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Please explain how a question that is off-topic is a good fit as a closed question for the site, but a bad fit as an open question.

Proof of Public Access [closed]

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    have had guidance from some of the longer serving mods and there is a consensus that my final point below may not be sufficient, so I think you are right, and that we should delete the question. – Rory Alsop Jan 27 '12 at 16:42
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I don't know enough about security to know exactly how that question fits or does not fit. What people tells me implies it doesn't, but I'll give advice on the general topic of closed questions getting deleted. This will hopefully make the specific case here be crystal clear.


With the exception of duplicates (which we keep around for searchability), closing is intended to be a temporary state for a question. There are only two states in the future of a closed question - getting deleted or getting reopened. The primary purpose of closing is to serve as a sentence to eventual deletion. However, it is not the end of the world, as the closure may be identified as erroneous or the question may be fixed up, resulting in its reopening.

The end takeaway here is that unless a question has some chance to be considered for reopening, it should be deleted. Sometimes a question is borderline, or is the subject of an extended discussio of the site's scope. This is about the only time that a question should remain closed for extended periods of time. If the question is definitively out of the site's scope, and there is no business to be had even spending any time arguing to reopen the question, then it is better off to delete the question. Otherwise, you are leaving an avenue to reopen elements that you do not believe should ever be reopened.


It is often spoken of that a closed off-topic question could be left on the site "as an example of what doesn't belong". This sounds great on paper, but in practice it doesn't work out. Recall the earlier point about duplicates - closed questions are still entrances to the site. Keeping junk you do not want means that people who are looking for said junk will end up finding your site. Most of the time, you do not want that.

The other salvaging point one might look at is the answers on the question. An excellent answer may protect a pretty horrible question, that's after all why we have the Reversal badge. However, ask yourself when looking at a closed question with a great answer, "does the answer salvage the question to the point it shouldn't be closed?" It is unfortunate that a great answer may be lost due to being in the wrong place, but you shouldn't spare the world's greatest turkey recipe just because someone asked how to keep his dinner safe from ravenous relatives. Your business as a site is to host information related to the scope you set - the great and wonderful content on your site should reflect your scope and not what is outside of it.

  • Awesome, thank you for the detailed reply, and I agree with everything you stated. Also, in case it's not clear to other mods, your a "Community Manager for the Stack Exchange Network". – blunders Jan 27 '12 at 17:07
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The fact it hasn't been deleted or migrated away doesn't mean it is a good fit. Some other options:

  • Some closed questions are deleted straight away
  • Some are left closed for a while to give someone the chance to change the question to one that is more suitable, when it can then be re-opened
  • The mods don't formally check every closed question every week, but we will check up reasonably regularly on closed ones with no activity, and generally delete after discussion
  • Sometimes answers are good enough to warrant keeping a marginal question
  • I'm aware of all of that, my question is why this question has not been deleted. I'd already flagged the question, and AviD replied "you can't delete this question because it has upvoted answers on it. I don't think it's closed existence harms the site." and I replied "Yes, I know that's the reason, I delete questions all the time. Please explain how a question that is off-topic is a good fit as a closed question for the site, but a bad fit as an open question"... and AviD never replied. That was a week ago, and I'm requesting an answer. – blunders Jan 27 '12 at 15:57
  • +1 @Rory Alsop: Plus one for posting a general answer to the question, but I really would like the question deleted, or reopen as on-topic, since leaving it as "a question that is off-topic, but a good fit for Security.SE as a closed question, but a bad fit as an open question" in my opinion sends the wrong message as to what is and is not a good fit for the site. – blunders Jan 27 '12 at 16:00
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    I think there are some good reasons for keeping some closed questions, as they give out a message as to what gets closed, but to get a wider perspective on this I have asked some of the wider moderator population to have a look as well. – Rory Alsop Jan 27 '12 at 16:28
  • +1 @Rory Alsop: Thanks for the help, a Community Manager for the Stack Exchange Network posted an answer which expresses what my understanding of SE's position is. Please comment on their answer if there are any issues you see, or questions you might have. Again, thanks! – blunders Jan 27 '12 at 17:10
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    @blunders - yes, Grace was one of the ones I asked for their more experienced view – Rory Alsop Jan 27 '12 at 17:12
  • +1 @Rory Alsop: That had been my guess, though didn't want to assume. Plus, at one point some of the SE community mods had PSI (Ψ) character, instead of just a mod diamond (♦)... but haven't seen those in a while; meaning it's hard to quickly tell what the experience level and authority of a mod is; though honestly it doesn't really matter. Again, thanks! – blunders Jan 27 '12 at 17:17

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