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Question:
What size HD widescreen monitor would I need to buy to match my 19" monitor?

I asked a question a few weeks ago to help me understand how to find a widescreen computer monitor to match my existing computer monitor's pixel density. I received a great answer, but when I checked it recently, I noticed it was closed as Off Topic by a moderator:

Questions on Super User are expected to generally relate to computer software or computer hardware in some way, within the scope defined in the faq

At first I thought this was odd since my question was very specifically about computer hardware. I decided to read the FAQ and noticed that "a shopping or buying recommendation" is considered off topic. I guess that's the reason why the question was closed as off-topic, but if your read the question (and the thoroughly technical answer that followed), you'll clearly see that I wasn't asking for a recomendation but rather trying to understand the underlying technical specifications of computer monitors. Sure, I intend to use that new-found understanding to make a purchasing decision in the future, but I don't think that using the word "buy" in the title necessarily means the question is about a "shopping recommendation."

I imagine that if SuperUser allowed buying recommendation questions, the site would quickly devolve into another electronic deals site, so I understand why moderators would close questions that are asking for shopping recommendations. However, I think the moderator could have done a better job of handling the question:

  • I think if you read the question in detail, you'll realize it's not a "tell me what to buy" question as much as it is a "help me understand this" question. Should this type of question really be closed just because it has the word "buy" in the title?
  • Perhaps the moderator could have left a comment about how I could modify my question to make it considered on topic. I would have gladly modified my question so that it was more clearly on topic.
  • Instead of closing the question, someone could have edited the question to remove the reference to "buying." There was plenty of technical information in the question that it could have stood on itself without a reference to buying.

To be clear, I'm not upset at the moderators for doing their job of "cleaning up" the content in the community; thier work is very much appreciated. I just think a little more attention could have been paid to this question before it was closed.

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You pretty much answered your question. Whenever there is a 'purchasing' question then mods will quickly flag it and vote to close, since they are definitely not within the bounds of Super User. Even though you feel that it's not an actual "what to buy" question the phrasing is still there. Whenever you ask a question it's good practice to NEVER use the words "purchase, buy, etc;."

Another reason why I can see the question being closed is that of being too specific to your needs. Super User is a community Question/Answer, which means that questions have to asked in a more general situation, or something that is dealt with more than just a couple specific people/groups. Your question is a pretty specific need/task that really isn't used by the general Super User public.

Finally, and personally, I wasn't exactly sure what the question was asking, and this may be another reason why the question can/was closed.

If you feel that the question is legit, then try rephrasing the question so that 'what to buy' phrasing isn't included, and matches most closely to guidelines found within the FAQ and then flag for a monitor to consider reopening.

  • +1 Couldn't have said it better. @Ben As suggested, rephrase the question a bit if possible. – BinaryMisfit Nov 8 '10 at 16:27
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    @Diago, I understand the desire for me to rephrase the question and I'll certainly do that. I guess my concern is that question was closed without 1) giving me the opportunity to rephrase the question before it was closed OR 2) offering a comment as why it was closed and what could be done to re-open it. – Ben McCormack Nov 8 '10 at 16:56
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    @KronoS I see what you are saying about "NEVER use the words 'purchase, buy, etc." However, as an infrequent user of the site, I wasn't aware that this was a "red flag" to have the question closed. A little note of explanation to go with the close would have been quite helpful. Either way, thanks for your feedback. – Ben McCormack Nov 8 '10 at 16:58
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    @BenMcCormack As a new user you should realize that a closed question really isn't that bad, and can be reopened. Also with the amount of questions that mods have to sift through, if they were to comment on every question as to why it was closed nothing else would be done. That's why doing what you did in posting the question on the meta site was and is always going to be the best thing to have. – James Mertz Nov 8 '10 at 17:28
  • @Ben Again KronoS answered the same as I would. We do not comment on every question we close, simply because the close reasons are all well described and motivated. Also closed questions can be re-opened, and when flagged to be we do look at them again. If I commented on every question I close, I would be on the site the whole day having to justify why. – BinaryMisfit Nov 8 '10 at 17:47
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    Just a note: You can still edit your closed question and flag for mod attention if you feel your edits are sufficient. And as @Diago mentioned, commenting on each closed question as to why it was closed isn't really realistic, although most people do tend to leave a comment. – Sathyajith Bhat Nov 8 '10 at 21:01
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    A new user would more than likely interpret a closed answer as "bad", especially if no explanation is given. Knee-jerk flagging for red-flag terms is knee-jerk, not useful. If the question/answer are usefull, but there's a red-flag term -- aren't there better avenuews for removing whatever irritates you, rather than the almost-nuclear-option? – Michael Paulukonis Nov 9 '10 at 15:28
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    @MichaelPaulukonis again with the volume of questions that are seen in the Super User community makes the job of moderators paying attention to every aspect of the question near impossible. It is the responsibility of the questioner to write good questions in the first place, and make edits when necessary. Mods, and more experienced users can make changes to the questions but this is not their responsibility but rather privilege and choice. – James Mertz Nov 9 '10 at 15:40
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    @Michael majority of questions that are likely to be closed leave no scope for editing it into one which is acceptable. The ones which perhaps have the scope will be done by the community users, assuming the question is interesting enough. – Sathyajith Bhat Nov 9 '10 at 21:02
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    @Michael. Just for interest sake. Majority of closed questions that are bad are from drive by posters, who never ever come back. Super User especially has a lot of these due to it's target audience. Most new users that are interested in staying will either on Meta, or email query the close if they did not read the FAQ, and either improve the question or ask a better one. Those are the users we want to keep. We have no issue with "losing" users. We want high quality content from high quality users. It's always been the goal. – BinaryMisfit Nov 11 '10 at 7:43
  • @Michael Super User isn't the only place with "red flag" words that will get your post shut down. On cooking.stackexchange.com, it was recipes which would get your question closed quickly. I've never liked the attitude towards "red flag" content where they get quickly closed with no explanation other than a link to the FAQ. Perhaps the "red flag" terms will draw attention to the content, but mods should still evaluate the question to see if it is quality content for the site. If they don't have time to do that, so be it, but I think that would be a much better approach. – Ben McCormack Nov 12 '10 at 20:12

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