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Closing Questions That Raise Issues You Disagree With

At first, I posted the following as a response to the first comment on this question, but realized it might get deleted as an off-topic comment, so I reproduce the "conversation" here:

User torgengb wrote the following:

I haven't +/- voted this but I vote to close as off-topic. I feel that how to keep kids safe is relevant and good parenting, but what sort of weapon to train with is not.

My response:

To close this question, in my mind, would be a deeply totalitarian impulse, and I condemn your idea in the strongest terms. This question is entirely relevant, and on-topic, to the parent who feels that informed use of weapons is essential for a child's maturity. After all, our job here is not to judge another person's parenting style; it's to offer advice how best they can achieve that style.

Think: would it be fair for me to vote to close this question because I feel think that question-asker's child can't possibly have the street-smarts or know-how to traverse strange neighborhoods and interact with strange people by his or herself? Or what about another question-asker who asks for the best-tasting vegan foods for his son or daughter -- would it be fair that I stifle his question because I think protein and meat essential for a toddler's diet? How is this question any different?

  • I'm going to sit back for a while and wait for others to respond first. Apr 7, 2011 at 19:53
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    it's not totalitarian for the rest of us who aren't Americans and who just don't have guns in our lives and just don't have gun discussions every five minutes (like Americans seem to) to find this topic too localised. not relevant to most parents in the world. of parochial interest only to Americans.
    – hawbsl
    Apr 7, 2011 at 21:01
  • whereas discussing walking/biking to school is of universal interest
    – hawbsl
    Apr 7, 2011 at 21:02
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    @hawbsl Something that would be relevant to 300 million people and 5% of the world's 6 billion people is "too localized"? My, my, what a expansive worldview you have.
    – Uticensis
    Apr 7, 2011 at 21:04
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    @hawbsl So, by your reasoning, a question that asks, How can I teach my children how to say safe on the tube/metro should be closed, since it isn't relevant for the vast majority of Americans plus the 80% of the globe's parents who don't live in highly urbanized Western cities, is that correct?
    – Uticensis
    Apr 7, 2011 at 21:46
  • @billare how many tube discussions on main, meta and chat before you'd think ... "hmm weird how much these Spaniards/Londoners/Moscovites love discussing their transport system in a parenting site?"
    – hawbsl
    Apr 7, 2011 at 22:02
  • Billare, I think you made a better argument in your other post. I don't much care for the posturing on either side of this question, and caution both you and @hawbsl to avoid delving too deeply into what are essentially off-topic political / social issues here.
    – Shog9
    Apr 8, 2011 at 19:37

1 Answer 1


This question is absolutely hilarious! I'm having trouble believing that you are being serious.

Let's start out by observing that this whole SE system works by votes, and by votes only. Every user gets exactly the same number of votes and is free to use them as he pleases. It's the ultimate democracy. I don't see anything totalitarian in that.

One user (that would be me) chose to place a vote to close a question. He even gave a reason in a comment. Other users can react to this: they can also vote to close, but it takes at least FIVE such votes to actually achieve anything. To make things even harder, these votes evaporate after two days. Or these other users could choose not to vote, and nothing at all happens. Really thorough users could even flag the comment as offensive, and if enough flags are raised, the comment would be removed by the moderators. By then the original close vote would likely have evaporated anyway, but I think we can all agree that this is still pretty democratic and not totalitarian. (It's interesting to note that, while I composed this response, the original question was closed by five votes, one of which was by a moderator.)

Then, a user named Billare (that would be you) disagreed. He then chose NOT to use the methods that the system handily provides for such a situation. Instead, he chose to create a new topic with the explicit purpose of making the objection more permanent, probably hoping that it would sting even more. Unfortunately, Billare wasn't able to spell my name right, so his accusation (nay, his "condemnation in the strongest terms") hangs there in thin air with no one to hit. What a sad waste of effort.

Billare, let me point out that any number of users can realize the above and use the system as it is intended: they can downvote this empty question of yours, AND vote to close it, AND flag it as offensive. They don't even need to explain their doing so in a comment. Or start a new topic about it. Best of all, that would be totally democratic, and not totalitarian at all. Now, isn't that hilariously ironic?

I welcome you to participate constructively. I do not welcome you to attempt to backstab others and hang them out to dry like this, however hilarious such attempt may be. Please be civilized. Please use the SE tool as it is intended. Or leave, for all I care.

  • While I agree with your comments, I think it is worth pointing out that a system where 5 votes results in a close is NOT really democratic. As I understand the process, if there are 100 people with enough rep to vote to close, and it only takes 5, then it is hardly "democratic". Of course, its even less "totalitarian"....
    – user420
    Apr 13, 2011 at 16:26
  • You're right! I should have said "community-driven" as that's the principle on which the whole SE system is built. Community votes are not quite the same as a democracy. Apr 13, 2011 at 18:23
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    In other words, "The people have spoken. The bastards."
    – Ernie
    Jun 2, 2011 at 22:14

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