I had recently asked the following question: Uniform discrete physical theories (now closed and auto-deleted as RemoveAbandonedClosed; screenshot).

And the question was closed without any comments whatsoever. The reason cited was that it was too broad. I don't see how this is a broad question, as I was very specific: Are there physical theories such that space-time is discrete, isotropic, and uniform. How is that not specific. Furthermore, I made it very clear that I am a philosophy student so I may simply lack the ability to use the precise physics language. I have very little experience with physics, and I was under the impression that this was a place to learn and ask questions. If the question is poorly phrased, it seems there should be some effort to help me format the question better so that it is appropriate for the site rather than jumping to close the question. It was closed in no time, this seems rather juvenile.

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    $\begingroup$ While I do agree that this question is difficult, due to it being quite clearly a "list question," Qmechanic does seem to love to mod-hammer questions without explaining their actions. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 6:36

2 Answers 2


You're asking for a list of theories, which is a question without the potential of having a "correct" answer and is usually seen as too broad around here. See e.g. Good list, bad list and its linked questions for prior meta discussion of questions asking for lists

  • $\begingroup$ thank you! I appreciate the use of words.... closing without an explanation seems odd. On Stack Exchange Mathematics when a new user uses the page there is a reminder to "be nice" since the person may not be familiar with the customs .... it seems such practices are not a norm in the physics stack exchange $\endgroup$
    – Squirtle
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ It bears expanding on this to say that questions getting closed by a single person is not particularly anomalous -- that's what moderators (and, occasionally, gold badges) are for. When it's not obvious whether questions are off-topic it is up to the community to vote (normally requiring five votes) but in slam-dunk cases like this one, unilateral moderator action is appropriate. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ As for "without explanation", it's unclear how that applies -- an explanation was provided. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I was under impression that was a generic pre-generated 'explanation'. I'm not sure how it is a 'slam dunk' example as I asked one question and one additional question which is more narrowly focused than the broader question .... to avoid being closed for being "too broad" (which is why it was officially closed). There are two question marks in my post... I'm not sure how you understand that to be "many" questions. $\endgroup$
    – Squirtle
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Squirtle I agree that a link to the post mentioned by ACuriousMind would have been more effective. (I suspect the moderator in question was overshooting, given this previous discussion.) But I find the claim that 'no explanation was provided at all' somewhat disingenuous, to be honest. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ Yes.... but I don't care that it's a list question, because I'm not looking for a "best" answer. I'm looking to get exposed to the various physical theories which have discrete, uniform, and possibly isotropic space-times. As a philosophy student, I'm not even sure where to begin to look.... so it honestly seems like people that could help are adhering to some arbitrary standard that doesn't help me to begin to start comparing these physical theories for myself. Would you respond "that sounds like a list question" and shut down the conversation if someone asked you this question in person? $\endgroup$
    – Squirtle
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Squirtle I'm afraid our site is not supposed to model an in-person conversation between a few people. We want objective questions that can in principle have unique correct answers according to currently accepted physics. This does leave out a lot of potentially interesting questions - we're not saying that questions we close here are always bad questions, we're just saying they're a bad fit for the Q&A model of this site. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. You should change this practice... but I appreciate your comment (and answer on the question Emilio linked)... I agree that votes are not "personal". I must point out, however, "correct" seems suspicious since there is no certainty in the observable sciences which do not rely on a priori reasoning. It's hard for me to imagine how any of physics can truly be objective.... it is not mathematics ..... $\endgroup$
    – Squirtle
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Squirtle - the practice that you want changed is in fact the very core of the StackExchange model. So, no, it isn't going to get changed. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ ... and, to be honest, this site is probably above the SE average for technical sites in accepting list-type questions. As for philosophical blathering about correctness, that's a red herring - there's a clear standard of correctness on this site, distinct from that in use on maths SE, and that's the standard to be used here. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ Though, that said, I think the question at issue can probably be brought to a firm that's on-topic, by editing it into a form that sets explicit criteria for what would constitute an answer that makes clear that a single instance would be sufficient. If all you need is a single specific instance, ask that; if you need a comprehensive listing, make a reference request for a review. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ I do not understand why the "Good List, Bad List" post is being used to support mod-closing of list questions. The purpose of that post was the exact opposite - I wanted to formulate a policy where some "good" list questions would be allowed - and the discussion never led to any kind of consensus. $\endgroup$
    – N. Virgo
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 21:06

The “single person” who closed your question is a moderator who is intentionally empowered to close questions unilaterally.

The Edit link is still there after the question is closed, but the edit history shows that you have not made use of it. May I ask why not? If you will excuse my saying so, it seems that you prefer to complain that the moderator is being “juvenile” rather than comply with their advice. Moderating is an often thankless job and moderators should not be abused simply for doing their job.

If you edit your question to meet the expectations of the site, then members can vote to reopen it. I assume that a moderator can unilaterally reopen it as well.

As far as I understand the policies of the site, it is not the moderator’s job, or anyone else’s, to help you compose an acceptable question. That is your job. The same rule applies to all members, regardless of whether they are physicists or not.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you a moderator... if so, when I edit the question (hopefully tomorrow) I hope to see it get reopened. As to why I haven't edited it yet,.... in my experience once a question is closed editing will not get it reopened. $\endgroup$
    – Squirtle
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 2:56
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    $\begingroup$ I’m not. You can tell who is a moderator by whether there is a diamond next to their name. $\endgroup$
    – G. Smith
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Squirtle I've seen many questions get reopened after being edited. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 22:22

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