Thomas Owens and I closed https://pm.stackexchange.com/questions/6195/dos-and-donts-with-clients as Not Constructive. It's a very broad, open-ended polling question that would likely result in a list of things, which isn't a good fit for Stack Exchange. Other users and I left some comments asking the asker to please clarify and fix the question.

No one has made any improvements to the question, but it's been reopened.

Also, this polling question How do I discover the features of a product that are most valued by customers? was closed multiple times and re-asked. The asker didn't make any attempts to improve this question either based on comments left. It has also been reopened without anyone making any improvements, but it was reopened by at least two people.

I know we're in the middle of a scope change and want to take it easy, but what is the justification for allowing such overly broad questions without any improvements and community support?

I'm all for questions that are more theoretical in nature, but they should be more targeted and less broad. Thank you.

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  • Do's and Dont's with Clients was reopened since the questioner seemed to find a satisfactory answer (based on their comments) and therefore, it was a useful interaction on the site. The features question... perhaps a little overzealous in seeing if the community can provide value even if it doesn't strictly fit our evolving guidelines. Jul 20, 2012 at 20:53
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    @MarkPhillips Quoting Jeff, "[E]ven hideously bad questions get good answers on Stack Overflow. Our incentive systems are almost too effective." meta.stackexchange.com/questions/93595/… Note that doesn't mean I agree or disagree; I'm just pointing out that good answers don't necessarily indicate that the parent question is valid or on-topic.
    – Todd A. Jacobs Mod
    Jul 20, 2012 at 21:21
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    @jmort253 Not a full answer, just a quick thought: without commenting on these specific questions, until the new question volume is higher, keeping iffy questions open (not dreck, just iffy) seems like a sensible way to encourage engagement. I'll ponder a more complete answer that balances both sides.
    – Todd A. Jacobs Mod
    Jul 20, 2012 at 21:30
  • @CodeGnome - Stack Exchange was designed to be a resource of knowledge not just for askers but future visitors as well. After 16-17 months of the "anything goes approach", that just hasn't attracted a large pool of passionate users. One of the Stack Exchange community managers, Shog9, mentioned that the team was a bit concerned about the quality of the questions and answers on the site. This was before the scope change and we are definitely doing better!!. However, we should all understand that going back to the old ways of anything goes may not be good for the site in the long run.
    – jmort253
    Jul 21, 2012 at 1:02
  • @MarkPhillips and CodeGnome - With that said, I do think it's acceptable at this point to make some exceptions for exceptional questions that have been edited by community members (or moderators), but that should be the exception, not the rule. If nothing else, someone should at least fix all the grammar issues on that Do's and Don't's question so at least it looks like someone tried to make it better. (I'll prob do that after I eat dinner if someone doesn't beat me to it first) :) :)
    – jmort253
    Jul 21, 2012 at 1:05
  • @MarkPhillips - I just looked at the Do's and Don't's question again after editing it. It was never answered. Zsolt pasted a link to the customer tagged questions on our site, which is of course helpful and a good thing to do, but links by themselves are not Stack Exchange answers..... Sorry for all the comment spam :)
    – jmort253
    Jul 21, 2012 at 2:05
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    I think we've honed in on the underlying intent of the pm.stackexchange.com/questions/6195/dos-and-donts-with-clients question. Based on the asker's satisfaction with Zsolt's answer, it seems more like a site FAQ type question then a PM specific question. It has been edited as such and migrated to meta. Jul 22, 2012 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


"Close" is correct; "Open" is Community-Focused

I think the two specific questions probably should be closed, but I also understand why they were reopened. It's a balancing act, and I think that PMSE should strive to be less aggressive about closing questions until our question volume is higher.

The two questions were correctly closed as "Not Constructive" or "Not a Real Question," but it seems reasonable to see if the community is able to salvage them or if we can engage the OPs in rewriting the questions in a more answerable way. At 1.5 questions a day, PMSE isn't being overrun by such questions, so I'm okay with leaving them open until they become burdensome, or until it becomes clear that no one (especially the OPs) have any interest in improving them.

Good Answers to Bad Questions Are Irrelevant

I ran across a great quote from Jeff Atwood the other day. He said:

[E]ven hideously bad questions get good answers on Stack Overflow. Our incentive systems are almost too effective.

What that means in this context is that leaving bad questions undeleted may be a good idea if they have elicited great answers that can't be merged into another question elsewhere. On the other hand, bad questions are still bad, and should be closed, downvoted, edited, or something...eventually.

Again, until and unless the site is awash in bad questions, I'm tempted to say that anything that generates quality answers is worth keeping around in some form or fashion. Maybe adding some pithy comments or editing the question to indicate WHY it's a bad question--and why it's being left open--is a good compromise that doesn't leave us struggling for useful content.

Retcon a Question for Merging

Finally, down the road it may be worth considering retconning a few questions to provide merge targets for good answers to bad questions. This doesn't answer the parent question as posed, but I'm throwing it out there to show that immediate closure is not our only option, and that anything we can do to increase the level of engaged participation is worth pursuing.

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    You make some great points, but from what I can tell, no one had any interest in improving these questions. I left some constructive comments, and there wasn't one edit when they were reopened. I feel like the main point of misunderstanding is that closure isn't a permanent state. Closing questions is a way to put them back into the review queue so that they can be turned into great questions (or in our case, any improvement would be better than nothing) before opening them up to answers. Once a question gets answers, it is much more difficult to improve the questions.
    – jmort253
    Jul 21, 2012 at 1:11
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    In short, I'm not disagreeing that there isn't a good reason to reopen these questions, just that we should put some effort into improving something that we are going to reopen.
    – jmort253
    Jul 21, 2012 at 1:13
  • @jmort253 "[F]rom what I can tell, no one had any interest in improving these questions." True; nor do I think those two questions can be sufficiently improved. I was attempting to answer your original question of why they might have been reopened; not whether they should have been. :)
    – Todd A. Jacobs Mod
    Jul 21, 2012 at 17:25
  • You're right. We're not getting overrun with these questions, but we need to set the example early on of how Stack Exchange works. Blatantly not constructive or "not a real question" posts don't belong on Stack Exchange... on any SE site. (Note that this isn't about PMSE's topic but SE goals).. Once a site gets to the point where it's at 10 questions per day, it's a lot harder to start focusing on quality. There are too many people who would fight to maintain the status quo. If we don't learn from other SE betas, we're going to have a huge problem closing posts that don't fit SE in the future.
    – jmort253
    Jul 22, 2012 at 0:04

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