11

I think the fast closures impact on the quality of answers in some cases and encourage shooting an answer in quickly.

I do this every so often, because if I don't the question may well be closed before anyone gets a chance to help the OP. I understand that some peoples primary objective is about the site etc,. but we're also at least partially about helping the OP solve an immediate problem aren't we?

I wonder if it's possible to put a time limit on closures, like 2 hours or something before a question can be closed. Might let some troll questions hang around, but plenty of those seem to hang around anyway. All the fuss about the HNQ is over my head, I've rarely bothered looking at it, unsure how many people actually do so I could be wrong.

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    I feel like site quality and helping the asker are sometimes at odds. If a question isn't appropriate, but you still want to help, the best solution might be to point them somewhere else (like to chat, although that won't work for new users... so most users). – Bernhard Barker Oct 27 '18 at 23:10
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    Well, we're not stack overflow where an existing answer is usually all thats needed and people don't even need to ask a question. Our site has a different dynamic. – Kilisi Oct 27 '18 at 23:23
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    If you mean 15 minutes from when the question is asked: how many questions get closed in the first 15 minutes? As far as I can remember (badly) or see, it generally takes a few hours for questions to get closed (even if some get a close vote or 3 in the first 15 minutes). Long enough to be too long to prevent closure for that period. – Bernhard Barker Oct 27 '18 at 23:35
  • @dukeling I'm not actually sure, just sometimes I go into the new questions and some of them are closed – Kilisi Oct 27 '18 at 23:38
  • If this includes on-topic questions: there should probably be some way to vote to leave a question open from the question itself (you can do this in review). Having questions be closed only to be reopened later without any major edit (or having the major edit happen not long before it's closed) doesn't make much sense to me. – Bernhard Barker Oct 27 '18 at 23:50
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    Focusing on site quality is also about helping people, it's just about focusing more on helping people in the long term rather than the short term - that is: trying to help more than one person at a time and trying to keep the scope of the site focused to make the site as a whole more useful. – Bernhard Barker Oct 28 '18 at 0:34
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    @Dukeling I understand that, but we're not a 1+1=2 site is my point, the dynamic is very different since it's about people and groups and unknown variables, even just locales makes a huge difference. – Kilisi Oct 28 '18 at 5:48
  • Observe: New user gets upvote, old hands get down-voted into oblivion. – Old_Lamplighter Oct 29 '18 at 13:04
  • @RichardU are you back?! – SaggingRufus Oct 29 '18 at 13:05
  • @SaggingRufus for now. Back, but not happy. The twitter sh1tstorm brought me back. They're trying to contain things, but now it's bled into hacker news, facebook, minds.com and youtube. – Old_Lamplighter Oct 29 '18 at 13:16
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    From reading I understand the site has an issue with close votes being used improperly, but I don't think having a lock on close voting before a certain period is a good idea. We'd be taking our hands completely off an important quality control mechanism during a critical period (question formation) in all the cases we need it; we will have no capacity to hit the brakes at all. Sorting out problematic close voting is important, but this will do more damage to site quality overall. – doppelgreener Oct 30 '18 at 11:10
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    Also, I suggest retag this as a feature request, and retitle it as that request, since it functionally about making a feature request. – doppelgreener Oct 30 '18 at 11:10
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    workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/121802/… closed within about 30 minutes of posting. – Joe Strazzere Oct 30 '18 at 18:57
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    @RichardU - I don't see any proof of disdain directed specifically at high rep users here. – Joe Strazzere Oct 30 '18 at 18:58
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    me neither, I only got 9 downvotes so far, hardly worth a yawn – Kilisi Nov 3 '18 at 14:13
6

There is a time limit on offering a bounty, there should be a time limit to be exceeded before voting to close.

Too often, a close mob comes in and just shut things down. One member in particular seems to think that two different post are duplicates if vowels can be found in both.

The problem this creates is that close votes draw more close votes. We have hundreds of questions here on meta asking why a question was closed, with a massive chunk of them being reopened without any editing or cleanup.

To make matters worse, questions that do not pertain to IT seem to get closed quickly, as the attitude seems to be "If I can't answer it, it must not be clear or answerable"

We had a few blue collar questions, and one maritime question closed for these reasons. What made the maritime question's so egregious is that it was easily answerable by anyone in the shipping industry, cruise industry, or anyone remotely familiar with maritime law.

Putting a delay on the close votes would enable people with knowledge of industries outside of IT to get in some answers before the close mob rushes in because they're unfamiliar with those industries.

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    Totally agree. I would add to the "there should be a time limit to be exceeded before voting to close." part that close votes are blocked except spam or rude votes. – DarkCygnus Oct 29 '18 at 18:43
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    Ever considered that one reason for the time limit for bounties is precisely to prevent people using bounties to prevent their questions being closed (as they can only be closed by mods)? People need to take time and close vote carefully, but a flat time period where questions couldn't be closed wouldn't help anything. – curiousdannii Oct 30 '18 at 5:12
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    @curiousdannii Why don't you put that as an answer so we can vote on it? – Old_Lamplighter Oct 30 '18 at 11:37
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There's a post over on meta.se that I like to link in to discussions like this: it's worth a read in full, and I'll excerpt it here in part:

What you do here isn't just about solving one person's problem.

See, once you realize that it's not just about the one asker, or the four voters, but rather the fifteen thousand searchers with the same problem... Well, suddenly, a whole ton of things that seem prickly and self-important, like editing out "Thanks in advance!" aren't about being "a bunch of power-happy pedants," they're about helping all the people who will ever have that problem to find the best answers. (Emphasis in the original.)

Yes, we're partially about helping the original querent. And we're more about helping the long tail of readers who will ever see a post. Which leads us to a tricky balancing act: each one of us--editors, voters, answerers--comes to an individual, personal understanding of where they draw the line between those two priorities that sometimes exist in tension.

Some people ( o/ ) think that a quick close-edit-reopen cycle are good for the site and good for the querent. Others think that the "sting" of seeing their question "on hold" is too great a harm to visit upon new users. This Network, I believe, has room for both sorts of stackizens.

Yes, we're about helping people. And we sometimes have different ideas about how best to do that. Vote your conscience, trust that others are doing the same, and ask questions when something doesn't pass your "smell test."

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    I think the problem is that a lot of these posts that get closed (or at least close votes) are also useful to others (I think Kilisi phrased his question a bit awkward here). For example the other day I saw what is IMHO clearly a good question which even ended with "How can I address [this specific problem]?" with "questions require a specific problem" close votes; I checked the history, and the Q wasn't edited; there were no comments explaining the votes either. Simply put, I see no possible way, no matter how hard I try, how these votes would be appropriate here. This is a common pattern. – Martin Tournoij Oct 29 '18 at 21:59
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    I mean, half (if not more) of this site's meta is "I can't possibly phantom why this question was closed, please reopen it?", which is indicative that there are some structural problems/frustrations here, much more than any other SE site I've contributed on. – Martin Tournoij Oct 29 '18 at 22:17
  • @MartinTournoij I've suggested a more concrete meta post might be helpful, one which describes what's going on for those less aware so as to empower the broad userbase to resolve the issue. That sounds like it would be awesome to bring up and describe, because that's pretty worrying—that sounds like bad judgement being exerted by a number of close voters. – doppelgreener Oct 30 '18 at 12:17
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    @MartinTournoij I think there is a contingent of users who look at each question not asking "Should this be closed?" but rather "Which reason best fits for closing this question?" because ultimately they think every question should be closed. – user1602 Nov 9 '18 at 13:58
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    These black and white rules are great for a programming Q&A site, but there are more shades of grey when you expand to tacking Q&A outside of that domain. It's less likely that someone is going to find an existing question that is a good fit for their exact problem outside of programming Q&A. Stack Overflow isn't very welcoming, and that needs to change. Relaxing some of these rules would be a good start, and being less dogmatic. We're here to help people as the end goal, and should not lose sight of that. – Doctor Jones Nov 9 '18 at 20:29
11

Maybe it's time we get review audits? These quickly weed out "reviewers" who never ever move the cursor away from the Close button. The rest of reviewers will think twice before closing a question, and (also very important) will favor community-agreed standards for closing over their personal standards.

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    nice suggestion, and I absolutely agree with the last sentence. – Kilisi Nov 8 '18 at 12:30
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    Unfortunately, some "reviewers" who VTC on every question seem also to be experts at detecting review audits. You can easily find the review audits in their history because these are the only questions they ever don't vote to close. I suspect they're exploiting a flaw in the review audit system. – user1602 Nov 8 '18 at 14:20
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    @Kyralessa Still, I suspect that most close votes we're talking about are coming from people who don't quite understand what the standards for questions are. I don't think there's a lot of malicious users who have earned review privileges only to ruin the Q&A experience for newcomers. And yes, review audits are not designed as a test but as a reminder. They can absolutely be circumvented by inspecting every question outside of review page. – Dmitry Grigoryev Nov 8 '18 at 14:36
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    Not sure if many of these votes come from the review queue; this site's traffic is small enough to keep up the with the "newest questions" list. You can check at workplace.stackexchange.com/review/close/history if you have more than 10k rep. Either way, don't see how it will hurt, so +1 – Martin Tournoij Nov 8 '18 at 21:54
3

We're at least partially about helping people aren't we?

I'd like to think that was the most important thing. But sometimes I wonder.

I wonder if it's possible to put a time limit on closures, like 15 minutes or something before a question can be closed.

I think this is a good idea, but 15 minutes is not long enough. 2 hours feels more right to me. Mods can always close a question quickly, if there's some sort of "question emergency".

Unfortunately I don't think this will change things much. As long as we have folks who would rather close questions than actually ask or answer questions, we'll still have too many closed. Kinda sad.

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    I think "2 hours feels more right to me. Mods can always close a question quickly, if there's some sort of 'question emergency'." sets an expectation that mods are onsite and checking flags/new questions more frequently than every two hours; I'm not sure that's really reasonable to expect. – nitsua60 Oct 28 '18 at 23:45
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    @nitsua60 - I was being a bit facetious. You seem to be assuming that questions actually need to be closed rapidly for some reason. I'm not. Any question that should truly be closed will be there the next day. – Joe Strazzere Oct 29 '18 at 10:30
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    Oh, sorry. Facetious didn't come through--I just read it as "if it need be closed quicker than 2 hours, that's what mods are for." And for the record: I do believe that for a question that should be closed, it's best that the close-clarify/edit-reopen cycle happen as quickly as possible--in all stages. – nitsua60 Oct 29 '18 at 11:45
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    What if questions could be put on hold, but still answered by people with 15000 rep or something like that? We already have milestones based on rep. – Kilisi Oct 31 '18 at 3:50
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    @Kilisi what message does that send to users without 10k+ rep? – KorvinStarmast Nov 4 '18 at 21:35
  • @KorvinStarmast thanks, thats a good question for discussion, I don't have a definitive answer for you because everyone would I think get a different message. I don't see it as a negative thing myself. I would think the message would be something like... experienced answerers earn an extra privilege. Which already happens. I've actually put this comment up separately for discussion workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5685/… – Kilisi Nov 4 '18 at 21:41
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    @Kilisi Thanks for your thoughtful reply, we'll see how that one goes. – KorvinStarmast Nov 4 '18 at 22:00
3

Or we could close questions because they are not of sufficient quality to stay on the site, help the asker improve the question so it's worthwhile keeping around for the long term, and then answer it with thorough explanations and maintain high quality in answers too.

The result is that we get good questions that end up open, good answers that are worth voting for, and more users staying around to repeat the process.

If it's really about helping people, perhaps a clever quote will help you in turn.

Give a person a fish, and they are fed for a day; teach them to fish and they are fed for life.

And if that doesn't suit some people's preference for unjustified one-liners and the decline of decent content they are, as some have ironically been happy to say, quite free to leave.

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  • You guys might want to respectfully continue this in chat. I'm not sure what you're getting at with the "unjustified one-liners", but this seems to be a dig at kilisi, who tends to give more concise answers than others. Some of which get downvoted, others upvoted. But he answers and attempts to help (even if it's not what the OP wishes to hear). – user44108 Nov 1 '18 at 9:35
1

I think there are different matters here.

Too often, a close mob comes in and just shut things down. One member in particular seems to think that two different post are duplicates if vowels can be found in both.

This is a likely a matter to be handled by mods if there is a form of abuse.

To make matters worse, questions that do not pertain to IT seem to get closed > quickly, as the attitude seems to be "If I can't answer it, it must not be >clear or answerable".

Two possibilities here :

  • Maybe the fact that knowing a bit the field to be able to answer don't make it off-topic isn't clear enough. And this should be address in the guide lines and eventually off-topic reason (with an addendum like : "Note : requiring a bit of knowledge of the field don't make it off-topic").

  • Specific behaviour -> mods.

The problem this creates is that close votes draw more close votes. We have hundreds of questions here on meta asking why a question was closed, with a massive chunk of them being reopened without any editing or cleanup.

People which have their close votes cancelled too much should probably bring attention to the mods.

Of course I know what you think : "It's the community that manages, mods are exception handlers" but the problems is that, unless the point about the domain, you're clearly pointing a very specific set of users, and you can try to put all the anonimity you want, The Workplace community know who they're and this will finished in poiting fingers.

Another possibility would be for the community to change the rules and policies apply there, even if it makes them quite more different from others sites, and having mods enforce them, because they're the ones that have the tools for that. (Ex : people that don't try too often to help users to salvage their question will lose their close vote privilege for a period of time).

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    Mods washed their hands of the whole problem by basically denying there was one. And if there is a problem to escalate, and if we want more info, get it ourselves etc,. Not sure we can rely on anything from that avenue. – Kilisi Nov 8 '18 at 10:56
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    @Kilisi If you want it to be resolved, I suggest again that you explain the problem for the benefit of those who might not already recognise it. Your original post was basically preaching to the choir in a way: the only people who would understand would be those who already understand exactly what it is, which is why I made that recommendation. If you don't want to explain for the benefit of other people who don't already understand the issue, it cannot get understood or acknowledged or dealt with. – doppelgreener Nov 8 '18 at 12:19
  • @doppelgreener in summary, too many perfectly good questions are being closed too quickly by a subset of users, this puts questions to ransom both peeving the OP and anyone who wants to answer. We have nothing in place to mitigate against abuse of the VTC privilege. We can reopen, it takes a while but we do it. However by that time the OP has already got a sour taste rather than a welcoming one. Bit more to it than that, but thats the basics. Does it make sense? – Kilisi Nov 8 '18 at 12:47
1

Closure does not (always) mean "this question is bad".

It often simply means "this question needs to be improved".

If you think a question is good, don't just instantly vote to reopen.

Try to understand why someone voted to close.

Try to edit the question to improve it, to address the reasons why it was closed.

Try to turn it into something that others with the same problem will be able to find if they search for it, and that those people will find useful.

Try to avoid focusing exclusively on what the asker asks in answers and instead write answers that will be helpful to others with the same problem, while also covering the details specific to the asker's situation, either as a footnote, a comment or a link to another post.


And sometimes closure does mean "this question is bad" (not objectively bad, just bad for this site).

Sometimes trying to help many people means getting rid of off-topic questions even when the asker has a problem you really want to help with.

This is not to say you can't help them by posting an answer or leaving a comment before getting rid of it.

But the decision to keep it, i.e. reopen it, shouldn't be whether or not the question is answerable, but rather whether the question, in its current state (taking the answers that's been posted into account), falls within the scope of the site, increases the overall quality of the site, and will be useful to others.


Sometimes you might not understand why a question is closed, sometimes you might understand but just disagree - that's okay too. We can't all always see eye to eye.


Regarding the current state of affairs:

I feel it's roughly turned into a battleground - people who focus primarily on long-term value against people who focus primarily on short-term value. Focusing too much on either one or the other is bad, but having each side see the other as the "enemy" means they likely gravitate towards the edges (i.e. closing too many questions, including good ones, and reopening and answering too many questions, including bad ones) as opposed to trying to find some middle ground or understand the perspective of the other side.

That's not really good for anyone.

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    we all close questions that are no good, problem some people close good ones – Kilisi Nov 9 '18 at 23:37
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    @Kilisi Maybe people sometimes close good questions, but other times people close questions that are not yet good, or questions that could've been good. – Bernhard Barker Nov 9 '18 at 23:47
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    or maybe not, or maybe aliens. The reality is that since I've started paying attention there are multiple closures of perfectly good questions every day, and we're not that big a site. This is directly evidenced by the reopens without even the need for edits... while yours is just conjecture, evidenced by zilch – Kilisi Nov 9 '18 at 23:50
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    I do not for one second believe the close voters are magically exercising better judgement than the rest of us, many of the close votes I see are absolutely ridiculous. Close votes on a discussion as unclear what you're asking. Duplicates for something that is so different as to be laughable. opinion based for things that are both common and can be answered with facts or basic logic. I firmly believe some of them are out of touch, do not attempt to understand the question and downvote for little or no reason at all. – Kilisi Nov 10 '18 at 0:09
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    @Kilisi "This is directly evidenced by the reopens without even the need for edits" - just because 5 people agree that a question should be reopened doesn't mean there's nothing that can or should be improved in the question. I wouldn't say it's "better judgement", but they are clearly seeing the question from a different perspective than you are (otherwise they wouldn't vote to close it), so the question is whether you've understood their perspective, but disagree, or whether you dismiss it because your perspective is the "correct" one. – Bernhard Barker Nov 10 '18 at 0:23
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    You for some reason are assuming they're doing it in good faith. I'm not. I've had a close look and cannot see that at all. Does a troll do stuff in good faith? It's just their version of trolling. My best and kindest interpretation is that they do it through lack of knowledge of the subject and faulty understanding of English, although I'm sure they've rationalised it into a good thing in their own heads. In either case they're bad for the site. – Kilisi Nov 10 '18 at 4:12
  • I don't think the situation should be framed as "long-term vs short-term." If you are truly focused on the long-term value of a site like this, the aggressiveness in grooming of content should still be tempered by the desire to avoid stifling future participation. – S. Grey Nov 12 '18 at 17:37
  • @S.Grey At least in terms of motivation, that's what it's about. The motivation behind closing stuff is generally to improve the site in the long term. That's not to say closing everything would be good for the site, or even that closing anything ends up doing the site any good, but that doesn't change the motivation. As for the short-term, many people do seem to heavily focus on helping the OP instead of trying to write reference-worthy answers (even if they also sometimes write answers that end up being reference-worthy). – Bernhard Barker Nov 12 '18 at 19:53
-1

Sounds like a great idea to me, and I have to agree with Joe - 15 mins isn't long enough. Personally I would say 24hrs because that would give a reasonable chance for those in other timezones to have a look.

People like to hide behind the "quality" strawman whenever the topic of helping people comes up - seems to me like that's rather like keeping a bar clean by not serving anyone any drinks. Sure you'll have the cleanest bar in town but what's the point?

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  • took you just one minute to get a downvote... ahaha – Kilisi Oct 28 '18 at 14:41
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    @Kilisi - no surprise there. – Joe Strazzere Oct 28 '18 at 22:12
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    Or possibly the cleanest bank branch ( <-- that's a meta.so must-read, there). – nitsua60 Oct 29 '18 at 11:49
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    Bad analogy. Instead its like keeping our whiskey bar about whiskey by not selling beer. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 29 '18 at 17:01

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