I believe that one (or perhaps several) of the votes toward closing my most recent question constitute an abuse of voting privileges rather than having legitimate issues with the question. Certainly, some were legitimate, as before editing I was asking about several different, albeit related, topics. However, I do not feel that my question being closed after my edit for 'a lack of details or clarity' is valid, and I feel the votes were cast purely due to the fact that I was having an argument with established members in the comments, rather than having a legitimate reason to close.

To summarize, my question simply asks 'how can the ability to produce negative electric charges be used to power a basic circuit?'. I entirely feel that my post is not lacking the detail or clarity required for that question to be answered.

While I don't feel AlexP's vote or complaints to be legitimate (particularly since the vote was only cast after I disagreed with his comment stating my post to be a word salad (he could not point to an example) and that I failed to define the word 'electricity'), the one vote that I feel is a demonstrable abuse of privilege is the one coming from Daron, whose stated reason was 'OP is being antagonistic in comments'. Certainly, I was being antagonistic in the comments, although only in response to the equally antagonistic comments I was receiving. However, I have looked all around the help centre, and I do not see 'OP is being antagonistic' as a legitimate reason to close a question.

In short, I am complaining, I feel my post should be reopened (for it to remain illegitimately closed means it recieves less attention, which means I am less likely to receive answers), and I feel Daron is abusing one of his privileges.

I suppose I would also like to know how to report or deal with VTCs that I feel to be illegitimate or an abuse of voting powers.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Voted to reopen. The dispute in the comments looks to be over how the magic is reconciled with real physics (energy conservation and all). Q's about magic systems that "go only this far" and ask about the natural consequences should be given the freedom to handwave the finer details. $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    May 20 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @BMF thank you. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 20 at 19:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm not going to compete with JBH and Tortliena's excellent responses explaining potential rationales for closure. In looking at the reasons given, it seems to me that "lack of focus" and "details or clarity" were addressed by your edit. "OP being obstreperous" is, I agree, a clear abuse of voting privilege. I don't care if you're the single most obnoxious person on WB.SE, if I think your question is good, I'll either argue against closing or VTR. Making a personal attack via the "other" option in the community specific VTC reason is, in and of itself, obnoxious and antagonistic to (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 21 at 16:08
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ (cont) an extreme that I find highly unpalatable. I think that a Moderator should remind that person that it's inappropriate to VTC with a blatant ad hominem. Even if it's warranted. Anyway, I just cast the last needed VTR so, there you go! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 21 at 16:10

3 Answers 3


You might be misunderstanding this site

I was not one of the close voters, but after reading this post and your question, I think some clarification is in order.

  1. There is no such thing as a perfect question.

  2. The only person guaranteed to clearly understand any question is the person who wrote it.

  3. It is culturally appropriate to use the closure system to enforce the need for you to improve your question, even if only five people in the universe need that clarification. Stack Exchange invites rapid closure because the goal of Stack Exchange is to be a resource for many people seeking help with similar specific problems— and our Stack Exchange Overlords want quality answers. From their perspective, the more detail you, the querent, can provide (by request or by force), the better it is for Stack Exchange.

In other words, complaining that people don't understand a question that's obviously clear to you is, well... it either suggests you haven't seriously read the Tour or the Help Center to understand how Stack Exchange and this Stack work... or it's immature. Rather than arguing with anyone (no matter how much you disagree with any comment or answer), take the time to understand their perspective and use that understanding to improve your question. That's always valuable to everyone, including yourself.

And before I continue, while it's true that occasionally AlexP's rhetoric can be a little rough (look who's talking, I'm not the friendliest person myself), he's also one of the most well informed and intelligent people on this Stack. His opinion is worth considering regardless of how offended you may feel over how he expressed it. While the world isn't full of people as well qualified as AlexP (more's the pity...), it is full of people who will, occasionally or frequently, misunderstand you. Learning to deal with it in a useful manner now will help you greatly in the future. On Stack Exchange, clarity is your responsibility and believing that you're clear is no one's obligation.

Now let's move on to what I think the greatest weakness in your question is. Perhaps it's the cause of the difficulties.

  1. You don't understand enough about electricity.

Every point in space-time when compared to any other point in space-time has a potential difference. You're using the special case of an intentional circuit to try and rationalize a question that doesn't make as much sense as you think. Your system already allows for what you're trying to do... you just don't understand enough about the physics of electricity to realize that. Why can I make that statement? Because I'm an electrical engineer with decades of experience. Can I prove I'm right? Yup.

  • Lightning is, among other things, the conduction of charged particles (including electrons) to ground. High potential in the atmosphere. Low potential in the mantle. It's a complete circuit. Your magic is only replacing the meteorological conditions that create the initial atmospheric charge.

  • Of more practical interest is a common physics experiment where a high voltage generator is set on one side of a room and the professor holds each of two fluorescent tubes by their ends, one in each hand, pointing one toward the generator and the other away from it. They light up. It's the same principle as the lightning. High potential at the power source... circuit path through an air gap, then the lights (and the professor)... then an earth ground through another air gap on the other side. Your magic is only replacing the high energy generator.

In short, if you want a trivial example... light bulbs have two conductors. Your magic is applied to one. The other is simply connected to ground, whether that's something complicated or just a wire stuck into the earth.

If what you were trying to ask is how the magic can be applied to a circuit (e.g., must the mage touch the light bulb or can it be applied through an air gap as explained earlier?), then your question is even worse than I've interpreted. That has almost nothing to do with electricity. You have magic. Decide how it's to happen and move on (in other words, VTC:Too Story-Based).

Unfortunately, your poor understanding of electronics made the question confusing to people who don't have my background, education, and experience. One would hope that people who "don't understand the question" would choose not to answer it... except for human nature... and that's where your obligations as the querent come to bear.

Human nature is to try to help

Regardless the tone, words, whatever of any comment or answer, people are (almost always) just trying to help. It's your job to give them the benefit of any doubt. In this case, you didn't understand the situation well enough to realize you could improve your question and they didn't understand the situation well enough to see past your limitation.

But on Stack Exchange, that's your problem... not theirs. It's why the various reasons for closing questions exist.

To be frank, I've given you enough information in this post to answer your question. If what I've given you doesn't make enough sense, apply yourself to research. To expand on something already mentioned, Stack Exchange's goal is to solve specific problems and not to replace education.

If you insist on the question being reopened, then take a moment to think about what everyone has said to you and actually take the time to work through their concerns then edit your post to address them. (I realize that you've already edited the question at least once.) Thinking through people's concerns and addressing them will actually benefit you! And it puts everyone on better ground to give you the information you need.

If, on the other hand, you again believe that a future question you post needs no improvement (which is always false) and editing it continues to be offensive to you (which is always bad), you'll find your experience here painful. Per the Help Center, edits to questions are encouraged and closing questions is an expected practice to keep less useful answers from appearing via people who think they understand what you're asking.

  • $\begingroup$ Never heard of this fluorescent tube demonstration. It's this phenomenon, right? I've only known about security measures when lightning strikes or when a power line breaks and touch the ground; that it's best to keep your feet next to each other to reduce the current traversing you. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 21 at 8:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Regarding your post's content, I'd repeat again that there are 5 close-voters in total. One of them can be of course out of place. However, telling that 3 or 4 are is a bit like telling there are dozens of cars going in the wrong direction on the highway while you are yourself driving. Hopefully you get the true implication of such statement 🦋 ^^. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 21 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ 1. Obviously. 2. Sure, but it would help if people actually read the post instead of quickly skimming over it and then coming to their own conclusions (looking at you, Alex). 3. Again, the point of this post is that I feel my question was closed not because it wasn't possible to provide a good answer, but because I was arguing against the inane comments I was receiving. The fact that my question could be improved does not mean it should be closed. You yourself said no question is perfect, so should every question be closed since there's room for improvement? $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ 4. Obviously. If everyone knew everything about everything stackexchange would not exist. I fully fail to see how the fact that my magic system can achieve what I am trying to achieve (obviously, or my question would be unanswerable) makes it a bad question. You yourself have already provided a basic answer by saying the circuit needs to be connected to ground. Asking about an engineering issue does not make my question story based. Or should every single question about an engineering issue be closed as being too story based, since you could technically solve it in an infinite number of ways? $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ And I know you too only skimmed my post, as you are misunderstanding a facet of the magic system that I am certain I conveyed, which is that the negative charge can only be produced within one's aura, rather than just wherever. I'm not asking "should my mage touch the lightbulb? Should they make a heart shaped capacitor? Should they blow kisses while they're doing it?". I'm asking "how can the ability to produce a negative charge within a fluid or solid be used to power a basic circuit", a question you briefly answered here by saying "connect the other end to ground". $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 9:50
  • $\begingroup$ And again, nobody has given me a tangible issue with the post that necessitates it being closed. I've conveyed the relevant information on how the magic system works, and I've asked for a solution to an incredibly narrow problem. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding you last set of paragraphs, I honestly disagree. Stackexchange has one of the most caustic online communities I've come across so far. Not because people can close posts for not being focused or clear enough, or anything like that. The moderation ensures you don't get people swearing at one another, but that simply results in established users being as rude as they can be without breaking any rules. This site absolutely breeds an air of contempt and superiority, and it drives away tons of users. I only put up with it because this is the only site I know of that fulfills this niche $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ For example, I much prefer the community at reddit, as although you might occasionally have people fighting and swearing at eachother, you will not receive answers like "well it's already magic so just do whatever you want" or "you clearly don't understand the topic so why are you even attempting it?". Stackexchange has a community issue, not a rules issue. The reason I don't ask these questions there is because I am unlikely to be answered by anyone with actual knowledge on the topic $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ This is getting quite long @MS. If you have still more to say, let's put my answer into practice. Would it be better if it was discussed in this chatroom? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 21 at 10:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I feel a more apt analogy would be me driving along the road in the same direction with a group of cars, and then being pulled over by a cop by myself and having my car impounded, and then watching that cop drive off in the exact same direction. Then after a day of sitting on the roadside people start donating me bicycle parts. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 10:49
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ you are misunderstanding a facet of the magic system that I am certain I conveyed Every time a user makes a statement like this, it's proof that the user isn't willing to consider the reality that the only person who can fully understand a question is the user who asked it. I read your question several times - and legitimately answered it here - and legitimately pointed out that your lack of understanding about electricity is part of the problem. Please don't point out the motes in the eyes of others until you're willing to deal with the mountain blocking your own eyes. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 22 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ If a person writes "the sky is blue" that person can be certain they have conveyed the information that the sky is blue. In just the same way, if I write "This works by producing electrons within a volume of your aura (called the transmutative volume), and therefore giving that volume a negative electric charge." I can be certain I have conveyed the information that the charge is produced within one's aura. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 24 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ And the fact that you consider 'user toxicity and abuse of the VTC function' to be a "mote", and 'someone believing they have conveyed information' to be a "mountain", tells me exactly how valuable your opinion on the matter is. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 24 at 13:18
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @MS The phrase "user toxicity and abuse of the VTC function" appears for the first time in your comment. My metaphor is based on your insistence that you find no fault in yourself. Too many of your comments are efforts to shift blame to someone else. Your willingness to embrace your obligations on the Stack would go a long way toward resolving complaints about others. Also, note that the electricity is only generated within the generator and yet the professor's tubes lit up. It's only generated within the atmosphere, and yet the lightning strikes. You refuse to learn about electricity. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 24 at 15:00

Contexting the closure reasons

When I voted to close, votes were divided into 3 categories :

  • 2 votes for lacking focus,
  • 1 vote for lacking details,
  • and 1 community-specific closure. I haven't checked the sub-reason, but I guess it's this close vote for antagonizing, given the comment and its formalized structure.

Your question before your clarifying comment was prone to either opinion-based closure ("it's your world, your magic") and lacking details ("what's your goal with this magic?"). I therefore chose lacking details since it would likely lead to a closure reason I could best understand. I know, that's tactical voting, but I strive to always give the best reason on top of a detailed comment whenever possible 😊.

Like I told you, I voted to reopen once I got a bit better understanding of the destination answerers should take. I also gave advices to improve on the clarity. I can't help for the focus though, since I don't really know how it's not focused enough in its current state. Perhaps they're just old closure votes?

About that community-specific closure reason

I’m voting to close this question because the asker is being antagonistic in the comments.

The comment indicating an "other" close vote to the question.

As seen in the help-center, the author being "antagonistic" is not a valid closure-reason. Posts should be reviewed on their content, not their querent. On top of that, we have to recall that comments are not the post, so it's like punching the cat 😿 while the dog's the actual culprit 🐶💩.

In any case, you have other tools at your disposal to punish this kind of behavior, so it's those you have to use. Let's see them so we can better know when and how to use them :

Talk it out

That's... Not technically punishing and not an official tool, but let's be reasonable here. More often than not people act on good will. You don't need to get the law hammer out most of the time. Here are three tips to help in the mediation :

  • Be sure you're on the same page : Most arguments come from misunderstandings. Don't let badly defined terms ruin your friendly talk, rephrase them and contextualize before continuing. Read twice, think thrice so you don't miss anything.
  • Ask why do they think X then listen, wait for the full answer ⌛. Show you actually care about sharing viewpoints, not that you just want to crush them. You can't really debunk an argument which is incomplete anyway.
  • If it's getting really spicy, wait ⏳⌛. You're almost never forced to answer right now. You can wait, so can they! Come back tomorrow, and you'll see that all that mutual muttering was kinda meaningless. If not, you'll have a refreshed viewpoint on the matter.

That way, you'll get happy that it went well. Ok, perhaps not always as well as hoped, but at least you'll know what you disagree on, and you'll still able to appreciate each other for who they are :).

Reminder : If the comments are getting too long, don't hesitate to create a chatroom. Comments are notoriously bad at holding discussions. By the way, I throw in a thanks to the moderators who move chats into actual chats 🐶.


Flagging is a way of bringing inappropriate content to the attention of the community.

On flagging posts

It's the privilegied official tool, when talking out didn't work as expected. If someone is being really unfriendly, flag the comment as being rude or abusive. A moderator will act as a third-party and will normally judge whether it is indeed going too far or not.

Note that I rarely consider attacking on the arguments a valid form of being rude or abusive, even if I strongly disagree with the expressed opinion. However, attacking the person generally is. This includes notably ad hominem (e.g. : "You're a bunny-lover, of course you'll protect them, and that's why you're wrong all the way!") and ad personam ("you're a bad writer, so you can't be right!") fallacies. When it comes to that, it's just best for everyone to stop entirely.

  • $\begingroup$ My question was not prone to opinion based answers, as I was not asking for anyone to work out my magic system for me. Just like the recent post asking about how their darkness magic could be used to construct radiators (a post which received some equally inane comments, indicating that the issue is in fact with the community), I was asking about how a specific, narrowly defined magic effect could be used to solve a specific, narrowly defined problem. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ To be honest, I don't think my explanatory comments at all changed the nature of my post, which is why I find it somewhat bizarre that you went from being the final close vote, to the first open vote, when all I did was explain some entirely irrelevant information. I shouldn't need to explain any meta-goals about the post for it to be answerable. Saying that I want Xixir the Xar to add headlights to his Zarbon suit in order to see in the underground Zarxxir would be entirely unnecessary and only take away from the focus of the post. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ @MS In the case of magic, it is important. We can induce for you the consequences of the magic you made, we cannot make the mechanics without goals as authors. I perceived your question as potentially holding both cases. "How could I use this ability to create a basic circuit and power something like a lightbulb?" can be asking for both mechanics (I want this circuit to work, how can I change my magic to do that?) and consequences (I have this system already, how can I make a circuit out of it -if it is ever possible?). [...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 21 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ [...] It's alas, quite common for people to ask the first forgetting that they have control on their magic and the level of "real-worldism" they want (the reason it could be opinion-based, there's no "best" answer), so it was best to sort this out as quickly as possible ^^. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 21 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ Ah yes, just a last thought : Comments are often skipped (even more so than questions). Always expect to edit the question so that noone misses what you explained in comment. It's the question which gets reviewed, after all ^^ $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 21 at 10:33
  • $\begingroup$ While someone could conceivably twist the meaning of my words such that I appear to be asking for people to work out my magic system for me, doing so requires ignoring the much more obvious implication of the sentence, which is "how can X be utilized to perform Y". Not "how should I change X to make it able to perform Y". $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ The fact that I have received 4 reopen votes despite changing literally nothing about my post further bolsters my confidence in claiming that several of the people who VTC did so purely because I was arguing with established (perhaps well liked? I don't know) members, rather than my post having any legitimate issues that require it to be closed $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ And I still don't see how any punishment can be made to fall upon those that abuse the VTC function, which you yourself say that Daron was doing. I can flag rude comments (which I did to Daron and had it removed), but that seems to be about it $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 21 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @MS The way you react, I believe you really want to punish Daron for that behavior. Or you're just very talk-active ^^. Yes, flagging comments is the only thing you can do, but you aren't nor shouldn't be the judge, jury and executioner. Let this matter to the mods who will be able to judge that based on the comment(s) you flagged. If Daron repeats this behavior, they will get appropriate treatment. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 23 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ Where have I stated my wish to be judge jury and executioner? Flagging comments does not bring attention to VTCs, which was the point of my previous comment. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 24 at 13:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MS When you vote to close for another reason than the classic ones, you have to write a text block, text block which is the comment I quoted above. Flagging the comment with the reason "other"+detailed explanation will take attention that the close-vote rules have not been respected :). Other solutions would probably mean having more power than we should have. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 24 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ Got it, thank you $\endgroup$
    – M S
    May 24 at 13:56

How to deal with it:

Exactly this. Take it to meta! I see the post has already been voted re-opened by the community, amusingly with no edits in between the close and the reopen (other than "mod moved comments to chat") which just goes to show, the community does not always agree with the community on closing things.

You can find past examples in meta of moderators flat out overruling the community and reopening a closed question too, after a meta complaint drew attention to it. I personally think a number of WB entities play it fast and loose with close votes and it only takes "a few" when you only need 5 votes out of thousands of daily WB readers. It's very much an SE problem, and one that they are aware of and trying to improve.

Why I suspect it happened:

I suspect I'll get downvoted for saying it, but you've run into a classic Worldbuilding SE problem: it's not that your question is bad, off-topic, lacks focus, or anything else. It is indeed a valid worldbuilding question, as you are building a magic system and need help with some of the details.

The problem you have hit is that your question is actually so specialized that the overwhelming majority of people can't answer it. Because it is outside of their knowledge, they downvote it and/or vote-to-close it. "Your question is too hard, I personally don't understand it, therefore VTC."

What they should do is just pass it by. Not every question must be judged personally by each of us. It's okay to read a question, say "well that one is over my head" and move on. It's okay if a question languishes with 0 votes and 0 answers, too. It doesn't make it a bad question. It might just mean no one knows, or it's too complex for a casual passerby to answer on the fly for fun (but perhaps a sufficiently bored specialist will get to it eventually, so no reason to close it). I don't understand how electricity works well enough to answer your question, therefore I just skip it, while still recognizing that it's a valid question. Would that others could do the same!

P.S. I also see one of the people who voted to close it, voted to reopen it, again with no changes in between the close and the open. This, I think, highlights another common SE problem which is "snap firing VTC as the first option" when all they really needed to do was leave a little constructive feedback on how the question could be improved. Clearly they hit that VTC early and one of your edits addressed it but too late! The vote was cast, the close happened. In my (apparently unpopular) opinion, VTC is meant for clear violations and questions that are almost certainly unredeemable.

If a few relatively minor tweaks turns a VTC into a VTRO then the VTC was poorly justified to begin with. It should have been a comment.

What we can do about it:

Keep encouraging meta usage in general. This meta post was made 2 days ago, has less than 100 views, and to be honest I only found it because I accidentally hit my meta bookmark when I meant to go to WB. (I do try to check in often though!) We have a hard time reaching a quorum on site policies because you can't have a quorum when it's pretty much the same, like, 5-10 people commenting on everything. People here try to justify their stance based on a comment from 3 years ago with 2 upvotes. I dunno how to improve meta usage (another general SE problem) but I'd love to see policy decisions guided on 30+ upvotes instead of 0-2.

  • $\begingroup$ Let me clarify : I voted to close, then voted to reopen because the querent offered a clarifying comment (funnily, less than an hour after ^^). This kind of things usually happens when the question is on the fringe of what I accept or not. Perhaps I should have waited, but if it's this close to the grey, 50/50 area, I believe having both stances next to each other is actually quite reasonable; I'm mainly expressing my big doubts about it. But I wouldn't vote to close if I am ~30% worried about it for instance. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 23 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ Otherwise, I agree : Meta needs more activity and we shouldn't treat topics we have not studied (for this specific question or in general) beyond basic checks like having a question to be answered. But most importantly, we should respect what the querents want for their world as much as possible, even if for instance your line of work is hard-science and theirs, creative, story-driven fiction. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 23 at 16:17

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