Right now, thirty of the fifty questions visible on the first page have been marked as holds or duplicates, with two or more others apparently awaiting final judgment from whatever local Fates have possession of the scissors. This represents an over 60% rejection rate. I hardly need point out that for a web forum open to the public, this makes a decidedly ungracious impression, especially since the majority of those posting questions are non-native speakers.

Were this forum a community effort to produce a definitive wiki of grammar and usage, then such stringent gatekeeping might be warranted. Forum posts, however, are by their nature ephemeral. The mere existence of an answer, however verbose or nongermane, from 2011, should not preclude someone asking the same question today. If, however, there is some legitimate need to jettison 60% of the posts, then perhaps a "read before you post" pop-up should be displayed for new users.

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    "Read before you post" does exist. "Share your research." is shown at the right side when asking a new question. The research includes existing questions on the site and why those didn't answer the question the user is about to ask.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 13:46
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    It's obviously not doing the job. The other issue, of course, an unwarranted eagerness to dispense with questions rather than answer them.
    – KarlG
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 14:23
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    But this site is essentially what you said: a community effort to produce a collection of canonical questions and answers that will be useful to future visitors. It is not a forum site. If, for example, somebody asks the same question today that was asked in 2011, that question will be closed with a link back to the canonical question and answers.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 17:47

1 Answer 1



The data here shows that ELU had the third highest close rate in 2016 in the Stack Exchange network where 51.87% of all questions asked that year were closed. 2017's data is now in and we've taken the top spot for percent closed (out of number asked that year) at 54.82%.

I think the site has pretty much always been this way. A nearly identical concern was brought up in 2011. While the concerns are the same, there are some significant differences between then and now:

  • ELL was created January 2013
  • The "on hold" mechanism was introduced March 2013. The important aspects of this change are:
    • For the first five days after a question is closed, questions will display as [on hold] rather than [closed]

    • Edits by the OP within 5 days of closure trigger automatic addition to the re-open queue.

Most (but not all) questions asked by nonnative speakers would be on-topic for ELL, and usually get a better reception there in terms of votes as well. I have not noticed any difference in the quality of answers between our two sites, either.


The whole idea behind changing it from [on hold] to [closed] for the first five days is to soften the blow and encourage people to edit their posts to fix the problems.

It is not a problem to have the [closed] label on questions. If a question has been closed, most likely there is a problem with it (if not, see "Reversing Closure"). Closed questions (not including duplicates), in theory, act like a signpost saying that such questions are not welcome—but this is a good thing. We don't want more questions with problems.

Reversing closure

There are many actions you can take to help get questions reopened. Of note are:

  • Editing to fix the problems it got closed for (this is not always possible for people other than the OP)
  • Cast reopen votes (requires 250 rep for your own post, 3000 for others' posts)
  • Post a reopen request here on Meta with a link to the question and justification why you think the question should be reopened


It's incredibly important to note that ELU is NOT a forum. This is a Question and Answer site which strives to be closer to "a definitive wiki".

That being said, it is perfectly ok for the same question to be asked multiple times (although the same question for the fifteenth time is...not really ok). The duplicate questions serve as signposts for the original. This has been the idea since before day one, since it was one of the ideas behind Stack Overflow:

Remember, in some cases we may want duplicate questions to stick around …

There’s often benefit to having multiple subtle variants of a question around, as people tend to ask and search using completely different words, and the better our coverage, the better odds our fellow programmers can find the answer they’re looking for.
Linking Duplicate Questions

If a question had no answers when it was closed as a duplicate, anyone without an account will be automatically redirected to its duplicate.

  • There’s also this 90-day close-rate metric to consider, a metric that may be related to our site’s status as the #4 most trafficky site on the network, which is mostly because there are a billion people in the world trying to figure out English. Many of these people don’t know how to write a good question at first, or don’t understand that we’re more of a knowledge wiki than we are a chat forum.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 0:11
  • @tchrist I'm looking at the page for today's closed questions, and the numbers don't look right. 52/56 questions are closed? (This isn't caching; it was 54/55 I think a few minutes ago.) This is not right; we have more than 4 open questions from the past 24 hours... Help?
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 0:33
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    It just counts the number closed during that period; it doesn't actually count only the ones that were both opened AND closed during then. So if only 10 questions were asked today, but today we ended up closing 50 questions total, it would be 50/10 or 500%. And it doesn't say that any of the 10 were among the 50.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 0:36
  • @tchrist ah that makes sense.
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 0:37

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