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Unfortunately, we've had a problem for quite a while now. It basically boils down to close voting questions with reasons that don't fit. Essentially, the Homework off-topic close reason, "unclear what you're asking", and "too broad" reasons are sometimes used where they make no sense whatsoever.

There's clearly effort in this, so I dunno why anyone would flag it as homework.

This question doesn't ask us to do OP's homework for them, so please don't VTC it even if you don't like it.

I'm leaving this question open. Not everything that contains more than one question mark is too broad, people.

That was me browsing through my own comments. I am not linking to the specific questions because I don't want this to degrade into a fruitless discussion of whether those specific examples should have been closed.

Comments like those do not necessarily indicate a problem (democratic challenge of a close vote in a democratic setting), but their frequency might, and in light of the recent concerns aired in chat by avid close vote reviewers, we need to take a step back and stop treating close votes like a super downvote.

I would like to make a request to the community to not close vote something with a reason unless the reason specifically applies per its definition:

  • "Too broad" is for posts with either a plurality of questions in a way that breaks the duplicate system, or a single "give me a list of organic chemistry books" question
  • The "Unclear what you're asking" for posts that are clearly unanswerable because of lack of details, which ideally should be pointed out in comments.
  • The homework off-topic reason should be applied to what is perceived as effortless homework. The type of question whose poster is more interested in being fed the answer over learning it.

The bullet points are obviously more restrictive than whatever is being applied now, but they're inherently subjective, and we're over that.

Finally, let me emphasize the point of this meta post: I humbly request that our close voters not vote to close something just to have closed it, and make sure the reason they choose applies. Also, for the moment, I encourage our users to challenge the closure of their question on meta if they believe it's erroneous, and I encourage our reviewers to use the "leave open" option more and in accordance with the fruit of this discussion.

If you disagree with me that there have been nonsensical closures, or that they have been more recurring lately, or if you have an additional comment to make, feel free to do so in the answer section, hence .


I have also heard the argument of "But the question is unlikely to attract high-quality answers" in defense of closing some questions with whatever reason, and indeed that is the purpose of close votes. However, if you can't find a reason to close a question, and note that a custom close reason is good enough, maybe it's just you that doesn't like the question and wants to cast a super downvote.

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  • $\begingroup$ As an extension, duplicate close votes aren't either... However, the general trend for a duplicate is to downvote it, even though it may provide a better framing for the same thing... $\endgroup$ – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay May 12 '18 at 16:19
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These ideas are tangentially related, but because they fit well along the tone of this meta post, I'll add them in:

Please don't VTC because a question is poorly formatted

Please don't put put a close vote just because a question is poorly formatted. Consider editing the OP's question instead to make it clearer. After all, the CV queue has an option to "Edit" the question as well.

Even after making the edits, if the question still misses out one or more fronts (too broad/opinion based/low-effort/etc.), then do feel free to VTC it. However, if you're too busy to edit, just skip the close vote/vote Leave Open, but please, don't VTC just based on the formatting.

Mithoron made a good point that editing a question forces it out of CV review queue, so we should avoid trivial edits if the question is already hopeless (for example, homework dumps should certainly not be edited.). However, if there's a major edit that could possibly save the question, then we shouldn't hesitate in doing that. Also note that this has been discussed on Meta.SE before, and that once the question is edited, it is also bumped to the front page, and any additional close votes will put the question back into the queue, with the previous close votes intact.

Please don't VTC because a question is easy and got answered in comments

This does happen quite a few times.

OP's easy question first receives two-three comments pointing them in the right direction. And then the homework CVs, etc. start being applied to that question, as discussed in the main post above. So, if you're inclined to put a close vote for this reason, please don't. Instead, bookmark that question, and write an answer later. And do vote Leave Open.

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    $\begingroup$ "Even after making the edits, if the question still misses out one or more fronts (too broad/opinion based/low-effort/etc.), then do feel free to VTC it." That's kicking out of queue just to put it back. I saw editing done to HW dumps, removing it from queue, too many times lately. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron May 3 '18 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithoron Good point, sorry for not clarifying it in the first post itself. I've clarified it now, please have a look. Also, I agree that homework dumps should certainly not be edited. $\endgroup$ – Gaurang Tandon May 3 '18 at 1:31
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    $\begingroup$ Please don't call questions a dump, even if they might be one $\endgroup$ – pentavalentcarbon May 3 '18 at 2:27
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    $\begingroup$ @pentavalentcarbon I edited your comment with the title, since I was going to post the same thing... ahhh, mod powers, harharhar :D $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン May 3 '18 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ Unless SE changed the way it codes, edits only kick a question from the review queue if they come from inside that review queue. So what you can do is open the question in a separate window/tab, edit there and then use the queue. $\endgroup$ – Jan Dec 5 '18 at 16:36
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I have an idea but unfortunately it would probably require a significant change in the StackExchange UI. But I would say: Only close a question if multiple moderators separately and independently (without seeing each other's actions) vote to close it for that reason.

In the first place, if multiple people independently reach the same conclusion from the same set of facts, this makes it more likely that the conclusion is valid, instead of just being the result of one person influencing everyone else.

But also from the point of view of the person whose question is being closed: It's a lot easier to accept rejection or criticism when multiple people separately and independently tell you the same thing, without conferring with each other. If a group of critics all tell you the same thing, but you know that they conferred with each other, then it's too easy to dismiss the criticism as being the result of one opinion leader who influenced everyone else to vote the same way.

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    $\begingroup$ By moderators, you mean people with the power to vote to close questions? If so, it's already done. It takes five people to close a question. If you mean diamond moderators who can singlehandedly close something, then this would eventually be a huge workload for them, and not a good idea. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. May 12 '18 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ There is a closevote queue where privileged users vote to close/leave open flagged questions. You can not see wether a close vote has been cast or not before clicking the close button after which all the reasons and the number of close votes are shown on the other hand if you view a question directly that is not through the queue closevoters can see the number of close votes cast. $\endgroup$ – Avyansh Katiyar May 12 '18 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ @AvnishKabaj Wouldn't you agree that being able to see the count and reasons for closure can bias you toward closing, as the answer says? $\endgroup$ – pentavalentcarbon May 13 '18 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ @pentavalentcarbon Yes at some level it does but I do not check the number of votes cast in the queue. $\endgroup$ – Avyansh Katiyar May 13 '18 at 12:19

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