This morning I posted this question Did the marketing of Terminator 2 actually spoil the movie?

It was closed in six hours from asking.

I'm not really upset and posting a meta because of this specific question but it does address a general problem that I see on this site as well as on other trivia type stack exchange sites. Not only was this question closed quickly but it was closed while maintaining positive upvotes from the community. It was 4 "to close" 4 upvotes not a single downvote until the fifth person voted to close. So in this instance we actually have an equal amount of people both liking and not liking the question except instead of downvotes it's closed question votes. Now it's closed and no one can answer. How does that help the community?

This is a question I created specfically to address a long ago Evaluation Evaluation Feedback: Looking Forward:

Too much trivia. Look, I love trivia. And movie buffs love trivia. But, and this is a question that deserves a meta post all its own, is that who we want here? Do we want movie trivia people or do we want those people who love the art of movies? Do we want Comic Book Guy telling us that Star Wars Ep.3 is the Worst. Ever... Or do we want the next Roger Ebert, James Berardinelli, and Laura Mulvey to be finding their voices here? Perhaps I’m being extremist, but my point remains the same: who is your audience? You all MUST figure this out, because this site feels undecided until you do.


Not enough analysis. This goes pretty much hand-in-hand with the above. We’re seeing what we feel are pretty surface-level questions about various film and TV works. This is really saddening to me, because shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Battlestar Galactica (2005) or even films like The Artist and Marvel’s The Avengers have deeper, meaningful questions that can be asked, from mise en scene questions to purely character-motivation and storyline impact questions. Yes, Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum -- but multiple perspectives that are supported with evidence are perfectly acceptable and useful. We want to see either better curation of the content -- strive for better, more thoughtful questions! -- or a stronger push for analytical content.

Ever since I try to keep this post in mind because to me she's right. I seriously ask myself before I post if the next Roger Ebert might answer my question and I in turn inspire them.

The kind of questions that follow this advice though seem to get closed very often. Also it does seem that close votes are given more than downvotes. I think a solution is needed to address this.

I propose that if others see this as an issue that either close votes start costing rep points or we set new limits on close votes such as more are needed or a timeframe must be enforced before the question is closed or more than 5 votes are needed to close.

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    Thank you for the edit help. I need to learn how to format text like that. Jul 23, 2014 at 19:45
  • Kevin, I removed the [feature-request] tag. If you have a literal "feature request" (as in asking for changes or additions to the Stack Exchange engine), please submit it as a separate post. Trying to discuss the feature along with your broader discussion of whether the folks here are actually closing too much only muddies the issue and confuses what is actually being voted on. Thanks. Jul 23, 2014 at 21:50
  • While I apreciate this question very much, the suggestions form your last paragraph are very inappropriate. The close voting feature is there for a reason and works. It's the type of questions to be closed that we (supposedly) need to discuss and/or educate the community in. Just making closing "harder" doesn't help anything and is the completely wrong approach.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 24, 2014 at 1:18
  • @RobertCartaino I do apologize I didn't realize that in meta using that tag literally meant that you are requesting that feature right now. There wasn't a [possible-feature-request] tag and probably shouldn't be but thank you for letting me know. Jul 24, 2014 at 13:56
  • @NapoleonWilson I'm sorry to disagree but I don't see how the suggestion of changing the closing process is inappropriate. I don't think that the close system works as effectively as it's believed to. I suggested different improvements rather than just complain and put it up for discussion. If others agree then we might submit a feature-request and possibly improve the site. If others don't agree then they state that as well. I truly feel there is a problem with the current system that is discouraging or even stymying users from being more active. Jul 24, 2014 at 14:06
  • @KevinHowell Though, what is discouraging users rather seems to be the views of the community what is on- and off-topic. I just don't feel that making closing harder (and thus impeding the situtations when closing is "legitimate") would change anything in that. Instead of educating the users how to properly use the close system, we're putting artificial rocks in their way in order to discourage them from using it at all. It feels like treating the symptoms rather than the disease...
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 24, 2014 at 14:12
  • @KevinHowell ... But nevermind, maybe I should write a proper answer. Though I don't have much of an answer to the more general problem of the question, even if your last paragraph severely deserves proper discussion if you really take those proposals that serious.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 24, 2014 at 14:12

3 Answers 3



... and it's because we've unwittingly enforced a culture of pedantry.

Lets face it guys, the people who have an affect on the overall tone of the site aren't the identify-this-movie flying visitors: they're us, who are interested in the direction of the site enough to discuss on Meta.

New users mean our ranks and swelling, and that's incredibly welcome: but these users will gauge the tone of what we consider permissible and what we try to get rid of by learning from example, and experience.

When new users arrive, this effect is amplified if the first experience they have with a question is a close-vote, or given un-constructive suggestions or no suggestions at all. We, 'the higher users' are sometimes the biggest culprits, as we define our 'identity' before fully graduating (BTW, anyone got any idea of dates?).

Close votes are obviously neccessary, but they should be prefixed by a down vote, ideally a helpful suggestion for improvement and then most importantly time for the user to respond and implement these changes.

Close votes and flags should only be used when something is definitely, un-salvageably off topic.

This process just isn't happening at the minute, and it's down to us to lead with example.

Improve: Don't Remove.

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    "and then most importantly time for the user to respond and implement these changes." - I disagree totally. When a question is closed, it is put on hold for exactly this reason. The user can amend/edit their question and improve it. I do agree we should leave helpful comments, but pointing them to the FAQ perfectly suffices. Close votes are not in my view just for things that are beyond salvaging, but for things currently off topic. The question is then put on hold and the user can edit it accordingly to fit our community rules. Aug 14, 2014 at 11:22
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    "but pointing them to the FAQ perfectly suffices"... no, It doesn't. That's the problem here: for you or I, sure we'd go and read the FAQ's, but for a brand new user? can you imagine how off-putting it is for someone to come here with a question only for it to be slammed into Hold straight away, and the only course of action is to go away and immerse yourself into a vast archive of rules? Edit's, comments, general discussion and suggestions for improvement should all be explored before close voting. People respond to people, they don't respond to a catalogue of rules..not at first.. Aug 14, 2014 at 11:32
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    @JohnSmithOptional: Sorry, but I'll never follow along with that. This isn't a discussion forum, it's a Q and A forum. They can read the rules and follow them. If they don't, their question will be put on hold until it's improved. I'm perfectly happy to be welcoming and explain what they need to do, but I'll not stop voting to close rubbish questions purely because a user is new. Not to mention the fact most questions that are closed have a quite clear reason given (i.e. it is pointless trivia, it is a duplicate, it's off topic because we're not a music site, etc) Aug 14, 2014 at 13:12
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    @JohnSmithOptional: I'm more than happy as I say to talk and help new users out, but if the question is pure, it needs to be put on hold, regardless of how new the user is. In my opinion, it's not just about increasing our fan base on this site, but also increasing the number of quality questions - with quality being whatever the community in general has designated it to be. Aug 14, 2014 at 13:13
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    You're pulling a lot of arguments into this about how these sort of sites cultivate valuable material, and I've no opportunity to engage with them all, but I feel I can sum up my position by saying: I think this site would quantum leap if we employed a little more empathy with users, new or old. Improve: Don't Remove. Aug 14, 2014 at 13:26
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    @JohnSmithOptional: But I thought we already did that? No longer are questions automatically deleted. Now they're put on hold, so the user can improve it. Not to mention a lot of the questions put on hold are done so because the questions are off topic here, e.g. music identification and so are simply off topic. Still - I promise I'll be as nice as possible to all users, as I agree that is for the site to develop. Aug 14, 2014 at 13:42

Here is a question that I think is a good example as it stands right now. https://movies.stackexchange.com/questions/23307/who-is-the-actress-in-the-music-video-savage-garden-truly-madly-deeply

We have 4 close votes due to "This question appears to be off-topic because it is too trivial and can be found by a simple web search. Shows lack of research on the OP's part."

I personally voted to keep question open. There is no reflection of this stated anywhere and it does not counter any of the close votes to my knowledge. Also to my knowledge close votes cannot be reversed.

The OP has stated that it was not easily found in a search and that is usually the case with videos they don't keep records normally. How to correctly identify an actor/actresses is in something that is not listed on their IMDB profile? So that counters the reason for close vote. The user posted a video asked for an actress's name and received a definitive answer almost right away. The answer identifies that it was not found through normal means. To me that makes it a perfect fit for this site.

I feel that this was voted to be closed to soon and as it stands it takes one more person to agree and it can be closed even though overall it is a good question with a solid answer that could not be found elsewhere. Isn't that basically what this site wants?

So my answer is yes we are voting to close to soon and there are not steps in the close voting system to correctly account for what votes have been made (vote to close vs keep open) and nothing to counter votes once cast.



No, we're not closing too early.
Yes, we need a discussion over the contrast between five close votes and four upvotes (showing a divergence of opinion among site users.

Full Answer:

I'll put an answer down for this question, as I was probably the chief instigator of the question you reference being closed. These are my feelings on the issue:

I don't think questions are being closed too early.

Time-scale has never been a factor - it all comes down to votes generated. Whether this happens in a day or a week doesn't matter.

In the case of the question you posed, I felt it was far too subjective. Take the answer @Shiz Z. posted on the question. He referred to the box office gross and opinions of science fans and used that as a basis for saying the movie wasn't spoiled. But this is a purely subjective and opinionated answer, which this site (and none of the Stack sites) aren't supposed to address. If two similar films had been made at the same time, with similar stories and effects and directing styles, but with different marketing strategies, perhaps a comparison of their budgets and revenue could produce some sort of meaningful answer. But in the absence of that, any response to the question has to be an opinion which can't be formed from solid facts, as there no way to no way a "spoiled" film would like and what an "unspoiled" film would look like.

I understand that some answers are subjective. Take this recent question: Why does Jesse suggest that Beca pushes everyone else away?. However, despite the subjectiveness of this, I feel it's different as answers can be formulated from the story of the movie, as opposed to the Terminator question where answers have to be effectively drawn from an opinion, as there is nothing factual that can be used to support it.

Let's say the director had commented on the question asked - let's pretend he had come out and said he was against the marketing and wished it hadn't happened. What would this actually show? It would suggest that the marketing was different to what he had expected, but it simply couldn't show, one way or another, that the movie was spoiled. Therefore, because I feel it's unanswerable, I voted to close.

However, you raise a very important point when you refer to the upvotes the question had. I think a meta discussion is important on this as we need to find out if the community feels differently. I think it's been clear for a while now that there's a very broad range of opinions on how the site should go and more often than not the truth is that we're a very divided bunch (e.g. see the posts on allowing more trivia!). There's of course nothing wrong with that, but it's clearly been reflected in the voting on your question.

I feel I've made my case, but dissenting opinions are very welcome. I'm also eager to hear from moderators, simply to see their opinions on possibly allowing something subjective into the Stack family.

I'd also strongly encourage any upvoters to comment here, as in the past there's been lots of evidence of dissenting opinion on the main site with the dissenters remaining silent when a meta discussion arises. Please don't let that happen. Comment/answer away!

On a final note, regardless of what this meta discussion produces in terms of what should be on-topic/off-topic, I'd be against any change to the amount of votes needed to close a question or the amount of time needed before a question is closed. I'd also be against rep counting against closures, although that may just be me.

Finally finally, when it comes to the keeping open of subjective questions, there are tons on this site that have remained and gotten good answers. From my own point of view, I'd quite happily point a finger to pretty much anything by @Napoleon Wilson as an example, which often ask for opinions on questions, but which are worded extremely well, e.g.: this or this (to name but a very few).

  • I do understand your difference of opinion and do think that it's valid yet I still don't agree with you. On the question: yes it is in the subjective realm but I feel I set criteria for answering that makes it a valid question. I would hazard to say that you don't agree with this question because it's a subjective question that is not about the quantifiable realm inside the movie itself such as the examples you gave but instead takes the experience of the movie into question based on the marketing versus the story telling. As far as closing: I think there is a problem and a change is needed. Jul 24, 2014 at 14:33
  • I couldn't disagree with this more @ the minute. The examples presented here may well be flawed, but the point remains. Aug 13, 2014 at 18:39

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