I've been involved with several other stack exchange communities but this one seems to close more questions, and quicker than others do. I'm not trying to spark any wars here but I am genuinely curious if there is some benefit to closing questions (other than keeping crap out of the site). Are there metrics on "open, unanswered questions" or something that people are looking at?

Full disclosure, I did ask a question yesterday that got closed and marked as off topic. Personally, I think the question is on topic but I wholly admit that I am new to this community and may not fully understand the scope. The fact that it was closed and agreed upon by 4 mods makes me believe that this may be the case but the fact that there was no comment or any clue as to how to improve it, I have no idea. That lead me to check out meta and I see that this tends to happen a fair amount, questions are closed and eventually often re-opened. So why so quick to close rather than comment and help to improve questions?

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I have to agree with you about your specific question - I don't see any obvious reason for it being closed (and it wasn't 4 mods who closed it, it was 3 members and 1 mod). I've flagged it for re-opening, and that's certainly something you can do if you disagree with the closure. In general, however, from what I can tell, the questions that get closed are closed for good and valid reasons. –  anu Jan 22 '13 at 17:06
    
Discussion related to your specific closed question. –  Chip Bennett Jan 22 '13 at 19:48
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4 Answers 4

Yes, percent of answered questions is quite prominent metric in SE network and has it's own "unanswered" section in every stack, since unanswered obviously not a good thing to have a lot of for QA site.

We (as in WP stack) have also history of hugely struggling with this metric in early days (and still doing not that awesome comparing to other stacks).

There are two main reasons for that:

  1. WP ecosystem is starving for expertise. Simply the ratio of people with question to people capable and qualified to answer them is bad.

  2. WP as topic is complicated intersection of wordpress.org, wordpress.com, plugins, themes, open and closed source, design and programming in multiple related languages. We are not handling all of that - as per FAQ we had to very carefully refine our scope and pick the right parts that result in productive site for everyone involved.

As to your specific question (thank you for mentioning - it is alway helpful to discuss specific situations rather than some generic perceptions) it was likely judged to be off topic as being about very specific mechanics of third party product with own support system. It's the very fringe (at best) of our scope.

The fact that it was closed and agreed upon by 4 mods makes me believe that this may be the case but the fact that there was no comment or any clue as to how to improve it, I have no idea.

Note there was only one moderator involved (look for ♦ symbol), rest are just regular users with enough reputation to close vote.

If you ever feel you need something clarified or explained please post on meta (as you did) or ask in our chat room.

So why so quick to close rather than comment and help to improve questions?

Yes, the reasons above did form bit of trigger-happy culture at our stack. However note that it doesn't matter if question is closed or open for it to be improved.

Simply put in practice most people don't give a damn about improving their questions. Keeping such questions open and babysitting them burns impractical amount of time.

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Great answer, thank you. I definitely understand the lack of WP expertise, not just on this site but just in general. Many people use it but very few fully understand it. I am guilty of this as well because my first experience on the site was simply to ask a question, I will try to answer a couple to even out my karma :) –  mattedgod Jan 22 '13 at 17:52
    
It is a balancing act. On the same day I close-voted two Genesis-specific questions, I attempted to help someone rehabilitate another question. As you can see, it was an exercise in wheel-spinning. And this is a question in which the asker actually came back, responded to feedback, and tried to edit/improve the question. –  Chip Bennett Jan 22 '13 at 19:53
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We have some users who sit on the review page linked from the top, and enjoy their time spent there. The review page itself is quite a spectacula moderation tool, and one thing it does is show us the close flags and votes.

Naturally it makes watching for close votes efficient, and it rewards you for doing so, which when combined with the culture of the most active users on this site leads to a form of ruthless efficiency.

While this can seem harsh at times, it's productive. We have a good sense of what is and isn't on topic, and why questions should be closed, and we're a lot more consistent across questions, and between ourselves.

That said, it doesn't always paint us in a good light, but we're quite open to discussion and explanation so long as the appropriate attitude is taken and the right channels are used.

For example, plugin reccomendations are a popular question type, but also offtopic, and for good reasons. These reasons aren't always clear to new users, but have been demonstrated via the stack exchange blog. If approached in the chat linked from the top in a polite manner we're happy to explain why it's offtopic, and we regularly ask these kind of questions in chat amongst eachother, but never on the main site.

Regarding your particular case, clarification can help, and does result sometimes in a reopening of questions. Moderators on this site, and high reputation users who use the review tools are themselves beholden to rules imposed by the construction of Stack Exchange, and those higher up who maintain and design the network as a whole. There are special mechanisms regarding the closing and reopening of questions that handle negative rep and other parts.

But for a better understanding of our close voting practices

Here's a guide on close voting on the meta site that may be illustrative:

A guide to moderating wordpress.stackexchange yourself - close voting

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Another great answer, and very relevant link. The idea of closing being equivalent to "improve question mode" is interesting, not the first thing I think when I hear close but it is good to know. That being said, a quick comment when closing/improve-mode-ing may help –  mattedgod Jan 22 '13 at 17:55
    
I agree, and I have a rather embarassing question on the main SO meta suggesting a comment be required, since at the time I was unaware you could click on close and see which reason people had chosen and in what numbers. Where possible if not already explained I'll endeavour to comment in hopes the question is reformulated. –  Tom J Nowell Jan 22 '13 at 18:47
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Normally, I try to give feedback indicating what can be improved, or why the Question may be considered off-topic.

But when I see: that the user has enough rep to know a couple of things ("read the faq", "how to ask", and so on) and/or that others see it in a similar way (casted a close vote and haven't commented on it), yes, I'm trigger-happy. And on this I'll quote Rarst's Answer:

Simply put in practice most people don't give a damn about improving their questions. Keeping such questions open and babysitting them burns impractical amount of time.

Now, given this very feedback of yours, I think that leaving a comment "Close voting as..." may be the appropriate comment to a not so clear Question.
So, if the user cares, he/she can have a chance to act upon it before closure.

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I voted close on your question because it was specifically about genesis_before_post_content, as other have said this code is about a 3rd party theme hook, and as such unfamiliar to non Genesis developers, and users in general.

Should I have added a comment : Yes, but and don't always have time or quite honestly feel like it. Also when I see a close vote via moderator tools I typically never comment because someone has already flagged it.

Should it have been closed: IMO yes, this hook is from a commercial theme company who's revenue revolves around support, this is good for you and them.

Why are we trigger happy: As Rarst mentioned WPSE and WordPress in general ( look at reddit/IRC/.org) has a problem of low quality drive by questions, more so then you would find in other stacks. In order to create some quality, questions need to be moderated.

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