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I realise that there have been a number of questions on this topic already (specifically this one), but I hope that this one will be indulged. Currently there are 35 users with the power to vote to close out of a total of 1640 registered users. I am becoming a little worried that there is a tendency to close questions very quickly if they appear in any way poorly formed. To those of us who have been using the site heavily, asking a question which will be accepted as legitimate (and hence not closed) is relatively easy, but for new users it is not clear that this is the case. I can imagine that it is an extremely discouraging experience to see you question almost immediately closed as off topic. Perhaps with questions from new users we should be more tolerant and use comments to try to shape the question into an acceptable form?

So, are we being too quick to close?

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  • $\begingroup$ As you know, I cast the last vote to close some question as “not a real question” (which may be a harsh phrase as well) in less than 10 hours since the question was posted. My decision was partly based on the outcome of another close-or-not issue. However, I am happy to make “grace-period” if we can have some reasonable guideline. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 4 '10 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't mean this question to sound like criticism of anyone, and I hadn't actually noticed you as the last vote on any question, I simply thought it might be worth openly discussing what we want to do as a community. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Oct 4 '10 at 15:31
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I think timing is key. I've seen drive-by questions, where the user posts and disappears. I've also seen users interact with the comments and make changes. I'm all for giving some breathing room, especially since this is not like SO with nearly 2K questions/day.

My personal suggestion (which I use also because my moderator votes are binding) is to use the 'downvote and comment' mechanism more than the close mechanism, if there's any sense of controversy. There are questions that deserve to be shut down via closing (like this one), and then there are questions that might be retrievable with more OP work (like this one). It costs you almost nothing to downvote, especially if you're a user with enough rep to close.

But the OP needs to put in some effort as well. If even 24 hours after posting a question and seeing downvotes/comments galore, the OP doesn't either fix the question or repost a new one, then I'm all in favor of moving to close. Or if there's an edit cycle going on and on and on, with no sense of convergence, then again a close might be the best option.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this. Of course, some questions have to be closed at once, such as those which are obviously out of scope. But when the question is vague, we can downvote, explain our criticism, and wait for the OP to edit the question. If the OP changes it satisfactorily, we remove our downvotes. If the OP does not, or just disappears after posting the question, we vote to close. A reasonable time period to wait would be 24 hours, as Suresh suggests. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kothari Oct 4 '10 at 21:10
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I noticed this trend also. I've tried to avoid contributing further too it (and indeed I did contribute to it) by first commenting, then after some time has passed and no change has been made, down-vote or vote to close. After one particular unsavoury incident, I learnt that we need to be a little nicer and more encouraging.

Nowadays I'll even try to answer questions that should be closed (and eventually are closed), if I am able to and the question is not too simple. I can always learn something that way too.

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