I understand the importance of closing questions that don't fit, and I understand the need to close them quickly, but looking at the questions page just now nearly all of the questions coming in are attracting close votes.

Only 3 out of 15 questions seemed to slide through. All others were closed or had close votes.

I guess I'm wondering if we may be veering a little too far into being close vote happy in our quest to define and narrow our scope. Are we being a little too restricting, or should this be expected at this stage in a site's development?

  • 2
    It depends. I almost always try to help someone improve their question either before I vote to close it or as I'm about to. I have no problem retracting my vote once the person edits their question. A lot of times, I see comments and requests for a question being improved and it still won't get improved. I don't know what I am expected to do then. Sep 21, 2017 at 16:56
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    Similarly to Tycho - I view them as "hold" votes, really. Close only happens if they can't be fixed...
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 21, 2017 at 17:23
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    Agree with you, but sometimes, it's more than fast! Earlier, I was reviewing (1st post). I was writing a comment to OP so that he takes the tour and read help, then edit and improve. Q got 5 close votes within a couple of minutes. Wow! Do we need to be TFGITW? Why doesn't OP get a chance to read comments and improve?
    – OldPadawan
    Sep 21, 2017 at 18:10
  • What is the problem here? If questions should be closed, then they should be closed. this is true if there is one question or fifty. if there are specific questions that should not be closed, lets talk about that.
    – user288
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:02
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  • I have to admit that, since you asked the question I've been unsure where "3 out of 15" even comes from. The front page of the site has many more than 15 questions on it, so I'm not sure why that metric is what you chose.
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:08
  • @Catija if you open the questions page and sort by newest, there's an option at the bottom of the list of questions to show 15, 30, or 50 questions per page.
    – apaul
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:16
  • OK, but you don't say that in your question. Personally, I never use that view, so (as I said) your phrasing was confusing).
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:17
  • My bad, not technically the "front page", but the issue still remains. @Catija
    – apaul
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:18
  • I think you should add the gist of your comment on NVZ's answer into your question because that isn't something I picked up from what you're saying, which is why I'm not sure my answer really responds to that angle.
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:19
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    @Catija I've noticed that it's often better to separate the observation from the "what to do about it" on this meta...
    – apaul
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:22
  • I don't know that I agree with that. I think it's valuable to be neutral in your observations and to not present a solution in your question but I don't think it's necessary to ploddingly say "is this a problem" in one question and then, in a new question "we've decided this is a problem, what now?"
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:36
  • @Catija Ideally that would be the case, but from what I've seen so far...
    – apaul
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:37
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    No... I'm asking you literally what have you seen... give some examples.
    – Catija
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:45
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    It's amazingly nonsensical that this meta Q about close voting has itself received 2 close votes. Unclear what you are asking? Some close-voting members sure don't want to understand what OP is trying to say here. Sep 22, 2017 at 6:17

3 Answers 3


There's nothing wrong with someone close voting a question they think should be closed - for whichever reason. Only diamond moderators can actually force close a question with a single vote, so if the rest of the community doesn't agree with the close vote, the question won't get closed.

So, unless there are dozens of questions suddenly getting closed for little valid reason, I don't think this is a concern. Only three questions have been closed in the last 12 hours, five in the last 24.

I will be honest. There are a lot of questions that get asked on this site that I think should be closed and are not. Sometimes I think that's because people don't think about casting that first close vote. If someone's willing to push questions into the close queue where people can look at them and think

Oh, this question might be close-worthy, what do I think about it?

That's a good thing. More questions closed means more questions (hopefully) asked on meta about why a question was closed and whether it was justified. Without these discussions, we will never actually have a record of the scope for this site. Instead, it will be left as a nebulous concept that only the regular users can really explain, if then.

So, if you see a question with close votes,

  1. Think critically about whether you agree with the votes to close or not. This means read the question and see if it has sufficient detail, a clear question and goal, it focuses on an Interpersonal Skills concern. Don't consider the user who asked it, how new/high rep they are, how much help it seems like they need, etc.

    • If you agree, cast your own close vote.
    • If you disagree, don't. If you're in the review queue, feel free to vote "leave open".
  2. If a question is closed and you either don't understand why or don't agree with it, ask about it on meta so that we can discuss it.

  3. If you really disagree with the close vote, vote to reopen if you have that ability but please come ask about it on meta and explain why you think it should be reopened otherwise we'll just risk a tennis game of opening and closing the same question repeatedly and we'll eventually run out of close/open voters and that's not helping the site grow.

There are some things that really help a site define the scope that we still have not done. It's early in our timeline but we have so much traffic, it seems a bit late.

  1. Help Center "How to Ask" page.
    We really need to get some content for this page and soon. Discussing closed questions that are disputed will help us decide what is on topic here.

  2. Custom close reasons.
    These let us explain better to users why their question was closed and link them to help that will guide them in fixing the question. The generic close reasons don't really do this very well. But in order to have this help, we need to talk about it on meta.

This site has a lot of growing to do but we need our high reputation users to be as active and engaged on meta as they are on the main site so that we can all come to some semblance of consensus (that meets the Stack Exchange guidelines) for what is on topic here, what is "sufficient" detail for questions, what is "sufficient" explanation for answers, and any other concerns we may have.

Let's actually use meta to help this site improve!

As a note, I'd like to remind everyone that "leave the question open until the OP has time to fix it" is the exact opposite of what is supposed to happen. Questions get put "on hold" with the specific purpose of pausing the addition of answers until a time that the OP can clarify the question or add detail or fix what's wrong with it. A question that is only one line long should not be left open until the OP can fix it. If they edit their question to improve it, it will enter the reopen queue and if the community agrees it's improved, the question will get reopened (likely by the same people who voted to close it).

  • "More questions closed means more questions (hopefully) asked on meta about why a question was closed and whether it was justified. Without these discussions, we will never actually have a record of the scope for this site." -- thanks @Catija for what is one if the best and most convincing arguments in favor of more close-voting at IPS. Sep 22, 2017 at 6:14

I think part of the problem is that "Too broad" is overused, primarily because more specific off-topic reasons have not been developed yet.

Such a general close reason gives poor guidance as to how to improve (if possible) the question.

For example, having close reasons like:

Needs more information or details - question can't be definitively answered based on the information provided in the question.

Professional help is advised - questions that should be off-topic and answers here would not be appropriate or helpful. OP should seek professional help.

would be more helpful to the OP (and anyone answering or commenting) than the current situation, and would help keep the discussion on-topic.

  • Absolutely right and extracts the essence of a number of recent meta discussions on the issue of close-reasons. +1 Sep 22, 2017 at 6:12

Disclaimer: I don't know how this applies to Interpersonal Skills, not being an active participant, but I do know that this applies to most sites on the network.

TL;DR: This is a good thing.

If a question is too broad, unclear or opinion-based as written, it should be put on hold. The question should then be edited to become a good fit for the site so that it can be reopened.

Putting a question on hold serves to prevent answers from being posted whilst the question is still being changed. This prevents several issues, including but not limited to:

  • Answer invalidation;
  • Opinion-based answers;
  • Answers based on a misinterpretation of the question; and
  • The Broken Windows effect - bad questions being answered before being closed, providing incentive for more bad questions to be posted.

A question being on hold also:

  • Places a banner below it detailing the issues with the answer, allowing the asker to clearly see the issues with the answer so that they can improve them.
  • Marks questions that need improvement to be answerable, so that users who want to help to improve these questions can without having to look through lots of questions. (Not much of a concern at the moment, but when the site becomes bigger it will be.)

According to Area 51 there are currently enough users with close-vote privileges to quickly close and reopen questions when they need to be. This means that the main barrier to putting questions on hold whilst they are being improved is no longer present. In the words of Scott Morrison: "Vote early and often!"

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