I asked a question on firearms for children which was quite popular based on the views (>2K currently, more than any other on the site so far), up-vote to down-vote ratio (15/5), and real answers to the question versus non-answers or rallies against the question (8/4).

I don't want to rehash the off-topicness of the question, because that conversation is already taking place in another thread. But, I do want to bring up the point that perhaps questions like this should have a higher threshold for being closed out.

I would propose that the development team consider a sliding scale for closing out a question, making it harder to close out when it meets certain criteria, such as:

  • Vastly popular with a large number of views
  • Achieved a "Good Question" status with over 10 up votes
  • Has a high ratio of up-votes to down-votes
  • Is asked by a user of the site with a high point standing

It seems like it is in the site's best interest to keep questions open that the community measurably wants, despite whether it is controversial and a small but vocal group of users dislike it.

5 Answers 5


Perhaps after a question already has a certain number of votes, comments, and/or answers it should automatically close to more voting and posting, but should still remain visible so people can read the information that is in the thread. It could have a different lable than "closed". It is through controversy sometimes that the most consideration and thought is generated. With all the protections (flags, downvotes) etc. it seems like there is a way to remove unwanted and unwarrented or not helpful comments while still keeping the question and the GOOD answers visible.

It is sad that something would close just because it is controversial.


Yes some questions should be closed. As Shog stated very eloquently: even very good and interesting questions, regardless of any pageview counts, might be closed if they're "not a good topic for this site".

How can we tell which to close?

  • We need to focus on our site FAQ.
  • We need to create a yardstick against which to measure the relevancy of questions (irrespective of their intrinsic value).
  • And a similar guideline for relevant and on-topic answers as well.

Javid, I voted to close that question, despite being an avid firearms enthusiast who was raised around, and is raising her son around, guns.

There's a FAQ with specific guidelines for a reason. The question was popular only because there are a lot of people on this site who don't yet grok how SE works. Shopping questions are bad, period. They pollute the site with content that has a very short lifespan.

The off-topicness of the post is relevant whether you'd like it to be or not. If you rewrote the question in an on-topic way, such as "What is the best way to introduce children ages 6-12 to using firearms?" I'd absolutely vote it up. However, the question, as written, is just another shopping question, and as such is a pollutant to the site.

  • 1
    My question here is not about why my firearm question was closed, it is about whether there should be higher standards to close questions based on the metrics of the question.
    – J.J.
    Apr 9, 2011 at 2:30
  • 4
    You cannot divorce the two issues: closing a question should not be based on popularity because we close questions for specific reasons that support the mission of the site. The mission of the site is not to see how many hits we can get. It's about the quality of the content.
    – HedgeMage
    Apr 9, 2011 at 2:34
  • I don't disagree that off-topic questions should be closed out. I just think that moderators should be forced to think harder about closing out popular questions. There should just be a higher threshold, particularly when its a controversial topic and popular topic. Or perhaps, there should be a warning to the person who asked to modify the question to be less subjective.
    – J.J.
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:13
  • @Javid Common courtesy is to comment when you vote to close -- since it takes 5 votes that is typically enough notice. Plus, closing a question is not permanent! It can always be reopened later.
    – HedgeMage
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:49

It seems like it is in the site's best interest to keep questions open that the community measurably wants

Lemme just stop you right there. This site is only 10 days into its beta, 3 days into public beta. The community is still forming. What do you want that community to look like? That's the question. The purpose of the beta is to answer it.

Do you want a site dedicated to firearms? Commit to the proposal! (really.)

Do you want a site dedicated to anything, so long as it gets page-views? Sorry, we're fresh out of that.

Do you want a site dedicated to parents giving honest and helpful answers to each others' questions on parenting? Then make it work. Show us that it can work. Respond to feedback, address criticism, down-vote bad answers, up-vote good ones, flag non-answers...

The question - can a community form here, or will it devolve into arguments and off-topic discussion.

The answer...?


Page view and vote counts are not parameters in which questions should remain open and which should be closed. I frequently see questions on SO that have hundreds or thousands of views, dozens of votes on the OP and replies that are still closed because they are off-topic.

Off-topic questions should be closed. No exceptions.

  • 2
    This is a side note. I strongly disagree that your firearm question should have been closed. I think it's censorship because people who voted to close the question did so because they don't think kids should use guns. They may choose language in explaining that position that suggests it might be off-topic, but it is clear from their comments that they first clicked "Close" because they disagreed with the premise, and went searching for a rationalization later. Apr 9, 2011 at 16:04

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