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Close Reasons

2 votes

With some idea of the scope of this site established in the last meta post, I'd like to start looking at close reasons, i.e., reasons we would close questions or flag them. Here are some starter ideas:

  • Duplicate: this question has already been asked.
  • Not about physics: this question is not about physics.
  • Too conceptual: this question is not about solving a specific problem. (These questions would go on physics.SE.)
  • No effort: this question does not show the thought process or the actual work done by the questioner.
  • Purely math: this question asks a purely math question and has no physics context. In that case the OP will be advised to use Mathematics Stack Exchange.
  • Trivial mistake: this question resulted from a trivial mistake. Sidebar: if you see one of these, comment or answer the question with the mistake, and then flag or vote to close.
  • Unclear what you're asking: please clarify the question, it is hard to tell what you are asking.
  • Very low quality (flagging only): this question is not well written and is so hard to read it may need to be removed. At the very least, it requires significant editing.
  • Spam (flagging only): this is written to promote a product or service, not ask a question.

I might add that we encourage the editing of questions in case a question is closed, so as to make it fit the rules of site. If it is done properly, the question will be reopened!

( Give your thoughts in form of comments or answers below)

asked Nov 2, 2016 in Meta by heather (412 points)
edited Nov 3, 2016 by xxxx
@heather Could you add that a closed question will be reopened if they are edited to fit the rules ?
@S007, done.

2 Answers

6 votes
Best answer

The close reasons suggested are good and obviously duplicate questions,questions not about physics or questions that are too conceptual can be closed. I think mathematical questions that have a physics element would also be welcomed.

With regards to the more subjective close reasons, I think in the early stages of the site we should be aiming to encourage education to new users of what constitutes high quality questions and answers and assist users in editing and improving their questions and answers, rather than closing too soon.

Of course if the above fails we can close a question, but this should be a last resort. I think we should aim to be a very welcoming and friendly site to new users.

answered Nov 3, 2016 by Einstein (1,486 points)
selected Nov 3, 2016 by xxxx
As this site is about helping people with their individual physics problems, I think we should consider the sincerity of asker.  If they are sincere and genuinely want to learn, I think closing an on-topic question is not the answer, but instead assisting the asker to develop what we consider to be a high quality question, irrespective of reputation.
Very true we should help the asker and let him try to improve on his concept and solving ability. Simply closing would be just denial of the help although high quality and good questions are always welcome but a beginner question would make the site dynamic and would improve the overall dimension I mean the site would have questions from basic to advanced and structuring those questions well would help other by seeing the easy questions as examples to the simple basic concept and build their base.
And opening a closed question if it fits the rules is not a very bad idea
2 votes

I agree with some of what Einstein says. We should aim to be a very welcoming and friendly site. It is a fledgling site and we don't want to turn users away at this stage or get a bad reputation. Closing questions should be the last resort. Rather than doing so we should help users to improve their questions.

I disagree about encouraging high quality questions. We're not building a wikipedia of physics, so quality does not matter. The goal of the site is to allow people with questions to find people able to provide answers. If you don't like the question, ignore it and leave it to somebody who does.

I disagree with this closure policy. Users who come here from Physics Stack Exchange are unhappy that their questions were closed there. They do not want to see the same thing happening here. It would be pointless for this site to become a duplicate of PSE - heavily regulated, focussed on rules rather than providing a service.

I do not agree that these closure reasons are good. They are not necessary. I think that we should leave it to users to decide for themselves if they want to provide an answer. If they think the question does not show enough effort, or is not clear, they should post a comment or ignore the question. One group of users should not decide what other users can or cannot do.

As Einstein says, closure should be the LAST RESORT. Something that happens only in extreme circumstances. It should never become routine, for routine reasons.

Comments on the closure reasons :

DUPLICATES : Does it really matter if the same question is asked multiple times? The goal here is to provide answers, not to build a reference library like wikipedia. Searching for duplicates is time-consuming and difficult without a good cross-referencing system. If somebody wishes to point out a previous answer, fine. If somebody else wants to copy and paste an old solution and claim credit for it, fine. Why should we care? As long as those who ask and those who answer are satisfied, why should anyone else interfere?

NOT ABOUT PHYSICS : What are the limits of physics? Who decides? Physics overlaps with engineering, chemistry, biology etc. Every other subject. Let the users decide. If they cannot answer it, they should ignore it. If they can apply physical principles to it, it is physics.

TOO CONCEPTUAL : Who decides? If we think so we can post a comment recommending the user re-post on Physics Stack Exchange - but this decision should be left to the user. If we disagree we can post an answer. If the question remains unanswered, what harm does that do?

NO EFFORT : So what? Personally I like to see effort, I prefer to give hints, but I don't think I should be allowed to impose my standards on other users. The questioner may not have any idea what to do. How can we judge?

PURELY MATH : Suggest posting on another site. Or answer it. Let users decide for themselves whether to answer. Even if it is purely maths, somebody may be able to provide an interesting solution using physics.

TRIVIAL MISTAKE : So what? As with duplicates, we're not writing an encyclopaedia. Point out the mistake and move on. Few questions will be looked at again. If you want to save the best, archive them and delete the rest after say 3 months. But don't close active questions.

UNCLEAR WHAT YOU ARE ASKING : Says who? If you don't understand the question, post a comment asking for clarification. Leave those who do understand it the freedom to answer.

VERY LOW QUALITY : Ditto. Post a comment suggesting a suitable edit. Or (if you have the privilege) edit the question yourself.

SPAM : Now this I agree with! If it is not asking a question, it is not welcome.

So in my opinion, the only valid close reasons should be :

NOT A QUESTION (spam, rant, etc)

INACTIVE (for the last 30 days perhaps?) WiTH NO ANSWER

Both these should not only be closed, they should be DELETED.

answered Nov 30, 2016 by sammy gerbil (28,806 points)
edited Dec 31, 2016 by sammy gerbil
While I understand what you are saying, the policy is as myself and Einstein stated. I am already somewhat disappointed as to the turn this site has taken in terms of stretching the rules on how low quality the question can be (no effort whatsoever has been inputted on multiple questions) and how low various answerers are willing to stoop to answer these questions which are clearly outside the stated policy. While both Einstein and I welcome the voicing of opinions (again, thank you for stating yours here) there are times where we must respectfully disagree and act as moderators. I believe that at this stage the consensus is fairly well behind Einstein's answer.
"Various answerers"? I am (just about) the only person providing answers.

If you want to have control of this site and ensure that your standards are met you have to be more active. You have to monitor and close questions which you think do not show enough effort. If you are not willing to do so then you cannot complain.   

You also have to take responsibility for the consequences of your moderating activity. Excessive regulation will drive users away. The site has not gotten off the ground yet. It will fail if you regulate it as strictly as Physics Stack Exchange.