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A couple of days ago, I asked a question that was closed for being too opinion based. I deleted it, then was persuaded to re-ask it. It gets 10 upvotes and is not closed. This shouldn't happen. What can be done?

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  • $\begingroup$ If you think it was a bad idea, why did you re-posted the question? Your right, the question is really broad and probably opinion-based. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Oct 29 '14 at 4:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent I thought it was good. In my opinion it isnt opinion based. I think it is broad. $\endgroup$ Oct 29 '14 at 7:22
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I thought it was good. In my opinion it isnt opinion based. I think it is broad.

Unfortunately broadness is another of those things that the Stack Exchange Q&A format generally handles poorly.

Consider the stock close reasons, out of the set that we have available to choose from currently:

  • Unclear what you are asking: I can't tell what exactly it is that you want to know; add a specific question
  • Too broad: I can tell what exactly you are asking about, but you want to know too much or there are simply too many possible answers; narrow it down
  • Primarily opinion-based: I can tell what you want to know, but answers are likely to be primarily about what people feel or think, not about facts or specific expertise

Of these, unclear and too broad are clearly actionable: there is a specific problem with the question that can usually be corrected with a relatively minor edit, but that edit is far from always easy to do by someone not the original asker because how to edit depends very much on the asker's intent. Primarily opinion-based is harder to fix in-place, since it might require rethinking the basis for the question, but is by no means impossible to fix. In the best of cases, a "primarily opinion-based" question can be fixed simply by adding constraints to the set of answers you want, or specifying that you want answerers to focus on some particular aspect.

In your particular case:

Consider that your first question of the pair only lived on the site for about 20 minutes before you deleted it. That isn't much time at all to gather comments or votes (and even less so answers). The second question isn't all that different in terms of what you are seeking to know. What you should probably have done, rather than deleting, was to edit in place such that answers would have been based in fact, rather than opinion: tighten it up, add constraints to what answers you are looking for, describe the situation that you have in mind, be specific about what you want us to tell you. Mourdos phrased it well in chat the other day (my emphasis):

As terrible as it is, a lot of the time broad questions are just badly phrased.

Try not to think of the question as a chat with people. Treat it more as if you are submitting it as a formal thing. By which I mean work out what you want from the question and ask exactly what you want. I know how easy it is to just say something, and then clarify that, and then clarify that bit in a paragraph, but you are often better off going back and making it clearer in the first place

Generally speaking:

If you feel your question should not have been closed, then either flag it for moderator attention (and one of us will look at it), or bring it up on Meta and make your case for why it should not have been closed. If you do that latter, make sure to link to the specific question in the Meta question to make it easy to find, and keep in mind that it must not be deleted as a lot of users don't have permission to view deleted posts. You may also want to drop by in chat to draw attention to your Meta post, but keep the discussion on Meta as much as possible. Chat is great for quick back-and-forth, but it isn't a good way to retain knowledge and reasoning. If anything in particular is pointed out as poor with your question (people will usually leave comments explaining what they feel should be fixed, though it is not a requirement to do so), then edit the question to fix that first.

If you feel your question was closed with the wrong close reason, but the closure itself in hindsight was appropriate, then don't do anything. Nobody is keeping score of whether your question got closed as "too broad" or "primarily opinion-based", and it isn't always easy to pick a specific close reason because multiple close reasons might apply to the question.

Be careful about deleting questions which have been put on hold or closed. Deleted questions is one of the factors considered by the software that runs the Stack Exchange network for how well your contributions have been received in the past, and if your contributions appear to not be well received, you may eventually hit the point where contributions are no longer accepted from your account.

If you delete the question, then later realize that it would probably have been better to edit it in place, all is not lost. Click on your reputation score in the top bar, which takes you to your profile, and then click through to the "questions" tab. Below the list of questions, there is a link to show "deleted recent questions". Click on that, and you will be taken to a list of your recently deleted questions. Click through there to the particular question, then edit it and undelete (in that order). If for some reason you are unable to undelete the question yourself, you can flag it for moderator attention, again after fixing whatever caused it to be deleted in the first place, and someone will take a look at it.

A particularly interesting case is questions which are closed as duplicates. Duplicate questions can serve as useful signposts and there is well established precedent for not deleting good duplicates. Hence, avoid deleting questions which end up being closed as duplicates; leaving them around makes it easier to find the duplicate-target question, helping others gain knowledge later on.

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  • $\begingroup$ I didnt edit is. I asked the exact same and it got quite a few votes $\endgroup$ Oct 29 '14 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ Had I known you were going to quote me, I would have used better words and stuff :-) "Formal thing" makes me cringe. $\endgroup$
    – Mourdos
    Oct 29 '14 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ @user3007994 The initial revision of the two questions are different. So either you did change it in between posting the first and posting the second, or you edited during the five minute grace period. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 29 '14 at 12:07
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Michael's answer covers the general case, I want to cover the specific case of these two questions:

Version 1

If humans were to be eradicated, what would be the next dominant race. Would there be several or just one big one?

Version 2

If humans didn't exist, what species would populate the earth? Would an animal gain human-like intelligence if humans weren't here? What animal would gain dominance?

There are a number of reasons why the second question was accepted and the first was not.

  1. The second one talks about intelligence, the first one just talks about dominance. Intelligence is a specific index along which species can advance and through that become dominant. That massively reduces how broad the question is.
  2. Restricting it to intelligence also reduces the opinion-based part of the question, there are fairly objective ways to measure and project the development of intelligence.
  3. In the first question though you ask if there would be one race or several, which is purely opinion based as there is no way to analyze it.
  4. But in the second question you ask whether an animal would gain human-level intelligence (which is a binary yes/no question and hence much easier to answer).
  5. Length - A question so short as the first one shows very little thought and will bias people towards closing unless the question itself is excellent. The second question is still short but not as short.

The only part of your second question which is opinion based is the final "which animal" bit, but even there we have information available which people can use to draw reasoned conclusions and present viable candidates.

That is why question two is acceptable whereas question one was not. The changes may have seemed tiny but they actually refocus the question into one which while it is still both broad and opinion based is no longer too broad or too opinion based.

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