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I ask a "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" and it just gets closed -- and it's been tagged a "discussion" question.

Well, it's a discussion question if you don't know the answer, like this one, but if you knew the answer to this question, you wouldn't discuss it would you? You would just give me an answer, like

"No". "Mark your question as important"

I asked the question last night. I come here in the morning. If there were no answers, I could understand that. If there were requests for clarification I could understand that. I've got a meeting I've got to go to, and users I have to talk to, to try to explain what happened, and the question got closed before there was any chance of reply.

So, as well as my anger, disgust, and dismay, here is a suggestion:

Don't close "discussion" questions until there is a "discussion" reply.

You may think that a question invites "discussion" answers, but there is a simple, specific, definitive test for that: wait and see what answer it gets.

If it gets no answer, no loss. If it gets a real answer then you haven't made worthless the entire concept of serverfault. If it gets a "discussion" answer, then you've given me a clear indication of the error of my question.

Responding to some comments left here:

1) http://living.msn.com/life-inspired/miss-manners-advice

2) It's clearly a general problem here: discussion questions are not closed, see any very highly rated or very low rated question: Can ping out but not in, Our security auditor is an idiot. How do I give him the information he wants?) and non-discussion questions are, so I asked a general question. Since this is Meta, with a specific tag Discussion, I thought a general discussion question was more appropriate than a question about a specific post. (I invite you to respond to the general discussion question. If you think general meta discussions are not appropriate here, I invite you to make a reply to that effect).

3) On a slightly different tack, it is interesting that you want a link to a question: although I haven't spent much time here, I'm old enough to remember that the original idea of stackexchange was that it would NOT be indexed or cross-linked: "Google is the index" http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/10/search-all-stack-exchange-sites/, and I've been surprised that lifestyle-users want to make it a closed (self-referential) site: I think that's a mistake. But, whatever. That's the natural life cycle of user sites, and if you don't fight against it, it happens. I'll try harder to conform.

  • A specific example would be useful, perhaps a link to the question you're talking about? Simply ranting that you feel some (unspecified) question was unfairly closed will not get you any (positive) attention. – voretaq7 Jan 28 '13 at 23:35
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    @user165568, you have a serious attitude problem. If you're intending to be part of SF I suggest you learn to control your temper tantrums and also learn to express yourself more clearly, calmly and politely. – John Gardeniers Jan 29 '13 at 2:10
  • Well, it's clearly a general problem here: discussion questions are not closed (see any very highly rated or very low rated question: serverfault.com/questions/473089/can-ping-out-but-not-in – user165568 Jan 29 '13 at 4:26
  • Similar discussion: meta.serverfault.com/questions/4066/… – the-wabbit Jan 29 '13 at 11:26
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    What is a "discussion question"? This isn't a forum, and Q&A doesn't lend itself to discussions, but rather to answers. discussion is a thing for meta only. – Falcon Momot Jul 25 '13 at 5:51
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If it gets no answer, no loss. If it gets a real answer then you haven't made worthless the entire concept of serverfault. If it gets a "discussion" answer, then you've given me a clear indication of the error of my question.

Sorry, but this is a broken premise. There is the theory of broken windows which this rule is trying to avoid. It basically goes like this:

  1. You ask a discussion question
  2. It gets no answers (in your book, "no loss")
  3. Someone else sees your question, and thinks "Oh, I can ask my discussion question"
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 several hundred times
  5. Someone comes along and just sees un-answered discussion questions, or religious fights or debates and says "Pft just another bunch of teenagers discussing whose cock is larger OS is better, I'll ask my question somewhere else"

And then the whole Stack Exchange model falls apart.

NOW. All that said, I can only see one question on your account that is closed, and I'm very sorry that your question was closed without explanation. It's a... problem that we have here.

I can only assume they saw a few misspellings and tagged (which is traditionally littered with people forgetting their password to their home computer and spam) and didn't bother to read the question, or edit the few mistakes that were in it.

I have re-opened it.

  • First, thank you. Second, my suggestion is NOT that you leave the broken windows. Rather, that you don't board-up unbroken windows. This is difficult if you rely on personal judgment, hence the suggestion that you use a specific protocol. Third-- thank you. – user165568 Jan 29 '13 at 5:13
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    @user165568 We DO use a specific protocol. It's the same one every Stack Exchange site uses: 5 users with reputation of 3000 or greater (or a site moderator) must decide the question is not a good fit for the site, and must classify it as one of 4 types of poor questions (or a duplicate of an already existing question). If 5 users (or a site moderator) disagree with that conclusion they may vote to reopen the question. If, as in this case, you don't agree with the decision, Meta is the appeals board. – voretaq7 Jan 29 '13 at 16:16
  • OK, I'll edit that: I've suggested that you NOT board-up un-broken windows, use a specific protocol that I have suggested. Because your specific protocol of boarding up un-broken windows is not supported by the "broken windows" argument. – user165568 Feb 1 '13 at 4:28
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Is “don't personally know the answer to this question” a reason to close?

No it isn't, not sure where you got the idea that it was.

How to stop it?

IMO It doesn't happen, or rarely happens.

In the cases where it does happen, it is almost always related to the person asking the question not doing a good job at composing a question that is clear.

If you think general meta discussions are not appropriate here, I invite you to make a reply to that effect).

General discussions are just fine, but it is going to be difficult for you to make a claim that contradicts the general opinion without backing it up with some supporting evidence.. You have made a claim that questions are being closed because the person reading it doesn't know the answer.

I think your statement is bogus. My counter claim, is that there are questions that poorly asked. Occasionally people with the close vote privilege (~300 people) do not see the diamonds in the rough.

Personally, I can say my knowing the answer to the question has absolutely no relation to how I vote. A large number of my up-votes on questions are because I don't know the answer. I very strongly want to encourage people to ask questions about things I don't know the answer to, since those are the questions I learn things on. Questions about things I don't know about are how I get value out of the site.

Since occasional mistakes are made that result in a closed question the system has several methods for correcting this.

  • If a good question is closed, you can edit and clean it up. The question will be bumped up, and people can vote to re-open
  • You can ask the people hanging out in the Comms room for advice.
  • You can ask on meta for a question to be reviewed, and ask us to help you fix your question.
  • You can flag it for the community moderators to review

it is interesting that you want a link to a question: although I haven't spent much time here, I'm old enough to remember that the original idea of stackexchange was that it would NOT be indexed or cross-linked:

I am sorry, but your reasoning here seems flawed. The idea that Stack Exchange would not be cross linked or whatever has nothing to do with us asking for links to some example questions.

It has to do with us not fully understanding or agreeing with what you are trying to say, and hoping you can support that with some evidence.

1) http://living.msn.com/life-inspired/miss-manners-advice

What does that link have to do with your question? I didn't see anything directly related there other then lots of ads.

  • So I give some specific examples, and you respond to the general question instead...OK, I've made a specific suggestion, and you've responded that CORRECTING THE ERRORS is better than my systematic suggestion for preventing the errors. In general, I disagree with that. As a sys admin, I disagree with that. – user165568 Feb 1 '13 at 4:42
  • Effectively, you've drawn a distinction between: "Don't know the answer to that question" "Don't know that there is an answer to that question" "Don't think there is an answer to that question" "Don't think that question can be answered except by discussion" I don't accept that distinction. It takes no account of the way people actually work. Is it because I am a sys-admin? I expect users to make judgements based on simple heuristics, which sometimes lead them to error. – user165568 Feb 1 '13 at 5:10
  • I really can't follow what you are trying to say in your comments. – Zoredache Feb 1 '13 at 8:52

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