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Why do Q&A board moderators close economics questions?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a personal attack, not an economics question. $\endgroup$
    – Kitsune Cavalry Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ @KitsuneCavalry Which begs the question: what are the economics of personal attacks? :P $\endgroup$
    – Shane
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Who is the person? It's a behavior, attributed to actors. $\endgroup$
    – imonaboat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ It's a personal attack on every moderator, including those not involved in this nonsense. $\endgroup$
    – Kitsune Cavalry Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ @imonaboat By upvoting this question before voting to close it I score points for two different kinds of badges. Clearly my objective in life is to collect badges. If there is a problem I know it is not my fault because there is no badge for introspection. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ This question is about economics.SE, not economics. The relevant site for the quesiton is therefore meta.economics.stackexchange.com and I have migrated it. Also, it might help if you edit the question to link to specific questions that you think should not have been closed. $\endgroup$
    – Ubiquitous
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 22:26

3 Answers 3

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As one of the site's three moderators, I can say that the simple answer to your question is that the moderation team closes questions that are not on topic according to the stack exchange community's agreed guidelines. The economics portion of these guidelines can be viewed in the site help center, while the more general guidelines primarily involve asking a question that has a definite answer (is not opinion based), is not a duplicate, and is sufficiently clear as to be undersandable to the site's users.

It is important to note that moderators close very few questions. For example, in the last three months only 13 questions have been closed by the site's moderation team (about 2% of all questions on the site).

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Questions are almost always closed (if at all) by voting among the community's ordinary members rather than by moderator intervention. Closed questions are initially put 'on hold', meaning that there is the opportunity to edit questions in a manner that makes them consistent with the community's guidelines, at which point they will be reopened. If you believe that a question has been wrongfully closed then you can flag it for the attention of a moderator. I can speak for the whole moderation team in saying that we have an open mind to including a very broad range of questions—both technical and non-technical, and from experts and laymen. We only require that questions are on topic and conform to some minimum standard of quality.

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There is absolutely way too much censoring of questions by the moderators. There is nothing hurt by leaving a "bad question" up and the community already has the means to tell/vote the initial poster why their question was poorly formulated. When a moderator censors a question, they are making the forum more about them and not the community.

Many "bad questions" actually aren't bad at all, but rather are different and unorthodox. These offer economists ways to think outside of their box and mathematical formulas and instead offer thoughtful conceptual explanations to the public. Even "bad questions" are learning experiences for others who find these topics.

The other main excuse to shut down threads has been that it is a "duplicate". God forbid that you don't read every question ever posted on the forum and google every variation you can think of. In many cases the proclaimed duplicate isn't that or has nuanced differences that are very important but are not readily visible to the trigger happy moderator. Again the community already can suggest to the OP that their question has been answered elsewhere and there is no need to go to the extreme to shut down a thread that somebody invested a lot of interest in.

TRUE moderation should be for advertisements, porn and other graffiti. Not poorly stated questions.

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    $\begingroup$ Whats an example of a question which was not bad, just different that ended up being closed? $\endgroup$
    – Jamzy
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 4:31
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Moderators score points answering questions that use the axioms and rules of economics textbooks. Since they know these axioms and rules well, it is beneficial to their Q&A score to not allow such impractical questions. By deterring such questions with down votes, the community of moderators is protected in their status and the benefits they gain of this status.

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    $\begingroup$ This is first and foremost an academic site, so if you're good with that kind of thing, sure, you'll get a lot of points. That doesn't mean we don't tackle other kinds of questions, but it's on you to be able to clearly communicate them. If the majority of this community can't understand how to approach your questions because they're poorly worded or they clearly violate the rules, then that's on you. We're glad to try and help, but don't pretend like this is an issue of privilege. $\endgroup$
    – Kitsune Cavalry Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ It's not just my question. Moderators jump too fast on such questions that others might find interesting. $\endgroup$
    – imonaboat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ It is my experience that posts are not simply closed frivolously. Posts are typically closed because they have nothing to do with economics, they are a duplicate of a previous question, or they are ambiguously worded or difficult to understand. The third reason is typically addressed without closing the post as long as the person posing the question is willing to clarify. If your question gets closed its not the moderators fault. They are trying to filter out questions which fail to further the economics knowledge of the sites members. If your question gets closed, that's on you. $\endgroup$
    – DornerA
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ That is the narrow mindedness I am referring to. I read in The Economist somewhere last year that there is very little that is not studied by economists. They published a number of articles on the economic facets of prostitution for example. $\endgroup$
    – imonaboat
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ @imonaboat Sorry, but I don't think it's "narrow minded" to filter out questions which fail to further the economics knowledge of the site members. That's what this site is for. If you're simply interested in discussing economics topics without any regard to the academic component, there are plenty of other forums to cater to that. $\endgroup$
    – rocinante
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 23:37

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