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In this question

https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/14402/how-do-i-break-to-my-neighbor-that-her-boyfriend-may-be-cheating-on-her

the original question stated two options: silence or telling.

Arwen Undómiel said in the comments that this is off-topic because it is a "What should I do?" question and gave a close vote.

Granted, so I removed the silence option and edited the question immediately so that I ask how to proceed with the more difficult option. I also flagged Arwen Undómiel's comment as unnecessary.

Fast forward, 12 hours later. Arwen Undómiel's comment still stands despite flagging, it is upvoted 4 times, and they did not remove it. Those 4 upvotes correspond with 4 further close votes so that the question is closed now (seemingly for the starting reason which don't exists anymore), despite the editing and the comment that the original has been edited.

The user Cascabel even acknowledged that the question is now "more on-topic" and asked for clarification, but still gave a close vote without waiting out an edit (Clarification: In the answer below she explained what was the reason. No hard feelings).

By the way, I got messages of incensed users because they did not see the original question and only saw the more controversial question.

This is not a single case, it happens in fact more often than not as several other meta question show:

Why this question was not reopened and closed even after required editing?

How can we encourage more discussion when voting to close, or why is it not happening already?

Asking the user to edit the question is either not working or it works badly, so how can this be improved?

ADDITION: My main problem is that efforts are not registered or rewarded. I acknowledged the problem put up by Arwen and removed the easier option (even if this draw some ire from commenters) nearly immediately and informed about that in a comment. I also applied the proposed changes by GretchenV to make the text more readable.

Again: The reaction was 4 close votes after the changes, with 4 upvotes for Arwen's comment showing that the readers did read the text and still voted to close. It is like my changes never existed. And if a question could be saved, isn't it preferable to put it in shape immediately instead of having a close/reopen cycle and drama in meta?

@Tinkerbell

"To put a question on-hold pending more clarification and improvements, to avoid you getting bad answers." The problem was that there was no pending, the changes were already there when the close votes came. Until Cascabel's comment/vote there were no further clarification or improvement requests which I could have replied immediately.

@Cascabel

First, thanks for the answer and the apology. Your comment was absolutely ok, but you had the bad luck to come as last when there is already a bad mood, so I apologize too if you got the impression to be targeted. For regarding necessary time: While Arwen's comment was standing and been flagged, another visitor chided me and I replied; those comments were deleted, but Arwen's comment was untouched.

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    I feel like this is largely just complaining about the fact that I still voted to close; all the rest of it is more of a matter of it taking time to react to things (mods deleting obsolete comments, users casting reopen votes...) and it hardly seems fair to everyone else to essentially turn my vote into an indictment of the whole process. – Cascabel May 13 '18 at 14:45
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    FWIW, I intentionally didn't delete the comment because I felt that it was still asking "what else can I do", and so still close-worthy. – Mithical May 13 '18 at 18:07
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    @ArwenUndómiel You will be surprised but I am not able to read your feelings from a distance. So if you intentionally did not delete the comment, why did you not say what exactly is wrong (or that you think the question in in your opinion unsalvagable)? – Thorsten S. May 13 '18 at 18:57
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    Maybe we should try to focus a bit more on forward progress here and less on questioning each other. If the goal is to improve the close/edit process, it'd suffice to note that specific suggested improvements and close explanations are helpful. (Perhaps we should also acknowledge that doing this really well does take effort so we can't expect every individual to step up every time.) – Cascabel May 13 '18 at 19:54
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but still gave a close vote without waiting out an edit.

That's basically what close-votes are for. To put a question on-hold pending more clarification and improvements, to avoid you getting bad answers. We can't go sitting around leaving comments and then waiting days before closing stuff (granted, it does happen but isn't ideal). If someone thinks a post needs to be edited, they should cast a close-vote.

As for 'it happens more often', I think the 'evidence' you're presenting here isn't really applicable:

Why this question was not reopened and closed even after required editing? is about a totally different scenario: The question was put on-hold, then edited, then not reopened because it's still off-topic, then it reached closed status automatically after being on-hold for a certain amount of time... It was not put on-hold after some edits like here.

How can we encourage more discussion when voting to close, or why is it not happening already? seems to have done its job: people left comments explaining why they are still voting to close your question even after you edited it, just like suggested there:

wondering if there's anything we can do to encourage individuals who are still casting close votes to at least leave a reason for why they're doing so

Cascabel did leave a comment asking for further clarification to go along with their close-vote, so the meta did its job: People didn't pile on after the edit but pointed out more things that were wrong with the question and why it should be on-hold.

Asking the user to edit the question is either not working or it works badly, so how can this be improved?

Given the fact that the evidence discussed above doesn't substantiate the claim that asking for edits isn't working since the evidence is not applicable to the situation described, I don't think any improvements are necessary, this is how the system works and it seems to work well. I'll add to that the empirical evidence of all the questions I saw put on-hold, edited and reopened, and the ones that were not even put on-hold at all because they were edited half-way through the close-voting process.


On a side note: Do pick your close-reasons carefully. If something was originally off-topic but edited, it might be better to cast the next votes as e.g. unclear what you're asking if it's now more on-topic but still lacking in detail.

That said 'What else can I do' reads a lot like 'What should I do'. So even if the original question is asking about whether to tell or not, the new one can still be seen like a form of 'What should I do instead of just being innocuous', so it's not unlikely that's what happened here and got it closed as off-topic.

  • "and the ones that were not even put on-hold at all because they were edited half-way through the close-voting process." Which exactly happened here, but not it was only half-way, but directly at the beginning. Cascabel's close vote and comment was preceded by 3 close votes and there were no further comments, only upvotes of Arwens now superfluous comment. – Thorsten S. May 13 '18 at 13:12
  • But anyway, +1 for giving an answer. – Thorsten S. May 13 '18 at 13:13
  • I knew the original votes were going to override mine anyway, so I was lazy with the vote itself, and put the information in the comment, sorry. – Cascabel May 13 '18 at 14:40
  • @Cascabel there were two other votes (like Thorsten said) before yours .. it's not an accusation to you or anyone that voted to close it as off-topic, just meant a general reminder that you don't always have to go with what's there, to avoid confusions like this – Tinkeringbell May 13 '18 at 14:51
  • Ah, I thought from the "even worse" paragraph that I was the only one who voted after edits. Anyways, didn't take it as an accusation, I know proper close reasons are important, just wanted to explain myself. – Cascabel May 13 '18 at 14:53
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I believe you'll get more out of your edits if they're more thorough. It's great that you edited to avoid the "what should I do?" However, you did so by changing it into "once I'm sure and decide to tell her, how?" which means the question was about a future situation where the details have changed, and all of the thorough context in the question is relevant and helpful, but out of date. Ideally, when we update the literal question part of the post to ask something a bit different, we should also update all the rest so that it's in the form it'd be if we'd asked that different question in the first place. (I think there was also still some "what else could I do?" which is still very similar in meaning to "what should I do?" and likely needs to be clarified to ask about how to accomplish a goal, or just removed.)

So I thought that, in order to be clear enough to answer well, it needed further detail, and voted to close and left a comment to that effect. I apologize that my quick comment seems not to have conveyed this well.

I think Tinkeringbell has covered why we close rather than waiting for edits fairly well, so I'll leave that be.

As for the rest, please do keep in mind that it takes time for mods to handle flags, and it definitely takes time for users to cast reopen votes, especially if some users may still see issues to resolve (even if they're not the same ones noted in the original close votes).

So to answer your question as asked here, how can we improve?

  • Make more thorough edits.
  • Be as clear as possible with close reasons and associated comments.
  • Be patient, whether we're asking for edits or for comment cleanup or for reopen votes.

Broadly, I think this means treating the whole process as collaborative rather than adversarial; we hopefully all want a clear, answerable question.

  • I have replied in my question, again thanks for the apology. – Thorsten S. May 13 '18 at 17:02
  • I think the answers still apply, though: it's definitely not great that you got more close votes using the same close reason and no clarifications until mine. But of course, it's possible to make some good edits and still have a question be close-worthy, so while it's good to acknowledge that, I'm not sure exactly how we could reward it. It's hard to assess this in detail since the question is now deleted. – Cascabel May 13 '18 at 17:59

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