Please bear with me because I do not have a long experience with SE. During my short life here, it seems to me (I accept that I can be wrong) that there are several inconsistencies in the way you practice auto-moderation (which is a good policy, by the way).
I will use just two examples to illustrate, but I must insist that the underlying subject of the two questions (ie SETI) has no importance in what I want to discuss here.
The first is titled Intentional signals and unintentional signatures (of extra-terrestrial life) with the core question:
How likely are the atomic bomb tests that we did (and still doing to some extent) to be detected by an alien civilization, say within 250 light-years from the Sun?
The second is titled Hypothetically, what a trillion budget do to SETI with the core question.
what might SETI usefully do with a much larger budget than it has currently?
- Inconsistent use of « opinion-based » to justify closing a question:
In the first example, after debates, the question was closed. But I observe that nobody (apart myself) made any comment on the substance of the various answers provided, tried to engaged with the answerers, or even down voted them. How can a casual visitor understand the policy of « no opinion-based here » when a question was closed on that basis while it has answers not considered as « opinion-based » ?
In the second case, without much debates, the question was closed (just 5 hours from its publication), thereby preempting any possibility to see whether there will be opinion-based or fact-based answers. How can a visitor understand the policy with such thin justifications given, if justifications are given at all? When I asked, why don’t you try to help fix the question, a reply I got is « folks do not have time, the onus is on the OP ». Correct me if I am wrong, but the policy is to « skip » if you don’t have the time to engage with the OP.
- Inconsistent justifications of the reason for closing :
It can be observed (not only in the said 2 examples), that reviewers seem to confuse between « opinion-based », « off-topic » and « lack of focus ». Correct me if I am wrong, but « lack of focus » and « opinion-based » should be considered only after accepting that the question is on-topic. If the question is considered off-topic it has to be justified so, to begin with. There are many cases that questions are closed using the motivation « opinion-based », while in comments the reviewers do not seem to agree between themselves that this is the reason. If one says « opinion-based » and another says «too broad » then there is contradiction in the judgements (at least it gives this impression to a visitor). And this amounts to, or at least gives the impression to a visitor that the decision to close is itself « opinion-based ».
- Inability to distinguish between fictional and speculative assumptions.
I understand that this community wish to stay away from fictions. However, it seems that it has a big difficulty recognizing the existence of «speculative but not fictional», or at least it relies purely on individual judgements. It is observed a tendency to classify any question with a « what if », «imagine that », « how likely is » as « unanswerable ». Note that Science lives by "theorize-then-test". To the argument that we are dealing with technology, not science, may I point out that engineering too, is by and large speculative.
End note: If I am not wrong, there is an option available to close a question or to delete an answer without explanation (no justification needed). That option should be exclusive for what it is for. That is if you use it, you do not need to invoke any other reason to the address of the OP. And we should use it only when there is unanimity (among 5 voters) that it is the case, that is it must be truly obvious.
- EDIT 1: Definition of a casual visitor.
When I spoke about « casual visitors » of a Space SE site, I thought the terminology was self-explanatory. A-posteriori, looks like, it is not. So, here is my definition :
A casual visitor of an SE site is a person who has not signed up to any site of SE, but is reading, browsing, the questions and answers. It could be that it was a search engine that brought this person to the site (that’s what happened to me). They can be considered as users, but not stakeholders.
It is my opinion that it would be shortsighted to ignore, or exclude, this category of users, by the potential value they can bring, just by clicking the content's link. At the same time, it would be over-the-top to assume that a casual visitor has a great envy to read the « law ». Even if this person has, it is unlikely that this reading is so enlightening that the casual visitor can work out things that look inconsistent are in fact artifacts of the application of the « law », by the letter. Note that I doubt that there is any truly application of the law by the letter, in any democratic society.