What should our process be for closing older questions? I'm asking this at an early stage so that moderators and others know what is acceptable to users of the site and what isn't. (There's only 1 example so far of a question where I think this is relevant, so I'm raising it now while we have a chance to provide a useful steer).

The question: Organising digital documents for genealogy and family history? gained 21 upvotes when it was asked 4 years ago. The question received minor edits when it was first asked, but has not changed since; and the rules for what questions can be asked here haven't changed in the intervening period. A discussion took place at Opinion questions. Good or Bad? about whether it was an acceptable question; the consensus (as I read it now, and as I read it at the time) was that it was acceptable.

The question was closed in July of this year as 'Too broad' by a moderator supervote. I discovered that it had been closed when I went looking for this question to refer peope to from elsewhere -- it's a really common question with useful answers, and can encourage people to stick around here.

If the site's scope and/or other policies had changed in the intervening period, than closure might have been the right option. However, nothing had changed, so I'm wondering if the closure was appropriate without any attempt to solicit the new community opinion.

Perhaps the moderator took the view that we should be more stringent about 'constructive subjective', but that view wasn't tested anywhere.

Would it be appropriate to solicit views on meta before these questions are closed? Best case, there's a consensus on how to handle them. Worst case, a moderator still has to make an (unsupported) decision but they can point to the meta question to support their action.

  • I have lightly edited genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/2945/1006 and re-closed it with a close reason of "primarily opinion-based", pending the outcome of our Meta discussion. I would like to see the question remain open on the site -- if we want to protect it from future low-quality answers, that's another option we can discuss. – Jan Murphy Oct 11 '17 at 18:15
  • @JanMurphy Is there somewhere we're discussing that specific question at present, or are we hoping to sort out a process and then apply it to that question -- I'm happy either way. – ColeValleyGirl Oct 12 '17 at 6:16
  • Unless I goofed, that should be the link to Organising digital documents for genealogy and family history? referenced in this question. – Jan Murphy Oct 12 '17 at 22:11
  • 1
    @JanMurphy, what I meant was: we're not discussing that specific question yet anywhere -- just the process, yes? – ColeValleyGirl Oct 13 '17 at 6:22

Making this into an answer so people can vote in favour or against:

Closing a new or recent question is relatively easily spotted, and the checks and balances exist to ensure that only hopeless questions remain closed, and others are re-opened after being edited. (I'll leave aside the question of whether those checks and blances work well with only a few users engaged in keeping the site on course).

However, it's very unlikely that anyone will notice the closure of an old question except by accident, especially if it's done by a supervote and doesn't appear in a review queue. For example, I routinely look only at questions that were created in the last 14 days (assuming that if a question survives that long, it's out of the closure zone and unlikley to attract new answers for me to review). I only spotted the example I give in the original question because I went looking for it to recommend it on another forum.

It's quite possible to have old questions that may not meet our criteria now... but I wouldn't expect that to be the case when we haven't had a debate about tightening up the relevant criteria.

I'd like to suggest that if somebody believes that an old question ought to be closed (especially if the question received upvotes and/or answers at the time of asking), they post it here to get a group consense (which might also lead to an improvement in documenting our criteria for good questions).

If somebody has the time to go looking for such old questions, it's not that much extra work to seek wider views on Meta, and if the question has been around for a few monts or years, a few more days delay won't hurt.

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