I'm not a fan of seeing questions closed without the usual 5 closing votes, but I understand that sometimes that's necessary. Still, what are the rules around moderators closing questions outright?

For example, this one: Why does Microsoft have such a bad reputation with the people involved in open source? [closed]. Seems like a decent question, the answers are well thought out, and then it's mod-hammered down as "not constructive" with two votes and no explanation. Why?

Edit: I did see this question, but I wanted to raise the issue again with some context. The situations described in the answer there don't seem to apply in this case.

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    Nothing new on rules. We are currently fix some problems now. You can follow some discussions about the quality of the PSE questions on links post on meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/821/…. I agree with the vision that PSE has many low quality question open yet. What I disagree on MSO that the problem automatically grants rights to SO members dump their unwanted questions here.
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 20:11
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    and nowadays, it only takes 1 vote to close a question. Such as ChrisF, closing questions that got 10 answers and many comments as "not useful to other people"
    – user5487
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 22:54

3 Answers 3


The principle is that moderators are encouraged to make decisions; that's why they're moderators. As such, a moderator's close decision goes into effect immediately... that's the way the Stack Exchange software was designed.

As to why that particular question was closed: it was closed as "not constructive" which makes a lot of sense to me. Is the Internet really improved by yet another lengthy conversation about Microsoft and open source? The question is nothing but an invitation to reignite the pointless flame wars which have plenty of other homes. Stack Exchange is for exchanging knowledge.

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    Fair enough. The answers that were given before close seemed fitting to me, if only from a historical point of view. It didn't read like a typical flamewar. Thanks for the clarification.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 19:08
  • @Anna: Yes, indeed there are good answers. But we can't let this quality going down ;-)
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 20:06
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    @bigown: I very much disagree with closing questions just because they might turn bad.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 20:10
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    Me too, this is was a funny comment. That question should have been closed before exactly because a question shouldn't kept open just because it might turn good.
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 21:38
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    The question has been reopened very quickly by the community, so IMHO it is a good question.
    – user2567
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 23:33
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    @anna we are discussing this internally, and while I agree with you that I need to see a few answers to tell how the question is ultimately going to turn out, there are also a handful of predictors that can tell us with a fairly high level of certainty that the question is very likely to be bad. Those predictors are still being discussed, but one we agree on is the "let's imagine a scenario where..." questions. Commented Dec 30, 2010 at 9:08
  • @Jeff: Sounds great to me. Thanks for the update.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 30, 2010 at 12:34
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    The proper time to force-close a question is after it erupts into a flame war, not before. Unless the subject matter is so egregious that it is clearly hopeless. Commented Dec 31, 2010 at 1:38
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    Is the Internet really improved by yet another lengthy conversation about Microsoft and open source? Very likely, yes. Plenty of people haven't had a chance to be part of one of these discussions yet, and haven't heard the salient points (on either side) made.
    – mindcrime
    Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 2:17

If you disagree with a closure you can vote to open it, provided you have 3k rep.

That one is borderline so IMHO it could go either way (and already has). I agree with the principle that the determining factor is the type of answers a question is getting, particularly in these borderline cases.

  • I can't agree that answers to a question are a good predictor of the quality of the question. Especially considering a particularly difficult questions to answer, the invariable 'wise-ass', comedic or innocently ignorant answers don't imply that a good answer that could help the asker doesn't exist - just that it might be difficult to find. Commented Dec 31, 2010 at 18:34
  • it takes 1 vote to close it down. How many votes does it take to reopen it?
    – user5487
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 22:55

My personal opinion is that one (or more) moderators on PSE who've decided that they are the arbiters instead of the community and are spooked by questions being migrated here from SO. Instead of simply letting the community coalesce around a way of handling these questions, they're being reactionary and defensive. They also seem to take it too personally, rallying the troops to protect their domain. The best moderators have a light touch and a thick skin. At this point, it seems that any question migrated from SO is in danger of being trashed by these mods despite what the community thinks or whether it could be worked into a shape that would be appropriate.

Just another reason for me not to participate here, despite the fact that these are the topics that are of particular interest to me.

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    you forgot some marbles Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 21:13
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    The question about Microsoft vs. Open Source was not migrated here from SO. And it's not a good question. Moderators ARE arbiters, that's their job. Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 21:16
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    @Joel - the difference being, typically, is that moderators are arbiters of last resort. That is, in as far as I understand the SO ethos, the community should drive the process of what is/isn't acceptable within the community. Moderators are there to short-circuit the process in egregious situations or resolve disputes, but not to establish the acceptable standards. Also, the example was a question about MS vs. OSS, but the question was about the rules concerning when moderators should exercise their "sole source" close rights.
    – tvanfosson
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 21:45
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    This is very hard site. Any disregard and this is turn on a forum. I'm preferring to be guilty to be overzealous because this way is easily reversible, the opposite is very hard or almost impossible. For most SE users the problem is about the open questions here not the closed ones. We will never please everyone. It's invisible but I kept many edge questions open, I reopened many questions closed by me or others. I'm not here to close questions but it activity is the most visible. All I want is a better place on internet :-) Certainly I can go wrong sometimes, I'm not perfect.
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 21:50
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    The last resort is deleting the question. Closed questions can be reopened. It happened a couple hours ago. I personally would reopen this example if I could see now a way to be constructive. Of course people can disagree, but I didn't take the last resort. Community or other mods can revert this, even Jeff or Joel, of course.
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 21:55

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