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At present it feels like a lot of close votes are being branded around, and a lot of questions asked in good faith are being closed as off topic without a huge amount of explanation as to why.

I understand that a site is still somewhat under definition in its beta phase, especially early beta, but it feels like there's still a lot of uncertainty about what is and isn't on topic. We should be careful with this; users who want to participate and do so in good faith are likely to be put off if they suddenly see close votes with no reason as to why.

I'm not saying people shouldn't vote to close questions they think are off topic, far from it - where we've established in meta that a certain type of question is definitely off topic, a close vote should be used and a comment left with the meta discussion explaining why.

At present though, it seems some people are voting to close questions they think might be off topic at a whim, often without an explanation as to why.

The example that comes to mind immediately is Can the bug with class 10 SDHC cards be fixed in firmware? - currently on 3 close votes with no comment whatsoever as to why. Personally I think that's a bit rude (yes, it's my question but that's besides the point - I'd think the same for any other). Then there's this question with 2 close votes currently - Is the Raspberry Pi suitable for running continuously, 24/7? - admittedly I agree it is somewhat subjective, but why so quick to close? The content could well be edited to ask a number of non-subjective questions instead that improve it dramatically. Then we had the issue with How can I determine when an SD card needs replacement? - the close votes are now gone but initially there were a number of votes for that question simply based on the fact it's hard to answer. To me, that makes it a good question.

With that in mind, there's a few points I think are worth chewing over:

  • If the boundary is fuzzy as to whether a question is / isn't off topic, then why jump to close it? Discuss in meta first, and only vote to close when it's been decided (then preferably link to the meta discussion in a comment.)
  • If a subjective question can be made less subjective relatively easily by a bit of editing, then do that rather than closing it.
  • If a close vote is used, and no comment has yet been left explaining the reasoning, do so. If it's a quick and easy decision to close, it should be quick and easy to justify in a comment too.
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    Comments should definitely be left for every one closed stating reasons. This needs to be happening. Closing questions without comment is in itself not constructive. – Jivings Jun 16 '12 at 14:24
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    Closing a question as not constructive without explaining why a question isn't constructive isn't constructive. – Zoot Jul 17 '12 at 15:26
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I think I agree. Moderation is currently a little strong and occasionally appears arbitrary. Some of this is because the site is finding its feet and we haven't agreed on what is on/off topic, how things should be tagged/etc. Such cases should be discussed, rather than an immediate vote to close with no comment (yes, @Jivings is right here - comment why you are voting down or voting to close).

The policy over on Gardening+Landscaping, and I thought it was meant to be a guiding principle to all the Stackexchange sites (perhaps I'm wrong), is that it is better to try and make a question acceptable first before closing. For some cases this isn't possible (eg. spam; or a clear duplicate), but as we see in the discussion in this thread, some minor wording is all that is required. In G+L's case, they get a lot of questions from non-English speakers. So they get a lot of ambiguous poorly formed questions which only need their English tidying up to turn a poor unintelligible question into an excellent question.

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On the contrary, I think we are being too liberal about what questions we allow to stay open.

Some frequently suggested (on chat) reasons to keep questions open are:

  • We should go easier on newbies (maybe, but not by keeping questions open; Explain the problem to them politely instead, and still remove or edit the question.)
  • The question (and its answers) are likely to be useful to many RasPi users (that does not make the question on-topic or a good fit for the Q&A format)
  • The question is about X which is one of the stated goals of the foundation (same problems as above.)

I am one of those who voted to close Can the bug with class 10 SDHC cards be fixed in firmware?, because it asks for a prediction rather than an answer. See this meta.so question for discussion of why that is a bad thing.

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    "Will the bug with class 10..." Would have been seeking a prediction, "Can the bug with class 10..." is seeking an answer. The question is asking whether it's feasibly possible. This is perfectly valid - it could either be a software bug or a hardware bug. If it's in software then the answer is yes, if it's in hardware (due to a voltage mismatch or similar) then it's probably no. Granted, it's a hard question, but still answerable in a definite form with the correct information. – berry120 Jun 16 '12 at 14:31
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    Maybe what should be asked is "Is there a fix/workaround that allows class 10 SDHC cards to be used with the RasPi?" The original may be answerable by a Broadcom engineer but that is a tiny audience (why not ask them directly?) and for the rest of us it is just speculation. – finnw Jun 16 '12 at 14:34
  • If that's the case (personally I think the original wording is ok, but putting that aside for a bit) then I come back to the point I made in my question - why not edit rather than VTC? – berry120 Jun 16 '12 at 14:35
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    Editing and closing are not mutually exclusive. A question can be closed, edited and then reopened (because after editing, the close reason no longer applies.) – finnw Jun 16 '12 at 14:38
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When a little light browsing of this site reveals too many closed questions it begins to feel like an unfriendly place. The StackOverflow format seems a great fit for Raspi, and it's not like this site has too many frivolous questions.

If a question is asked in good faith, and can be reasonably answered, then please let it stand.

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