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What makes this closed question less worthy than this very similar question that did not get closed?

Both questions are broad and open ended yet one gets a load of upvotes and the other gets shut down. I personally can't see a point in closing either of these questions, but the lack of consistency here, is confusing.

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    $\begingroup$ Policies change. We generally don't go back and close old questions. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Apr 14 '13 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ It's worth noting that the question got reasked in a more productive form here: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/61650/… $\endgroup$ – Adam Lear Apr 24 '13 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Shog9, only if you have time I'd be happy if you could have a look at this discussion here, as well as that, that, that, and related discussion. My disagreement with the hardcore enforcement of changed rules against study material and reference questions (even against specific and well defined not at all open ended ones, which are things so importand for academic communities) brought me in trouble some weeks ago as you have probably see $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jun 6 '13 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Shog9, I have to admit that I did probably not always correctly act too in these discussion, because I got very very upset and worried from time to time ... :-/. However, I would appreciate your view as a neutral not involved observer. Even though I still think (and from the discussions I linked to I think I am not the only one) well define not open ended study matrial and research paper questions should be allowe, that have not just a link as answers but expert explanations too, I tried to edit close questions to be focused more on the phyics content. But this did not work, not a single one $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jun 6 '13 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ got reopend. So I will wait now with editing closed question until I'll have the power to state a reopen vote together with the improving edit. Reopen flags are pretty pointless in this context. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jun 6 '13 at 19:32
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I think we should reconsider if the old standard, where some reasonable (not too broad and open ended) educational questions and well defined (by topic, level, targetted audience) and localized questions about study material / references were accepted, is not still reasonable and appropriate for our site. Why do this policies have to change after all, who is/are the drive(r) behind this?.

From observeations during the past few months I got the impression that the driver behind these changes towards new policies is in particular David Zaslavsky (who for some reason has always been against any study material / educational questions, which is his personal right but is this attitude a good one as a moderator), Manishearth who strongly represents the overal SE point of view, and a few other people (some are not even physicists), such as EnergyNumbers who are more interested in policies and installing new rules then learning physics themself.

So I strongly doubt that these "new standards", which are orthogonal to the original much more reasonable and helpful policies and rules physics SE followed up to some months ago and which worked well for almost two years, are what the large majority of the community wants. The much more restrictive and intolerant "new standards", which look almost hostil towards people interested in learning new physics topics, are absolutely not needed.

May claim thatwhat David Zaslavsky and just a few very vocal people are doing is does not have to be what the whole community (including the many people who are exclusively active on the main page because they are interested only in learning physics, instead of policies and therefore hardly ever look on meta or chat) is suported by the changing results when looking at this question and the fact that people ofte disagree on the main page with the current null tolerance policies. Other people seem now to be are no chiming in at EnergeNumbers post by voting and posting, that are more active on the main page and have therefore seen it only recently. One can see that there is no community consensus towards the by a few people advocated "new standards" at all. The whole thing has become some kind of a "ruling meta community" against the "main page physics community" issue, since many people active on the main page consider things powerful meta people want to dissalow still useful and essential to studying and researching physics.

The worst thing one can do now is (what unfortunately seems to have been started by the advocates of new policies) going back and closing all these good and helpful questions, that were very valuable once and are appreciated as very helpful by most people learning physics still today. Instead, people in power should refrain or stop hardcore enforcing these "new standards", which may not be supported by the large majority of the community (including people active only on the main page!), by hardcore null tolerance policies until the consensus is really settled.

I personally think that these "new standards", which make the site much less helpful and partly even hostil towards people interested in seriously learning physics, are not needed at all. Everything has been well with the original much more reasonable and helpful point of view and policies until recently and I dont see a reason why these things absolutely have to change. In my opinion there is none.

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    $\begingroup$ Upvoting this answer can be used by people to express that they are not happy with the "new standards" some moderators and other people are advocating too; I have written it partly for this purpose. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 14 '13 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ I am afraid the anonymous voting is not a good idea. How do we know if people who do not use the main site have voted against. For example how do I know that people from other SE sites don't visit the meta sites to vote? Also there will be many active on main that don't come here. $\endgroup$ – MBN Apr 14 '13 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @MBN yes, that is exactly my point among other things :-/... The "meta community" does not have to consist of the same people who want to do and learn physics at the main page and I fear it is exactly as you describe it. The site is too much governed by only a few powerful people who want to change the once reasonable and helpful policies by all means and people (from other parts of the network maybe) who do not use the main page much. They vote against everything that has been and still is useful for and appreciated by real students and researchers. They are here since the elections ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 14 '13 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ Too many people active only on the main page are not even aware of these discussion here, so they correspondingly have absolutely no saying about the need for a change in policies or the hardcore and zero tolerance enforcement of the by some people advocated and prefered "new standard". They just have to suffer it ... It has become some kind of an "ruling meta community" agains "main page physics community" issue, since many people active on the main page consider things powerful meta people want to dissalow still useful and essential in studying and researching physics ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 14 '13 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Barefeg David Zaslavsky, Manishearth and others who want to completely disallow them call such any study material/reference question now "recomandation question" which the SE network says are not allowed. But I would bet a large amount of money that the real intent of SE by this is rather to prevent commercial shoping advertisements than to prevent that on science sites, researchers and students can ask about research papers and study material they nead to do research and learn physics. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 15 '13 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ I think it would be a minor issue for the SE people to implement that certain tags give no rep if needed. But it is not as easy as increasing the amount of rules and restriction. Making stupid edits which have nothing to to with physics gives 2 rep points too. and non physics edit are much less useful than good advice about study material and references. So in my opinion this skewing rep thing is just another bad pretext to justify bad rules and policies they want to operate network wide and which are harmful to some sites. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 15 '13 at 12:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton, you have a good point about the rep from edits, and yes, it's easier to implement policies instead of actually adding more features, although in this case it'd probably take half an hour to modify the code. $\endgroup$ – Prastt Apr 15 '13 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Barefeg the main problem with recommendation questions is that they're basically opinion polls. They accumulate a list of possible answers without providing any real basis for identifying which answer is better. The Stack Exchange system does not support that. It's all about separating right answers from wrong answers, and there are no right or wrong answers to a recommendation question. Also, they're easy to ask, which means they can overwhelm other questions if we're not careful. $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 15 '13 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky, I guess it depends on how the question is asked. If you ask what is a good/the best book for X topic, then the answer is based on opinion, and as you said, there's no better answer. However, if you ask what books cover X topic? then there's only correct answer, namely the list of all of those books which cover X topic. In very introductory topics the number of books can be large (though finite) but in more specialized ones not so much. A problem could be that the list is incomplete, but that also happens on "valid" Q/A in which case another user completes the answer. $\endgroup$ – Prastt Apr 15 '13 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ Notice that here I'm thinking as a more "advanced physics student" so it might be more useful for people in similar situations, unlike someone with no physics background who wants to "know about general relativity" for example in which case the list would be incredibly long. $\endgroup$ – Prastt Apr 15 '13 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Barefeg (2 comments up) yes, exactly. If someone did ask for a comprehensive list of all books about a given subject, that's not so bad. But pretty much nobody ever asks that question. The book recommendation questions we get in practice are mostly along the lines of "What's a good book I can read to learn about X?" or "Could someone point me to some references about X?" (which is kind of the same thing). $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 15 '13 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ There is (or at least should not be) anything wrong with people who want to enter a new advanced subject or topic asking experts already working in the field here about their authoritative and respected by the particular physics community opinion about the best way to get started. Subjective is the wrong term, I guess most people asking for such references are not expecting subjective answers based on personal opinion everybody who has no clue could post, but well founded authoritative pointers to relevant and reliable study material from experts already working in the field. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 15 '13 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't even answer the question, yet gets accepted as correct. $\endgroup$ – Larry Harson Apr 18 '13 at 2:21
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    $\begingroup$ @LarryHarson it answers the question by saying it is wrong to close any of the two questions because the policies should not have been changed. Therefore it is a valid accepted answer, you should not try to tell people how thy should vote or what they have to accept in such a political discussion. Everybody can decide himself how he wants to vote (and what to accept) in the same way as in the context of an election. Ron has been driven away for telling people how they should think about a political issue, namely how to vote in an election, so enforcing an opnion about the issue on the OP $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 18 '13 at 4:35
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    $\begingroup$ Who made these ridiculous, unsupported policies anyway? Or is that another question altogether? $\endgroup$ – Magpie Apr 19 '13 at 21:11
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Two and a half years of evolution in site policy.

The open question was asked in November 2010, early in our beta period, when the site was undergoing its initial burst of activity and its scope was still very much in flux. So it got a bunch of upvotes and then got forgotten. Since we don't go back and review old questions for closure, it just sat there until you noticed it.

The question falls far short of being appropriate on the site according to our modern standards, and accordingly I've closed it.

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  • $\begingroup$ While you are at it physics.stackexchange.com/questions/35243/… $\endgroup$ – Magpie Apr 14 '13 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ and physics.stackexchange.com/questions/5508/… $\endgroup$ – Magpie Apr 14 '13 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ and physics.stackexchange.com/questions/20093/… (you edited a few of these by the way). $\endgroup$ – Magpie Apr 14 '13 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ and physics.stackexchange.com/questions/5819/… $\endgroup$ – Magpie Apr 14 '13 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ and physics.stackexchange.com/questions/10325/… $\endgroup$ – Magpie Apr 14 '13 at 3:44
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    $\begingroup$ These are all more recent. I would say they should still be closed, but they should accumulate some close votes or additional flags from the community first. (Except for the book recommendation question, for now - book recommendations fall under a special exemption while we transfer their information to the tag wikis.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 14 '13 at 3:46
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    $\begingroup$ By all means, continue to flag them, but we're trying to make it so that when a question has to be closed, the community is more likely to do it without moderator intervention. That means we (mods) need to back off closing things. So I refrain from closing certain types of questions unless they get a couple of close votes from other users. $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 14 '13 at 3:51
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    $\begingroup$ You just said "The question falls far short of being appropriate on the site according to our modern standards, and accordingly I've closed it." a few minutes ago when you closed a question with 12 votes. What involvement did the community have then? $\endgroup$ – Magpie Apr 14 '13 at 3:56
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    $\begingroup$ None, why? Is your goal to improve the site or to catch the moderators in a trap? That older question was a lot more inappropriate than the newer ones, and besides closing about 10 old questions is a much bigger deal than just one. $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 14 '13 at 4:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Magpie It's not priority to close old questions, we worry more about new ones. Old ones are more or less static -- they don't get many more votes and answers. Currently, mods need to close questions with the binding vote too much, ideally the community should close stuff and we only deal with the exceptional cases. So we're leaving many of the closes to the community. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Apr 14 '13 at 4:06
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Magpie it is not right that the community has absolutely no saying in this unilateral zero tolerance enforcement of the "new standard", which may not even be supported by the majority of the "main page community" after all. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 14 '13 at 9:05
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose I am "trapping you" into making wild accusations as well, am I? $\endgroup$ – Magpie Apr 15 '13 at 8:04
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky I guess accepting the other answer means that there are many people indeed in the community who disagree whith the enforcement of unneeded and unasked for changes in policies on the whole community by a small group of powerful people. Many people disagree with you and some other people doing this without the community having a say about it. That you now go back and close good and valuable questions does make it not better, on the contrary... You and the mentioned small group of people are blatantly acting against the will of the community of physics students and researchers. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Apr 15 '13 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ @magpie why didn't you accept this as the correct answer since it answers your question? $\endgroup$ – Larry Harson Apr 18 '13 at 2:23
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Dilaton . That is, I am puzzled. So, I am here to ask, 4 years after the last comment: Has this policy changed? Even a little bit? What is this policy exactly and why do we have it? $\endgroup$ – Physicist137 Jun 25 '17 at 17:30

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