I have recently gone above the 3,000 reputation mark and have hence been given the ability to review closing questions. I have recently missed some key details in how to review and close questions (as shown with this question that I missed), is there a guide or some key examples on stackexchange.com on how to determine whether to close questions or not?
First off, congrats on 3k, and thanks a lot for asking that question - it's nice to see people wanting to review effectively and seriously :)
As this is SFF's meta, I'm going to try and wrap up a "close/don't close" guide for SFF. I'd refer to the FAQ post on main Meta for the broader scale but... It's a bit Stack Overflow-centric.
You can always Skip
Simply said, if you're having doubts, Skip. It's not a cop-out, it's leaving the matter to be handled by other people who you (implicitly) trust to have more knowledge about you in a subject.
"Mistaken" votes happen! And it's not the end of the world. That's why we have the reopen queue, meta and all. But don't feel obligated to vote; it's better to skip if you're really not feeling sure about closing or leaving open.
The below guide isn't definite
You'll learn along the way. Don't hesitate to go to https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/close/history and see what action was eventually taken; maybe folks commented on their votes as well.
Beware of editing from review
Editing from review (when picking the "Edit" button between Leave Open and Close) unilaterally shuts down the review, so beware! You should only edit from review if:
- The thing needs editing (duh)
- AND it's blatantly obvious this has nothing to do in a close queue. For instance, a clear, not too broad, story-id question about a world of dragons being closed as off-topic (yeah, it happens).
If you feel the thing does need editing (to make it clearer it should be closed/left open), but you don't want to override the review, please go the extra mile and edit it from outside the review (like you usually edit stuff).
Meta's always here if you have doubts
Seeing a question whose closure/reopening you don't understand? Raise the issue on Meta. Ask (politely!) what review action should be taken, if the closure is due to a specific, lesser-known SFF policy...
Most folks want the best for the site, and will be able and eager to provide their views on it. Some will be a bit more passionate about it. Don't let that discourage you from asking about closures/reopenings and reviewing.
A couple of closing policies that aren't always known
if you encounter a story-id being closed as a duplicate, please check it matches the criteria for story-id dupe-closure before voting.
story-identification questions should only be closed as duplicates where both answers are accepted, regardless of the similarity between them. (If the OP posts a "yes this is it" comment, that's as good as an acceptance.)
The exception to that being if the questions are not answered, but it's the same OP reposting their earlier question (or someone else's question, but without more information). Those are dupes as well.
Otherwise, vote to leave open. (And maybe ping the other dupe-closers to make them aware of the policies)
story-id can get closed as off-topic for a good bunch of reasons. One of them is the "anthropomorphic animals aren't enough to deem a work sci-fi or fantasy":
That said, we would consider talking animals to be part of a fantasy if:
They had been uplifted in some way (either by technology or magic)
Their speaking was somehow fantastical to the other characters.
Some other sites might be able to host "our" off-topic IDs; refer to this answer for ID policies across the network.
"are there any" questions are on-topic. To each their opinion on that, but don't vote to close just because you dislike them (downvote instead).
questions about works yet to be released can be closed as Primarily Opinion-Based. Refer to this post on the "Future Works Policy" (too long to sum it up)
I'm not thrilled about my writing on the below reasons, and I hope someone will be able to edit/provide a fancier explanation, but here goes:
Generally, if a question can be satisfyingly answered by reading the answer to another question, then they're likely dupes, even if the questions themselves don't look like it.
Another "should close as dupe" scenario is when an answer has not been provided to an earlier, broader question, but would belong there. For instance, if one was to ask "Is the new Star Wars game canon?", I'd vote to close as dupe of How is canonicity of derivative works determined for Star Wars?, and encourage folks to bounty it with the reason:
Current answers are outdated
The current answer(s) are out-of-date and require revision given recent changes.
Quite frankly, dupe-closure can be a can of worms at times, as some folks disagree with it "already being answered". Up to the OP to edit and explain how it's not a dupe.
Unclear what you're asking
Self-explanatory? If you don't get what the questioner is looking for, then it might be unclear.
If you feel like it's just unclear to you because the question is asking about a work you've never heard of, then use common sense to choose between Skipping or squinting your eyes really hard and trying to make sense without any knowledge of it. Once again, skipping is never ever an issue.
too many unrelated questions in one question makes it too broad. That can be asking for two separate books, asking "was Harry really an Horcrux, and also can Squibs see Dementors or not" (on top of that they're dupes)...
meta post about how to handle list questions. Once again, some common sense is required: there's a finite number of Marvel character's who've been Avengers, but asking for all of them is way way way too broad. On the other hand, naming the hundreds of different characters in an image isn't.
recommendations are off-topic, clear and simple
"doesn't seem sci-fi/fantasy" relies on some knowledge of the work (or Googling). Some are trickier than others I'll admit
other/custom reason: pick and write your own close reason if you feel like the canned reasons don't cover it. Applies, among others, to rants in disguise, trolls, cross-posted questions...
One of the hardest to define, but basically if answers are only going to be based on uneducated speculation, close. Educated speculation is fine(ish).
Not really, your best bet is the main meta post that Jenayah already linked. For examples, you could always look through the list of closed questions (
closed:yes) but that is tedious and not exactly the best way of learning. The best of way of learning is to review and see what others do. If you find your deviating from others most of the time, find out why.
The most important thing to remember though is whilst there are a lot of things with an objective outcome (spam, R/A posts, etc.) a lot of reviewing can and is a subjective process. What someone might think is too broad someone else might think is fine. This is especially true in the case of Primarily Opinion Based. As long as you use common sense and learn from review outcomes you don't have much to worry about.
That said there are a few site specific things to be aware of:
First off the tour includes a nice section on what is and isn't on topic:
- Plot, character, or setting explanations
- Historical or societal context of a work
- Behind-the-scenes and fandom information
- Story identification
- Franchise/series reading or viewing order
Don't ask about...
- Reading or watching recommendations
- or any other question that is primarily opinion-based
- Lists of works with a particular plot element
- or any other question with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer
Then you also have to be aware of some policies:
story-identification duplicates: An id question is a duplicate of another one if the answer is the same and has been confirmed to be correct by the OP. Confirmation can be in the form of the checkmark, comment, edit (which is probably later removed) anything really just so long as the OP has confirmed it. Which was to close usually depends on which pair has the better Q&A not necessarily newest to oldest. It might be worth looking through story-identification on meta if you want an idea about this more.
There is also the Future Works Policy that means questions are to be closed as Primarily Opinion Based if they are asking about a future work.