1 out of every 3 questions that are closed are reopened.

There are other issues, like closers being cast as villains and a severe collective misunderstanding of what constitutes a good question, but I wonder if there's at least one way to make it a little easier for beta sites to shape the character of the site:

On beta Stack Exchange sites, require (significantly?) more rep to reopen a question than to close it.

This change would, at least ostensibly, still allow many users to get rid of the cruft but also require significantly more time for users to understand the nature of the site before deciding that a question should stay.

This is based on the idea that in the beta, a Stack Exchange site should be more exclusive than inclusive: as Programmers.SE has shown, allowing a site to have a lot of bad questions at the site—in hopes of sparking a critical mass of questions such that the good questions will eventually overtake the bad—is a demonstrably unsound philosophy. And while Programmers.SE is the extreme, the problem of constant off-topic questions can and has affected other sites in their beta.

Would this help? Is there another way to help mitigate the constant reopening of bad questions?


It is important that reopening permissions are tied with closing permissions so that any closings actually can be reversed, specifically by the people who closed it. This is more-so important during the Beta since that is when the actual lines for closing are not fully defined, making incorrect closings far more likely to happen.

That, and it's a bit of a kick-in-the-face to the opposition. Even if I'm pro-scope, I think it's fairer that I wait for them to be on equal ground than me in order to argue their vantage point, not require them to be on higher ground than I was when I made the initial choice.

| improve this answer | |
  • right, that's the theory, but Programmers.SE is a case study in how being liberal with allowing questions to remain open (either through lack of close votes or through votes to reopen) has a detrimental effect to the site as a whole. Do you have any examples where closing questions accidentally have harmed a beta community? – user149432 Oct 13 '10 at 17:03
  • 1
    @Mark Long term harm? None was sustained because we could reverse them. But prior to said reversal, we have had a few stints on Gaming involving inappropriate closings, not even regarding the huge war we're currently fighting for scope. Here's a nice example. They all were resolved happily because all of the inappropriate closings were reversed. – Grace Note Oct 13 '10 at 17:08
  • @Mark I agree that inappropriate reopenings are just as bad as inappropriate closings. We have also had to deal with that on Gaming. But I don't think it constitutes a need for uneven ground. Maybe Programmers has a huge problem that needs a hard solution. But other sites have needed to foster discussion to determine a good scope, and I don't see a healthy debate when the system itself is not impartial. – Grace Note Oct 13 '10 at 17:12
  • thanks for the example. I'm still thinking about the other points you've made. – user149432 Oct 13 '10 at 17:43

If there is more people wanting to reopen, then it simply means that the people wanted such question in the site. I don't think there's any problem with that.

Programmers.SE is still in its formative years, and what constitutes on-topic or off-topic should not be set in the stone yet.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Please let's not let the process take years. – Pops Oct 13 '10 at 18:57

You must log in to answer this question.