I'm not even going into my own questions, but others that have been closed like the one on school, this one about aliens, and perhaps most controversially this one about evolution and medicine were closed way too quickly. People were answering and engaging, and the conversations hadn't devolved into a flame war, so I think their closures were unjust.

I think there should be much tighter controls on closing posts, especially because several prominent users are taking control of the discussions and owning this board.

The question on school was understandable, especially knowing the user wasn't a native English speaker (and so should have been given some leeway). The one about aliens could have been addressed in many ways, including perhaps citing studies about demographics on who does/doesn't believe in aliens and then breaking down why, and the third ... that's the worst.

That was a totally appropriate question, well thought and interesting, and could easily have been answered if someone gave it a chance. While the individual questioned the answers, he did so in a reasoned way. This and other papers about MRSA evolution or this one about mitochondrial DNA, evolution, and genetic testing might have answered his questions, if others had been given a chance to weigh in.

Just dismissing him as a creationist crackpot with vague answers about how evolution is in every part of medicine is elitist, cowardly, and not in keeping with the spirit of this site. It's like you're literally trying to drive away people with dissenting opinions, and this site is becoming an incestuous breding ground where senior members ask questions they know will be easy to debunk.

And that rant is my way of saying I think you guys need to lay off and let some give people a chance to engage.

  • 1
    We had a meta topic about the evolution and medicine question, the closing of the question happened at the request of the author. We also had a meta topic about the aliens question.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 15:48
  • 1
    Using linebreak once in a while will make your questions easier to read. One huge wall of text is hard to read.
    – Borror0
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 15:50
  • I am usually using my iPad, which has an odd problem with putting hard returns in these text boxes (it acts as submit instead of a line break). Thanks Fabian for breaking it up into a more digestible form.
    – Dogmafrog
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 21:43
  • @Borror0, on the topic of this question, please explain why you closed the bias one. I genuinely have no idea. It seems to be a clear skeptical question about whether media impartiality exists. Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 7:50
  • @MatthewFlaschen: Oops. I thought I left a comment. Corrected that now. Feel free to open a meta question about this if you disagree with the decision.
    – Borror0
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 11:16
  • @Borror0, I've done so. Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 1:32

4 Answers 4


By looking at the questions you asked, I make the opposite points.

The older questions you asked (2 days ago or so) were closed, and rightly so.

The newer questions you asked were not closed and were actually upvoted. You have asked a question with +6 vote balance as of today...

In a way this is exactly how the site should work - nobody is shooting down your questions, but there's a mechanism in place that allows you to improve the quality of the questions you ask.

  • That will work for someone who is persistent and interested, but what about a person that just wants to ask a question very infrequently? You don't think they'll be off put when they have a question closed? I suppose we'll see if kejia and others like s(him) participate further. That's my fear for this beta - it dies on the vine because of excessive pruning too early.
    – Dogmafrog
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 17:47
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    I understand your point, however that's not how stack exchange sites are meant to work. :-)
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 17:50
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    To elaborate on Sklivvz's point, to no close such questions, that lie outside the scope of the site, only invites more of them, and thus reduces the quality of content. Yes, this may cause some people to be put off, but it is a small consequence. Generally when a questions is closed, there are enough comments to explain why, and usually suggestions on how to fix the question, if possible.
    – Ustice
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 19:03

You said:

I think there should be much tighter controls on closing posts

The decision is democratic: if there are five reputable-enough users who think a question should be closed, then it's closed; if five users disagree about the decision, they can reopen the question.

Each of those question were closed for a valid reason. Perhaps you think we're being too severe but you're wrong. It's part of the hard work we do to ensure the site will last:

The "quality content" you were excited about comes from the hard work of this community behind the scenes. It doesn't just happen spontaneously.

This site is brand new. It would be nice if everyone could simply jump ahead to the end game and "just answer the questions." It doesn't really work that way. [...]

These earliest questions will set the tone and topic of the site for a long time. All you are seeing is a group of dedicated users who are trying to assure that the site will be around for the long term; even if that means ruffling a few feathers while we figure this all out.

is school education necessary?

I think it deserved to be closed. I didn't vote for it when i saw it, because there was hope it could be edited by the asker, but that has not happened. I think the close reason isn't the most appropriate. In my opinion, the right would would have bee "not a real question":

not a real question: It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

As the commenters pointed out, "Necessary to what end? Define 'necessary'" and "I don't understand the third sentence." It's very far from a clear question. We're part Q&A and part knowledge-base. If a question is not salvageable, we'll close it and wait for a better version of the question.

With that said, both argumentative and subjective fit to the question very well: it seems that asker was trying to make a point and it can't be answered objectively.

Life in other planets.

There's a meta discussion about it here. To quote my answer:

Questions are off-topic if they're not skepticism of something. This question is skepticism of... who or what exactly? What did you hear that made you think write the question?

To my knowledge, it's skepticism of nothing.

What medical treatment advances have cited the theory of evolution as being necessary to make the advance?

It was closed as the request of the OP:

I would appreciate it at this point if others would vote to close this question. I have and just need three more. Thank you. – ericgorr

There's also a meta discussion about it here.

  • The fact that two of the three examples had their own meta discussions, and multiple meta discussions about censorship in general, underlines my complaint. You are shooting yourselves in the foot. The democratic process isn't working, there need to be other controls. The interpretations of a few people about whether a question is appropriate or answerable or skeptical shouldn't be enough to close down the question. Especially because, to be frank, as far as I can tell, your thresholds are stiflingly low.
    – Dogmafrog
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 16:36
  • 3
    @Dogmarog: We are in early beta. We don't even have a proper FAQ yet. Disagreements are bound to happen as we try to determine what is or isn't an acceptable question. If you disagree with a decision, open a meta discussion about it or join the existing one. Either the community will agree or disagree with you.
    – Borror0
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 16:42
  • Maybe being in beta means being more conservative with closing votes? As a personal responsibility issue. In some comments on 3dBloke's question on feng shui, someone actually criticized hi for posting questions about "woo"...on a website devoted to debunking woo! I'm saying, you guys should calm down.
    – Dogmafrog
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 16:53
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    @Dogmarog: No beta most definitively does not mean being more conservative. We are shaping a community. If we don't kill bad questions early, bad questions will become acceptable. We should not compromise quality in the name of growth.
    – Borror0
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 17:07
  • 4
    @Dogma actually being in beta means we have to be much stricter about what we allow on site. The questions being asked now will define the standards for later, so we should not allow "broken windows".
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 17:20
  • @Dori: May I ask what your role is, here, how you got moderator in a board, where you don't write questions or answers? How many moderators are there, beside the 3 provisorical beta moderators? How did you get there? Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 5:23
  • Thank you, Dori. I found similar information in meta:diamonds. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 9:38

There are two sorts of Internet forums, in my experience.

One is the sort where anything goes, and the more knowledgeable people are slowly driven out. The result is a forum where it's hard to get an expert response, since all the experts are tired of answering stupid questions again and again and again.

One is the sort where there is some sort of discipline. It doesn't guarantee success, but as long as the dumb questions don't hang around it likely won't drive away experts.

The Stack Exchange people want forums that attract experts. Their goal is that SE should be the best place on the Internet to get questions answered, and if the Skeptics site doesn't look like it will be that place it will be dropped, much like the Atheism site (last day is tomorrow). Therefore, closing questions that are badly formed or off-topic is vital for the continued existence of a Stack Exchange site.

If that drives off some people who pop in and ask a bad question, that's the price. Twenty years ago, newcomers to Usenet were expected to familiarize themselves with netiquette, and one of the rules was to lurk a while in new groups to become familiar with the discussions there. That produced some surprisingly effective discussions and very useful groups. (No, it wasn't perfect, as any comp.lang.lisp reader could see during the 90s, but it was generally very good - and even on c.l.l. you could get an excellent answer if you ignored the insults.)


As Sklivvz pointed out, closing a question doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad question and shouldn't be asked. It's a signal that it needs to be improved. It's an "under construction" sign.

Perhaps it would be useful if the mechanism which closed questions also linked to an explanation of what closing signifies.

Since that isn't available, perhaps it would be best if we, when we vote to close a question, also leave a comment saying why, and how it could be improved. You'll note that most people already do this.

  • 4
    It would be nice if there was some indication was given, even if in the form of an icon, of "clarification needed" or "rewording needed" like you often see on Wikipedia. I know this isn't Wikipedia and serves a different purpose but it would be more user-friendly to have a similar tagging system in place. Commented Mar 14, 2011 at 20:37
  • Agreed. The main stackexchange meta might have something about this. Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 6:34
  • @MindDetective: Found it: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/70061/… Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 7:29

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