I am leaving the relevant moderator's name out of this question because I wish to focus on the actions and facts and not on the person.
First, I sincerely thank whomever migrated my question (Need to make WatiN work for us, or need to find a different tool) to the Software Quality Assurance and Testing site. I had quite frankly forgotten about that site until it was raised in a comment after my question had been closed.
Second, the commentary on my question initially both before and after it was closed made some valid points on how the question could be improved. But, I think there were some less-than-valid points as well. Posters rarely agree that their questions should have been closed, and I realize I am no exception here. Further, I recognize that our moderators are volunteers, and I thank them for their efforts. However, I believe that the moderator who closed this question did not handle it correctly after I edited the question.
Since the relevant comments are now missing from the migrated question, I am relying on my memory of the comment thread, so I apologize in advance for any errors I may make in discussing the points raised therein.
- If I recall, the close reason was "Too Localized." I initially mentioned that the website for WatiN had been down for several days and asked for any information. The moderator's comment when I asked why he closed my question was essentially that the site was just down temporarily, as another user had commented. Obviously, I did not know that the situation was being addressed when asking the question, and another user did. I had no way of knowing for sure that the condition was transient when asking the question. Nevertheless, among other editing for brevity, I edited that inquiry out of my question.
- After I edited my question and asked the moderator if the issue was remedied, the moderator persisted in explaining that the question was too localized. This honestly seemed just like a way to justify the close decision after the fact. Had the close been a "five votes" sort of close, things might be different, but since it was one vote plus a moderator, I believe the moderator should have reopened (or, better yet, migrated) the question right away.
The moderator, upon giving reasons that the question should remain closed as "too localized," directed me to the FAQ. I had read it before, but I read it again. I believe my question was in compliance, and if there were not a more specific site to address the question, I believe that my question would have been on-topic for Programmers. To address the points I remember:
- Point: I was asking about the status of two somewhat-related products, and I should have been asking the owners of those products instead. Why I disagree: Both WatiN and Watin Test Recorder are open source, without any obvious "central authority" to ask (especially with a site outage, Google Cache notwithstanding). I checked Google for status information on both projects. I did not find any compelling answers. Further, someone have known about a fork of one or both projects that I was not able to locate. Finally, if every project with a more specific community was off-topic here or on SO, many, many questions would be off-topic that are currently considered relevant.
- Point: I was asking about a situation that was only relevant to me and would have been useless to other programmers. Why I disagree: I find it hard to believe that I am the working for the only company that decided to develop and/or maintain an internal web application for IE only and wanted to find a way to test it using .NET tools. Programmers deal with less-than-ideal situations all the time. I believed that another programmer may well have met a similar situation and had a solution based on his or her experience.
- Point: The question was a "shopping question." Why I disagree: It's true that I mentioned that we might be willing to buy a tool if it was in budget and worth the money. That was hardly the point of the question. Even in a broader sense of "shopping" meaning "looking for a particular tool, paid or free," an adequate answer may not have depended on recommending a particular product at all. The answer could perhaps be an approach to using the tools I already mentioned, for example. I do not find my question equivalent in spirit to the canonical "Which camera should I buy?" shopping question in any event.
I am very willing to accept humble correction from the community should it be appropriate. But, I hope my view of the Programmers site is not so skewed that I am entirely incorrect here.
Comments? Suggestions for improvement? I know the process ended in what I believe is the correct result (i.e., migration), but how we got there seems wrong to me.