fyi this question "A question on the very essence of “theoretical computer science”" is asked in a really flippant and near sarcastic way, no question, but it inspired some decent/high-voted responses by high-rep users including Peter Shor who has his own wikipedia page. it was unilaterally closed by an unnamed moderator(?).

now, dont really want to hassle over individual questions much [its really not worth the hassle], but just wanted to tip off anyone in case they hadnt noticed that its closed. also, there appears to be no way to vote to reopen it because its been migrated from cstheory(?). and apparently, those closed questions are somewhat "aggressively" deleted around here. so, expect it to be deleted in not-too-long too.

am not really disagreeing with all this, partly because the behavior of answering questions without upvoting them has never made much sense to me.

also, if anyone wants to give it a shot, maybe the question can be edited to fix it somehow. dont really have a good idea myself. to me the tone of the question is tightly coupled to its original intent.

note theres an obscure stackexchange gold badge called reversal "Provided answer of +20 score to a question of -5 score." ie stackexchange regards it as valuable to attempt to "rescue" poorly voted questions with high voted answers. but its impossible to achieve if low-voted questions are quickly closed or deleted by moderators. indeed, it has 0 winners on this site, and even on cstheory also.

so if nobody cares about the question [as votes already indicate], am mainly bringing this up just to point out a case of policy/dynamics of this site that might be helpful for anyone else interested in understanding it.

to me there is some small )( value in the question in what in science is called "background or motivation", which speaks to the raison d'etre or zeitgeist of CS & the site, and for opportunity for respondents to exercise high-mindedness with not replying to a sarcastic question with sarcastic answers. also, frankly, it really annoys me when any questions are closed or deleted that Ive personally participated/contributed on in any way eg voting/commenting/editing/answering etc., especially the way they can vaporize without any trace or record to individual users.

its always surprised me how much zeal moderators have to close/kill various questions, which seem harmless, when in fact the main route to this stackexchange sites is search engines. (it would be interesting to track how many 404's come up due to search engines triggering on deleted posts.) they say they are preserving the "signal to noise" ratio of the site, but in some ways at the expense of traffic/participation etc.

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    $\begingroup$ In the second-to-last paragraph, you finally get to the point. I have a simple solution for you: don't participate in bad/off-topic questions. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael Mod
    Jun 15, 2013 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


The question was closed by a named moderator who also left a comment explaining the closure.


It is not very clear what you're after with your question. You seem to be essentially ranting against science, and you're not getting any answer beyond “no, science is good”. I don't see any point in leaving this question open; it might be salvaged by a major edit, but I would suggest a different venue that is more conducive to discussions. In a questions and answers format, this is clearly not working.

In a nutshell, that's no question, it's a rant. A discussion starter at best.

Since the question was an incoming migration, closing it automatically locks it. If the question has to be edited or reopened, that should happen on the original site.

A moderator can disassociate the question from the incoming migration, which unlocks it. We'd have to have a good reason for it, and I fail to see one.

The user who asked this question hasn't come back to Stack Exchange (neither CSTheory nor CS) since even before the migration. It's likely that he won't be back. There's little value in editing the question at this point; if you're interested in the topic, ask a new question that's better written and more focused.

The reversal badge is very hard to get outside Stack Overflow and its meta site. Super User has 2, Server Fault has 4 (two of which are for now-deleted questions). It's normal for a site with less traffic to have none.

I am, like you, saddened that moderators bear the brunt of the closing of question, but for a different reason. I wish more of the community would participate in the moderating. Closing bad questions is part of what makes Stack Exchange a good repository of content. We curate our content. If you never throw anything away, you don't get a nice place, you get a mess.

There's something about the dynamics of the site that you clearly don't understand. Increasing the number of open questions does not increase traffic. To increase traffic, you need content that interests people. Furthermore, Stack Exchange is centered around questions and answers about a specific topic. Concentrating on a specific topic helps in making questions reach competent answerers (which improves answer quality) and voters (which improves peer review). We close questions that cannot get a good, vetted answer, either because they are about a topic that requires an expertise we don't have, or because they are not suited to questions and answers format. That way, when people discover a link to a Stack Exchange question, there's a good chance that there will be good content behind that link. That chance is a lot lower for uncurated sites. The signal to noise ratio does not come at the expense of useful participation, it boosts it.

  • $\begingroup$ re your comment on the q-- saw your comment, but it didnt specifically say you closed the question. now see the stackexchange indicator. actually imho it is moderators who dont seem to know that much about what drives search engine traffic to the site, or care, yet it is the lifeblood of stackexchange business model. every undeleted question is a separate page that is indexed by search engines and leads to more hits. as for users closing/deleting questions, maybe they dont feel the strong need to, and maybe thats something to think about! agree with throwing away some! who is "we"? moderators? $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Jun 14, 2013 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @vzn Gilles explained that more hits are not necessarily better. Yahoo answer probably gets many hits, but I have (so far) only found useless garbage there. So I don't go there anymore. That's not what we (the (CS.)SE community) want. Just like Gilles explained. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael Mod
    Jun 15, 2013 at 15:19

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