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In some cases, I think questions are too quickly placed on hold.

For each of us as an individual regardless of breadth of skills, there are instances where we would be poorly qualified to decide whether a question is easily and succinctly answerable, or not. Avoiding voting on closure unless it's within one's scope, unless on one of the very obvious usual categories, such as list style questions, would seem to be advised.

In an ideal SE, only those with a certain number of points in a given tag should be able to nominate questions using that tag, for closure, as it seems that some pretty good questions with pretty good and clear answers can get closed if the closers' assumption is that they're not answerable. Once placed on hold or closed, it is much harder to open them again as (I think) most will tend to vote in favour of the status quo, which is to leave it closed.

Another idea is perhaps there should be a minimum time before closure can take place? This at least offers users (not just the OP) time to edit the question and make it reasonable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "In an ideal SE, only those with a certain number of points in a given tag should be able to nominate questions using that tag, for closure" - this actually already exists, but in the opposite direction. Gold tag badges give certain one-vote-close powers to holders, so the SE model is actually set up to help encourage faster, not slower, closure. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Mar 3 at 12:36
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In an ideal SE, only those with a certain number of points in a given tag should be able to nominate questions using that tag, for closure, as it seems that some pretty good questions with pretty good and clear answers can get closed if the closers' assumption is that they're not answerable.

Ignoring the systematic issues this sort of idea would bring to SE, I'd argue that the problem you present probably doesn't exist.

Most of us have the capacity to evaluate a question's quality at a high enough level to make a close vote decision regardless of the specific topic contained within the question itself.

If a subject matter expert thinks they have an answer to a question and the question should remain open while a majority of other voters believe the question is off topic and doesn't belong then I'd be willing to bet that while the subject matter expert has a really good answer, it doesn't mean the question itself isn't off topic.

Off topic questions are straight up off topic. Good answers don't turn off topic questions into on topic questions.

A lot of off topic questions around getting started and what's best comes down to uneducated users not knowing how to ask the right questions to get the answers they're looking for. A subject matter expert who really wants to answer an off topic question should leverage their domain knowledge to propose a high quality, possibly very transformative edit to the off topic question so that it fits within the mission of SE. Hopefully OP and other close voters / editors can see that the goal of the original question remains in tact while greatly improving the question to the point where the edit can be accepted and the the question ultimately can be reopened.

I won't say there aren't edge cases and what you're saying is 100% false. It's entirely possible there are edge cases. Those specific edge cases could be handled in chat or in meta to work out the specifics of those scenarios as disagreements come up. Site wide changes for edge cases is not a good idea.

Another idea is perhaps there should be a minimum time before closure can take place? This at least offers users (not just the OP) time to edit the question and make it reasonable.

This is simply counterproductive as it keeps low quality content around longer. Additionally, in general there is no motivation to make drastic edits to questions until they've already been closed.

Closing a question is not personal nor is it a punishment. It's a tool. It's a tool keep the quality of content high as well as to get people to think about what they're asking so that people can actually ask high quality questions. Editing is an option for a reason. Questions do get reopened when properly edited.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "If a subject matter expert thinks they have an answer to a question and the question should remain open while a majority of other voters believe the question is bad and doesn't belong then I'd be willing to bet that while the subject matter expert has a really good answer, it doesn't mean the question itself isn't bad." Er, that is EXACTLY what it means. Majority vote doesn't decide quality. That is like saying that because the majority of voters voted in a really bad leader, "that was by no means a bad choice!". Except it was. Skill / quality are objective in STEM; group voice, subjective. \$\endgroup\$ – Engineer Mar 2 at 7:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think "bad" as in "bad question" and the like is a term we should try to avoid. Many questions on this site that get closed are good questions in a vacuum, useful and informative questions that help the OP or others. Very few questions are actually "bad," what they are is "off-topic for this site" as has been determined by the community. When we use "bad" to mean "off-topic," I think we muddy the discourse (and I am just as guilty of this as the next person). \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Mar 2 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ It helps to view closure as not being a slap-down, yes. The purpose of voting to close can certainly be viewed as helping the OP, either by saying "the answer you want is on this other question" or by helping them to reform their question into a manner that's more easily answerable on an SE site. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Mar 3 at 12:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I completely agree with what Josh said about the term "bad" and have updated my answer to say "off topic" in it's place as "bad" was a poor choice of wording on my part and off topic really is what I wanted to say. \$\endgroup\$ – SpartanDonut Mar 3 at 14:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Engineer - to continue with your analogy, in the US we have rules as to who can lead. We can't really legally elect a president who isn't a natural born citizen without first changing the system itself. No matter how strongly you believe a question should remain open because you have a good answer, does not guarantee the question fits the guidelines of the site. You've done right by coming to meta in hopes of changing the system because you see an issue. I don't think your proposed solutions to said issue improve the system and that they actually would hurt the system instead. \$\endgroup\$ – SpartanDonut Mar 3 at 14:31
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In addition to the answer that directly addresses the question I would like to add that on Stack Exchange it is actually ideal if a question is put on hold as quickly as possible. This gives the OP and the community the opportunity to address any issues with the content or handle discussions of on-topicness before reopening the question.

On Stack Exchange once an answer has been posted, and especially if the answer gets upvoted, options become more limited. OP no longer has unilateral say over their content. Extremely poor quality questions are less likely to be deleted. And edits to improve the quality can invalidate answers, which can be a huge headache (and rejected.)

So when in doubt, put the question on hold, clear things up, get the question opened, then post your answer. If the community is trying to close a question but you want it open so you can answer it, work with the OP to make the question fit.

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