31

I decided recently to try to participate more on Workplace.

It turns out to be not so easy. You've got to be quick on the draw to so much as answer a question before it gets closed for dubious reasons.

For example:

Offer letter gives different commission structure than talked about in interview

It might have been appropriate to close this as a duplicate of some other question asking whether to sign a contract that doesn't contain what was ostensibly agreed upon. But to close this as "off-topic"?

"Questions asking for advice on a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else.

It seems to me that the principle "Don't sign a contract hoping it won't be enforced as written" is going to be useful for just about anybody, not just the asker here.

Ethics of replaying a failed financial transaction

"Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals.

Did the closers so much as read the question? It asks about the ethics of replaying a failed financial transaction. It's right there in the title! Or did they think it was company-specific, as though this is something only one company could ever do?

Could the idiom " What are you up to?" be considered offensive in the emails?

At worst, this isn't on topic because it should go to English Language & Usage. But that's not why it was closed:

primarily opinion-based

So on second thought, forget English Language & Usage; that whole board should be closed, as any time you ask people about how a language works or what things mean, you're going to get opinions. But if a variety of people agree that something had an intended meaning and about what that meaning is, can you still call the question "opinion-based"? These are opinions based on experience with the language, which are thus informative to the questioner and others without a native-level mastery of English.

My job didn't inform me the hospital called to tell me my husband was admitted. Can I take action against them?

"Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals."

At this point I get the impression that the closers of this board think that any question which could be interpreted as asking for legal advice must be so interpreted. At least I'm assuming that's the reason, because there's clearly nothing company-specific here. It describes a situation that could arise at any company.

I'm sure there are more examples. (Of the most recent 30 questions on this board, one-third have been closed.) I noticed these because I answered them...and then they got closed for reasons that make me wonder whether the closers even read the questions, let alone the answers that had already been supplied. Three of the four had positive votes, meaning people found them useful.

Do people get points for closing an ostensibly bad question? What is the incentive here? I don't understand the zealotry people display in telling others that their question was crap. (And I'm not the only one.)

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    No, you're not the only one. You have quite a few people in here who agree with you. – Retired Codger Jul 30 '18 at 13:14
  • @Dukeling, how about this: I'm asking (a) why people find it so easy to consider questions problematic, and (b) if they are problematic, why people find it so easy to close them (or put them "on hold") rather than either edit to fix them, or make comments with suggested fixes. Why is "vote to close" far more popular than either of those? – user1602 Aug 1 '18 at 10:47
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    Can someone clarify, if 5 people vote to close a question for different reasons then which reason is shown? – Ben Mz Aug 1 '18 at 17:04
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    @BenMz It's usually majority vote, but not always. And "off topic" classifies as 1 reason - it used to display all off topic reasons if multiple were selected, not sure if it's still doing that. – Dukeling Aug 1 '18 at 17:37
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    Note that because of the high number of users here, close votes come fast. It's worse on Super User and Stack Overflow – Jan Doggen Aug 3 '18 at 13:03
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    Finally, this site might actually be useful for something. – user90968 Aug 7 '18 at 0:44
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    Question-closing and "Marked-as-duplicate" is out-of-hand in Workplace at the moment. For other Stack discussions, I shan't comment for now. For example, workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/60175/… is clearly not a duplicate because it relates specifically to tech and startups not generic "how do I leave my job" questions. It is indeed unfortunate that both the question-asker and the question-answerer are getting reduced chances to get pertinent, helpful replies. – SaltySub2 Aug 14 '18 at 3:51
32

I don't understand the zealotry people display in telling others that their question was crap.

I'm sure there are varied reasons why some folks vote to close so aggressively.

Some seem to enjoy being one of the first few to vote. Some folks never ask any questions, seldom provide any answers, yet are very quick on the voting trigger.

Others seem to catch a flavor of a rule ("Legal = No"), then want to find ways to enforce that rule any way they can - even if the rule doesn't actually fit the situation.

Others just seem to follow the lead of others. When they see a vote, they chime in with a vote as well.

Some are just trying to keep the site clean in the ways they are told they can.

(As a side note, it's not hard to see that a small group of members seem to do a high percentage of the close voting. I wonder if there is a query that could be run which analyzes this clustering of close votes [without naming any name]?)

IMHO, there are far too many close votes on this site and the site suffers for it. I always err on the side of leaving questions open, or editing the question to keep it viable whenever possible. I tend to downvote poor questions, but not vote to close them.

It's been discussed many times before. For good or for bad, this has been going on since the site was started, and seems unlikely to change. Sadly, if you want to continue here, you may just have to learn to tolerate it.

I've decided that I will look at closed questions, edit those that I think deserve to be edited, vote to re-open those that I think deserve to be open, and leave a comment to that effect. Maybe it will make a difference. Maybe the site will seem a bit friendlier because of it. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO JOIN ME AND HELP!

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    Some folks never ask any questions, seldom provide any answers, yet are very quick on the voting trigger Well put. – rath Jul 30 '18 at 14:39
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    I hate seeing the community close questions that were easily editable at the time. (No, that's not always the case -- but it does happen.) People, if you can fix a problem to avert the close/angst/reopen-if-you're-lucky cycle, please do it! – Monica Cellio Jul 30 '18 at 18:10
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    @MonicaCellio THIS is spot on – Retired Codger Jul 31 '18 at 13:08
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    I've seen questions closed over a single word or phrase. "What can I do to resolve this" is off-topic, but "How can I resolve this" is on-topic. Is there really a difference between those two? – Belle-Sophie Jul 31 '18 at 13:38
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    @Belle-Sophie - I don't see a difference. Sometimes it's magic. – Joe Strazzere Jul 31 '18 at 13:46
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    .. or leave a comment asking for asking for clarification and then 'Skip' – Jan Doggen Aug 3 '18 at 13:04
  • I know from Stack Overflow that there a chat rooms dedicated to closing questions or other meta activities for instance. I'm quite new here, is the Workplace community active in chat? @JoeStrazzere Maybe you and/or someone else could create a "review closed questions" chat room to regroup volunteers for this task? – Pac0 Aug 12 '18 at 13:47
  • @Pac0 - I don't think I can create a Chat room. Frankly, I'm not really interested in a long discussion about each Closed question. I plan to review closed questions when I have time and Vote to Reopen those that I think should be reopened. I usually also leave a comment. I'd suggest you could do the same. – Joe Strazzere Aug 12 '18 at 16:12
  • I completely understand the "not want to have long discussion", was merely suggesting that for the sake of "easy joining" about your last call at the end of your answer. And unfortunately, I am still too newbie here to participate in the votes or review queues, but I will try to follow your commenting advice. I also prefer helping and welcoming comments over only downvoting / flagging / voting to close. And thank you anyway for your constructive involvement, and to all other that help the positive and welcoming trend. – Pac0 Aug 12 '18 at 17:35
  • Our main The Workplace Chat is pretty active, and sometimes people bring up questions there that they think should be {closed, reopened, edited,...}. Feel free to bring up specific cases in the main room. – Monica Cellio Aug 12 '18 at 18:28
  • There are just too many blatant bad actors on this site. But now that the Code of Conduct is in place, I will be watching everyone here. I may have deep pockets. You all know what that means. – user90968 Aug 16 '18 at 5:34
  • @codewise - deep pockets? I have no idea what you mean. – Joe Strazzere Aug 16 '18 at 14:44
11

I think there is a tension between to goals of different people on this site. Some long time contributors see this site as a effort to build a corpus of great questions and answers. They protect the site from duplicate and low quality questions which they see as detracting from the site. These people also have a dislike of questions which require an opinion to answer because these questions can’t have a correct answer. Others see the site as a place where people can help others who have questions. They are much more accepting of vague questions or questions which require an opinion because they see good answers as including an opinion based on experience. This is overly binary, however, this simplification can help understand some of the dynamics on this site.

People who frequent this site often talk about putting questions on hold as part of a process in which the questions can be improved. A new person who asks a question doesn’t experience this. What they experience is asking a question, having it quickly shutdown with a boilerplate explanation which provides very little guidance relevant to their specific question. If you lean towards wanting to help people then this should concern you. People who vote to close a question should in most cases provide an explanation in the comments. If this doesn’t happen others should do it for them, or vote to reopen.

Many questions are closed as duplicates because the general issues are the same, however, the context is different. This can be explained by the desire to create a corpus of canonical answers. I believe this is often a mistake. Taken out of context many questions have obvious answers. However, it is the context that makes it hard for the questioner to reach the answer by themselves. We should provide answers which address the context as well as the underlying question.

I realize my opinion will be discounted here since I haven’t achieved the score necessary to vote to close yet. Perhaps some people will appreciate the perspective of a relative newcomer.

  • 1
    Some people also seem to think that a Q&A website is a book that people will read cover to cover. Cf. meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_is_not_paper – Nemo Aug 2 '18 at 13:45
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    Duplicates aren't bad; they can provide valuable breadcrumbs. If there is a duplicate that already has answers, connecting a new question to it gets the asker to those answers more quickly. If the asker didn't find that other question the probably other people won't either; now there are two ways to get to those answers, the original question and the duplicate. So maybe somebody won't find the original but will find this one and get a solution. Of course, this depends on the questions actually being duplicates; if specific context matters, the question should point that out. – Monica Cellio Aug 2 '18 at 21:53
  • @CJDennis Thank you for going to so much effort to improve my post. – Ben Mz Aug 7 '18 at 1:12
  • You're very welcome! – CJ Dennis Aug 7 '18 at 1:15
6

If people put as much energy into editing questions as they did either lamenting or defending the number of closed questions on The Workplace, we'd have a lot fewer closed questions and a lot more happy users.


Failing that, try to change the site on/off topic rules via meta. The first question explicitly is asking:

So should sign the letter anyway?

which is 100% this question:

"Questions asking for advice on a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else.

Now, what you could have done was edit the question to remove the "should I do?" and actually write the question your answer addresses, which is basically, "How can I reconcile an offer letter which differs from what was talked about in the interview?"

However in my experience here, nearly no one is willing to do this sort of edit. So... I guess the meta wars about "we close too many questions!" will continue ad nauseam.

  • 8
    "what you could have done was edit the question to remove the "should I do?" and actually write the question your answer addresses, which is basically, "How can I reconcile an offer letter which differs from what was talked about in the interview?"" - I was willing to do that edit. – Joe Strazzere Jul 31 '18 at 0:45
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    The importance of a quick edit cannot be understated. I learned this when I did one and the question went from -7 to +54. All I did was remove the rant in the question and got to the facts. Some of these can be easily fixed. – Retired Codger Jul 31 '18 at 13:10
  • @JoeStrazzere thanks Joe! – enderland Jul 31 '18 at 13:13
3

Offer letter gives different commission structure than talked about in interview

is CLEARLY off topic. Any question that asks us to make a decision for the OP is off topic, PERIOD We are not an advice column.

Ethics of replaying a failed financial transaction

Should not have been closed for that reason. Voted to reopen

Could the idiom " What are you up to?" be considered offensive in the emails?

Agreed, voted to reopen

The last one could use an edit, and I voted to reopen it as well.

If you see questions closed that you feel should not have been, do just what you did here:

BRING THEM TO OUR ATTENTION

A question being closed doesn't mean it has to stay closed. It may have been closed in error, need an edit, or a combination of the two.

The best protection we have against some members of the community being too zealous is other members of the community.

  • 6
    I disagree with your first point. As correctly described by Elysian Fields in a different answer the OP was really asking what are the pros/cons of signing that letter so that he could understand how to make the decision for himself. He just phrased it badly. – davidbak Aug 8 '18 at 3:28
2

Do people get points for closing an ostensibly bad question? What is the incentive here?

I have thought long and hard about this and think I have it worked out.

No points worth speaking of for close votes so by my analysis apart from the legit closures (around 75 percent including edge cases) the other reasons are:-

PMS, bad day, withdrawal symptoms, drunk, high on something, and a very small percentage of pure evil and perhaps a smidgen of roid rage.

Do they actually read it?

It's obvious that many people just skim a question before voting.

1

I completely agree with the OP's post. The impression I get is that there is a small band of users that seem to be very quick with the VTC trigger and are frequently using it inappropriately. It seems to often be the same users every time (I won't name names..).

Personally, I would like to see the site moderators step in and lay out temporary bans and/or remove rep points (if that is possible) from users that are using their VTC privileges irresponsibly, or not in accordance with the site guidelines.

Also, not sure if this is already the case, but I would like to see a question closed only if 5 close votes are given for the same close category. It would help to ensure that the close reasons are coherent and cut out frivolous VTCs that don't have any real basis.

Is there a limit to how many VTCs can be cast per day?

-3

I can only speak for myself, but...

Why do I vote to close in general?

To get rid of "bad" questions (specifically the ones that are considered inappropriate according to site rules, i.e. those that are off-topic, too broad, opinion-based or unclear), in order to make the "good" ones easier to find, to improve the overall quality of the site, etc.

Closing doesn't actually do that much to get rid of questions (even for those that don't get reopened), but it's easy enough to convince myself that I'm helping I can only use what I've got.

Why do I vote to close so much?

Because there are so many questions that need closing, basically.

If you're wondering about a specific close vote of mine, you'll need to ask about that specifically.

I'm probably more critical than I used to be, and you can probably find at least some reasons for that some place or another. Although this doesn't mean my reasons for voting to close are bad.

Why don't I edit instead?

I vote to close instead of editing when:

  • I can't see an edit that will make the question appropriate.
  • I think the edit will deviate too much from the asker's intent for me to make it (instead of the author) - it generally makes more sense (to me) to just close the question instead of potentially getting into an argument with the author, and/or everyone else, about the fact that I pretty much rewrote their question to make it appropriate.
  • I just don't think the question is useful enough to put in the effort.
  • Others may think the original question is fine. Editing is a one-man show, closing requires 5, and reopening seems like a more natural part of the daily grind than reverting edits - I'd see having an edit reverted as a black mark, whereas I don't really care if people reopen a question I closed or helped close (apart from the general frustration that we can't all agree on stuff).
  • I don't have the time or inclination to edit it right now. Rewriting a question is hard work.

Why don't I comment instead to explain what's wrong with the question or suggest improvements?

I often do, in addition to voting to close.

Although such comments are:

  • Ignored.
  • Moved to chat.
  • Deleted.
  • Redundant with the close reason.
  • Not how you get rid of a bad question (whether through fixing or go-away-ism).
  • 1
    "I just don't think the question is useful enough to put in the effort." - why are you judging this? Up/down votes are how usefulness is assessed, and often the results surprise us. – Phueal Aug 10 '18 at 5:36
  • @Phueal The question is not appropriate for the site in it's current state and should be closed, so I vote to close it. I could potentially edit it to make it appropriate, but that's too much work to put in for a question I don't personally believe is particularly useful. If others disagree about its usefulness, they're more than welcome to edit it themselves, but if no-one edits it, it should be closed. – Dukeling Aug 10 '18 at 8:51
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    To me it just feels very callous. Along with your comment: "I'm just in a bit of an indifferent or lazy mood. Rewriting a question is hard work." I understand why these would make you skip over a question and not bother to touch it, but the person asking the question is in some kind of predicament and needing assistance. It doesn't help them at all to shut down their question because you can't be bothered with it / aren't interested in it - if you can be bothered, help them fix it; if you can't, then skip over it. Your other reasons seem valid to me. – Phueal Aug 10 '18 at 9:46
  • @Phueal Closing a question is a signal that the question has problems that need to be addressed (before it can be answered). That should do more to get the question fixed than just doing nothing. Plenty of questions get reopened, especially on this site - closing is only "shutting a question down" if no-one, including the author, cares enough to try to fix it. – Dukeling Aug 10 '18 at 10:11
  • IMO, if a question is bad then it should be voted down. By my understanding, voting to close is for when questions are off-topic, duplicates or somehow inappropriate for the site, for very clear and specific reasons. – Time4Tea Aug 13 '18 at 13:14
  • @Time4Tea Yes, that matches up with what I meant. Edited. – Dukeling Aug 13 '18 at 13:31
  • Ok, I appreciate the edit, as I think it's an important point to clarify. I've reversed my downvote. – Time4Tea Aug 13 '18 at 13:53
-9

The Stack Exchange model provides users access to certain moderation tools at a specific reputation threshold. The idea is that these users understand the SE and through their contributions have earned the priviledge of being able to help curate the site.

A big threshold is the ability to vote to Close a question. It takes 5 people to close a question and 5 more people to reopen. Each person can only vote one time to close.

That you do not like that some people are using their close votes does not provide for you to be disresepectful of their use of the close vote. Argue the merits of each question rather than making ad-hominim attacks on the people using their voting privileges.

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    I believe I did in fact argue the merits of each question in my text above. I can't know the mind of the closers. I have to guess based on the nebulous close-reason text given. Closers (for some reason) don't have to give any specifics beyond the close reason itself. I'm aware of the principle of reputation threshold; I have a little more than 878 rep on StackOverflow. – user1602 Jul 30 '18 at 14:43
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    @Kyralessa - You used the term close police... That is quite rude for those of us trying to keep a certian standards not having bad questions for discussion. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 30 '18 at 14:47
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    @Kyralessa While the wording in your question is a bit strong and perhaps needlessly dismissive, I don't think that constitutes an attack like IDIKT is saying here. But what is over the line is calling out specific users because you seem to think they shouldn't be allowed to use the privileges granted to them. Please refrain from using this or any space on the network to single people out in this manner. – Lilienthal Jul 30 '18 at 15:42
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    @Lilienthal Acknowledged. I will refrain from this in the future. – user1602 Jul 30 '18 at 15:55
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    I am not clear as to why this is getting down-voted so hard.... – Mister Positive Aug 6 '18 at 11:49
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    @Kilisi mods have deleted that comment three times now. Remember to remain constructive. – Monica Cellio Aug 30 '18 at 3:15

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