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I get upset when I look for a particular question of mine to link to another question, only to find that it's been closed and I probably shouldn't be sending people to it. It's even worse if the question I'm looking for has been deleted and I can't find it at all.

There are many questions that were asked back when the site scope allowed questions about programmers, not just software development, and questions were encouraged to invite sharing experiences over opinions, something that is discouraged today because it sounds more like a poll. They got many upvotes because they were on-topic at that time and contained some good information.

I understand that the site scope has changed since then, and these questions are no longer seen as on-topic, however I'd like to request that mods leave a comment on questions they want to close if it was asked back when the question would have been on-topic and has a decent number of upvotes. This would give the OP a few days to try and edit the question to make it on-topic before the question actually gets closed/deleted.

I find it extremely hard to get questions re-opened here, so would rather try and make a question on-topic to prevent the closure in the first place instead of trying to re-open it after an edit.

  • Perhaps you should spent some time playing around with the 10K tools... All the information you need is available there... – yannis Mar 1 '12 at 1:20
  • @YannisRizos I recently noticed the 10K tools and really started playing with them. Honestly though, I don't have the time to work with many of the questions I'd like to see edited so they are a good fit for the site. That's actually the only reason I didn't run for a mod position myself - I didn't think I could devote the time needed to do the job well. – Rachel Mar 1 '12 at 13:21
  • Here's a related question. meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/5913/… Note the discussion about "grandfathering." – Tom Au Apr 14 '14 at 16:19
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A closed question won't immediately get deleted (unless it's otherwise offensive or rude). This provides the opportunity to try to save a question from deletion. However, once a question has answers, it becomes extremely hard to save the question. It's much easier to delete the question and wait for it to be reasked in an appropriate manner than it is to either edit the question in a way that preserves the answers or go through all of the answers and delete the ones that no longer fit.

If there's a closed question, anyone (including the original poster) has the opportunity to try to fix it. There are many tools to find questions in need of saving, such as helping with the structured tag clean-ups or using the search to find popular, highly voted closed questions. If you manage to fix one, flag it for moderator review and briefly explain your edits and why it should be reopened. If you have successfully fixed the question without invalidating answers, it'll be reopened. If you haven't, it won't be reopened.

In terms of leaving a comment prior to closing - no. If someone flags it or it absolutely needs to be closed since it is by no means a good question for the SE format, I won't hesitate to close it. However, if it's not obvious as to why, I'll leave a comment explaining the close in more detail. The quick closing will prevent people from posting answers making it exponentially easier to save the question.

  • I am asking this because I am finding it extremely hard to get questions re-opened on here. Some of the moderators are great at re-opening questions after a significant edits, but others prefer to leave the question closed and wait for the community to vote to re-open it, and I don't think I've ever seen an older question get 5 re-open votes within 4 days (I've seen a couple newer ones get 5 re-open votes, but not any an old ones). I wish to be given the chance to edit good questions which were once on-topic to make them on-topic again if possible before they get closed. – Rachel Feb 29 '12 at 15:41
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    @Rachel To me, it depends on the quality of not only the question, but also of the answers. I'm not going to reopen a question that's now good, but has a large number of bad answers because they no longer answer the question. That just doesn't make sense to me. That's why commenting, editing, and closing early are good things - make the question good before someone posts answers that need to be reviewed. – Thomas Owens Feb 29 '12 at 15:46
  • I can agree with that. I was feeling upset because I keep seeing on-topic questions getting closed because they ask users to share opinions/experiences, which was what was encouraged in the early days of the site. I would much rather get a comment asking the OP to edit the question so it isn't an opinion poll, than to have it closed outright and some good answers lost. I probably wouldn't even care that much but I feel there is a lot of resistance to re-opening questions, and that people prefer to not touch a question if they aren't sure. – Rachel Feb 29 '12 at 15:54
  • @Rachel The sharing of experiences is encouraged still, and it's even in the FAQ. However, what's not allowed are questions along the line of "how do you do X" or "what do you think about Y". Those are kinds of "getting to know you" questions that don't belong on a Stack Exchange. If it's about solving a problem or understanding a concept, it's fine. – Thomas Owens Feb 29 '12 at 16:04
  • @Rachel I would much rather get a comment asking the OP to edit the question so it isn't an opinion poll, than to have it closed outright and some good answers lost. - You can post the comment yourself, and even do some edits to salvage the question. Then all you need to do is convince four more people that the question is worth re-opening. I fail to see why any moderator intervention is required in that process. – yannis Mar 1 '12 at 4:37
  • @YannisRizos I have 4 days to get 5 people with 3K+ rep to vote to re-open the question. That's pretty hard on this site – Rachel Mar 1 '12 at 12:36
  • @Rachel This answer to an MSO question you asked, explains that you need to get at least one re-open vote per 4 days, so in reality you have a maximum of 20 days to get 5 people with 3K+ rep to vote to re-open. That's enough time, perhaps you should consider that people don't vote to re-open because they don't agree with you that the questions should be re-opened. – yannis Mar 1 '12 at 13:15
  • @YannisRizos That is misleading. After 4 days of no votes, the votes will expire at 1-per-day, and the users whose votes have expired cannot vote to reopen again. In fact, if someone has voted to re-open the question in the past, they cannot vote to re-open again, even if there are no re-open votes on it. For example, if I vote to re-open a question and nothing happens, then 3 months later I see someone else trying to re-open the question, I cannot vote to re-open it. This is one reason I made a meta post about viewing total re-open votes on MSO – Rachel Mar 1 '12 at 13:19
  • @Rachel First it was I have 4 days to get 5 people with 3K+ rep to vote to re-open, which was blatantly false, and now it's about the edge case of people who happened to vote to re-open in the past? Come on... In any case, moderation intervention is not required. – yannis Mar 1 '12 at 13:28
  • @YannisRizos I do feel it is 4 days to get 5 people to re-open. Sure I might get an extra day or two by having the votes spread out a bit, however once the votes start to expire, the people I've already gotten re-open votes from won't count since they can't re-cast their vote, so have to keep finding new users. You try and get an older question re-opened without mods helping out. It's almost impossible. – Rachel Mar 1 '12 at 13:46
  • Providing everyone spreads out their votes by exactly 4 days, I'll have at most 16 days to get the required votes before they start to expire. But be honest, that doesn't happen. A question gets attention from something like a meta post, and usually gets the majority of re-open votes within a day or two. You might get another 1 or two within the next few days, but that's more unlikely. – Rachel Mar 1 '12 at 13:49
  • @Rachel If you can't get 5 people to vote in 16 days, why should the question be reopened anyway? You make your heroic edits, the post gets bumped to the top of the page where it's visible. You vote to reopen, you now need 4 votes, and the question is visible. If necessary, you post on Meta where it has even more visibility, more people make edits and vote to reopen as appropriate, keeping the question on the front page of active questions. It shouldn't be a problem getting 5 users to vote. – Thomas Owens Mar 1 '12 at 14:05
  • @ThomasOwens It's not 16 days. The maximum is 16 days. The reality is more like 4-6 days. Go ahead, give it a try. Take an old question that most people have seen before, edit it to make it on-topic, and try and get it re-opened without moderator powers. Use what's available to the everyday user - Meta and programmers chat. If you really want to do it like me, make your edits on the weekend when you have time, even though it will likely be bumped off the main page before many users see it. It IS a problem getting 5 user votes before they start to expire. – Rachel Mar 1 '12 at 14:20
  • @Rachel I know that people are seeing it - you can count views of the Meta question and track delta views on the original question. Perhaps they just don't think it should be reopened? If you really think it needs to be reopened following a meta discussion, flag it. That's always been the policy for as long as I can remember. – Thomas Owens Mar 1 '12 at 16:12
  • @ThomasOwens Unfortunately that would only work if I write down the # of views on a question at the time I posted the meta question, which I did not. It also doesn't count unique views, and I know I personally am responsible for quite a few views since I want to see what's being done with the question. – Rachel Mar 1 '12 at 16:52

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