I think the answer is "yes". To the user asking a question, closing it feels like a very hostile action and makes the site seem unfriendly and not welcoming. My feeling is that marginal questions should not be closed explicitly, but should simply remain open but voted to an appropriate score (including negative, even very negative).

The questions I'd close are the ones that are just gratuitously bad, in terms of being completely off-topic (eg, "how do I rebuild a Holley carburetor?"), or that having attacking / discriminatory language, obvious trolling (slashdot level stuff... GNAA references, etc.), and the like.

IOW, I'd rely on up/down votes for almost all moderation and save the "close hammer" for extreme situations.


  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for raising this subject. As a pro-tem mod, I'm tending to hold off in particular on questions in areas where I don't have applied experience, and then following the lead of the mods or expert contributors with the relevant backgrounds. In other words, if I'm uncertain about a question, I'll wait to see if it gets upvotes. In many cases, questions that have been flagged for closure have garnered useful answers. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou Mod
    Dec 13 '17 at 18:35

Experience with many beta sites from the start and through initial pro-tem moderation suggests that yes, for questions that could be on topic, let's give the benefit of the doubt in the early stages to help growth.

For posts that are definitely off topic, close them down as fast as possible, though - and a good way to do this in the Public Beta stage before we hit critical mass is to have frequent use of the chat room and point the CM's or mods at such questions.

Once we have a good number of folks with close privileges, it gets easier and I'd agree that normal voting should carry it from there.

The corollary to this is that we must use our votes. Upvote good posts, and downvote the bad ones - this helps make sure the good ones are seen and their owners rewarded, but also gets us that critical mass of users with the necessary privileges as fast as possible.

  • $\begingroup$ Everyone has close privileges during a private beta, so we can close/reopen stuff right now. $\endgroup$
    – Ben N
    Aug 2 '16 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ I'll clarify that - cheers :-) $\endgroup$
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 2 '16 at 17:26

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