I appreciate that the site has high standards of evidence and that therefore a lot of questions are closed because they don’t admit a clear answer.

That’s a good thing.

But things are sometimes taken too far for my taste. Take, for example the question of “Hitler's Religion” which was closed as “not a real question”.

It is a real question. It is on topic, if formulated properly, i.e.

Is there actually evidence for the often-cited claim that Hitler was [catholic/atheist/…] and that this motivated his actions?

Admittedly, the question is currently not very well formulated and lacks sources. It should be improved.

But this is what downvotes are there for. Closing the question, and then re-opening it once it has been improved is certainly possible but it is excessive, it smacks of unnecessary meddling by the moderators, when the “classical” take of moderation on Stack Exchange was μηδεν ἀγαν – nothing in excess.

In summary, I get the impression that Closing is replacing downvoting on this site, despite the fact that both are useful tools.

Please note that I am not complaining about one single moderator here. I just think that there’s generally a slight bias of too much moderation on this site, where self-regulation would work just fine.


3 Answers 3


The problem with leaving an unclear question open is that it accumulates answers that most likely won't fit anymore once the question is clarified. And changing a question in a way that makes existing answers off-topic or wrong is not really something I find appropriate. The longer such a question stays open, the harder it gets to edit it into something on-topic and objectively answerable. Closing such questions is necessary to prevent them from becoming unsalvagable.

I agree that ideally it wouldn't be the moderators to close those questions. But on beta sites there are often not enough users that have the reputation to close and are also willing to perform this kind of moderation. As the community grows, it will also take a greater part in the moderation of this site.

You can also override a moderator closing with 5 users if you disagree.

The specific question is also problematic as the only one that really knew what Hitler believed in was Hitler himself. You can certainly ask a question if Hitler self-identified as Christian, Atheist, ..., but the question that was asked was very problematic.


You are making two different points:

  1. Are close votes replacing down votes?

    No. Up and down votes are for poor questions (quality), close votes are for questions that don't belong here for one of the canonical reasons. I agree that we don't see many close votes from high-rep users - this is fairly normal on young sites (that is also why pro-temp mods are nominated - to replace high-rep users while the community forms).
    Furthermore, we have always respected the community's will if it decided to reopen a question.

  2. Was Hitler's question closed unfairly?

    "What did Hitler really think of God?"
    It's the perfect example of pure dietrology.

  • 2
    Regardless of (2), I don’t agree with your assessment of (1). I have seen several times that a question was closed and then re-opened once it had been supplied with sources, better worded. In my opinion, downvotes would have sufficed in those cases. Apr 6, 2011 at 13:58
  • With regards to (2), I find the text you link to particularly bad to understand. I have no idea what it says. Apr 6, 2011 at 14:04
  • @KonradRudolph: How do you distinguish between cases where the user improves the question and the ones where he doesn't? I can't. I can't see the future.
    – Borror0
    Apr 6, 2011 at 14:29
  • @Borror0 Neither can I. I actually read this answer first, then the others. Fabian’s and your answer made it clearer what the actual problem is … namely, that if such questions aren’t closed promptly they accumulate off-topic answers. Apr 6, 2011 at 14:35
  • @KonradRudolph: Ah. Must have missed the check mark.
    – Borror0
    Apr 6, 2011 at 14:40
  • @Borror0 It wasn’t there yet when you wrote your comment. Apr 6, 2011 at 14:53

I agree with you, Konrad: we moderate too much. The problem is, it is pretty much necessary. At a few occasions, I left a blatantly bad question around for a few hours. When I came back to it, it had tons of comments but not a single close vote. For whatever reason, you guys don't vote to close. Maybe we've been too pro-active and you guys don't bother, but it's a problem nonetheless.

With that said, this question is not one such case. I had to fight against moderators from other sites to not have it close. One even said it belonged in the Stack Exchange dictionary, right beside Subjective & Argumentative (which I still disagree with, by the way).

From what I can tell, most moderators would have closed this question. I tried to improve it, but after a while I realized that anything that I would write would be a strawman so I closed it to avoid it being a mess.

  • I can confirm it was a long discussion.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 6, 2011 at 13:04

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