And They Closed a Valid Question on Stack Overflow Again

Yihui Xie 2018-02-27

Yesterday I saw a question about blogdown on Stack Overflow, but didn’t have time to answer it. This morning I received a Github issue with the same question in the blogdown repo. This is bad in several ways:

  1. I ranted two months ago that people should be more considerate when closing questions on Stack Overflow. It is fine to close questions or put them on hold, but you should know what you are doing in the first place, i.e., ask yourself “Do I really understand this question? Am I an expert in the tags used in the question?” Again, a Pandas expert and a Vaadin (??) expert voted to close a blogdown question. They could well be Hugo and blogdown experts, although they have answered zero Hugo questions on Stack Overflow so far. How about the rest of three R experts? Zero, too.

  2. It is a Hugo issue and not directly relevant to blogdown, but is a very valid Hugo question. Hugo decided last year that it would no longer generate the full content but summaries of posts in the RSS feed, which has created a lot of headache to users. I believe it was a bad decision, but the developer was trying to conform to the RSS standard. I don’t think this particular standard makes much sense, but it is not too bad.

  3. They suggested the OP post the question to the blogdown repo on Github, which means the single, busy, and already burned-out developer (i.e., me) will have to answer it, unless a kind user who has watched the repo and wants to help before I get up (unfortunately, after I had little ones, I started to get up very early). I believe questions should be asked in the community first (the OP did it and I appreciate it), which will benefit everyone, including the developer and future users with the same questions. Honestly, I’m very, very tired of answering pure questions on Github. It has consumed too much of my time, and constantly pushes me to my physical limit. I cannot handle all questions there. I just cannot. I very much want to close pure questions without responding anything, but so far I haven’t done so, because I know the innocent users don’t understand my situation.

  4. It was not a great question. I only have a single criterion for not so great questions: if the answer can be found on the first page of a Google search, it is not a great question. Here you go: The direct answer is currently in the second result, and the fundamental answer is in the first result.

I still don’t understand the benefit of closing questions on Stack Overflow. If you close a question, no one can answer it (you’ll have to wait for five people to vote to re-open it), even if it is a valid question. If you don’t close it in such a hurry, what will be the bad consequences?

Update on 2022-05-27

Four years later, I want to rant about Stack Overflow moderators deleting valid answers like in this post. The moderator has not answered a single r or knitr question before, but brutally deleted an answer from the OP.

A Stack Overflow deleted a valid answer

Is it a perfect answer? No. Could it be the good start of a great answer? Yes. What’s the point of deleting it in such a hurry when the moderator doesn’t appear to have the relevant knowledge about the post?