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I appreciate that the community moderates itself, that is part of what makes stack exchange great. Sometimes though, moderators can be careless and/or wrong and there really isn't a way to fix it. Certainly, this edge case could be handled better making stack exchange a more pleasant and useful place. I know it is technically possible for questions to be reopened, but no one ever looks at those closed questions again. If you made it easier for the user, maybe there would be more hope.

An Example

Original Question: https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/128634/what-do-you-need-to-know-when-you-begin-contracting

I'm trying to ask a question that is clearly allowed according to the FAQ, but it has been closed twice. Just today, I read a few similar questions that helped me a great deal. My question was upvoted 4 times before being closed. Clearly, not every one agrees with those who closed it. It has now virtually vanished, with no hope of being reopened. I think the majority would have chosen to do so if given a better opportunity.

More Specific Version: https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/128665/how-to-write-a-freelance-contract

Still, I tried to take the constructive criticism and re-posted it as a more specific and broadly useful question. Unfortunately, it was closed again almost instantly.

From The FAQ

What kind of questions can I ask here?

  • algorithm and data structure concepts
  • design patterns
  • developer testing
  • development methodologies
  • ====>>>>freelancing and business concerns<<<<====
  • quality assurance
  • software architecture
  • software engineering
  • software licensing
4

The question was closed by five members of the community (well four + a moderator) so it was a community decision.

If you think that the question is on topic then raising it here is the right thing to do. However, you have asked several questions in one which doesn't work well in the Stack Exchange model.

Firstly, you should search the site to see if there are any other questions that answer any of the parts. If there are then use those answers.

Secondly, you could then edit the question to concentrate on one aspect that hasn't been covered - but be careful make sure you are asking about something that uniquely affects software developers and/or software development. Alternatively ask a new question.

The question has already got a couple of reopen votes. With three more it will get reopened. If, when you have edited the question, you still think it should be reopened sooner, flag it for a moderator to review. If we agree we can reopen it for you.

3

Sometimes though, moderators can be careless and/or wrong and there really isn't a way to fix it.

Sometimes it does happen, and posting a meta question is exactly the way to fix it. Not saying this is one of those times, though.

I know it is technically possible for questions to be reopened, but no one ever looks at those closed questions again. If you made it easier for the user, maybe there would be more hope.

Please post another meta question with your suggestions on how it could be easier for the user or exactly what you think it's hard, that would be equally important. There's definately room for improvement.

My question was upvoted 4 times before being closed. Clearly, not every one agrees with those who closed it.

Sometimes I upvote a question while also voting to close. And more oftenly, I downvote without voting to close. Popularity (or lack of) does not indicate that your question is on topic, in any way.

As for your questions:

Avoid posting a slightly different version of an earlier closed question. Instead, edit and improve the original question. Then post a meta question and ask for it to be reopened. It takes five 3K+ users to reopen it, that's all you need. Most 3K+ users check out meta often enough, and revised questions have good chances of getting re-opened.

Editing the old question will also bump it up the top of the front page, so it will get a lot of visibillity, regardless of it being an old one.

Now, I will probably not contribute any re-open votes. You ask too much, even in the second version of the question. Some of your questions are already answered, search the site, and some of your questions are probably off topic (hint: those that should be asked to a lawyer, instead of a bunch of programmers). I wont go into any detail, the two other answers cover me perfectly, but feel free to ask if you want clarifications.

Kudos for the very constructive way you chose to raise your concerns, unfortunately it isn't the norm when it comes to closed questions.

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When your question was closed, I left specific feedback about why it was closed:

Hi Evan, general professional advice isn't on-topic here: for that, you might be interested in an upcoming site proposal, Professional Matters. However, bear in mind Stack Exchange is about getting help with specific problems: cataloging everything that one needs to know about contracting is too broad a scope for the Stack Exchange style of Q&A.

Basically, it comes down to two things:

1. We're not a general-purpose professional matters site

You quoted a part of the FAQ, but missed the very first line, which says:

Programmers — Stack Exchange is a site for professional programmers who are interested in getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development.

That is, the part you emphasized should be read as:

freelancing and business concerns [that are about software development]

If there's something specific to software development, you need to make that clear in your question. You can do that be revising it to explain what, specifically about software development, you want to know.

To put it another way (also mentioned in the FAQ), we're trying to hit the blue region on this diagram:

Scope diagram

However, many people on the network have recognized there is a demand for a general-purpose professional questions site, and that site proposal is currently in commitment. If there is nothing about contracting that's specific to software development that you want to know, it is your best shot for getting help about the subject.

2. Cataloging everything about a subject is too broad a scope for Stack Exchange

The body of your question asks 6 different things, including the ultra broad, open ended prompt:

Anything else that caught you by surprise when you started contracting?

This is not in any way definitively answerable. As the FAQ says,

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Getting your question reopened

The number one reason a question doesn't get reopened has nothing to do with mods being drunk on power or community apathy or any other malicious or nefarious reason: it's because the reasons why the question was closed in the first place is never addressed.

Closing is meant to be a way to say "this question, as it is written now, is not a fit for the site. If you can address the problems stated and revise your question, it's just as easy to reopen it."

In the case of this specific question, it's very easy to get it into shape:

  1. Explain what you need to know about contracting that requires the expertise of the site's audience (i.e. programmers)
  2. Narrow the scope of your question down to asking about a specific, solvable problem.

You do that, and I'll be the first to reopen and upvote it.

  • The number one reason a question doesn't get reopened has nothing to do with mods being drunk on power or community apathy or any other malicious or nefarious reason - I understand your frustration with all the bs targeted at mods, but there's nothing in the question to justify that sentence. Mods can be careless and/or wrong, and that's perfectly understandable and it does happen (rarely), but where does OP suggest that it happens for being drunk on power or community apathy or any other malicious or nefarious reason? – yannis Jan 6 '12 at 16:16
  • @YannisRizos Moderators aren't being careless, and the suggestion that we, or the community, just write off all closed questions is way off-base. We really do care, and we really do take the time to evaluate questions and reevaluate them when questioned about them. Questions staying closed has nothing to do with moderators being careless or community apathy, and everything to do with most closed questions never getting improved. The default action when a question gets closed should always be "how can I improve my question?" not "are the moderators or closers being negligent/apathetic?" – user8 Jan 6 '12 at 16:27
  • Cool. I'm not trying to convince you, although I have spotted mods being careless once or twice, and in no way am I suggesting that this means you don't care (all of you). What I'm really saying is that you could keep the rhetoric to a minimum, my problem is not with what you're saying but with the tone of the sentence. It's kind of flame-y and needlessly charged, and if you read this meta discussion in isolation it doesn't make much sense. As does your response I used the OP's phrase, "can be" (i.e. can happen, not entirely impossible) never said you are being careless (i.e. constantly) – yannis Jan 6 '12 at 16:37
  • btw the "once or twice" I mention above are largely insignificant (and not limited to PSE), if I spot something I really don't like I'll post a meta question asap. - and yes I'm nitpicking, because I really like how OP expressed himself, and would like to use this post as a reference to everyone else who asks about a closed question. I'm introducing new users (friends, colleagues, students) constantly, and I want to give them examples of how issues should be resolved... – yannis Jan 6 '12 at 16:38
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    @YannisRizos The appropriate, and less flamebait-y, way to get a question reopened is to address the feedback received by revising your question, not stating moderators are careless, there's no way to "fix" moderator actions, and that nobody looks at closed questions. "This is my question, and I've tried to revise it to address the comments. Is there anything else I can do to get it reopened?" goes a whole lot better than making this about how the community is possibly unpleasant and useless because your questions got closed. – user8 Jan 6 '12 at 17:14
  • Well, as long as we are discussing what's appropriate and what's not, let me just say that I don't think it's appropriate for a moderator to bite a flamebait. There was a perfectly good answer by another mod, I don't see any reason for yours, other than to vent (a little). Not something I'll hold against you, but since you considered appropriate to lecture me on what's appropriate... Well, let's stop. I respect the work you and the other three are doing, and I'm quite happy with it. None of the above where personally targeted to you, if you feel that was the case feel free to drop me an email. – yannis Jan 6 '12 at 22:39
  • I did revise the question... – Evan Jan 9 '12 at 21:15
  • @Evan The revision logs for both questions show otherwise: question 1, question 2 – user8 Jan 9 '12 at 21:48
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Regarding your second question, I can see why it was closed. It is almost extactly the same question as the first one, if just a little more specific. Hence, Closed as Duplicate seems reasonable.

Regarding your first question though, I wouldn't have closed that one. At first. In fact I was one of the people you voted the question up. I feel it is on topic, because as you pointed out, freelancing is mentioned in the FAQ as being one of the topic areas of Programmers.

However, I also have to agree with the assesment that the question is extremely broad. Too broad for the Stack Exchange Q&A format. There are entire books on this subject (which, incidentally, is also mentioned in the FAQ as a close-reason).

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