Based on the input from a discussion with several users on meta, we defined this Moderation policy for Questions.

It's a very liberal policy: i.e. almost all questions are permitted.

Is that policy working well, now? Would you like to revise it? Can you identify further types (or subtypes) of question which ought to be closed?

Identifying in general some types of question to be closed is a bit difficult, but it is useful:

  • It helps moderators and users to understand which questions ought to be closed
  • It helps us understand why they ought to be closed
  • It helps us understand how to edit them so that they can be reopened (or whether they can't be salvaged by an edit)

One recent example is that closed this question, and I appended "Broad comparisons" as a new close reason (at the bottom of the moderation policy for questions), only because Andrei had previously identified for me (in this post) something wrong with this kind of question and how to identify that.

In case it helps to be specific, for the sake of discussion, are there questions you would identify which weren't closed under the current policy, but where it would have been better if they had been closed?

  • Also subjective questions could result in the asker giving points to those answers that agree with his views. Others with opposing views might then ask questions with the opposite slant and reward those with similar ideas, leading to a schism. Groups of users supporting one another's views which seems to happen to all institutions. Broad comparisons would then be a battle ground.
    – Sam Reeve
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


There are 5 reasons listed under the vote to close option: duplicate, off topic, unclear, too broad, primarily opinion based.

During a period of time when we were receiving few questions, and trying to meet the criteria listed in Area 51 for graduation to a full site, we discussed and implemented a policy of allowing virtually any question outside of a few special exceptions such as an exact duplicate or a hostile question. Our "problem" at the time was we didn't have enough questions coming in to meet SE criteria and this was an attempt to solve that problem.

Live and learn. We now are struggling, at times, with questions which are off topic, unclear, too broad, and primarily opinion based. The primarily opinion based questions are in a special category of problematic because they can open the door to endless opining back and forth without any objective criteria for selecting a best answer. And not having this back and forth "forum style" interaction is what makes this site special and different than other forums for some users. We seem to appreciate the neatness of simply providing an answer and leaving it at that as compared to being drawn into arguments via endless comments.

Going back to closing questions which the community votes as duplicate, off topic, unclear, too broad, and primarily opinion based seems to be a reasonable response to our newer "problem" that the site is seen (by a number of members of the community) as taking a turn for the worse by going down the road of argumentative forums.

  • Well fair enough and I think that the community of trusted users is always welcome to vote: and needn't be bound by policy. So if five users together choose to close a question as "too broad" for example then it will be closed without moderator intervention.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:32
  • Yes, I think though, that because of our newer policy, we've perhaps been reluctant to use the close vote in recent times.
    – Robin111
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:33
  • As a moderator my vote is "binding", i.e. I'm unable to simply "vote", my vote would close the question unilaterally. So I personally feel I should refrain from casting close votes, unless that's clearly in the policy or unless it's after several other users have voted to close. So I'm not setting an example and voting to close dubious questions, but perhaps other users should. I'd also like it if we could define policy, e.g. to help new users understand what questions are allowed, and which are not allowed and why.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:38
  • You've identified "primarily opinion-based" as a candidate or special category of problematic.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:39
  • 1
    Yes, primarily opinion based seems to be the category that is most connected with the argumentative forum style which SE and this site seek to avoid.
    – Robin111
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:42
  • Should we close those questions? Or allow the questions, but then squelch any "argumentative forum style" noise that may spill into the answers and/or comments? Do all opinion-based questions need to be closed, or only some of them? Is there a guideline that even I could understand, to identify which questions are "opinion-based" and which aren't? Did you know there's this SE blog article which tries to identify how to answer "subjective" questions e.g. about how to be a parent?
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:48
  • 2
    I'm not sure that we'd want to go looking for problems. But when problems present themselves, i.e. the community is voting to close or down voting questions or comments are getting hot, we should remember to use the traditional categories for closing if applicable without any reluctance because of the newer policy. I think the newer policy was to give questions a chance, but we shouldn't be bound to keep questions open when they are creating a rift in the community.
    – Robin111
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 13:56
  • Maybe this question for example is opinion-based, isn't it? Or perhaps too broad? Still people aren't voting to close it.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 14:16
  • @ChrisW, maybe that's part of not "going looking for problems". The question is asked by a person seeking an answer. We're here to try to answer questions for such people. It's not creating a problem. Another type of question which is perhaps pitting one sect against another, one style of practice against another; is leading to arguments and flame wars, is being down voted and voted to close, that is were we can help to cool things off by voting to close; or put on hold really.
    – Robin111
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 14:34

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