Here is one of the most important yet most difficult questions about English for the majority of language learners in the world:

My question is: How can this site survive if questions like this get closed as off topic or too broad?

Please think carefully before closing questions. If you aren't certain, or don't know a lot about a certain topic, please don't vote on it.

  • 3
    Could you perhaps consider rephrasing the question in a more open and kind manner than being so accusatory? Remember that the close vote tally doesn't show what everyone voted for, it only shows the "most popular" reason, so it's nice if you could give people the benefit of the doubt rather than accusing them of "know[ing] nothing about grammar".
    – Catija
    May 16, 2016 at 23:04
  • 3
    I've edited the title to (hopefully) reflect the question without the inflammatory language.
    – Shog9
    May 16, 2016 at 23:09
  • 2
    I was the final vote to close after I found the duplicate. If I had not found a duplicate, I would have voted to leave it open after some editing. I knew when I cast that vote it would show "too broad", and I hesitated, but when it comes right down to it, there's no reason to leave it open. I found one other duplicate of the same "master" question and there's no point in answering the same question over and over. Instead of calling folks ignorant and getting all inflammatory, maybe a better approach would be to clean up the question and ask for a reopen vote.
    – ColleenV
    May 17, 2016 at 2:16
  • @ColleenV You're right. It was more inflammatory than it need have been. I've reworded my closing comment. Just a small point: it's almost definitely better to leave a question open if it's a dupe than to get it closed as off-topic/too broad etc. ... (cont) May 17, 2016 at 8:12
  • @ColleenV ... Anyone visiting the site will assume that this site will not and cannot help learners with this kind of query if their first visit is to that page. And they won't get an answer. If it's a dupe they'll get directed to somewhere where they can get their answer, which is constructive. "We don't answer questions like this" just tells the visitor to go somewhere else where they can get an answer. It gives the same message to the OP too. May 17, 2016 at 8:17
  • 1
    I agree it should have been closed as a dupe, and not for other reasons, but it's unreasonable to expect that the community will handle every question perfectly. There is a tendency to trust other reviewers' judgements instead of forming your own opinion. Sometimes I think it would make sense to hide everything about the close votes with the exception of a proposed duplicate.
    – ColleenV
    May 17, 2016 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


Hilariously, the question was closed as "Too Broad" after someone had identified an existing question that was functionally identical to it (and which has to date never attracted even a single close vote).

I'm gonna hazard a guess that this was simple carelessness, a case of voters reading the question as a request for an exhaustive list of exceptions rather than an explanation of the differences and practical guidelines for use.

I've re-closed it as a duplicate.

As for what to do in these situations... Calling attention to them is of primary importance:

  • Leave a comment disputing the validity of the close reason(s) chosen by the voters
  • Edit the post to clarify any ambiguities that might be leading voters astray.
  • If the post is already closed, vote to reopen (this also places the post into /review, where others can read your comment and voice their support by also voting to reopen).
  • Post here on meta (as you've done).
  • Is there really no chance that SE will consider noting what each vote was for rather than clumping every vote into the top reason? I know I've seen a request for this on Meta.SE in the past.
    – Catija
    May 16, 2016 at 23:06
  • 4
    Would that have really helped here though? The majority of votes would've still been "too broad". Perhaps we should consider letting duplicate votes trump other close votes in these situations, as the effects are rather different. I wrote a bit about this over on MSE.
    – Shog9
    May 16, 2016 at 23:07
  • That would be useful... If the last voter happens to find a dupe, it'd be nice if there was some way of ignoring the fact that it's vote number five... Maybe if dupe votes count separately?
    – Catija
    May 16, 2016 at 23:08
  • The dupe vote was the very last one to come in, in this case. May 16, 2016 at 23:12
  • What's 'hilarious' in labeling that question with 'too broad' tag?
    – Maulik V
    May 17, 2016 at 7:57
  • 2
    @MaulikV - I think Shog is saying that it's funny how the question is allegedly too broad, yet a duplicate question "already has an answer."
    – J.R. Mod
    May 18, 2016 at 16:10

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