Ongoing war? I thought we were under a Christmas truce...
(Actually, I'd regard this as a debate, or a discussion, not a war, but perhaps that shows which “side” has been more prone to use incendiary language in their proclamations.)
That said, there have been several allegations made during some soul-searching about closed questions of late.
Many questions get closed (both sides agree with that). As for why those questions get closed, there seems to be at least two viewpoints:
VIEWPOINT 1: Questions are closed because of an unwelcoming and insular community, which is steeped in snobbery. Some high-rep users have appointed themselves as patrolmen who seem to take more joy in closing questions than they do in answering them, particularly when these questions make them feel insecure in their pseudointellectualism, and they find themselves at a loss to answer the questions. This has led to a trigger-happy close culture that is absent from other Stack Exchange sites. Closures should be reserved for all but the most extreme circumstances (such as spam or indecent content), because quick closures drive away newer users who might eventually become productive members, given enough nurturing guidance.
VIEWPOINT 2: Questions are closed for a few different reasons, the most common one being that they are questions that have already been asked, and are therefore closed as duplicates. Many others get closed because are overly vague or general reference. Many questions are not written in a way that would appeal to a “serious language enthusiast.” If left unchecked, this could promote a culture where ELU is inundated with questions that are of poor quality (i.e., not well-presented and/or not well-researched). Moreover, it is possible to close or downvote a question without being “rude” to a new user; such votes can set expectations of quality and serve as feedback mechanisms to promote improvement. If ELU has a higher close rate than other SE sites, that's because ELU is getting more than its fair share of questions that need improvement, or have already been asked.
You've asked for data, though, so I'd like to provide some. I look at those engaged most heavily in this
debate war, and this is what I've noticed:
Users Making the Most Impassioned Arguments Against the Current Close Culture:1
Member Name Member For Reputation
jlovegren 29 days 1105
Andrew Lazarus 36 days 240
spiceyokooko 11 days 711
Billy 3 months 568
CUM. TOTALS ~5.5 months 1624
Users Who Are Most Active in the Current Close Culture:2
Member Name Cl. Votes Member For Reputation
tchrist 27 2 yrs 1 mos 24532
FumbleFingers 18 2 yrs 0 mos 51367
MetaEd 17 1 yr 2 mos 11920
Mitch 15 1 yr 10 mos 20630
Robusto 10 2 yrs 1 mos 75281
CUM. TOTALS 9 yrs 4 mos 183730
This data reminds me of a joke I once read in Boys’ Life magazine, where a young lad comes home, and his mother asks him, “How was the parade?”, to which the boy replies: “It was great! The whole band was out of step, except for me!”
Why do I bring this up? Maybe this site closes too many questions, and maybe it doesn't. I don't care where you stand in that debate; I think either side could defend their position with valid arguments.
However, I don't particularly care for the direct allegations of snobbery that have been leveled, particularly by four members whose combined time on ELU is less than half of mine. You want to encourage us to close fewer questions? Fine, but do so productively and constructively.
Four users came in here, took a look around, didn't like what they saw, presumed they had us all figured out, and painted us with a very broad brush. To those four users: quite frankly, I don't care if this site closes more questions than other SE sites, and I don't care if that bothers you. I was a new user here less than a year ago; I liked what I found, I contributed in a positive way, and I earned the right to cast my own votes. I wouldn't wander into someone's parlor for the first time and tell them how to decorate their Christmas tree; I wouldn't run for mayor of a town where I had only lived for three months. Stop bashing the people who have built this place with their own hard work. Not every downvote is a knee-jerk reaction; not every close vote is cast by an insecure member wanting to defend a fiefdom; not every allegation of poor quality is proof of snobbery. Stop railing like it is.
Questions will continue to be closed, and, unfortunately, people will read that how they want to read it. I think there's a third viewpoint, one that may not be mentioned much during the “war,” but may be behind the spirit of the “Christmas truce”:
- VIEWPOINT 3: Contrary to some initial impressions, ELU is made up of hard-working community members who do their best to promote and maintain the health of the site. Perhaps some folks are more prone to play the role of the “good cop,” and others the “bad cop,” but this is because everyone has their own ideas about what ought to be improved, and about the best way to go about promoting that improvement. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt if a few high-rep users became a bit more introspective every now and again, and asked themselves if they've become too jaded, and maybe need to make a conscientious effort to edit more, and close less. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt if a few lower-rep users viewed the feedback and comments left by those users as helpful exhortations, rather than personal attacks, and didn't jump to the conclusion that a downvote or a terse comment only proved that they were not “part of the clique.”
And with that, I give you Moore:
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
1Based on comments found among these five meta questions: #3384, #3422, #3425, #3438, #3451.
2Taken from the data found in this answer.