I posed a question about the Soufflé technique and flagged it as such. This was my first question on cooking.stackexchange and the response (it was closed) is very de-motivating.

The comment I got was spot on:

Welcome, Gui Junkie. Your question is a little general. Can you tighten it up a bit? I assume you mean "how do you cook them" and not more general experiences like "I fell in love over one in Paris" or "I found out about the affair while making a chocolate soufflé." ;o) – yossarian

Right, I have to restate the question... but closing a legitimate question is not a good idea. I propose the moderators should not close questions as fast as they do at this moment.

Comment: I've just edited the question.

  • Thanks for your answers. I feel this is really about two different things. 1) The word 'Closed'. 2) What is a legitimate question. First things first. I'm with Tim Sullivan & sarge_smith. Closed sounds final. Why not have a 'Flagged' tag, with a byline stating that the question should be restated, modified, better defined... whatever. 'Flagged for improvement'. My point about legitimate questions is 1) 'How to Soufflé?' is a question [sarcasm]I'm sure I put a question mark somewhere[/sarcasm] 2) The question is about cooking. This is a Q & A site about cooking, right? Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 18:00
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    "Flagged" means something completely different on SE. And if by "tag" you mean an actual tag, then that's not a good use of the tag system. "Flagged for improvement" may sound more demure, but it doesn't even come close to conveying the message "Your question didn't follow our site guidelines and you won't be getting any new answers unless you fix it." Adding a question mark does not make it a real question, either, unless you believe that ending a 5-page rant with "amirite?" also makes it a question.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 1, 2010 at 14:51

3 Answers 3


Hi GUI Junkie. I left that comment, and I didn't vote to close the question. However, I think closing it was the right thing to do. There wasn't a real question there, so who knows what kind of answers you would get. Closing makes sure you don't get any answers. Meanwhile, while closed, there can be comments about the question to decide how to fix it, and people can edit the question to make it better. Once the question is good enough, people can vote to reopen the question (which I'd already done before seeing this meta).

That's how the site is supposed to work. It helps keep the site, questions, and their answers clean. It also lets the community decide what should or shouldn't be allowed here.

By the way, I think your question is likely to get reopened now. Once it does, I would edit it so that the old question is gone and you just have the new, much better question.

One final comment about your question, it's quite OK to break up multiple questions about the same subject across multiple specific questions rather than one general one (in fact, it's encouraged). You've asked for so much in your question, that it's quite unlikely that one person gives the best answer to every aspect of the question. So you could ask one question that is "what's the technique to make a souffle" and another that is "what are the common pitfalls of a souffle and how do I avoid them". That also helps people down the line who are searching for the answer to a specific question. Also consider that if there isn't a definitive answer to a question but rather a collection of valid answers, you should make the question a community wiki (although, I think if you split your questions out, you'd be ok and not need the community wiki).

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    Side comment: It's not how the site is supposed to work. It's how the site chooses to work.
    – yo'
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 15:53

Yossarian's answer is spot on. That question as asked was not a "legitimate" question by the standards of this site. Closing a question is not a permanent thing, nor is it intended to be a punishment. It is intended to preserve the quality of questions on the site. When possible, I will prefer editing over closing, but there was just too much open to interpretation with your original question.

Regarding how fast we close? I think this demonstrates that it is an effective moderation technique. Yossarian's initial comments were left almost immediately after you created the question. It also received a close vote, as well as upvotes on the comment. Two hours later I saw it, and completed the close. I'm not saying I would have let it sit around for 2 hours, I usually only wait 10-15 mins for an immediate fix, but you did have 2 hours to edit and improve the question. However, it took 19 hours for you to edit and improve your question. I'm sorry that you find it demotivating, but I'm glad that you have handled it appropriately by posting this on meta, and understand why it needed improving.

I also suggest the further improvements that Yossarian suggests.

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    I didn't know until reading it in this answer that closing a question was not final. It has very final and negative connotations. I wonder how many users would find this meta page to learn that they are not just being shot down. Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 16:44
  • I think this is a valid point. For someone who is unfamiliar with StackOverflow, something being labelled as "closed" is pretty final. "Case closed" is how it might seem. Perhaps we should discuss changing the wording? Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 18:33
  • @Sobachatina: I am curious why "closed" sounds "final" to you? Something that is closed can normally be (re)opened. Even something that is locked can normally be unlocked. The only thing that should sound "final" is deletion (and even that can technically be undone).
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 0:12
  • @Tim: Changing the wording would probably be difficult. Perhaps making the "closed" text link to something would make more sense. But I'd like to know first why people are interpreting it as the final word.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 0:14
  • I viewed closed as final until I learned better. Which took me till day four or five. Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 6:10
  • @Aaronut - I have never seen a closed thread on a forum reopened. This site seems to want to form its own paradigm independent of the rest of the established convention on the internet. That causes a lot of confusion to newbies. Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 14:49
  • @Aaronut, I agree with the others, Closed does sound final, particularly as @sobachatina says since it is final in any other form of internet discussion forum. Maybe we could clear this up with some a comment from a closer to point out that the question can be reopened if [whatever criteria are necessary for the question]. Obviously, not all questions are strong candidates for reopening (duplicates for instance).
    – yossarian
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 15:04
  • @Aaronut: For sure it's not easy, but things worth doing rarely are. :-) I'm not sure I have a good alternative, but it's something that may be worth of a separate discussion. Commented Sep 1, 2010 at 4:15
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    @Sobachatina: Confusing it may be, but one of the first things that every newbie needs to understand about SE is that it isn't a discussion forum. And really, there is no established convention for a Q&A site (none of the other existing ones have consistent approaches to this sort of thing). It sounds as though a URL might help (perhaps one linking to our new closed question FAQ) but I'm wary of any other approaches. As we get larger, there will be a lot more closed questions, and eventually trying to leave polite comments for every close vote will become too much of a burden to bear.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 1, 2010 at 14:52
  • @Aaronut - I think the link with a canned explanation would be sufficient. In fact- it seems like what Hobodave has been doing lately anyway. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 13:23

From what I've seen I would agree the moderation is a bit over the top. Moderators should more inclined to pull a better question out of a bad question, rather than simply look at the rule book at seek to close it.

You need to bring these new people posting on the site for the first time into the community and not scare them off with heavy handed moderation.

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    I've edited more questions than I care to remember. In fact, if you look at who has the Strunk & White badge, all of the names there are moderators. I think you should be asking the community to do more editing, not the moderators. Anyway, can you point to examples of questions that were closed but could have been saved with editing? Without specific examples, your criticism isn't very constructive.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 15:08
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    you'll also notice you need 2000 rep to edit another persons post, so your point about asking the community to do more editing isn't as many people as you may think. However if i have time i'll try and find more examples. Though i was posting in response to the original question which has examples of what i was making reference to.
    – Hath
    Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 17:13
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    The original question has exactly one example, which is no longer closed, so that doesn't seem to justify your reaction. As for editing privileges, you can see how many members have that privilege on the users page.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 17:30

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