This question seems to suffer from all the same pitfalls as questions I see closed regularly:

Dealing with management that does not see value in improvements that are not immediately visible to the user

Though I think the question and answers are interesting, this doesn't need to be programming specific - same can be true of other fields. Also, just what an "improvement" consists of is unclear - too general?

I have seen many questions on meta that refer to the validity of questions and this example is a good counterpoint to those who claim there is no problem on this SE. I really want to know how this can remain open based on other questions I have seen closed, as I am to the point where I am not really sure what can be asked on this site (and I have read the FAQ and followed meta). I think that I am not alone.

Edit: Here is an example of a very similar question that I just pulled off the newest questions page that was closed as not specific to software development:


This is perplexing to me. It seems the answer is that there is no rhyme or reason. You'll have a better shot of having your question accepted by the community if you include a reference to iOS.

  • In this case the question could be made ontopic either by judicious editing or by the answers it receives. I think that there is "something special" about software development in this regard.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 19:57
  • 2
    I'm trying to look for some level of consistency here.
    – smp7d
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 20:07
  • 3
    Some questions are borderline. They can be made (or lost) by the quality of the answers. I haven't had a chance to fully read all the answers on this question yet.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 20:11
  • Usually they are closed/downvoted before anyone can answer
    – smp7d
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 20:34
  • Then comment and flag.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 20:39
  • Right now the community is split between people who think the site is about programmers, and people that think the site is about software development. Our FAQ states the site is about software development and career questions are off-topic, however the site name suggests that anything related to programmers is on-topic so many people are misguided about this site's purpose. This leads to situations such as this where many people think the question is a great on-topic question so vote it up, but others see it as off-topic and will probably close it eventually.
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 20:44
  • 2
    No flags, no close votes, and only one down-vote: you're right to get more visibility to the question by asking about it here, but for whatever reason, people haven't seen this question as a problem yet.
    – user8
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 22:32
  • 1
    What I don't like about this question is that it is looking for reasons to close questions, I think moderators should not close borderline questions. Sometimes they are just too eager maybe :)? either I'm a very bad question maker or maybe the lines are not clear and it's all up to the mod's mood at that given time. I think less questions should be closed, not more!
    – Mithir
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 16:11
  • 3
    This question is not looking for reasons to close questions. It is showing how the closing of questions is inconsistent.
    – smp7d
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 16:21
  • 2
    Would say the biggest difference between this one and similar ones that get swatted right away is it's actually a well reasoned question. Most of its cousins come across as either thinly veiled rants or transparent efforts to triangulate an interpersonal conflict and get "the internet" on your side.
    – Affe
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 17:50
  • 2
    One thing that I noticed, if moderator thaws in a comment just because he is not sure himself, the question gets closed by the moderator followers. I believe moderators probably should not do that. This is what happened in the second question, mod @ChrisF said, is this specific to software only? His comments got 5 likes, I got 5 dislikes and the question got closed. Of course it was software related.
    – TheTechGuy
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 0:07

3 Answers 3


I didn't vote to close because the issue of code quality not being easily visible, and most people not being aware it's not easily visible, is pretty specific to software and would not apply to other professions. Note that the answers, unlike most career type questions, are pretty much all about software development, including the two most up-voted, which talk about technical debt and the "iceberg secret", which are specific to programming.

I would consider it on-topic for either programmers or software development (whichever we are), but I'm quite sure everyone would not agree.

  • Great answer!~~
    – Nicole
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 21:10

If you think a question doesn't belong then you should do the following:

  1. Edit it into shape. Anyone can edit. If you have less than 2,000 reputation it has to be approved, but if it's a good edit it will probably go through.
  2. Comment. Ask the OP to improve it themselves. This is for where there is something major wrong with the post and you might destroy all the goodness if you edit.
  3. Down-vote. If the post is really bad this is a good way to get people's attention. Both the OP and other community members. If others see a down-vote on the post it might spur them on to do step #1.
  4. Vote to close. Obviously only available if you have more than 3,000 reputation.
  5. Flag for moderator attention. The last resort. If the post is that bad that it needs to be removed straight away then flag it. If it spam flag it as spam, we see those flags as well. Users with 10,000 reputation can see flags as well and do some or all of the steps.

People don't see every post and people don't always agree on what's a good post or not so it's not surprising that some posts "slip through the net" (so to speak).

If you see a question that has already been closed, but you think is OK then it's still worth doing the following:

  1. Up vote. Give it some positive reinforcement.
  2. Edit it into shape. This will bump the question to the home page where more people will see it and if they also think it's on topic they can vote to reopen.
  3. Vote to reopen. Again for those with more than 3,000 reputation.
  4. Post a question here on meta to get others to see the question. This also has the benefit of getting a discussion going on the edge cases. Moderators get notified of all questions posted on meta so we will look at it.
  5. Post a message in chat.
  6. Flag the post for moderator attention. We'll consider the flag and any supporting evidence. If you've done some or all of the above then that's a good thing.

Questions do get closed by mistake. If someone reads the question wrong and flags it then as it only takes one moderator to close it might get closed incorrectly. That's why I usually wait for multiple flags and/or several existing close votes before adding mine.


I don't understand what you want us to do here: close this question? Reopen all questions that might possibly look like this one because one question stayed open?

People, not automatons, run this site. Regular people, such as yourself, determine—based on their understanding of the scope of the site—what is and isn't on-topic. There is never going to be 100% consistency as long as human error exists, and expecting any community—much less any site on Stack Exchange where human moderation is the core of how a site works—to always handle everything exactly the same way is untenable and unreasonable.

Generally, some community action has to happen on a question for it to get closed: close votes, flags for moderator review, or the attraction a ton of down-votes. Nearly every question that gets closed has this. This question—for whatever reason—has received no flags, no close votes (even after this post was created), and very little down-voting.

It's good to bring up a problematic question here on meta: it helps bring exposure to the question and lets people hash out whether it's on-topic or not. But people can and will disagree with your assessment of a situation, and using one question as the basis for an argument that the site is inscrutable doesn't make any sense.

Instead, I think if there's a way we can make the open question better and more on-topic, let's do it. If there's a way we can get the closed question back on-topic and reopened, let's do that too.

  • No, I don't want this question closed. I want to bring attention to the fact that whether or not your questions are closed (which may result in your temporary suspension) can just be based on luck and social/political factors in this community. If this is the the way the site is supposed to work (it's a community based site, I would accept that), I would like it to be clear. I don't envy moderators of this particular SE site for this very reason. The level of dissidence on this site seems to be growing and canned responses on meta involving FAQ quotes and Venn diagrams won't help that.
    – smp7d
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 16:24
  • 1
    @smp7d That's not how it works. Rather than assume this is all rigged, wouldn't it be much simpler to presume either a) the questions aren't the same and you're mistaken to compare the two or b) people made an honest mistake? If you tilt at windmills, all you see are giants.
    – user8
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 19:44

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