I want to propose an experiment, kinda like the Summer of Love, but in the winter. Call it my Christmas Contrivance.

For one week (or one day, or the 12 Days of Christmas, or whatever period you like), pretend that you can't vote to close questions — you don't have the reputation required, there's no such mechanism on the site, whatever. Also, pretend that while you can downvote questions, the penalty is so steep that you'd only do it as a last resort — say, a 50- or 100-point deduction from your own reputation. All other parts of the site work as they actually do: you can edit, comment, upvote, downvote answers, and flag same as you can in reality. (Oh, and I should add: deleting is available for spam, but is otherwise off the table same as closing.)

Now, go forth and improve the site. Work your way through the review queues, or just randomly swoop down on questions and improve away, but no closing, and only very rare downvoting of questions.

Think it'll work? More to the point, think you can do it?

  • I like it! Editing is more work, but better. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 18 '12 at 19:00
  • I've got your Christmas Contrivance right here. I voted to close as not constructive, because that's what it is. I guess I'm already out. – Robusto Dec 18 '12 at 19:19
  • @Robusto: nah, you can just plan to do the 12 days of Christmas. So you have a week to gird your loins for the coming fight. Wait, it's supposed to be about love, innit? So you have a week to get yourself into a loving frame of mind. Of course, that'll be exactly when you get to see all the relatives, which tends to have the opposite effect... – Marthaª Dec 18 '12 at 19:31
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    It's been ages since I voted a question down. What's the point? – John Lawler Dec 18 '12 at 20:57
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    I'm already seeing a remarkable access of civility and helpfulness toward the n00bs. Same thing happened in August in the downvotes dust-up; and apparently in May, before I was around. Has ELU got a sort of an Ibsen's scorpion thing? – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 18 '12 at 21:01
  • Just for your entertainment, I invite you to replay our exciting dialogue with this Sun of ... York. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 18 '12 at 22:21
  • @Robusto: Damn your eyes, sirrah! I was just thinking about posting my own particular favourite "he offed himself" when it was closed! Seriously, I would have been interested to know how many people would accept that usage in a negligent, reckless context, as opposed to deliberate suicide (perhaps I'll wait until xmas and ask that question myself! :) – FumbleFingers Dec 19 '12 at 0:02
  • I know I'm slow at this, but are you suggesting in general that instead of closing it is better that we should edit questions? (and sure do other stuff too just nor close) – Mitch Dec 19 '12 at 14:00
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    @Mitch: no, I'm proposing an experiment, or a truce as Tim put it. – Marthaª Dec 19 '12 at 15:03
  • I like the niceness and all, but close early and close often. – American Luke Dec 19 '12 at 22:38
  • As promised elsewhere, I'm in. Still closing obvious dupes (where do you think all your flags are going? someone has to act on them), but that's it. – RegDwigнt Mod Dec 20 '12 at 11:19
  • @Marthaª: I still don't get it. I think the general argument is 'be helpful' but... how can we tell if the experiment is over? Will there be a big rush to close all sorts of crap? There's crap and there's crap. There's interesting crap and there's dumb crap. Crap. – Mitch Dec 24 '12 at 14:01
  • @Robusto I just saw this question, and your comment. Next, I saw this answer english.stackexchange.com/a/94721/4915 to that question (embedded in your comment). It always devolves to that, doesn't it? – Ellie Kesselman Dec 25 '12 at 22:45

I like the idea of your Christmas Truce: but who is going to persuade the other side, namely the newcomers who don't read the faq and certainly not meta, but think this would be a great place to ask their English homework questions and vent their prejudices?

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    1. There are high-rep people who never visit meta, and thus won't know about this, and 2. You can always edit mercilessly. Find the real question amid the misconceptions and misspellings and misuses, and make it shine. If you like, put a link to this question in the comments if you feel your edits were extreme. – Marthaª Dec 18 '12 at 19:22
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    The roster of persons who vote to close questions others don't appear find so bad is small, and most appear to be reading these very threads on meta. Even if other high-rep members don't find out, I don't have a problem if the truce doesn't extend to blatant duplication (especially if you look at the old thread and the answer seems complete), nor of course with spam. – Andrew Lazarus Dec 18 '12 at 20:28
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    @AndrewLazarus, I thought of having an exception for duplicates, but decided it would be too big a chink in the armor. My suggestion is to go ahead and add a comment about the duplicate, but let others do the actual close-voting. – Marthaª Dec 18 '12 at 23:23
  • @Marthaª: You can always edit mercilessly. Find the real question .. make it shine. I'd be willing to do this, with one stipulation: as part of my edit, I could include a sentence which explains to the O.P. that, in the future, the O.P. is expected to do such work on their own, and that clause wouldn't be considered "rude". That is, the edit is done as example to show them how to write better questions; it's not a standing "service" ELU provides. Some people need time to grow, so perhaps their very next question need not shine, but NO improvement would eventually be grounds for downvoting. – J.R. Dec 21 '12 at 10:38

In light of the "hat race" going on now, I think this proposal is turning out to be stillborn. People seem to be making extra volunteer efforts so they can earn hats. This includes running the closevote queues, etc. Maybe try again after Christmas.

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    I think I personally will be doing the truce during the 12 days of Christmas, so I have a bit less than a week to earn those hats that are dependent on close votes. Which, I think, is exactly one of them. Which I already have. So... what was I saying? – Marthaª Dec 19 '12 at 17:44
  • This is funny, because I actually thought the hat race was helping with the truce. You have to post good stuff, upvote good stuff, fix stuff to make it good. Plus there's a ton of hats for posting a ton of answers. As far as the reviews go, the Close Votes queue is but one queue out of six. Personally, I earned my Magritte (5 reviews) for editing Late Answers and First Posts, my Abby (close a question) for closing a dupe, and my NOOb Hat (downvote) for downvoting a spam answer. I even got a secret hat for editing something that subsequently got upvoted. I wouldn't say I'm missing out. – RegDwigнt Mod Dec 20 '12 at 11:28

I wish you would please reëvaluate how well your truce is working out. The problem is that we are now enabling the idiots, who keep coming back for more. Question quality is at rock-bottom. Almost the only way to get a good question asked is if we do it ourselves.

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    But if we outlaw idiotic questions, only outlaws will have idiotic questions. – Robusto Dec 23 '12 at 18:00
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    ..do it ourselves, or find a currently mediocre question that can be polished up. That's kind of the point. – Tim Lymington Dec 23 '12 at 21:06
  • I never saw the point of this "truce" anyway. I shall wear my Robin Day tie with pride so long as TPTB let me, and he would never have put up with trivial questions! – FumbleFingers Dec 23 '12 at 22:57
  • As I believe I've indicated, I've not yet started on the truce. I'm also busy with holiday stuff, and haven't spent a lot of time on the site. Are you sure you've pinned down the right cause for your perceptions? – Marthaª Dec 24 '12 at 3:44
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    @Marthaª: Wait – the truce isn't officially "on"? Nobody tells me anything! (I've got to go catch up on some downvoting now...) P.S. Relax, folks, I'm not really going to go downvote anything :^) – J.R. Dec 24 '12 at 12:15

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