I've ran into several situations recently where a question that I'd like to answer is collecting close votes quickly. Often (but not always) they are of the silent, anonymous, sans-helpful-comment variety of close votes.

I've posted an answer to this question, still waiting for the satellites to move a little farther before posting my answer to this question, successfully assisted the reopening of this question, just barely posted a well received answer to this question before the door was slammed shut, now with some reopen votes collecting, and today's project is this question with 5 up votes and two close votes. I edited this one to make sure it wasn't too broad after the first close vote, but a "fast-follower/closer" added a second one after the edit.

Under some of these there are discussions in comments that may or may not have relevance to this meta question.

Currently we are running at only about five (5) questions per day, nowhere near being overrun by questions in general, far be it from overrun by low quality questions. We may have a first question from a new user only a few times per week.

Some new users sometimes only have one question to ask and may not come back for a second. For them, why not just edit the question a bit and help them get an answer? Others seem to learn quickly from the edit and their next question is much better.

Since the number of total questions per day on this site can be counted on one hand, what is the need for the insta-close, as defined by close voting right away without leaving a helpful comment and waiting a day to see if the OP picks up on the suggestion and clarifies or edits?

Closing quickly can be very important on the high-rate sites, but here, what is the actual advantage of quick (and often silent) closing votes versus more helpful activity?

Occasionally we have a problematic question that does need to be closed because it attracts cranky or weird answers, but mostly this just doesn't happen here.

I'd like to see some discussion on both sides of this. Thanks!

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2 Answers 2


First of all (Written before I've even looked at the questions), it is the SE way to maintain quality of questions, even for small sites. Possibly especially for small sites.

That being said, any time we close a question, we should try and give a reason, unless the question is pretty much pure spam/trolling.

Looking at those questions that are closed, or have close votes, I think that most of them are valid. There are a few that the question was there, but wasn't particularly clear, a bit of editing would go a long ways.

Bottom line, if there is a question that is "unclear", think twice before just voting to close and move on. Take at least a bit of work to see if you think it can be salvaged.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what the phrase "the SE way" really means, it sounds to me a bit like doing something reflexively without knowing or stopping to think why. Closing quickly has several justifications on high rate sites that are specific to issues related to the high rate. I understand you're explaining why people might do this, but let's examine if this is the best way forward. I know that I tend to put special weight on the needs of new users and first-time questioners, but we have the luxury of being able to do that on this site at this question rate. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 10, 2018 at 13:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In the words of Paul Hill, Nasa's former director of mission control in Houston who has just written a book called Mission Control Management; "Always understand why you’re taking the action that you’re taking. Not just because we’ve always done it this way before and it’s been alright, because this situation might be different than before. Or we might have been wrong every time before…" Start at 12:00 bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csw841 $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 10, 2018 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ The thought for SE has been that quality should be maintained first, and that if you keep that going, then the people will come. That's pretty much why Stack Overflow was created in the first place. I could point you to a number of early blog articles, stackoverflow.blog/2010/10/04/asking-better-questions is one such. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto Mod
    Jan 10, 2018 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ My question is about timing; the urgency of the insta-close, versus (for example) leaving a comment and waiting to see if the OP takes it to heard, or making the changes. There's nothing in my question that would suggest lowering quality. What follows is "some people don't have time to check back later, only time enough to close-vote", and what follows that is back to "is then the close voting serving this site the best, or perhaps those without extra time should spend it closing questions on high question-rate sites where their close votes are needed the most"... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 10, 2018 at 13:41

Close votes for too broad, unclear, or opinion-based are virtually always accompanied by a comment explaining why, if not after the first vote, then after the second. I will hazard a guess that if the window between when the first such close vote is registered, and closure actually occurs, now seems too short for the asker to respond, it is because we have only just acquired enough active review queue participants for that window to become that short.

At any rate, there is no reason why that should be a barrier. Personally, I have never seen a closed question without any useful comments below it. Most certainly any asker who responds receives useful and friendly support. For every instance where a new member might feel intimidated by getting close votes, there are more instances where a new member will feel no impulse to improve their question unless they receive such votes. That is why the system has been designed this way.


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