I have been seeing an unfortunate trend lately. Quite a lot of questions get a closing question quite quickly. For example this question by George was just 1 hour old, when there was 1 close vote for it (marking it as being too localized). Now the code given in the question might be specific to George's case, but the question definitely is not localized or narrow.

Often questions by new users quickly get close votes, mainly because they do not provide enough information. If we close the question quickly, without waiting for the user to come back and expand the question, then it leaves a very bad first impression for new users, and they will never come back.

I can't find it right now, but there was a question a week or so back, when it was voted to close as a duplicate of another, when it clearly wasn't.

One major problem with the close votes, is that it is not possible to cancel it out. What I mean is, that If I see a close vote, I can't cancel out that close vote anyway. The most I could do, is to go in the reviews, and in select the 'keep open' option. I'm not quite sure what that does.

Does anyone else feel that we should do something about this, or am I over reacting?

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2 Answers

About the mechanics

  • It takes five community votes and/or one moderator vote to close a question. Don't worry if you see a stray close vote or two--sometimes these are made in haste or are just plain mistaken.

  • "Second, the much-requested “reopen queue” has been introduced. The sister component to the close queue, this queue contains questions that have votes to reopen them. Reviewers may elect to further vote for reopening, or to opine that the question should stay closed (one moderator “leave closed” response - or three such responses from ordinary users - will remove the post from the queue)." (From an SE team e-mail this week.)

Comments

When a question already has an answer and clearly is a duplicate, we are doing everybody a favor by closing it quickly: the original asker gets an immediate answer, others don't waste their time duplicating past work, and future searchers see an organized site. I have begun to feel, though, that we ought to change what we say when we close such questions posed by new users. Rather than seeming to say "this is a dup, dummy--didn't you search first?" we should say "Congratulations! There's already an answer to your question and it's at [link]. We're closing your version to keep our site well organized, but we would love for you to post additional questions or new followups to this one."

Over time, I have learned that we should interpret "duplicate" in a fairly narrow sense: not only should the question be a duplicate, it should be clearly the same question. If it takes some work or explanation to show why the questions are duplicates, then we should favor keeping both of them open. We can provide links between the two in comments (especially when they are only distantly related) or, better, by editing the duplicate question itself. The format favored by SE is to edit the question and append a tag line at the end like the following example. This makes the link apparent to all readers without having to wade through the comment threads.

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The link of related question is this question's link –  Emi Jan 24 '13 at 5:16
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A comment was made today on a question that I had voted to close, and the reason I voted that way was nothing about duplicates, so I'm providing an answer separate from the excellent one by @whuber to explain why I voted to close sooner rather than later.

This question was an example where I felt I had better than average expertise, yet I could not get a handle on what the asker was trying to do. Since four days had passed and no one else had answered, or commented, I assumed others were in the same boat.

Rather than simply post a comment (which I did anyway), I voted to close on the basis that the question was unclear (to me and presumably many others). My intention was not that the question would be quickly closed, but that by starting to nudge it towards on-hold and eventually close status, the question would get clarified quickly by its asker through an edit, rather than a succession of mini Q&A as comments.

I agree with @DevdattaTengshe that, when voting to close, it is best to always add a comment to say why (or at least upvote a comment that matches your thinking). However, re-open votes (and comments) are always available to counteract close votes, so I think more rather than less use of close votes will help to fill our site with the great wiki-style Questions and Answers we all seek which I expect in turn will attract more users.

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I'm not sure that voting to closing it as 'unclear' was the right course of action. from your first comment on the answer,I felt that you had understood what the OP wanted. Even my expertise with ArcGIS tell me that the reference scale property is not saved anywhere; There are several times I have given a negative answer like here telling the OP that it is not possible. Maybe this question deservers such an answer, instead of closing it as unclear? –  Devdatta Tengshe Aug 27 '13 at 2:35
    
I thought it was not possible and so was suggesting that the asker back up on how she was trying to do something (which was unclear to me) and explain more about what she was trying to do because in ArcGIS for Desktop there is usually enough less known functionality to find a workaround. I have not been able to find time yet to look at the more detailed explanation that she has now provided but at least I have a much better starting point. Append Annotation was not mentioned in the original question. –  PolyGeo Aug 27 '13 at 2:57
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Just an observation FWIW: I'm not convinced that putting a question "on-hold" in hopes of the author clarifying it is any more effective than leaving comments and hoping the author replies. I don't have any empirical evidence either way, just a gut feeling. –  user3461 Aug 28 '13 at 2:40
    
@GeoKevin I'm inclined to agree (which is why I try to do both) - so the advantage I see is that if the clarification does not come, we are already on the way to removing the question from our very long Unanswered queue so that we can focus on the askers who are working with us to resolve their questions. –  PolyGeo Aug 28 '13 at 2:45
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