There's something that's been bugging me for a while, and I don't quite know how to describe this, but I suppose this would be phrased as "close-voting for the sake of close voting", rather than adhering to the rules of the site, or in other words - rules of the site seem to have gone down the /dev/null, if you excuse my pun.

Take for instance, this question. 3 votes for unclear, 1 for too broad. The question body in both before and after edit, clearly stated that they want shell script, with specific output. In my not so humble opinion, this is fairly narrow, not broad, and has specific expected output. The votes are unwarranted.

Another instance, here, voted originally as off-topic as general programming question, except the user didn't come to us asking how to compile hello_world.c, but rather figure out how to obtain source code of one of the critical components of Ubuntu.

And another one, here, again voted as off-topic because this is not about Ubuntu, except that according to the rules development on Ubuntu is on topic, and there's no exceptions to whether it's generic API or not.

Let's put this in contrast to Unix & Linux, our sister site. First specimen would possibly get downvotes, vehement comments to provide expected input/output, but by no means closed as unclear or off-topic, especially with apparently existing answers clearly understanding what OP wants. Or the other one - C API is within reason on U&L, and with Ubuntu being built on Linux Kernel and using glibc, and asking to view the source code - that's definitely on-topic. By rules of AskUbuntu itself, application development is on topic, and if all of a sudden we deny questions where user asks how to develop GNOME shell extension ( which keep in mind is now default for Ubuntu ), then we may as well deny app indicator questions, Gtk questions, and whole range of things on which Ubuntu has been built. (And on the side note, I'm no fanboy of GNOME, but if it's now the direction Mark Shuttleworth takes Ubuntu and Canonical, GNOME has all the right to stay here and development for GNOME has all the right to be as a question on Ask Ubuntu).

If I had to summarize the point, it would be this: please don't ruin the excellent community which has been welcoming newbies and developers alike originally by nonsense close-votes. Having produced 1670+ answers, acquired 52k reputation, and written multiple appindicators for Ubuntu here on Ask Ubuntu, it really bothers me when a person comes and asks "How do I do X on Ubuntu ?" and the answer is "Sorry, you're unclear" or "Sorry, your desire to view source code isn't welcome here". It seems like in the process of "cleaning up" the site, some people lost the context and thrown rules to the wind. Let's keep up quality, not quantity, because that's what Ubuntu was (and I hope still is) all about.

I'll take this chance to touch on another thing. Some of the frequenters of Ask Ubuntu General chat noticed that I've been MIA quite a lot, and although I love Ask Ubuntu and it's given me so much, due to a few recent events I suppose I'll be missing even more. Although I may produce occasional bash-tagged answers, I need to focus on growth in other aspects of life. I sincerely love the community and grateful for all the things I've learned through this time. But I need a time out.

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    About the GNOME thingy, I always use the answers here: meta.askubuntu.com/questions/5744/… - which seems to me that popular opinion is that generic development is off-topic. – muru Oct 26 '17 at 8:58
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    And for the script q, I got confused by the part about writing 10 files (which I think misread), anyway voted to reopen. – muru Oct 26 '17 at 9:02
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    Heh, the meta effect in action: askubuntu.com/q/965286/295286 closed as a dupe correctly, now reopened. – muru Oct 27 '17 at 2:18
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    @muru facepalm . . . OK, I guess I didn't explain myself clearly in the post . . . That one was duped correctly indeed, but no harm in having it be open I guess – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Oct 27 '17 at 2:34
  • Maybe you could change the title to something about incorrect close-voting? – Zanna Oct 29 '17 at 10:32

I agree with you that the number of incorrect* off-topic - not about Ubuntu close votes has seemed particularly high of late. In addition to the two you mentioned, I've noticed that questions about Firefox and LibreOffice, questions asking for software recommendations, questions about text-processing, questions about dual-boot systems, questions about WSL, and questions that relate to hardware compatibility in some way, have received off-topic close votes and comments saying "this is not about Ubuntu" "this isn't specific to Ubuntu" "Hardware is off-topic here" "Software recommendations are off-topic here" "Windows is off-topic here", and so on.

* by incorrect, I mean, there is a reasonable consensus expressed in terms of upvoted posts here on meta, and a body of open, answered questions on the site, which upholds that questions of that kind are on-topic and acceptable here.

Eliah Kagan suggested a general explanation for this issue in chat

I think, vaguely speaking, review choices that involve knowing and correctly applying a policy (like, are questions about X on-topic according to the rules of the site?) can be made in two ways. Really there is something of a continuum between the two and this is about actions (which is my main point, the system does not adequately improve the actions that make up review). This is not a divide between the "good reviewers" and the "bad reviewers."

(A) by carefully checking that the policy is correct and, when there is any dispute or even a sign dispute or confusion might arise, providing a citation and

(B) carelessly translating personal feelings of whether or not a post is Ubuntuy enough into a review and--sometimes--an actual comment making unsupported claims about site policy.

And the problem is that (B) will always win out over (A) overall, because it is faster and easier and requires less energy and time and commitment to make review and commenting choices that fall under (B) than those that fall under (A).

I don't know how to fix this problem. But I would encourage people who want to review and use close votes to consider searching the help center and/or meta for policy when voting to close if they are in any doubt at all. When informing someone that their question is off-topic, it helps both the OP and other reviewers if we link to the policy stating that it is indeed off-topic. This also prevents us from carelessly making unsubstantiated statements and incorrectly voting to close (because we won't be able to find the link to the policy we think exists, if it doesn't exist :) ).

As a side note, I resent the implication in your question that people who apply wrong off-topic votes think they are "cleaning up". Have they said that's what they are doing, as your quote marks seem to suggest? Please don't discourage people from improving the site by suggesting that cleaning up is synonymous with careless close-voting!


You are right. I think we should chage the reputation needed to vote higher and maybe commenting too? When I came here I was not cool about having to earn reputation but the ugly comments made me mad more. So yeah i would say we need to change ob how much reputation needed to vote.

  • I would like to know if anyone agrees with me. Thanks – user750983 Oct 29 '17 at 7:36
  • The needed rep is almost zero, agree on.. exactly what? – Jacob Vlijm Nov 2 '17 at 7:29

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