Following a recent surge in suggested close votes, it's important that users understand what constitutes a reason to close a question. However, there have been some clear and direct inconsistencies with what we decide is fit for the site, and it's important that there is little to no ambiguity here.

What is a closure topic that has recently been inconsistent, and what evidence makes you say so?

The point of this is to have a follow-up meta post (or a few) to discuss standards for each closure topic, and assess all future questions based on the same criteria. While the help center does contribute, it is still often ambiguous, and responses differ greatly.

One topic per answer, please.

EDIT FEB 7TH: It seems the comments have discusses this in depth, and the idea of refinement is sort of obsolete. The rules are fairly well defined, and it would help if users were more vigilant about finding the right pages which explain the criteria. It may also help to link those posts in the close criteria itself, but that is a separate discussion.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This comment isn't intended to throw a spanner in the works. From my observations the problem isn't the criteria used for assessment of questions, it's more that the criteria aren't being applied to make an assessment. Clarification of the criteria can only go so far, but if they aren't being applied correctly then it's effectively irrelevant. Good standards need good practice to achieve good results. This may need another question in meta to thrash out the issues. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 5:50
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android perhaps we could instead locate that criteria under, for example, "off-topic because..." where it has the list of options - we can potentially be more specific. $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 5:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What I mean is the criteria for opinion-based, to broad, & story-based closures specifically. Review gives you the options to decide how you vote, but it doesn't have a statement of the criteria themselves. If a Q is reviewed as opinion-based, it is essential to refresh your mind about what constitutes "opinion-based" to vote appropriately. This is based on my experience as a professional decision-maker. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android Short of putting the criteria on that page, how do you think we should refresh it for people every time they vote? $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ Your suggestion of making the criteria available to reviewers is excellent. It should be part of the review template so voters can connect to the criteria as part of the process. This, hopefully, could go a reasonable distance to resolving this issue. (I say hopefully, because I've been around too long to expect perfection BUT there is always scope for improvement.) $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ Yes by putting the criteria on the review template voting page. Otherwise you might have to vet reviewers before they can become accredited voters and reviewers. That will have too many problems to implement effectively. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ For some reason, I went to figuring this out a few days ago - averages of questions put in the queue per day are 17.5 over 7 days, 17 over the fortnight, 15.8 in 30 days and just over 14 for 90 days (see here for more details), so the question is: are the questions worse, are there more of them (probably/hopefully), or are people looking at the questions harsher? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 8:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I often get the feeling that some questions are closed out of simple snarkiness on the part of the VTC voters. I agree that there's a lot of ambiguity about what's allowed to be open and what gets close votes. Personally, I feel that WB should be treated as the "creative" community that it is and not be sharply cookie-cuttered into what is and what isn't allowed based on collaborative subjective opinions... $\endgroup$
    – user10945
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ "but if they aren't being applied correctly then it's effectively irrelevant." - just a platinum of wisdom from @a4android $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 14:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Pete I agree. This is my impression too. What is open or closed seems to be fairly arbitrary. There have been cases where because I didn't understand why something was closed, I went and read the criteria used for its closure. Too often the criteria weren't applied correctly. Not good for a creative community. This doesn't mean questions and answers can't be improved. Many, many really need improving, but it can be done without being procrustean. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 1:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Way back when I first started moderating forums, I was given this advice by the admin at the time "Don't moderate because you can, moderate because you have to". I strongly believe that questions should only receive VTC votes if the question really has to be closed. $\endgroup$
    – user10945
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 7:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that the close reasons (other than those under off-topic) are network-wide, and not something that can really be changed (AFAIK) on a per-site basis. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


Primarily Opinion-Based

... Could be defined a lot better, because everyone has completely different ideas of how to determine if a question fits this criteria.

Specifically, is this type of question idea generation?

As JDługosz said here, these questions - which are all "why would" questions - were not closed:
What kind of apocalypse could reset the world to middle age technology?
What would a civilization living in a cold, permanently snowy climate eat?
Reasons a future branch of Islam would be against AI?
How could immortal children age faster than immortal adults?
Yet this one was:
Why would a colony need to relocate?

Another example is Why would dragons be afraid of torches? and the resulting discussion is here.

And does that make them subjective?

(reminder: this is not a place to discuss personal opinions on the topic, just to bring up the conflicts themselves that need to be addressed)

  • $\begingroup$ It's not subjectivity that makes a question "opinion-based" it is whether answers cannot be established as having a basis in knowledge, expertise, experience, facts and information. I would add to this reason and logic, educated guesswork, argument by analogy (say, from historical, political or social precedents), thoughtful speculation, and even commonsense. The usual criterion for opinion-based is no answer can be distinguished as better than another. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 6:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Relevant: stackoverflow.blog/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 14:10

I will address existing comments and the current trigger Q which it is started from in the particular case.

The root of the problem starts not from inconsistent applying only, but it starts from self-identifying of WB.SE and what it actually is a place where creators get help or a wiki database and if it is a wiki/database do different opinion based Q/A contribute to it, are they or aren't they building blocks for someone else's stories etc.

Writing guide which helps to conduct certain policy might be a good thing(which includes them to be a part of review template), but it is not enough, and probably not the first thing to do.

You have to ensure that the people understand them in a similar way, and it's done trough training, trough exchange our reasons to take this or another decision for particular questions. And those reasons should be readable for those who will be decision maker soon, or who still do not get it because he was an excellent writer to get 3k+ in 10 questions.(exaggerate)

For those reasons, it is good to have an easily accessible set of living examples of questions/answers we think are bad with short reasons why it is so. They have to be not once written examples for all times, but it has to be rolling examples of what we consider good or bad. and exactly that is the point of the Hot or Not - the Opinion based question, the sandbox game - to display and to exchange approaches in decision making.

As for the question itself (about moving base) it is clearly a plot seeking question, which looks for a consistent set of details, and because of that, it is opinion based by definition. (the only thing which a bit grounds a fantasy that is science-based restriction mentioned by OP) and I was pleased to see it was put on hold for two reasons:

  1. I saw people who understand what derivation from opinion (which it opinion-based) means
  2. I was pleased not to see on the closing list particular users which raise my suspicion of do they have some worth noticing reasoning for their decisions for the recent month or two.

Should the question be alive, yes, as it is pretty interesting one, is it opinion based, sure it is.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .