Yes, I understand why questions are closed. I don't agree with many of the reasons for closing, but that's another issue. In any case, despite the somewhat-helpful information provided to the asker, being on the receiving end of the closing process is like being kicked in the stomach, especially when the asker has tried very hard to follow the rules.

There must be a better, more humane way of doing this.

For example, when a question is closed as off-topic, provide some possible alternatives. Point to another StackExchange site, or some other resource, that might be a better fit.

Provide some mechanism to dispute a question being closed. I've had at least one question closed where the stated reason just made no sense, but I had no recourse.

Whenever this happens, I'm slightly less likely to use or recommend Superuser in the future. And I'm sure I'm not the only person who feels that way. Keep in mind that I've contributed fairly substantially to the site in the past. The danger is that eventually you'll push away the people that you really need to keep around.

  • 2
    There actually is a mechanism to reopen questions. Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 21:09
  • 2
    If you wish to have a discussion examples are needed ...
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 22:08
  • "In any case, despite the somewhat-helpful information provided to the asker, being on the receiving end of the closing process is like being kicked in the stomach, especially when the asker has tried very hard to follow the rules." - A question being closed isn't personal. If you take this sort of thing personal, then strive to submit only extremely high quality content, then you can avoid feeling like we are "kicking you in the stomach".
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 23:11
  • "Point to another StackExchange site, or some other resource, that might be a better fit." - We do but that only is possible if the question is on topic on another Stackexchange website and is high enough quality to merit it being migrated. "Provide some mechanism to dispute a question being closed. I've had at least one question closed where the stated reason just made no sense, but I had no recourse." - Yes, actually you did. Feel free to point to that question that was closed without a valid reason......
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 23:13
  • I looked at all three of your questions that are currently closed. One was closed for being "too localized" an earlier version of "too broad" in other words you were seeking our opinion or your question was simply not in the scope of Superuser. One was a problem that "went away" and was closed soon afterwords, the other, was seeking why broadband speed tests are incarnate. I don't see how you can complain any of those questions were closed.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 23:18
  • I fail to see the "hostility" in how questions are closed on SU. Don't take closures personally.
    – Moab
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 16:33
  • DavidPostill: I added a link pointing to a recent question of mine that was closed (now deleted).
    – boot13
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 20:01
  • Ramhound: I guess you didn't see the most recent one because that closed question was deleted. See the link I added above.
    – boot13
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 20:03
  • "Don't take it personally." That might as well be "The Moderator's Refrain". How I feel personally about this is irrelevant. I have a legitimate question, someone points me to Superuser, I ask the question, the question gets closed, and all I see are canned responses that don't really seem to apply. Impersonal, arbitrary, and yes, hostile. As moderators, you may not agree with that assessment, but I bet most ordinary users would agree.
    – boot13
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 20:10
  • Michael Frank: See the question link I just added. When I saw the close votes, I reworded the question to remove the problematic 'request for recommendation' text. I added some examples. Then I voted to reopen the question. Soon after that, I saw several other votes to re-open the question. Then the question was closed. Then the question was deleted. I never received any notifications for any of these things, by the way, and never got anything but canned explanations.
    – boot13
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 20:14
  • 1
    I have had over 5 questions closed. I know how it feels. Now I am at 70 (hard-earned) rep and would be terrified if I got back to 1.
    – Joseph
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 4:30
  • 1
    Mods could maybe warn, "This question is a bit off topic. Could you revise?"
    – Joseph
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 4:44
  • @codeSwift4Life questions go on hold for exactly the same reason. They move to closed state after being on hold for 5 days
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 6:41
  • 1
    also, @boot13 unless you add an @ prefix to the commenters' name, they won't be notified.
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 6:42
  • @boot13 - Impersonal messages are not hostile. I still feel you are taking your questions being closed way to personal. As I explained I see zero questions that you have submitted and then were closed, that were closed, that were actually on topic. The majority of your questions were not the best questions, and those that were high quality, were still not on topic for this site. Just because it deals with technology does not mean its on topic here. The people responding to you are all normal users except Geek.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 11:00

2 Answers 2


tldr: That's how the site works, there's multiple mechanisms in place.

We need to balance between quality control and "user friendlyness". However there is essentially a need to close things that are clearly off topic and/or move them somewhere appropriate. Having too many questions that don't meet the scope of the site means its harder to find what they want.

I don't like it when people tell other people "ask the question on foobar.stackexchange". We have a migration system in place. If a question meets the scope and standards (that is to say, a poor quality question is less likely to be moved). We'd rather move questions than have them crosspost, assuming it isn't too old. I've also noticed that least on SO, people often suggest reasking on sites they don't know anything about. The right way to handle stuff like this is a custom flag (and custom flagging to say "hey mods, this belongs on foo.stackexchange" then commenting "Heya, this question isn't quite on topic here. I've flagged it for moving to foo.stackechange. A mod will likely decide and move it if needed" is super cool.

However, if you've asked a question that's off topic here and on topic there, you've clearly not read and understood through the help pages. This isn't really our fault

The one exception here is hardware recommendations - where we often point the user to chat, since we have a core of hardware enthusiasts there, who, while often disagreeing on the merits of green vs red, and resolution over refresh rate.

In addition to the mechanism that Michael Frank suggested, we've traditionally encouraged people to post on meta about such things. This gets eyes of moderators and core users who read the meta, and if you can make a good case for reopening, questions get reopened. We've also had people pop into the ask a superuser moderator to ask. In these case you need to be able to convince other users that its not off topic, and its happened quite a lot in the past.

At the end of the day though, your question may be a beautiful and unique snowflake, but its just like every other snowflake and its just a pile of snow in the end.

  • @Journeyman_Geek: I'm having trouble with that last sentence. Are you saying that all questions end up being out of date? Also, when you contract "it is", you need an apostrophe in there. I mean, if we're talking about quality, or the lack of it.
    – boot13
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 18:09
  • 3
    More that while your question is beautiful and unique to you, its one question of many and gets seen and treated like any other. Its less a reference to quality than overall, site-wide quantity.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 20:48

The “tree” you posted about.

Your question that was closed is pretty much off topic from the get go; screenshot at the bottom for those who can’t see closed questions:

I read the SANS Internet Storm Center blog, but while the information there is often useful, the RSS feed has some problems.

The rest of the question is on the same note. I believe I commented on this question when it was open and I stated that as a web developer who also does Linux systems administration, I can tell you that RSS feed management is a headache.

If a feed is badly managed it can result in malformed content. In many CMS setups there is a field for specific RSS data to avoid automated systems mangling content. But many times those fields are left empty by lazy content administrators and the systems—because it needs content—defaults to the next fallback which ends up in mangled content.

Which is a complicated way to say: Human sloth and laziness results in broken content. So you need to contact the site admins to see if they are aware of this issue and if they can fix it.

The problem of that specific “tree” in this “forest.”

That said—and I believe I said this in a comment that are now deleted—this kind of question is off topic here. How can anyone here help you fix a remote site’s RSS feeds? What exactly is the question? Yes, the RSS feed is broken and yes the website has created a broken RSS feed. And what else?

There’s nothing hostile about that question being closed… But I will say I am fairly confident about my leaving constructive comments on this specific question. So perhaps the larger issue is the way comments are typically wiped clean from closed question.

I can understand why since off-topic questions can often lead to a chatty comment area where people are trying to clarify or politely answer and that might seem like a pile of nonsense to a moderator, but maybe there should be better selective pruning of comments on bad questions to apply context?

But you also claim this:

Provide some mechanism to dispute a question being closed.

Yes you do. Look at that question again. In the list of options—next to “Share” and “Edit”—is a “Reopen” option. And that is a mechanism to reopen your question.

But as I said, there’s no way I can imagine that specific question being reshaped into a way where it would be reopened and stays open.

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