I'm having a hard time understanding the reasoning behind closing questions. Not that I think questions shouldn't be closed, but I do not understand the reasoning and/or thought processes behind closing questions, and what it is we hope to accomplish by doing so. Obvious things like shopping recommendations we just plain don't want here. But what about things like this?

This is mostly just a run down the highest voted questions list and picking out a few that are closed (they were just handy for some quick examples), but I can't imagine we wouldn't want them on the site any more, would we? Surely the questions aren't closed just because they can be, because they don't follow the rules.

I'm also a little confused about locking vs closing vs deleting. It seems locking or deleting are rarely considered. Many of the above questions would make more sense to me if they were simply locked.

  • What do we hope to accomplish by closing questions?
  • Do we not want closed questions here?
  • What message does closing these questions (and other "questionable" questions) send?
  • How does this help the site?

Again, not trying to play Devil's Advocate or whine about questions being closed. I honestly do not understand the intent of closing a question.

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@TomWijsman Thanks for the link. I had read that before and couldn't quite remember if it fully covered my question. I'm not wondering how to ask subjective questions, so much as when to close them and prepare them for deletion. –  Tanner Oct 5 '12 at 16:51
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2 Answers

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I'm having a hard time understanding the reasoning behind closing questions. Not that I think questions shouldn't be closed, but I do not understand the reasoning and/or thought processes behind closing questions, ...

The Super User FAQ goes into wide detail on the reasoning behind closing questions; most of the questions you have linked are subjective in a bad way, you can find more detail about that here.

..., and what it is we hope to accomplish by doing so.

The Stack Exchange network can be summarized with the word learning, more specifically learning to solve actual practical problems; if a question only yields opinionated answers with argumentative comments, then there isn't any benefit to keeping the question open or keeping it around. You don't learn anything from people solely trying to prove each other wrong.

Obvious things like shopping recommendations we just plain don't want here. But what about things like this?

  • Is the performance of a CPU affected as it ages?

While the question and top answer look fine, if you look beyond that you see people coming up with answers that tell the opposite or are somewhat irrelevant to the question; for instance, perceived speed is mentioned as well. There's also quite some arguing in the comments.

  • How are commercial DVD's burned? (...)

Not subjective, but might be somewhat off-topic if you see our site is mostly about computers in a home setting. Although there's no other site for this question nor is it in any way bad, I have voted to reopen this one.

  • What is the origin of K = 1024? (Good question, bad answers?)

Been there, done that on a similar question.

  • What are the pros and cons of a solid-state drive?

Pros and cons are somewhat subjective, this invites discussion of how much something is a pro or a con and doesn't give a definitive answer. A simple understanding of what a SSD is, how it works and what implications it has; is what makes people ask such question. Figuring out the main pro (more speed) and con (less space) probably is easy and makes sense, pros and cons beyond the obvious ones are more likely open to debate. Take for instance Moab's comment "Biggest con is data recovery" — but what if someone then comes up with "Biggest pro is that it's less breakable"? Which one of both makes sense?

  • How to run Mac OS X within Windows Virtual PC?

Are "Hackintosh" questions allowed?

  • How can I gently explain to non-techie friends they are the victim of a hoax? (...)

My comment would be "Just tell it to him." as not being able to express yourself is not a SU problem.

  • If spaces in filenames are possible, why do some of us still avoid using them? (...)

There are a ton of reasons, but a definitive answer, no. Questions that poll for a list of reasons are equivalent to research that you could do elsewhere, Super User is not a place to do a study on why people do things but rather a place to solve problems. It's like the typical "spaces VS tabs" and "best IDE" debates, all subjective. Gathering such reasoning can help obtain slightly more objective statistics (resulting in facts) to look at, but the Stack Exchange system doesn't support a large number of answers and probably never will change that way.

I'm also a little confused about locking vs closing vs deleting. It seems locking or deleting are rarely considered. Many of the above questions would make more sense to me if they were simply locked.

Locking is mainly to avoid people from editing stuff, when multiple persons disagree with the content of a certain post. Or when people keep editing something into a post despite it having been rolled back a few times.

As for deleting; what you don't see, you don't see. There has been deleted a lot over time.

  • What do we hope to accomplish by closing questions?

Keep the site clean of content that defer people from giving an "actual answer" to a useful question.

Stack Exchange is no place for discussion, apart from the meta sites where we can discuss about the parent sites.

  • Do we not want closed questions here?

  • What message does closing these questions (and other "questionable" questions) send?

Some questions have valuable information to retain, so we keep them to keep them accessible.

It's also no teach the users what kind of questions we want and don't want, as they come across them.

  • How does this help the site?

It keeps the site at an expert level, making it stand apart, it's what makes up its success.

Again, not trying to play Devil's Advocate or whine about questions being closed. I honestly do not understand the intent of closing a question.

Let's hope you do have an idea now; if still unclear, stay around for a while and it'll probably make more sense with time. Remember that we're trying to stand apart from a typical support forum... :)

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Exactly the answer I was seeking. =D Thanks. –  Tanner Oct 5 '12 at 19:09
    
"Which one of both makes sense?" mine does, everything breaks eventually and data recovery on a SSD will be near impossible or beyond the pocketbook of mere mortals, "less" breakable does not mean it will not break. –  Moab Oct 14 '12 at 3:37
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@Moab: It makes sense for you, but is utter non-sense for others. Whether it will break eventually or not is not the question here. It's actually pretty funny that you comment as you now demonstrate that you're implicitly focusing on recovery which makes it a con for you, if you don't imply recovery (and use proper back-ups) then it's way more important that it lasts longer which makes it a pro for others... YMMV, which is why this is subjective and the Stack Exchange network doesn't care about either opinion. ;) –  Tom Wijsman Oct 14 '12 at 9:44
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Closing happens when there is something off about the question.

If it can be improved and focussed, they may be re-opened and allow users to answer with a better frame of reference. This stops them wasting time and attention working with the wrong assumptions or details.

If it can't be polished, then it will be deleted some time after. How long after depends on who is around to notice or how violently bad the post is. The more horrid, the closer the time between closing and deleting.

Some things are left closed and not deleted because people forget to come back to them after giving users a fair chance to see if they can clean it up or if they want, to save the information elsewhere, like a blog (with the requisite notes on attribution).

Locking for history just depends on the quality of the question and its answers and is a case-by-case call.

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So will the questions I listed eventually be deleted? –  Tanner Oct 5 '12 at 16:31
    
Yes, depending on if no one after reading this question wants to keep them around –  random Oct 5 '12 at 16:33
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Re: "Closing happens when" ... drilling in on the "when": What prompts a moderator close a three-year-old question that had been existing happily all that time and getting thousands of page views for the site? Did policy change in those 3 years or it just took that long to get noticed as "something off"? –  Chris W. Rea Oct 5 '12 at 16:48
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@ChrisW.Rea This is what lead me to believe closing has nothing to do with deleting. Four out of those seven were closed over a year ago, but I get the feeling if I flagged for deletion it would be rejected. ;) I'm not trying to be argumentative, I just find it odd that many many closed questions are seeing frequent use, yet are supposedly on the verge of deletion? –  Tanner Oct 5 '12 at 16:56
    
@ChrisW.Rea > Did policy change in those 3 years? – Yes, for most of these, it did. For example, there are still plenty of questions that are polling for what software people use from the early days of Super User in 2009. They might have just slipped under the radar and are now closed so as not to stick around as examples of what questions to ask. Eventually they'll be deleted. –  slhck Oct 5 '12 at 23:07
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