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What Music History questions are on- and off-topic? and What distinguishes primarily opinion-based vs. opinion-based, but on-topic questions? were unilaterally closed, but why not leave them open and let users decide if they help?

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    Putting a question on hold is part of the process of letting the community decide on that question. Members of the community can still upvote, downvote, and vote to reopen questions. So this question doesn't make any sense, because it's not either let the community decide or unilaterally close the question. Both are happening at the same time. – Todd Wilcox Dec 25 '17 at 10:47
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    @ToddWilcox I do agree with the point you make there, but I think the question is valid too. music.SE is a small site with a limited number of users active in using moderation actions; music.meta.SE is even smaller, with an even more limited number. So a mod hammer close is highly likely to remain just that. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '17 at 9:54
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    @topomorto As far as I can tell, there’s no actual dialog here, it’s just question after question with no attempt to understand the answers given. I have given up expecting this to get resolved in any way. – Todd Wilcox Dec 26 '17 at 11:00
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    @ToddWilcox ....or perhaps the answers given so far, even if given with the best of intentions, aren't really succeeding in clarifying the issue for the user. That isn't a reason to prevent the rest of the community attempting to do so. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '17 at 11:10
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    @topomorto I’m not able to prevent anyone from providing more answers so I don’t understand your last comment at all. – Todd Wilcox Dec 26 '17 at 11:11
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    @ToddWilcox I'm talking about the putting-on-hold of meta questions, which prevents other users from replying to them. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '17 at 11:13
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    @topomorto I know. You're addressing your comments to the wrong person. If you yourself attempt to answer Canada's questions and especially if you read the chat, I think you'll see that no one will be able to answer Canada's questions because Canada doesn't want actual answers. They either want to hear what they want to hear or they just want to complain. But several people have provided several answers with literally no benefit or even change, so IMHO it's a lost cause. – Todd Wilcox Dec 26 '17 at 12:16
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    @ToddWilcox We're simply talking to each other about the subject because we both engaged with these meta questions, 'sall! On the little stack site that I pro-tem moderate, we found that the best way to deal any issues - whether or not a user might be perceived as wanting to complain - was still to use the site process properly, and respond to any requests for clarification by actually providing that clarification in meta and being proactive about changing the on-topic rules. In fact I can summarise it as: Our most awkward users have also been the most useful in shaping the site's policy. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '17 at 13:47
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    @topomorto 1) all site policies were followed. The original question was closed with comments, meta questions were opened up, a chat was opened up to talk about refining the meta questions then new meta questions were asked, but since they had the same problems that we were tiring to iron out through chat they were closed. 2) Our site has had 6 years of scope and policy refinement and while I'm not saying the FAQ is perfect, it's not going to shift a seismic amount from where it is now. – Dom Dec 26 '17 at 16:30
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    @ToddWilcox "I think you'll see that no one will be able to answer Canada's questions because Canada doesn't want actual answers. They either want to hear what they want to hear or they just want to complain." I do pine for actual answers. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Dec 26 '17 at 19:56
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    @Dom I agree the FAQ is unlikely to shift a 'seismic' amount. That still allows for it to be significantly clarified and improved. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '17 at 22:52
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Dr Mayhem and I specifically asked you not to post a list of questions as a meta post in our chat yesterday and we warned you that they would be closed as not constructive.They were both closed with acquitted explanation.

What Music History questions are on- and off-topic? was closed as unclear since music history is on topic and the questions you posted were about interpretation, finding examples, and knowing what he was thinking which aren't really good topics for the site in general whether it is historic or not which was explained already.

Comment on closed question:

As pointed out in the chat we had yesterday history questions are on topic, but not every question about a historic composer makes sense on this site. Listing other questions does not help solve the issues with yours.

What distinguishes primarily opinion-based vs. opinion-based, but on-topic questions? was just too broad which is what we kept saying in chat yesterday. There's 22 questions there each about different topics and different concepts with different expectations of answers.

Comment on closed question:

Canada, is is not a useful to compare and contrast 21 different questions about different topics and subjects to the one you asked. The reason for the closure was given in the comments by me along with the general primarily option based question explanation and if you want to talk about reopening the question please do, but this isn't helpful. Please also reference the don't ask section of the FAQ and the chat we had from yesterday https://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/70687/canada-discussion-on-closures.


Meta is where we can talk about site policy and discuss clearing things up like the FAQ or in depth reasons why things were close, but these questions in there current form don't help anyone. Please read the feedback and if you want clarity please request it either in comments or on the meta, but pulling in irreverent questions and not focusing on the reasons given for the closed questions does not help the situation.

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I'm going to try to address this whole situation in an answer here. It might not be the most appropriate place to write this, but I think it's worth a shot and I'll be brief.

One of the most important aspects of the Stack Exchange system is that each site (what I like to call "Stacks") is focused fairly narrowly on a specific topic. Focus has an upside and a downside. The upside to focus is a focused system can be more closely targeted on certain goals and therefore more effective at accomplishing those goals. The downside is that "focus is about saying 'no'" (Steve Jobs), which means the more you focus, the more things you exclude.

You have asked several subtle, and in some ways, interesting questions lately. For many people, and clearly for you, these may be important and compelling questions. On this Stack, however, your recent questions are outside of the area that this Stack is focused on.

For this Stack to be most effective in its area of focus, the community must 'say no' to questions that are outside of that focus. Asking more questions of the kind that you have asked lately will just perpetuate the cycle of those questions being closed and you coming to the meta to ask why they are closed.

One way for you to get an understanding for what kinds of questions work best in the area this community is focused on is to sort the list of all questions by votes. The highest voted questions are the ones that most often exemplify what this community is focused on.

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    I think it's clear that Canada realises that there is such a thing as on-topic and off-topic, and that it's there for a reason - he's just asking about where the line is. Not whether there should be a line. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '17 at 10:01
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    @topomorto Thanks for clarifying my thoughts more eloquently than I did. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Dec 26 '17 at 19:57
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I've said from time to time that the on-topic rules on music.SE can be unclear, and could be improved.

The mods and some other regular users of the site often don't seem to agree that there are such problems, and seem to interpret attempts to help clarify the rules as "Oh no, this user is trying to be disruptive".

(Of course some other users have pointed out these problems too - and some of those have become frustrated and left.)

I wish I could offer advice on how to ask meta questions that might lead to rule refinements and clarifications in a way that is productive, but I've not yet succeeded.

In particular, the mods seem to accept as true the idea that comparing questions is not helpful. This seems illogical - comparing different questions seems to me to be an excellent way of checking the rules against real world examples and seeing if they really 'work' as intended. (Having said that, 21 questions, as listed in one of your questions, probably does make your meta question too broad).

In general, though, I think good faith should be assumed in the meta, and I wonder if the closure here is partly due to a carry-over of emotion from the chat.

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    Like I keep saying we can use the meta to do this. Suggest what you want to add to the FAQ or remove from it to make things clearer to others. The problem like I've said every time is not comparing questions, it's comparing questions as the only support for a question being reopened. In this case it can be summed up as " X question was closed as option based, but these 21 questions are still open". There's no policy discussion in the question and just because a question is open does not mean there aren't problems with it. – Dom Dec 24 '17 at 16:01
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    @Dom the policy discussion is implicit - we can identify whether there is difference between 2 questions that someone perceives to have been treated differently, and then identify whether A) policy hasn't been applied fairly in one case and it would be desirable to treat them the same, or B) the questions do seem to have been treated differently, but for a good reason that would be useful to codify, or C) the rules are clear and the user raising the issue is simply misunderstanding them. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 24 '17 at 19:04
  • if the questions are similar in nature which isn't the case in any of the listed examples. Let's just take one of the closed examples which is about "How does ignoring the math behind Xenakis's cacophonously dissonant music, affect your reaction to it?". if you can find another example question that is about ignoring elements of the composed peice to affect your enjoyment of it, then bring it up. Anything that is not that just distracts from the current discussion. – Dom Dec 24 '17 at 20:14
  • @topomorto Thanks for your support and understanding. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Dec 25 '17 at 1:43
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    Comparing questions is unhelpful because it's not feasible to make the closed or open status of all questions completely consistent. First, there are over 10,000 questions and far, far fewer users with VTC privileges. Second, the rules have been refined over the life of the Stack and going back to revisit all of those questions in light of the current rules would be a herculean effort with hardly any benefit. Finally, old questions may have been erroneously closed or left open, so we wouldn't want to judge current questions on old standards or compare them to previous mistakes. – Todd Wilcox Dec 25 '17 at 10:44
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    @Dom all questions have a number of aspects to them and questions might be similar in some aspects and different in others; they don't have to be similar in all aspects to allow a comparison. All that matters when using an existing main site question as an example in a meta question is that it is relevant to the topic of that meta question. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '17 at 9:57
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    @ToddWilcox here, we're not talking about picking up existing questions for the purpose of trying to make sure the whole question base has been treated consistently - we're only talking about using them as examples for the purposes of clarifying the existing rules. We can do that without any implication that we need to go back and homogenize the whole question base, but if we do a little bit of boy scouting along the way, that's fine too. 'Perfect' does not have to be the enemy of 'better'. – topo Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '17 at 9:59
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    I’m pretty sure the best way to get the help center text revised and clarified is to ask a new meta question with the revision you want to make in the question. So the question title would be like, “Should we make this change to the help center text?” And then the body of the meta question could read like, “I suggest we make the following change to the text in this part of the help center to clarify this rule:” followed by a block quote of the suggested change. – Todd Wilcox Dec 29 '17 at 6:39

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