Taken from the FAQ, certain questions 'should not be asked here', and the reason given was 'Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.'

How, exactly, is the usefulness diminished? Who cares if questions are pushed off the front page? Even if it is a 'dumb', 'subjective', and/or 'chatty' question, the asker is doubtful to be the only person with the question. I would even say a bad question with lots of downvotes or with answers constructively explaining why it's a bad question adds to the usefulness of the site.

As to the 'front page' argument, as long as tags are added and the title is worded even somewhat relevant to the question, the question and the answers will be available though searching google and the site. Is the look of the front page of this site so important that its worth diminishing the information content and number of (perhaps useful) questions?

tl;dr: Why can't we just allow any answerable question about bicycles here, and not police the content?

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    Technically if you're only allowing answerable questions you're already policing the content :) – Ben Brocka May 4 '12 at 17:53
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    Ehryk, I'm sorry if you're offended that one of your questions was closed. This community has rules, which are designed to ensure that real answers are at least possible for the questions that are asked. Otherwise, good questions with useful answers would get buried under a bunch of unanswered questions without or questions without useful answers. As a consequence, the site would be a far less useful, and far less trafficked site. What keeps people coming back is useful and easy to find answers to questions that they need answers to fast. That happens because this is a curated site. – zenbike May 4 '12 at 18:08
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    That concept has been proven to work on many StackExchange sites, and it isn't going to be changed. Some people don't have the right personality or a willingness to have others edit or manage their posts. If you're one of them, there are plenty of forums with looser rules. SE sites are not forums. They are not places to have long drawn out arguments or conversations. They are places to ask necessary, answerable questions, and answer others in a similar fashion. If that is not what you want, seek elsewhere for those needs. We'll be here when you need what we offer. – zenbike May 4 '12 at 18:09
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    In addition, a question which is closed is accompanied by a comment explaining why, and usually with a link to the relevant policy. It is also accompanied by the suggestion to edit the question to allow it to be reopened. The goal is good questions which will be useful to you, and the wider SE community. – zenbike May 4 '12 at 19:40
  • I'm not just referring to only my question, but others as well (one closed because it was answered on outdoor.SE site which I would not have seen). 'Buried under'/the 'front page' argument doesn't seem to apply to a site with good search capabilities and a ranking system. I get that it's been asserted that the site becomes less useful, I'm wondering how. How can more answers to more questions, better ones ranked up and worse ones ranked down, with relevant tags and fast searching make SE 'less useful'? – Ehryk May 4 '12 at 20:20
  • In other words, why not vote them down but let them stand as bad examples, or stupid/subjective/policy violating, or questions not to ask for all to see? 'Bad' things can be very useful. Closing a question seems like burying science that doesn't agree with a hypothesis - even the science that goes 'wrong' furthers the overall understanding. – Ehryk May 4 '12 at 20:21
  • @Ehryk: A question shouldn't be closed because it was answered on a different SE site. Are you referring to the recent helmet lifespan question? That was migrated from outdoors.SE because the asker thought our site would be a better place to ask, and was then closed because we'd already answered that question pretty well. Now there's links that lead from the original outdoors.SE question to our existing answer. – freiheit May 4 '12 at 20:48
  • Right, and so seeing that now partially answers my question. I had initially thought it was closed because it was answered on outdoors.SE, but now I see that it was closed because it was already answered HERE, and it is more useful to direct traffic to the question that's been answered. In the case of exact duplicates or already answered questions, I now see the practical value of closing it. What's left is questions that aren't duplicates; they are bad for some of the reasons I listed above. Why not downvote them and leave them open as bad examples for others to learn from? – Ehryk May 4 '12 at 20:54

Suggested reading:

A year ago, Mark Trapp wrote what I want to write better than I can figure out how to right now, so:

To put it another way, when I go to the Meta Stack Overflow home page, I see a ton of questions. If most of those are terrible proposals with little to no indication that I'd be wasting my time by reading them, the value proposition of visiting and participating in Meta Stack Overflow is diminished: I have better things to do.

Basically, one of the goals here is to attract and retain subject matter experts. That is, get people that know bicycles and bicycling to stick around and continue providing awesome answers.

We close "bad" questions in order to not waste the time of our experts so that they continue to see the site as interesting and valuable to them. If they see that a question is closed they know it's got problems and might be a waste of their time to even look at it. An expert could always choose to go into a closed question, use comments to find out more or edit the question into something better and get the question reopened so that they can answer it, but they'd probably only do that if it's a specific topic they really care about.

And to be specific: I assume you're really asking about your lacing patterns question?

As your "twisted" example shows, there's a nearly limitless amount of possible lacing patterns. For any list of lacing patterns, somebody could probably create a new lacing pattern that would technically work and isn't already on the list. But there's relatively few that are really practical.

A practical, answerable question based on an actual problem that you face would be something more like "What lacing pattern should I use for this wheel?" (with a good detailed description of what you're trying to accomplish). Or perhaps "I'm looking at doing a 3-spoke crow's foot or 3 leading/3 trailing lacing pattern, what are the tradeoffs/benefits of picking one over the other?" (again, with plenty of detail)

  • Thank you for the more detailed explanation. I'm still not 100% on say, a closed bad question vs a question with a low negative score. I'd imagine that people would glean the same information off a score of say -5 or lower. Closing does make sense for duplicates, to not distract from the good one - is it just that closing takes less people to mark closed than people to downvote? Or that it MEANS something different? Or that it stops the asker from losing a bunch of rep? – Ehryk May 5 '12 at 7:41
  • It's all of the above. Closing a question prevents the loss of rep, but high negative scores shouldn't happen without voting to close. – zenbike May 5 '12 at 7:58
  • It means that enough people think it's not valuable for the site that it should be removed or re edited. – zenbike May 5 '12 at 7:59
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    Closing a question also prevents anyone from answering it. This is desirable because it allows us to edit a question without worrying that people will answer it while we're editing it - and that our edits won't invalidate the answers, or make the answers (to the pre-edited question) look silly or wrong. – Neil Fein May 5 '12 at 18:42

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