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A brand new user has had their question closed.
Sure they didn't respond very quickly to requests asking to make the question more specific, but it looks like there was no "voting" that took place and the question was just closed by one moderator's unilateral decision.

I don't think this is a good way to treat brand new users.

I think we should wait until the question has the minimum 5 close votes. If the question really should be closed, why should the voting process be circumvented?

I appreciate that moderators have been given the power to close questions without waiting for votes (which I have issues with, especially when the moderators were appointed, not elected, pro tempore moderators who were chosen extremely early when there were only a few users who knew about this SE), but can we have a policy not to use this power when dealing with brand new users?

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Those who can't see deleted threads may view the cached version here. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Oct 23 '18 at 10:57
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First things first, Blue's answer hits the nail on the head:

Let's just keep in mind that we should not judge a post (positively or negatively) based on the person who has posted it. The rules for the regular users and new users should be the same as far as a minimum question standard is concerned.

Where we can and should (and I do try to) be more lenient1 is in the comments, which I've put an image of below:

enter image description here

If you've got any suggestions about how I can "be more lenient" in the comments, I'll gladly listen (bearing in mind that there's only a limited amount of space and I don't think writing essays at newcomers is a good idea). However, what I see here is a comment with 4 upvotes asking the OP to be more specific (yes, one of which is mine). They did then link to a blog post, but that didn't actually help find out what their problem(s) is/are, so I didn't really have a choice but to close the question.

Why do we have to close questions that are too broad? There are a few reasons but some are:

  1. It keeps the overall quality of questions on the site higher, which is good in the long term.

  2. We don't want answers to questions that should be closed as it can be hard to e.g. tell if they answer the question, or what the best answer is (in the case of multiple answers).

  3. We don't like (i.e. actively and strongly discourage) edits that invalidate existing answers. When someone answers a broad question, then the OP edits that question so it's no longer broad, often this is going to be exactly what happens.

In that vein, please don't answer questions that should be closed.

Let's flip perspective a bit: does the current answer actually answer the question? I don't know, because I don't know what the specific problem is, so I can't definitively say whether or not it should be undeleted. As it's the only answer, that means I also can't definitively say whether or not the question should be undeleted.


1 Except in the case of spam or rude/abusiveness etc.

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    $\begingroup$ As far as I remember the answer did not answer the question. The question asks "how do I get p and q", and the answer says "once you have p and q, you can crack RSA as follows". $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Oct 23 '18 at 9:59
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    $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch Yes, that is true. You can see a cached version of the thread here. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Oct 23 '18 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ No @NorbertSchuch is wrong, the question's title is "How can I crack 32 bit RSA Encryption?" $\endgroup$ – user1271772 Oct 23 '18 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ @user1271772 Indeed, part of the problem with badly written questions is that it is not clear what the question is, since the asker does not even take the effort to repeat the title in the question itself. IMO, one more reason why it got rightfully closed. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Oct 23 '18 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ If we throw away the democratic process, everything will gradually tumble down. If you believe it should be closed, you have the option to vote for closure. Once 5 people vote, it will get closed. Someone who hasn't even been elected should not be making these decisions uni-laterally. $\endgroup$ – user1271772 Oct 23 '18 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ @user1271772 I would agree in principle (and that's how it is e.g. handled on physics.se - mods usually only issue the 5th close vote), but I'm not sure this site has a sufficient amount of active users who have the right to vote to close. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Oct 23 '18 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ @user1271772 But you are really mixing up two things in your question: (1) Should we be more lenient to new users? (2) Should mods close questions unilaterally? (Or when should they?) -- These are really two disconnected questions. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Oct 23 '18 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ If they do it that way on physics, we should do it that way here too. We have plenty of users more than willing to close questions. You, Mithrandir, Neil de Beaudrap has voted to close a lot, Blue has voted to close a lot, James and Heather have unilaterally chosen to close things before (although Heather isn't very active anymore). You can even see how many people are active in "closure reviews", plenty of things have been VOTED to be closed. $\endgroup$ – user1271772 Oct 23 '18 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly i have a problem with using the "hammer" to close questions if we can just wait for close votes. @Mithrandir talks about 4 people upvoting a comment saying that the question is too broad. However Those 4 users could very likely have voted for closure and they didn't. But if people insist on using the hammer, I don't think it's nice to do it on a brand new user. $\endgroup$ – user1271772 Oct 23 '18 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ @user1271772 But you have to take out the mods - mods can't vote to close questions. Once they vote, they are immediately closed. (That's at least what I understood from physics.) So we would need ~15-20 non-mod users who are reasonably active, I'd say. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Oct 23 '18 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ Why 15-20 ? Anyway, questions have indeed been closed by voting before, many times. $\endgroup$ – user1271772 Oct 23 '18 at 22:28
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A brand new user has had their question closed. Sure they didn't respond very quickly to requests asking to make the question more specific, but it looks like there was no "voting" that took place and the question was just closed by one moderator's unilateral decision.

I don't think this is a good way to treat brand new users.

First things first. The thread you mention was sort of an edge case. At face value, it was asking us to guide them through the whole 32-bit RSA decryption process. Such a question is indeed too broad for our site and was rightfully closed as such by Mithrandir. But, on the other hand, it was an interesting question in itself and had a decent answer from you (although I can't say for sure whether it actually addressed what the OP was looking for). So while I agree with the closure, I wouldn't quite agree with the permanent deletion of the question (the deletion was done by the system because neither the question nor the answer had a positive score over an extended period of time). I have edited it a bit and voted to undelete the question. It will require one more undelete vote (3 in total).

I think we should wait until the question has the minimum 5 close votes. If the question really should be closed, why should the voting process be circumvented?

This part of the question is a duplicate of a similar question I had asked a few months ago: How active should moderators be in closing questions? I personally do partly agree that moderators should generally avoid single-handedly closing question except in the cases of blatant spam or abuse (and maybe even directly delete them in those cases). However, Mithrandir24601 brings out another point of view here and in the subsequent chat.

I appreciate that moderators have been given the power to close questions without waiting for votes (which I have issues with, especially when the moderators were appointed, not elected, pro tempore moderators who were chosen extremely early when there was only a few users who knew about this SE), but can we have a policy not to use this power when dealing with brand new users?

Let's just keep in mind that we should not judge a post (positively or negatively) based on the person who posted it. The rules for the regular users and new users should be the same as far as a minimum question standard is concerned. If you really want such a change, maybe leave out the part about "brand new users". I should mention here that when I first joined Stack Exchange around 5 years ago (from a different account), my initial questions used to be very badly written and ill-formatted. I didn't even know how to use basic MathJax at that time. If I didn't receive a push from the community in terms of closures and stern (but not rude) comments, I would probably have never improved. I can proudly say that staying on SE for all these years has improved my writing skills multi-fold. So, unlike you, I don't believe leniency towards newbie questions does anyone any good (neither the site nor the OP). The real world isn't lenient by default. One needs to earn it and it's important to learn to adapt and survive in the given conditions.

Anyhow, your last question probably deserves a more detailed answer. I'll pass this on to the others.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's worth mentioning that in the cases of rude/abusive and spam posts, they automatically get deleted when a mod flags them as such, so we have no choice but to "directly delete them in those cases", although this certainly isn't a bad thing $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Oct 23 '18 at 6:52
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    $\begingroup$ Strong support for "If I didn't receive a push from the community in terms of closures and stern (but not rude) comments, I would probably have never improved.". I think it is crucial to make sure that we have good and clear questions which can be of help to future visitors of the site and not only to the OP (if at all). $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Oct 23 '18 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue: I received 2 upvotes for the answer. There was also 2 downvotes: one from John Duffield, who said in the comments that it's because I shouldn't help people learn how to crack RSA, which I very strongly disagree with because that means you should downvote every single answer which describes any stage of Shor's algorithm or any quantum factorization alogithm; the other was from Norbert Schuch who has a habit of downvoting me just because he doesn't like me. So it's not really fair to assess the answer based on having 0 net upvotes. $\endgroup$ – user1271772 Oct 23 '18 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue: "But, on the other hand, it was an interesting question in itself and had a decent answer from you", if it's a decent answer, why not upvote it? $\endgroup$ – user1271772 Oct 23 '18 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @user1271772 I did upvote it. But there was a downvote by someone else which neutralized it to 0. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Oct 23 '18 at 21:21

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