I'm concerned that four people have voted to close my recent question and nine have downvoted it without giving a reason. I'm still relatively new to this branch of SE, and I think my question is as worthwhile as the others I've read on the site: perhaps even more worthwhile because I'm hoping to for an answer that I can use rather than just asking in idle speculation.

I asked for clarification of the downvotes in a comment, but didn't get much of a response, perhaps partially because the comment was buried among other comments. I'm hoping that by asking here, someone who understands the culture of the site (or someone who downvoted or close-voted without commenting) can suggest some reason why so many people are downvoting so that I can structure my questions in a format more appropriate to this site.

On the other SE sites I participate in, I explain to people my reasoning when downvoting or close-voting their post, but that feedback loop appears not to be so deeply ingrained as a part of the culture here. I'm hoping that by asking for clarification on meta I can both get some feedback about my question and also suggest to the site's members that I think the site would benefit from people giving justification of downvotes. Downvoting without explanation doesn't give a very friendly impression of the site.

What makes my question suitable or unsuitable for this site? And what can be done to improve it?

  • 2
    I upvoted it. Yes, the connection is a stretch, and encouraging too much speculation (in a non-discussion-based site) would drive down the site. However, this is why there's a voting system. Closing votes should be pure violations, not 'don't want this here'/'kinda iffy'. Let voting take care of the grey-areas.
    – Solemnity
    May 10, 2013 at 2:53
  • 1
    the borges tag creation, on the other hand, totally needs close-votes ;)
    – Solemnity
    May 10, 2013 at 2:56
  • 1
    Read this top-voted answer to a related question.
    – Solemnity
    May 10, 2013 at 3:48
  • 1
    I'm not taking action either way because I'd be more likely to downvote or VTC. This is really more of a discussion question than a full answer question. And with that in mind, it's better for chat than as an actual question.
    – Tango
    May 10, 2013 at 5:37

3 Answers 3


I agree with the other answers that the question is borderline.

While I generally agree with the sentiment of DVK's answer, I feel that questions should be left open or closed on their own merits, and that an approach of waiting to see what kind of answers comes in is not the right way to go.

IMO, whether a question should be closed needs to be decided without any consideration for what answers may have been given. If we can't look at a question and make a determination immediately, then our criteria aren't well enough defined.

So let's look at the question a bit more closely.

The close reasons so far selected for this question are (1 vote) Off-topic, and (2 votes) Not Constructive.

I don't see how Off-topic is remotely valid for this.

Not Constructive makes more sense, but I don't believe it is the right call. Note the highlighted part of the wording for the Not Constructive close reason:

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance.

If you look at the question, the primary intent seems clearly to be looking for answers supported by facts, references, or specific expertise:

Is there evidence that at any point the creators of the Borg were influenced by the writings of Borges?

The problematic part of the question appears to be this portion:

Also, are there any aspects of the Borg philosophy that I may be overlooking? (I'm much more familiar with Borges than with the Borg but I expect this site has many people who know more about the Borg than I do.)

I would suggest that this should be edited out, as it is difficult to distinguish "what other similarities may exist" from discussion and opinion. If the question focuses on facts and references, then it is squarely on topic.

Note that a good answer may very well analyze various parallels and divergences, even if that is not explicitly requested in the question.

So, let's edit the question, leave it open, and upvote or downvote however you see fit. Remember, VTC is an indication of whether the question "fits" on the site, but upvotes and down votes are the measure of whether the question is "good", "clear", or "useful".

  • Off-topic probably comes from the fact that Philosophy.SE does exist
    – Izkata
    May 13, 2013 at 22:59
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    @Izkata I rather doubt that "what evidence is there that Star Trek's Borg were influenced by Borges' philosophy?" would be even remotely on-topic for Philosophy.se. Regardless, being on-topic for another site in no way automatically makes something off-topic. There are many examples of questions that are on-topic for multiple sites.
    – Beofett
    May 14, 2013 at 0:01

I would ask that people take the moderation approach based on facts in existence as opposed to predictions.

The question is borderline - it can produce interesting answers, or a bunch of useless speculation. If you claim to know with certainty which one will be the result, you're either (1) Leto Atreides, (2) way too self-certain in being so sure you know what will happen - read Nate Silvers' takedown of experts' predictions to disabuse yourself of that certainty.

Let the question stand till you see what quality answers it produces

If the Q attracts a morass of crap content, we can easily close it then. If not, admit that your "this question will lead to bad content" worries are baseless and leave it be - as Andres F noted, the question is more interesting than 80% of trivia stuff on this site.

If you're still so sure of your ability to predict that the question has no good answer, please be cognisant that I have over my time on SFF observed several questions that were VTCed as "can't be answered, pure speculation" - only to produce canonical perfect answer later on.

  • You should probably read up on what evidence-based medicine actually is, since you're using the term then arguing against it. Off-label use is closer to what you're arguing, if you want to keep a medicinal metaphor.
    – user1027
    May 12, 2013 at 3:43
  • @Keen - I was going for string equivalence, not semantic equivalence, sorry for confusion. I'll edit out the obviously not-working joke. May 12, 2013 at 11:27
  • +1 The "wait and see" approach works for me :)
    – Andres F.
    May 12, 2013 at 16:05
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    I once more agree with your laissez-faire attitude regarding the closing of (borderline) questions. I wonder, however, if this is truly the dominant philosophy of the community in the general case. Some people appear rather trigger happy when they cannot conceive answering a question themselves ... at least, that's my explanation.
    – bitmask
    May 22, 2013 at 21:49
  • @bitmask - I would use a significantly less polite wording, but yes :) May 23, 2013 at 14:08
  • Remember the number one rule of (internet-) communities: Don't be a dick (the link will have you believe this to be a special case of another rule, but in this regard it's wrong). Being polite is a corollary of this rule, so I prefer polite wording ;)
    – bitmask
    May 23, 2013 at 21:49
  • @bitmask - I'm an "an eye for an eye" kind of person. #1 rule shouldn't apply to people who themselves behave dickishly. May 24, 2013 at 2:00
  • Ah, but now you're not assuming good faith. The best way to avoid dickscalation.
    – bitmask
    May 24, 2013 at 8:58
  • @bitmask - I have too many datapoints of observation to need to resort to assumptions :) May 24, 2013 at 13:30

I'm on the fence about Voting To Close here. Truly torn about this question :)

My opinion is that it's reaching too far. I seriously doubt the Borg-Borges connection. Even though the author denies it, it also looks like a lame pun (in which case it should be closed, disregarding the rest of my post). It's also hard to see how there can be any definite, well-sourced answer to this; only debate and wild speculation can come out of it, which though fun, is outside the scope of this site.

...However, I must agree it's way more interesting and fun than the tons of questions asking trivial (though answerable) things such as "What is the surname of character X of series Y?", "Why does character X do Y in book Z? I don't want to read it, I just want the spoiler", etc. Or the godawful questions which demand literal interpretations of symbols in fantasy literature.

So in the end I think the question is too speculative and unlikely to produce a well-sourced answer to belong in this site. But it's more interesting than 80% of the valid questions we do get :)

  • 2
    Sounds like your arguments lead to the "should not be closed" conclusion. May 12, 2013 at 1:13
  • It does, right? The thing is, I've been told many times that "interesting" questions are not necessarily suitable for this site. So while to me it sounds better than the average question we do get, I doubt it is on-topic here :/
    – Andres F.
    May 12, 2013 at 16:04
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    Don't believe everything you hear. Even from persons in authority. A little revolution now and then is a good thing </Marco_Ramius> </Thomas_Jefferson>. I have had questions closed, then reopened, and gathering pretty good answers, despite some people thinking they are "too interesting" to be a good SE fit. May 13, 2013 at 1:16
  • @DVK Hmm, something to think about, definitely :) Thanks for your opinion!
    – Andres F.
    May 13, 2013 at 12:08

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