Not all of us and not all the time, of course, and I'm sometimes guilty of this too. I don't want to point the finger at anyone - just discuss what I think is a problem and how we can improve. The examples I use below are just some random recent cases that illustrate my point.
We are sometimes trigger-happy with the Close button. Hear me out.
The reason for closure:
This question is off-topic.
Questions seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they become outdated quickly and attract opinion-based answers. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve. Share your research. Here are a few suggestions on how to properly ask this type of question.
- Is this question seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations? No.
- Otherwise off-topic, opinion-based or gets outdated quickly? No: it's within scope of the site, not opinion-based and the tech it's about is commonplace and has been in use for decades.
- The problem is clear? Yes.
- Shows effort ("share your research")? To some extent: "I learned that when packets go out from the local network, the source address is translated into a public address". Sounds like OP is actively trying to understand this, but a piece of the puzzle is missing and they want us to clarify it with focus on this particular aspect. Maybe someone could want to ask for clarification in the comments, but I can see myself posting a useful answer that could help them connect the dots.
- The link at the end is only applicable to software recommendations.
I honestly can't see how this question is off-topic. It's probably a duplicate, but I'm no good at finding these and I can understand OP not finding anything too. What I can see here is a well-meaning person coming here to learn and being given an unhelpful "NO ANSWERS FOR YOU" without any good reason.
This question needs details or clarity.
Add details and clarify the problem being solved. This will help others answer the question.
Does the question lack clarity? No. The issue is clearly explained. Some capitals are missing here and there, but it's perfectly legible.
Does it lack details? Maybe. OP narrowed the problem to a couple sites and even to a particular file type: "Whenever I try to download files from certain sites, such as cloudconvert, google drive and solidfiles. This appears to be a problem only with rar files". They have added that they're on macOS.
What's missing is info about their OS version and browser, but they don't know that. It's not a case of a user giving us nothing to work with and hoping that our crystal ball has the answer (anyone who's been here for a while knows this type of questions). They have put their effort into providing information that they thought is necessary. They don't have the knowledge we SU veterans have, that's why they came here for help. If this question deserved to be closed, then an explanation on how it should be improved should've been provided in comments. Otherwise it's just unhelpful denial of providing help with no direction where to go. It's not a case of them wasting our time, it's us wasting their time.
Some users think that mentioning any programs in questions is banned, no exceptions. It's an extreme case, of course, and it's incorrect and absurd, but I think it's cases like this that lead them to such conclusions:
Not closed! But the comments:
Person A: "Is there any software on windows that will allow multiple microphones to be mixed to one input device" with that quoted, it's off-topic here.
Person B: I agree, glazed over that sentence
Here's how the question looked before edit:
The situation is - I got two people sharing one room and only one PC that is running discord. Both should be able to talk and hear discord. Is there any software on windows that will allow multiple microphones to be mixed to one input device that can be used in discord?
I’m aware of Loopback on Mac that can achieve such a thing but I’m drawing a blank for Windows.
and here's how it was salvaged:
Is there any
software onway in windows that will allow […]
To put it shortly: if such a minor change in wording made it not a software-rec question, was it ever a software-rec question?
The question is about solving a problem that is presented more or less clearly. OP expects that this problem is solvable with 3rd party software, because that's how they solved it on a Mac, but I'm pretty sure they would be completely happy with a built-in OS feature if one existed. It's just a matter of unfortunate wording. IMO Person B glazed over that sentence because it just doesn't invalidate this otherwise fine question.
A good answer to this question would probably include a software recommendation and a guide on achieving what was asked, which strongly suggests that it's not so much about software as about a problem.
Let's go through the software-rec checklist from case 1:
- Is this question seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations? As I've explained it's actually seeking a solution to the presented problem, and implying that some product will be a part of that solution.
- Otherwise off-topic, opinion-based or gets outdated quickly? No: within scope, not opinion-based, won't get outdated more quickly than any other software-based answer.
- The problem is clear? Reasonably clear I would say.
- Shows effort ("share your research")? Well, OP could do better here.
- The link at the end: Well, give it a read. In a nutshell, questions should be problem-based, not software-based. Questions that ask for software that solves problems is allowed - there's even a header that reads "How to ask questions that may require a software solution".
I'm not saying this question is perfect - I'm saying that commenters wanted to close it due to a twitch reflex, rather than for a valid reason. In some cases there won't be a valid reason, but the reflex will work the same. And if it's a mod♦, that's it - the question gets closed.
Why are we here?
I believe the point of answering questions and participating in this community is to provide help and serve other people. With that in mind:
Wouldn't it be better to make that minor edit, rather than vote to close? If you don't have these couple extra seconds or are using a mobile device and it's inconvenient to edit, maybe it would be more helpful to resist the urge to VtC and let someone else make the edit? Would anything bad happen if no one edited it?
Also: I think this question has potential to be helpful for other visitors. It would be great to make SU number 1 on Google for this problem. It doesn't seem like OP did any research, but other than that the question checks all the boxes. IMO it's good enough to keep it open even if it doesn't fit the guidelines perfectly. The point of guidelines is to instruct users how to ask good questions, but useful questions that don't follow the guidelines are still useful. Unless they are off-topic in the strict sense (first 3 bullet points), we may want to keep them open.
Closing unclear questions is okay. But ultimately we want to help people who ask them.
Sure, if OP can't write a coherent sentence, it's a waste of time to decipher and answer their question. Even if someone has a similar problem, it's unlikely they will be able to realize it's the same problem (or even find the question).
But if the question looks like some effort was put into it, be helpful and explain what information you need. Unlike you, OP isn't an expert - they may not know relevant stuff from noise nor understand how complex the issue is and what information is needed. Closing the question doesn't address this. It just leaves OP to themselves and prevents SU from gaining a useful question.
IMO even "crystal ball" questions shouldn't be closed without a comment. Some people think computers are magic and we can magically devise a solution for their issue. They understand nothing and don't know what we need from them. It's us that have to tell them.
Finding duplicates can be hard. Many times I've been 100% sure a question was answered before, but I just couldn't find it. But if I can't find it, neither can OP and other people who have a similar question, so instead of closing with questionable reasons maybe it's better to leave it open, let someone write a good answer and hope that this one won't get lost?
There's a large Polish electrical engineering forum that's infamous for getting first positions on Google with unanswered threads that are closed by mods because "this topic was discussed a thousand times, search for it". Well, here I am searching for it and getting their unhelpful posts. SU is technically superior because (I think) it's guiding Google away from closed questions and presenting duplicates as redirects, boosting their targets. Thus a duplicate closed with a bad reason is a wasted opportunity to promote a good question in search engines.
And this - without leaving any explanatory comment - is just unhelpful:
Am I missing something and it's actually a something-rec question? Is the moderator♦ disagreeing with my stance on using correct close reasons? Should I keep flagging stuff like this? I don't know. I can complain on meta (trying not to sound too petty), ignore it and keep making the same mistakes, or get frustrated and leave. (Please note that the comment with a potential duplicate was posted after the flag was rejected.)
Closing questions is easy, reopening them is not. I'm pretty sure closed questions get much less visitors than open ones, but the number of votes required to reopen is the same. Once a question is closed, it's often doomed to stay closed. People sometimes come here with sincere intention to learn something, but leave with a feeling of being unjustly judged. The "on hold closing" experiment may not have worked, but there was a reason for it, and no technical solution can make up for behaviors that feel hostile. I believe unwelcoming SU is not the kind of SU we're trying to build.
Maybe before clicking the Close button we should think twice what are we trying to achieve long-term and if it's actually serving our goals.
I'm sorry if I'm using a strong language or if any of you felt offended in any way. It was not my intention. I'm certainly not completely objective in my perception of the issue and I'm open to discussion… or at least I think so. The fact that I'm not a native speaker and may not get the tone of my language the same way as you do doesn't help either.