What I'm talking about is summed up in this question.

This is, unfortunately, a legitimate question about English, however poor in quality and whatever its Beavis & Butthead quotient (off the charts, I should think), but it's headed straight for the multi-collider, and we know what happens then.

Can't our mods have a special flag on questions that would keep them from the multi-collider? Our site alone among all SE sites can be gamed in this way.

Huh? Please? Such a flag would solve so many problems.

  • 3
    I don't agree that this site is the only one susceptible to this issue, so I don't think you'll need special privileges. That doesn't discount the utility of such a flag in a general scenario, just that among other things, special casing hurts the viability of feature requests.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 25 '11 at 14:21
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    @Once Great: OK, take away the uniqueness of EL&U, it's still a good idea.
    – Robusto
    Jul 25 '11 at 14:23
  • Why aren't the senior users here voting to close such bad questions? Add a comment why it needs improving, vote to close and move on. Flag if it's really bad. The tools are all there to control this assuming the mods agree with the senior users. VOTE people!
    – bmike
    Jul 25 '11 at 15:07
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    @bmike, because the questions are not always close-worthy. The specific one that Robusto linked to is a bad example, but there are some questions which are well asked but nonetheless likely to get frivolous upvotes and answers. Jul 25 '11 at 15:13
  • @JSBangs - that's the beauty of close votes - they exist distinct from normal up/down voting. This site has one of the most awesome SE close flowcharts meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/1627/… calling out all the reasons to not keep a question. Please edit the question to show some better examples - the one listed doesn't make a very good case (in my eyes) for more tools being needed. Robusto may be right, but it's guesswork without calling specific examples to the table.
    – bmike
    Jul 25 '11 at 15:21
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    What's the "multi-collider"? Jun 27 '12 at 3:27
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers: The "multi-collider" is our pet name for the "hot questions" dropdown which shills questions from around the SE community that are attracting lots of viewers, which in turn attracts more viewers. Our worst questions usually hit there, and the highest-voted questions on ELU are usually the result of that publicity.
    – Robusto
    Jun 27 '12 at 11:59

A very good idea. This question may not be the best of examples, but there are plenty of questions that are valid but attract more attention than they are worth. A special flag for moderators would seem an excellent solution: with the precision of a surgeon could the problem be kept under control.

However, this has been discussed before. Certain people will not allow us to do this, without good reason or convincing more than ten percent of our top users. In fact, the ensuing conflict and personal insults from above have driven our most eminent linguist away from this website. The only course of action open to us now seems despair.

  • Ouch - i had no idea this had gotten to the level of personal attacks. So sorry to hear that.
    – bmike
    Jul 26 '11 at 18:34

Welcome to the internet. There's nothing special here - sexually loaded questions always arise and looking at the site over any one month period with free input from anyone with an account meant that terrible questions will always be asked.

It is the price of admitting all.

This site has nothing to do with valid questions - and even valid questions directly relating to english. It is about questions that the average 10th grader with a thesaurus, dictionary and wikipedia can't answer in 20 minutes time.

The current rush of "is x a real word" as well as the penis/clitoris one liner question should be quashed with great prejudice a week or two after asking the OP to improve the question if the mods are feeling nice and it's the person's first really bad question.

This site is about discussion between "linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts"

Set aside whatever biological validity that question has, and imagine would any conversation in any university be about this question? No - they should all be down voted heavily, voted to be closed, and then deleted in due time. You have to ask everyone to keep the bar fairly high and something that is so obvious doesn't even start to rise to the occasion for being left open.

It's not a broken system when these questions pop up, get asked, get a chance to morph into something good or killed off in a quick death. Just close off bad questions - they can still be edited, salvaged and then re-opened.

You don't have to nurture every question, there are very bad questions for each specific site. If they don't get closed in two weeks time, then you'll need more mods. In the mean time, think of these as material for moderator training.

  • 7
    I think you may be setting the bar a bit too high: if we were to admit only questions that could be discussed at university, we should be left with perhaps two valid questions a day. Then Stack Exchange would close us without a doubt. I don't like it either, but we can't both be at an academic level and attract enough questions at the same time. I don't think there is a solution. Jul 26 '11 at 2:33
  • Hmm - a dilemma. Do you define the site so narrowly, that you can't stick to the charter. It always seems more noble to fail for what you want to be, rather than failing to creeping compromise - but it's never so clear cut with a community based of many, many levels and times on-board. As a newcomer - It's facinating to see the dynamics play out over something as subjective as language. I see no easy (or even hard) solution, either.
    – bmike
    Jul 26 '11 at 18:32

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