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    I have just encountered in rapid succession two questions, each with one vote to close, and each with a reason provided that I am having trouble understanding. The first question is:

    This is a rather standard and not very difficult commutative algebra question, but many (especially Anton G.) have argued that it is a reasonable use of MO to be a repository of standard questions. Certainly this question is not as straightforward as "Can there be a 2:1 covering map from the n-sphere to itself?" which is about as standard a basic topology question as I can imagine. Someone has voted to close this as "Not a real question". I don't get it -- it seems to me that this is definitely a real question.

    The second question is:

    This is a good question! I think there are many arithmetic geometers who don't know the answer to this (or would suspect that the answer is "no" but not know how to produce an example) and would be interested in the result.

    Someone has voted to close it as "off-topic". I don't understand how a decidedly nontrivial arithmetic geometry question could be off-topic on MO.

    Would someone like to come forward and explain these votes?
    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeMar 26th 2010 edited
    I had both questions open and accidentally clicked to vote to close the second one while I meant to vote to close the first one. I figured it was a good enough question that my vote to close wouldn't matter. As was recently brought up on meta, it is not possible to remove your vote to close =(.

    As for the "not a real question" one, when I vote to close, I usually just pick a reason at random, since they're all pretty inaccurate.
    • CommentAuthorPedant
    • CommentTimeMar 26th 2010 edited

    The second question also had a downvote which was cancelled later. Either, the downvote was by another person, or else the same mistake of keeping two questions open at the same time must have happened again.

    Please do not pick reasons at random: the majority voted reason gets displayed when the question is closed. Saying that someone has not asked a real question is mildly insulting even when it is true, and far more so when it isn't.

    You still haven't explained why you voted to close this question. What makes it inappropriate for MO?
    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeMar 26th 2010 edited
    The fact that it's equivalent to a homework problem from a class I took last semester. TJF also pointed this out in the thread.

    I had nothing to do with either of these questions. But I'd like to admit to also picking reasons fairly at random when being the first to vote-to-close (if not first, I tend to say "Baaa!"). They are usually completely orthogonal to why I wish to close a question and I figure if the questioner is experienced at MO then they already know that the reasons are spurious whereas if they are new then they will take umbrage whatever reason is given. So I could spend hours agonising over which reason will cause least offence, or I could just pick one at random and play minesweeper instead.

    Yeah, the last person who votes to close is really the only one who matters anyway, since that is the person who leaves a comment.

    It doesn't seem respectful to choose a reason at random, given that having your question closed could be an upsetting experience. (I don't mean that it should be, but I'm sure people do get upset by it.)

    On the other hand, I agree with fpqc and Andrew that the list of reasons to close is wholly inadequate. If we could design our own list, suitable for MO, that would be much better.


    (I was being mildly facetious)

    • CommentAuthorKevin Lin
    • CommentTimeMar 27th 2010

    I am not sure, but I think that votes to close expire after some period of time. I have received votes to close on a couple of my questions, but now they don't seem to be there anymore.


    @Kevin: that's correct. Votes to close expire after 4 days. See this meta.SO post.


    Yeah, the last person who votes to close is really the only one who matters anyway, since that is the person who leaves a comment.

    Please do not think like this! It's poison! If you vote to close, you should be doing so for a good reason, and you should do your best to articulate it. I know that the list of reasons for closing isn't very good, and I don't expect people to waste a lot of time worrying about which bad-fit reason to pick. Just pick one, but leave a comment with the real reason!

    I regard voting to close without leaving a comment (or voting up a comment) as far worse etiquette than downvoting without leaving a comment. In the vote-to-close situation, the main argument for not commenting when downvoting (desire to preserve anonymity) is removed: when the question is closed, your name will show up on the list of people who closed it. The only reason I can think of for not leaving a comment when voting to close is that you can't come up with a way to do it without being a jerk, and in that case you likely don't have a very good reason for voting to close.

    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeMar 27th 2010 edited

    I'm pretty sure that's not what was articulated the last time this issue came up (I have to search meta for it, so please give me a moment).

    Edit: I've given up because it is a pain in the neck to search meta.

    Anyway, the answer that was given last time was that only the person casting the final vote to close should leave a comment (this is what I remember. I think that other people will remember this as well).


    I must admit I have sometimes been the last person voting to close and not left a comment. But in those cases, there have always been a number of comments already, usually with several upvotes on them already, articulating reasons to close. It seems needless in those cases to repeat what others have already said.


    @fpqc: Yes, some people (e.g. Ben and Scott) argued before that you should leave a comment if you're casting the last vote to close, but I argued the same point vigorously then as well. See this thread and especially this post of mine.


    @Harald: No need to repeat what others have said. In that case, you should simply vote up the comment(s) which explain your reasons for voting to close.

    • CommentAuthorrwbarton
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010
  has a vote to close for "off topic". Now, I grant that this is not a very good question; to the extent that it is a real question at all, it is rather self-answering. It would be much better if the author suggested what kind of difference he expected or why he expected a difference to exist. But closing for "off topic" is frankly as ridiculous as closing for "blatantly offensive".

    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010 edited

    I voted to close the question as "off topic" because the question as posed is a tautology.

    First, he takes (∞,1)-categories to be categories enriched in spaces.

    Then he takes categories enriched in spaces to be categories enriched in spaces!

    I think that tautologies are off topic. Had he posed the question differently (i.e. used a different model of ∞-groupoids), then it might have made sense, but he didn't. Which reminds me of the fatuous "proof" of the homotopy hypothesis:

    Define an ∞-groupoid to be a kan complex. Define a space to be a kan complex. Therefore spaces are the same thing as ∞-groupoids.

    "The fact that it's equivalent to a homework problem from a class I took last semester. TJF also pointed this out in the thread."

    @Harry: Don't take this the wrong way, please don't take too many advanced classes...

    @Dror: I don't see your point... The question seemed and still seems like homework. It also happened almost a month ago, so I don't see why this is relevant...