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I saw this question posted today:

What is the tidal locking limit for this star? [on hold]

It looked like a reasonable World Builder type question, but it was closed using the "Off Topic" flag.

By necessity questions on World Builder could cover any number of a range of topics (such as this astronomical/physics question) we have traditionally answered questions like this one unless it required detailed knowledge not available to people using World Builder.

We've closed >20% of the most recent questions. Are we getting carried away with closing questions? If in doubt, isn't it better to leave a question open?

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    $\begingroup$ That example doesn't seem off-topic to me, but it is too-broad. I've been noticing recently that not only have we been closing a lot of questions, but a lot of questions are being closed with the 'not about worldbuilding' reason, which I thought everyone kept telling me was useless because 'everything can be about worldbuilding'. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Mar 18 '16 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ @nitsua60 The second one. I don't even know if people can write custom close reasons? $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Mar 19 '16 at 4:21
  • $\begingroup$ No, but they can comment, and I wasn't sure if you were just seeing naked "that's not about worldbuilding" comments. The thing is, with "about worldbuilding as defined in the help center" it's definitely not the case that everything fits. And to the extent that anyone thinks it is the case we've got a serious problem. $\endgroup$ – nitsua60 Mar 19 '16 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ Custom close reasons come after 3k rep, IIRC. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 20 '16 at 20:46
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A year and a half ago, there was an interesting discussion of redefining "too broad" here on Meta. What I find a bit worrying is that the conclusions (or notions) come to in that discussion appear gradually to have been set aside, at least to some degree. The result is that I think we have become too quick to close questions.

One of the dominant points in the referenced discussion was that broad questions get refined relatively slowly. It takes time. We begin with a question that's too broad and possibly out of scope, then a flurry of comments shaves it down to where it belongs on WB/SE but is too broad. It goes on hold, and there's a long back-and-forth -- in comments, in chat, etc. -- trying to find ways to get at the narrow-enough core of the question. Editing happens. Eventually a revised and polished question emerges, and it gets reopened through the review queue.

This is, many said at the time, how the system is supposed to work.

But at present, I think the rapid-fire "too broad" and especially "off topic" close votes shut off discussion and reconsideration. The question referenced in Jim2B's meta-question has been deleted by its author. I see this happen far too often. In my reading, new posters take their questions down after a barrage of "off topic" votes, thinking, "gee, I guess my question is no good, so as a good citizen I should get rid of it."

As I've noted recently, there's also a lot of downvoting and close-voting without any comments. Some seem to think it's OK to do this because the close reason appears automatically, but that's not the case. As questions like this demonstrate, "off topic" and "too broad" are not self-explanatory. And if you cannot clearly articulate what's wrong, you shouldn't be close-voting. (Franklhy, I think that if you can articulate it but choose not to do so, you shouldn't be voting at all.)

In essence, I think we should be leaving things on hold for a long time. Unless we're dealing with a gross mismatch, a question should not be closed for a week, in my opinion, and possibly longer. If you're concerned that we need more refinement to avoid destructive answers, protect the question. But don't close questions until they've been through a lengthy and serious review, with all discussion clearly explicated in comments.

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I do think that there have been some over-zealous closures recently, but generally we strike the right balance. We do need to be careful both not to close questions that should be open and to open ones that should be closed. All we can do to correct this is exactly what you've done here, when a "questionable" close occurs we discuss it together. Once discussed we decide on the correct action, and then take it and educate anyone not taking the correct action.

This is a great example of how to do this: Are the questions "How will our world change if all {men,women} suddenly die?" on topic or not?

In the particular case of that question then there is/was insufficient information to answer it. So the problem isn't that it was closed but that it was closed without anyone explaining what needed to be done to fix it.

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    $\begingroup$ Someone did explain what was missing in that question, but they did so in an answer, which is its own problem. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Mar 18 '16 at 13:40
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Personally, I've noticed a lot of new users on the site within the last couple of weeks. While this is a good thing, these low rep users have been responsible for asking a lot of questions which are not on-topic, or match some other close criteria, and also have answered some questions in ways which clearly fall short of the standards to which we hold our community.

I love that we're attracting users, however we need to steer them in the right direction, and not simply allow them to redefine the scope of the site based on their own ideas or interpretations on what we represent.

As a Stack Exchange site we try to keep our answers somewhat factual, and grounded in "reality" (sometimes as defined by the OP).

So yes, I too have noticed that we've been closing a lot of questions recently, but I also think that the ones we've targeted have been sub-par, and that this trend can more reasonably be associated with an increase in fresh users than with our community somehow growing too snobbish, or picky.

Rather than close fewer questions I believe we need to focus on educating our new users. We should point them to meta posts regarding site standards, and explain to them how they might better word their questions, or add the constraints which would bring them within scope.

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    $\begingroup$ If you want to educate the new users, we should educate ourselves too. That question has a few issues. Might be considered unclear, or too broad. However, it is about WB. So not only it got closed for the wrong reason, no one actually bothered to write a decent comment about it explaining the rationale behind it. So we should make sure we start with educating ourselves. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Mar 18 '16 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin I entirely agree. +1 $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Mar 19 '16 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin but sometimes you don't know how to fix it, but you know it's too broad. Take me for example; I read that question, instantly I know it's too broad and not defined enough, but I know NOTHING about how to fix it since I know nothing about the subject. In such a case, I would cast the close vote, but I wouldn't provide a comment. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 20 '16 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Aify I insist that the question wasn't close because it was too broad, it was closed for being off-topic. So even if you don't know anything about the subject, you should be able to tell the difference. And furthermore, writing a comment, saying it appears too broad because answers would need to cover too many different details. Also does not need much knowledge about the specifics of a subject. Voting to close for a random reason, without providing any feed back to the OP... is a bad practice. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Mar 20 '16 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't say I would close it as "not about world building" - I just said I would cast a close vote, using the appropriate reason was implied. All I disagree with is always writing a comment. If I don't know saying "this would cover many subjects" or "this would require a book on X subject" (both of which are too broad) is accurate, how can I say anything constructive? For the record, a comment stating my close reason is not constructive because when the question gets closed, the reason shows up anyways. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 21 '16 at 5:56
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I am new to the site and I do see a lot of sub-topics and maybe I just haven't looked hard enough, but World building seems very well suited to people who are trying to write more believable sci-fi and fantasy stories. With that in mind I would like to see more latitude given to the questions. I think if the person is using slightly off-topic questions for the genuine purpose of improving his 'world' then why not just allow it. If a person is asking a grammar question or something like that, then yes, it's off topic of course. But is there another stackechange that has this kind of help for topics a bit more broad than world building? Is time-travel world building? Can I ask about that here? If not, why not? Seems cool to me. So yeah, I think we close too many.

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