Does the policy of this site encourage killing a question by putting it "on hold" indefinitely, rather than making the simple change requested? I ask this, because in my very short time on this site, I've seen a lot of questions put "on hold" in an inconsistent manner, that makes me wonder if the moderators are really acting as objectively about the rules as they pretend to.

Take this question I asked which was put "on hold" by moderator David. David put my question on hold because I used the word "individuals" which he felt made the question too broad. Rather than simply remove the word "individuals", he decided that the best thing he could do to help this site would be to write a 108 word response explaining why the use of the word "individuals" was not appropriate and then proceed to put the entire question "on hold".

I made the question narrower by saying that the belief should be in a published source and notified David of the change, asking if there is anything more I could do. Also, "individuals" has since been removed by another user, but the question still remains "on hold".

Now, I understand that there are some questions which would require significant effort on the part of moderators to correct, so putting them "on hold" is the best that can be done. However, in this case, the moderator spent the time to write 6 sentences explaining why he was putting the question "on hold" because he took issue with a single word in my question.

Is this sort of behavior in line with the policies of this site? If so, it strikes me as very non-productive behavior, as it discourages new users of this site tremendously. For instance, this was only my second question on this site, and because David put it on hold, a message came up saying that if I messed up on my 3rd question, I might be blocked from the site permanently.

Get one word wrong in your question and we might ban you forever. Seems a little harsh, especially for a group of people who are apparently interested in discussing Christianity (i.e. "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.")


3 Answers 3


Thanks for bringing this up here! Here are a few thoughts on the moderation side of things first:

  • First, your question currently has four "reopen" votes: that is, four people with more than 3000 reputation have voted to reopen the question (taking it off "hold"). After one more does so, then the question will be open again.
  • Moderators tend to prefer to let this "community moderation" handle the closing and reopening of questions. They usually only unilaterally close/reopen in the obvious cases, and a question asking for individual interpretations is definitely obvious. Now that that part is gone, the community moderation is well on its way to reopening it.
  • As for a closed question leading to someone getting permanently blocked, I'll leave that to a moderator to answer, as I'm not familiar with the criteria for that.

Now, as for the editing side of things:

  • In general, we'd much rather teach you the "right" way to do things (at least, the "way we do things here"), as opposed to just fixing issues that we see. That does two things:
    • It makes you more knowledgeable, and more likely to ask better questions in the future
    • It prevents us from changing your question to something you didn't intend for it to say.

That last bullet is key: we very rarely know exactly what would (a) completely fix the question and (b) still be relevant to the person asking the question. Many users asking a question like yours do want to see "individual" interpretations, because they think this is a discussion board. In those cases, "fixing" their question might seem like vandalism to them, while explanation would help them get a better grasp of what makes our site different.

Hopefully this helps. Don't get discouraged; new users regularly have their questions closed (it happened to me too!) as they are learning the ropes.

You might find this post helpful as well: Newcomers: Be patient. You will get there if you follow our direction. Keep trying.

  • Thank you for your reply. So in the few hours since I posted this, moderator David appears to have closed the question permanently. This seems odd to me, given that I made the changes he requested. In this case, I followed the direciton of the moderator, I asked if there was anything more I could do, and I still got my question shut down. Where should I proceed from here?
    – schulwitz
    Dec 10, 2015 at 20:08
  • @schulwitz I don't see any indication that the question is closed permanently: there are still four "reopen" votes, and only one more is needed to reopen the question. It's hard to predict if/when that last vote will be cast, but it normally happens within a day or so if it happens at all. Other than simply waiting, one thing you could do would be to leave a comment on the question making it clear that you are open to discussing more edits to the question if that would help get it reopened. Dec 10, 2015 at 20:18
  • @schulwitz Looking at the question again I see you did exactly that. Thanks! Let's wait and see what happens; thanks for your patience! Dec 10, 2015 at 20:22
  • Awesome thanks for your help. Btw, how are you seeing these reopen votes? I don't see this anywhere?
    – schulwitz
    Dec 10, 2015 at 20:26
  • 6
    @schulwitz It looks like you don't have quite enough reputation to see that counter: it's a privilege that you get with 250 rep. Dec 10, 2015 at 20:29
  • @schulwitz I think you should be able to see it on your own questions.
    – user3961
    Dec 11, 2015 at 3:59
  • 4
    @fredsbend That link I provided refers to "your own questions." The counters appear for all questions at 3000 rep. Dec 11, 2015 at 13:36

Nathaniel answered most of what you asked. I'll try to fill in the holes and stress a few of the more important points.

Very first, most important point: every action is reversible. Close votes have accompanying reopen votes. Even delete votes have undelete votes. Nothing is permanent.

Second: We're slow to assume what you want to ask because we might get it wrong, and have. The idea is to help you along and learn the site guidelines, instead of expecting someone to fix it for you.

These two points together work in powerful tandem. They might scare off a few people, but they also help produce strong, regular users.

Autobanning: it's a script, not a protocol. The Stack Exchange engine does that and none of us users or moderators have any control over it. One thing I do know: if you fix your previous questions then the script accounts for that, which is the primary goal. When you start getting that message, and most of us have at least once, try your best to get previously closed questions reopened or make sure your next question will be well received by getting help first in chat or on meta.

  • So what I'm still not sure about is where does that leave me on a question like the one I posted above? I made the changes requested, asked if there were any improvements I could make, and was still shut down with no response. How should one proceed from here?
    – schulwitz
    Dec 10, 2015 at 20:23
  • @schulwitz Your question, according to Nathaniel, is only one vote away from being reopened, so you mean hypothetically, what can you do if you can't get the questions reopened? Make sure your next one isn't closed. If you're already autobanned, then find out what you can do for your specific situation by posting on meta.
    – user3961
    Dec 10, 2015 at 20:34
  • 5
    Definitely, do not ever just reask the question. Fix the old ones first, if possible.
    – user3961
    Dec 10, 2015 at 20:37

When a question is off-topic, too broad, or too opinion based, there are usually multiple ways it could be improved. If the original question asker doesn't edit the question themselves, or at least give some indication in a comment about how they would like it changed, then we'll vote to put it on hold, even though it would be possible for us to edit it ourselves. We do it this way because edits are meant to always respect the original poster's intentions. If we don't know what approach the asker would like to take, then the question is put on hold. If they later edit it or explain how they'd like to change it, then we can open it again.

  • In this case, the question was put "on hold" and just recently "closed" because it was considered too broad. I accepted the suggestions of the moderator, made the changes he suggested to the question to make it narrower, asked if there was anything I could do to improve it, and still got my question closed. How would you suggest I proceed from here?
    – schulwitz
    Dec 10, 2015 at 20:15
  • 3
    @schulwitz Increased patience ;)
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Dec 11, 2015 at 1:33

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