# Is it wise to close a popular but wrongly assumed question

This question was published yesterday Why is lead radioactive? and within a day it has been viewed 2000 times. From its view count alone we can assume that this question is mulled over by most people and have questions regarding the radioactivity of lead. Because the questions premise is wrong Chemistry.SE community has voted to close (Now its 4 votes) it. My question is whether its good to close down a question to which world wants to know the answer

• It's okay to make your meta question about that specific post it you'd like. General rules of thumb are helpful, but it's easier for people to voice their views for the specific case. Apr 24 '15 at 3:05
• If you do elect to make it specific, please leave a link to this meta question in the comments of the main question. Apr 24 '15 at 3:07
• @jonsca thanks for the help. i have left a comment regarding this meta in main question
– Eka
Apr 24 '15 at 3:25

I mostly agree with MARamezani, just because questions are popular it does not mean they belong to the site or should not be closed.

In this specific case, however, I would argue differently. Just because a question is based on a wrong premise, it does not mean it is not worth asking. The wrong premise must come from somewhere. I truly believe that debunking a myth, like ringo and loong did in this case is far superior to closing it down, preventing it from getting more attention.

For the same reason, I answered a question today, that was based on an outdated concept and premise (Which d orbitals of sulfur take part in the pi bonds of SO3?).

For the same reason I wanted the scope of extended (Should we extend the scope of textbook-erratum?).

If we consider questions that are based on misconceptions, outdated and/or false information to be off topic, we can never expect those to vanish and I always thought that was the case.

On a side note, I do think this question should have been closed, but not for this reason. I think it is a much better fit for physics though. That being said, imagine the question would have been:

Would you still have voted to close this question for the given reason?

• So, should the question remain closed or be reopened? Apr 24 '15 at 13:53
• @MARamezani Reopen or migrated to physics. Apr 24 '15 at 13:57
• But, but...but "... preventing it from getting more attention."? How does a closure prevent it from getting attention? Also, I rather followed the bigger SE communities' models in dealing with questions like it, so I didn't consider migration. Maybe a flag for migration would call the Asguardian hammer of Jonsca. Apr 24 '15 at 14:02
• I think the current close reason is incorrect. Radioactivity isn't offtopic. Maybe as you said, the presentation of the question must change a bit. Apr 25 '15 at 5:15

I apologize for creating this controversy. And I give you all the liberty to edit my question to make it better. Sorry once again.

• There is nothing you should or can be sorry about, you did not do anything wrong at all. The network is a place, where people come to seek help and it shall be granted. Also the 'controversy' it created is necessary for the community to developed. And that being said, you probably did us all a huge favour. Apr 25 '15 at 6:10

As suggested here and here, the question ‘why is lead radioactive?’ is ambiguous and should be edited to clarify the actual problem.

For example, one question could be:

Lead is considered the heaviest stable element. Nevertheless, various lead isotopes are radioactive. They are subject to $\alpha$, $\beta^-$ or $\beta^+$ decay, or to electron capture. Which properties of lead radionuclides are the cause of the radioactivity?

However, this question is not really specific to lead, and the answer is mainly related to nuclear physics. I suppose, such a question is what some users had in mind when they wrote their comments, answers or voted to close.

A slightly different question may be:

Lead is considered the heaviest stable element. It is used as a shielding material against radiation. Nevertheless, any ordinary piece of lead is itself radioactive. What is the cause of this radioactivity?

Long answer: I haven't seen the case here yet. But on meta.SE, you'll see some very interesting instances of...well, I recommend clicking on this:

Some people there go whining about why a question with xk views and y upvotes just gets closed or locked1. The problem is,

Popularity isn't always equal to quality

Sometimes a question gets upvotes because of its popularity, not quality. SE sites are there for having a quality-oriented source of expert questions, not just some popular questions like:

Does benzene have a resonance structure?

How do I figure out how many electrons are in each shell?

(I used chemistry non-real examples, as I'm not targeting anyone)

Questions with a flawed premise are most-likely unanswerable. If Loong was able to answer the question well, that doesn't mean someone can answer the other ones incoming. According to the broken windows theory, we should stop these from coming in the future, if we want to preserve the quality of the questions.