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8:03 PM
What I was thinking was that it would be a good idea to require someone closing as GR to give a URL where the answer can be found. (If it could be restricted to a designated whitelist of approved domains, even better.)
If it's so easy for the questioner to find the answer, it should be easy for a close voter to find the answer too.
@phenry not at present
@phenry I like this idea. However we do have a list of sources on the help page. It would be easy enough (I hope) to make a short list from which to choose, though.
@phenry we did discuss such a feature, with GR in mind - but the problem is, it does need a whitelist: otherwise, it becomes a "I found this somewhere on The Internet" close reason.
@medica - yeah, that's what I was thinking.
Once you have a whitelist, you could just put that list in the close reason itself (or link to it)
Ideally, this list should be very short anyway.
8:08 PM
I would encourage you all to consider some of the steps we at the Graphic Design community have taken. Such as Critique Guidelines: meta.graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/672/…
@Shog9 - unfortunately, at the present it's basically a "You may be able to find this on the Internet, or maybe not" close reason.
@phenry also, the list is too long
@Ryan That is a good suggestion, thanks.
And Font Identification question guidelines: meta.graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/1083/…
Might be better to start off with "this question can be answered by oxford english dictionary online", and expand as-needed... With debate for each addition.
8:10 PM
We also have this very useful resource we can direct people to or use to quickly find things:
Q: Are there guidelines for specific question types or references to review before asking a question?

ScottIs there a list of Frequently Asked Questions or common guideline questions which users can refer to with ease?

I believe it should be our policy to require that an answer be findable on a whitelisted reference source before the question can be closed as GR.
It would be best if the software could enforce that... but if it can't, it can't.
the above is our version of a "reference source"
@phenry One problem I've been taken to task for is that foreign users want a dictionary in their language.
@phenry nice thing about dups is, the system can verify that you're actually linking to an answered question - and it becomes really obvious if that question isn't really a duplicate. Free-form answers are harder.
@medica - that's an understandable want, but it's pretty much prima facie evidence that they should be asking on ELL instead, isn't it?
8:11 PM
@phenry I understand that, but it's not possible for us to do that.
@phenry Maybe that can be a stated reason for asking/migrating a question to ELL. We would need to talk to them about it, though.
A StacK Overflow analogy here would be "typo" questions - you don't really know if they're typo questions until you know the answer, so the close reason is effectively, "the answer ended up being 'fix your typo'"
@Shog9 - yeah, exactly. But if we require the contents of the field to be a valid URL (there must be 10,000 regexes on SO for validating URLs), that at least would prevent some amount of mischief.
@Shog9 We have a lot of those.
@phenry you could go further with that and restrict the URL to specific pages on whitelisted domains.
@Shog9 - bingo! :)
I guess someone who really hated the restriction could type "http://dictionary.com/aefadfasdf" or something like that. But good luck getting 4 other voters to go along with that.
8:15 PM
But eventually you're down to trusting folks to verify that the solution is actually accurate anyway, so the light-weight solution remains "only have a short list of valid GRs" and then educate folks on using them properly.
@Shog9 - That at least would be better than we have now.
I think you should start there at least.
2 hours ago, by Shog9
Q: Please help define the limits of General Reference

Shog9As mentioned here, the General Reference close reason is dead. In its place, I've added a custom "off-topic" option: Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references Like all of the cus...

OT reasons on EL&U could use some love. Y'all should not be trusting me to define what is on/off-topic here
Come to think of it, I tried to get this conversation started before.
Q: Proposal for narrowing the scope of the "reference" close vote

phenryI strongly disagree that "questions that can be answered using commonly available references" should be considered "off-topic" at all, but I can at least understand why someone would want to close questions that can be fully answered by trivially looking up a definition in an online dictionary, f...

...unless it's about those wretched single word request questions, in which case y'all should totally start listening to me.
Between those two meta questions, the community clearly seems to want something along these lines.
the question is, how do we move forward from here?
8:19 PM
I'll be honest on GD SE which is even smaller, meta posts to make site changes like a change to a particular Close Reason is nearly impossible to get a consensus on. Ultimately the moderators discussed it, and made the changes without community consensus. That might be the way forward for you all at this point as well.
@Ryan - except that the current crop of mods don't seem interested in addressing this issue.
@phenry then all you can do is meta post to advocate for it or mention it in your campaign and hope people agree enough to out vote the contemporaries
@phenry current crop of mods are somewhat over-taxed. Hence this election.
Not that this needs an election to go forward. Propose specific changes, and they're a lot more likely to be implemented.
If you get elected, you may have the chance to implement them yourself...
@Shog9 - the meta post I linked above is about as specific a recommendation as I could make it.
It currently sits at +12.
So far, crickets.
I don't have high hopes that I'm going to get elected. But maybe @medica will.
@phenry You never know, and if it does work out the way you say, I will value your input, I guarantee you.
8:28 PM
@medica - I appreciate that. You've got my vote (well, my second vote anyway).
@phenry :-) I'm glad to see you used your first vote wisely!
I think only real objection I have to the GR changes you are discussing is that there isn't a significant difference between looking up the answer so you can stick it in a field on the close reason and just answering the question.
I'd rather see things like Dictionary; Thesaurus listed
@MrHen I think looking it up oneself is tedious, but a quick link would be ideal.
@medica - what can I say - it's not often you get to vote for someone you really love. ;)
We can then offer standard links to Dictionaries and Thesauruses
8:30 PM
@phenry haha! Honestly!
@medica Maybe I'm not understanding the suggestion. How would one get the quick link?
@MrHen - To me, that's sort of the point. But then I'm a radical who doesn't believe in closing GR questions at all and I don't expect anyone to agree with me.
We do have a resourse for users to recommended likes. But they're hard to find, even for me at times. To have a quick reference to a dictionary or two, a thesaurus, etc., from which a closer must choose would be a boon to the OP.
@phenry I'd be okay with that if you volunteered to answer all of them.
And I can analogize it to closing as a duplicate - yes, you're closing the question, but at the same time you're providing an avenue for the person to actually get an answer to their question.
8:33 PM
@MrHen I used to actually do that. I'd link to a dictionary with the definition. It gets old.
@phenry exactly.
@medica That's how I answer all borderline GR questions or GR questions that don't get enough close votes.
FumbleFingers votes to close more questions than anyone, but to his credit he often includes a comment with a quick link to a dictionary. So at least the person gets an answer.
@phenry I actually dislike that. In my opinion, if an answer is posted it should be posted as an answer.
@phenry I also try never to close a question without a quick answer. I have to admit, I've been slacking a bit of late.
@MrHen Ah, yes, we've been here before. But then, others resent it.
@MrHen - well, I agree. But then, like I said, I'm a radical.
8:35 PM
Another thing I've noticed on here is terrible question titles case and point:
Q: Exotic English or not?

user80393I regularly read chess articles on chessbase.com and quite often I find myself struggling with the English they are using. Sometimes it just doesn't feel correct. OK, I am not a native English speaker so how can I judge... However, one sentence I have read today was just a bit too much for me and...

A link in a comment is better than nothing, is how I look at it.
@medica Other people resenting it isn't really relevant, though. The asker gets their answer and the answer is "filed" appropriately. :P
Or the many, many, "Is this grammar correct?"
@Ryan Yes. I edit those out whenever I touch up a question.
Leaving questions with bad titles makes it hard for newcomers to find things
8:35 PM
@MrHen the only problem I have with that is it encourages other "lazy" questions.
@Ryan Yes. It also makes finding duplicates harder.
If they get their answer, why not come back again?
@medica No more than answering in a comment would.
@medica They still got an answer.
I would argue that having one's question closed is pretty discouraging, if that's the goal.
@MrHen agreed, but we could close the question and delete it later is it's trivial.
8:37 PM
@medica If it is trivial, then an answer-in-answer is still better than an answer-in-comment.
@phenry Whether the question is closed and whether it is answered and whether that answer is put in an answer or a comment are three separate issues.
@phenry Ideally, a question that is closed, in my opinion, should be an example to others exactly what is not an acceptable question.
People like to tie the issue together, which is fine, but they should still be called out as different things.
It is discouraging to get a question closed.
@medica And it is encouraging to get it answered.
Hi everyone
8:38 PM
If anyone wants to tap off a question english.stackexchange.com/questions/110150/… I'm just waiting for someone to post Xenophile as an answer instead of a comment :\
@Farooq Hi!
So... should we completely discourage bad questions? Or partially discourage and encourage?
@Farooq Hello. :)
@MrHen - so what are you arguing in favor of? Deliberately punishing GR askers by not giving them an answer anywhere?
@MrHen I actually would like to discourage bad questions.
@phenry No. I think that GR questions should be closed iff they can be resolved by using a dictionary or thesaurus. Ideally, we can link people directly to a dictionary or thesaurus that is easy to understand and use. While the question is being closed, I have no qualms with people answering the question if they feel like it but I would prefer they answer it with an answer instead of a comment.
8:40 PM
@MrHen at the same time, I don't want people to leave with a bad impression of us.
@medica Then what is your opinion on answering "bad" questions before the community has fully closed something?
@medica So which "want" is more important? ;)
I want to close, but be clear on why it's closed, and render assistance if possible.
@medica Are you okay with answering a question that is probably going to get closed?
(Generally speaking; exceptions always exist.)
@MrHen I am not overly fond of poor answers.
@medica So, answer if you can answer without devolving into a "bad" answer?
8:42 PM
@MrHen Often poor questions get poor, almost useless answers.
@phenry, did I adequately answer your question?
@MrHen - In addition to wanting people to get answers to their questions, I'm also interested in discouraging overly cavalier close votes.
@MrHen That would be ideal, but we can't control users who want 10 rep points from sneaking a bad answer in there.
Voting to close someone's question is an inherently unfriendly act: you're telling them that they've failed at something and as a result we're not going to help them.
Sometimes that's necessary, don't get me wrong.
@medica You can downvote bad answers, obviously. But aside from that, I'm not sure I see the inherent problem with rep farmers posting answers.
8:44 PM
@phenry Yes. It is. And that's why I would like to do so with the utmost consideration for the OP.
But for something like GR, the whole point of which is that it's supposedly sooo easy to find the answer on the web, I would like to see the close voter demonstrate that they did those five seconds of due diligence.
@phenry Sure. Do you think that GR for only dictionary and thesaurus questions is an acceptable compromise?
@phenry I think it is incorrectly interpreted as an inherently unfriendly act. Closing a question isn't actually a statement about that user. I posted an OpEd meta question on this once. Let me see if I can find it.
@MrHen - I think it could be.
Q: Closing is not bad

MrHen Note: This is partially a work in progress, I guess. It is more of a thought dump on the subject because I see a lot of negative reactions to something I consider a good thing. All thoughts, comments, criticisms are welcome. I don't have any plans for this. Typically, people react poorly to ...

Although I changed my profile picture why on 'chat' it is my old one??
8:46 PM
In my opinion, we need to figure out how to make the closing less of a negative message.
@Farooq How long ago did you change it?
I uploaded my own photo
@MrHen I agree, but it is still hard on the OP.
Ten mins ago
Another peeve I have is "What's the difference between word X and word Y" questions getting closed as GR even when the questioner explicitly says they looked at the dictionary definitions for both words and don't understand the difference.
@medica I think we should make it less hard. Part of that is quickly identifying why the question was closed and how the user can resolve the issue so it can be reopened.
8:47 PM
@Farooq when you edited your profile did you click the button that made your edit systemwide?
@medica Yes. And can anyone see my new 'own' photo?
@MrHen - Just because someone doesn't mean to be unfriendly doesn't mean they don't come across as unfriendly.
@phenry I think this would cause too much burnout. I lived that life once on ELU and it is pretty tedious.
@MrHen good position. But many users don't want to do that.
@phenry I can understand that.
@Farooq It can take time to propagate through all of the servers.
8:48 PM
@Farooq I see a mountain.
@phenry Correct. And it's why I think we need to focus a lot of attention on making it feel more like how we intended it to feel.
@medica We don't need everyone to do it. We just need a critical number to do it and all of the other users to stop messing it up.
@MrHen - The nice thing is that there's no shortage of potential answerers who are willing to do things like that. It doesn't have to be you or me.
@Farooq yes, I see your picture on your profile page. Try it again, and make sure you click system wide, not just save my changes.
8:50 PM
@MrHen that's the miracle I hope for.
@phenry There is a balance to strike. Back when I was first active, the number of low effort questions was so high it was causing quite a bit of burnout across most of the regular contributors. GR, Too Narrow and Proofreading cut that down quite a bit. But now we may have cut too deep and need to ease off a bit.
@MrHen - We have a total of 37 unanswered questions on our site right now. Stack Overflow has 1.7 million. Questions going unanswered is not a problem we have.
@phenry The point being, there was at one point such a shortage. But ELU has changed since then so it may be time to reevaluate the issue.
@phenry Right, because we solved the problem. ;)
@MrHen - Excellent! Now it's time to move on to the next problem. No need to keep solving the same problem over and over.
8:52 PM
@phenry you need to understand that MrHen is in a large part responsible for that.
To be clear, I'm not so much disagreeing with your intent. I'm just trying to add a little bit of backstory and hopefully explain why there is a lot of resistance to revoking things like GR.
@medica - And I am very respectful of that, in addition to being aware that it has been a challenging task.
@phenry We have more than 37, by the way. english.stackexchange.com/unanswered shows 161.
I find that list to be the best representation.
It's a continuing problem, but I really hope having 3 more mods will ease the workload nd make everyone more amenable to discussion.
the big number says 37 for me.
8:54 PM
@phenry Well, part of what you are suggesting partially undoes what many to consider to be the solution. :P
@medica Well I guess mountain pic is better than my pic anyway:D
@Farooq lol!
@phenry Oh, you are looking at "No answers". Switch it to something else.
@Farooq sorry about that!
There are a ton of questions that have answers with no upvotes.
8:54 PM
@medica Seriously?? haha
oh, I see. It still ain't 1.7 million.
(Which can quickly be resolved by upvoting. Which we should do. But I can't because most of those are my answers.)
@phenry Correct.
And I am very proud of that.
as you should be.
@MrHen - Why do you think it will undo that work?
@Farooq This chat is actually for election questions. Do you have anyof those? there are four candidates here right now.
And I think we can use that number to tune the close reasons a bit.
8:56 PM
I have a question.
@KitFox Great!
@medica Yeah I voted for you and two others
@Farooq :-)
For the record, I voted for all of you.
8:57 PM
@phenry The perception is that things like GR let us filter out the tedious, burnout causing questions that come through each day. I haven't taken a hard look at that data in a while so I don't have a strongly formed opinion. I wanted to clear out the Unanswered queue before taking the issue head on.
@KitFox ?! How could you do that?
@KitFox All four of us, eh? Cheater.
moderators is special peoples.
No, all nine of you.
8:58 PM
we get three times the votes of the mundanes.
I voted for Matt and phenry too
Thank you @Farooq !
@KitFox You weren't on the list
Or rather, you all only count for two-fifths of the mod vote.
8:59 PM
@Farooq You have been responsible in your duties!
@phenry Welcome:P
@Farooq I'm a mod already.
@KitFox At least we avoided the 3/5ths awkwardness.
@medica I know right:D
@KitFox Hi Mod
8:59 PM
@MrHen - Don't we have enough people who would love to get some rep off of those questions that high-rep people don't have to bother with them? A true GR question doesn't last 5 minutes on this site before someone answers it.

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