After the Why was the Hamlet question closed? reinvoked the interest of some users, the question was reopened.

I would like to open this to discussion, since I think that we should have let the sleeping questions lie. In particular non big-list questions which has 25 answers, five of which are deleted.

I agree that an off topic closing reason was uncalled for. However that question generated a lot more noise than other $\pm100$ questions (although it is possible that m.SE was just smaller...) and was therefore closed.

The choice of off topic was perhaps to reflect that answers were getting off topic. Steering the discussion away from mathematics.

Question: Should Given an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite amount of time, would one of them write Hamlet? be closed again, and if so under what reason? Should we add a "banner"that this question was closed because it generated too much noise? Should it just remain open (but of course protect)?

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    $\begingroup$ Before you downvote, remember (just to point it out( I only call for discussion. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 9, 2011 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ I think that the question could have stayed closed, but now, that it has been opened, it should not be closed again without new unwelcome activity. $\endgroup$
    – Phira
    Nov 9, 2011 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ There is new unwelcome activity. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2011 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: The combination of your question and my question makes the top of the meta questions section look pretty funny. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2011 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Eric, I always do my best to make things humorous when possible ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 10, 2011 at 6:28

2 Answers 2


I voted to reopen because it having it closed as "off topic" sends the message that such questions are unwelcome on the site -- and there's really nothing wrong with the question itself.

If it is to be closed again, I don't believe there's any non-misleading close reason among the canned ones, so an explicit banner explaining the situation would certainly be in order.

It would not be a bad thing if some 20k users went through the question and deleted the sillier of the answers (which more or less coincide with those with negative score).

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    $\begingroup$ This was my thinking as well. I see now that there is a good reason for it to be closed, but I really don't think "off topic" is the right choice. (Indeed, among the options there seems to be no correct choice!) $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2011 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ This has been a problem from Day 1. The real reasons for closing exceed the canned ones, so you pick the least objectionable canned one and leave a comment explaining the real one. What else can you do? $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2011 at 0:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Gerry: Agreed. I really wish there were at least no longer relevant as a further option to choose. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Nov 10, 2011 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ @t.b. if the question is really no longer relevant, as in "the question only is meaningful during a certain period, and that period is now in the past", then "too localised" is a valid closure reason for it. $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2011 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: that's not really what I mean. For example, if a question was cross-posted to MO and got a good answer there, I want to close it, but "This question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet." does not at all describe why I want to close it... $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Nov 11, 2011 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ @t.b. ah. I misunderstood you. In an ideal world, if a question was X-posted to MO and got a good answer there, the OP would post a CW answer containing a link to that MO answer (and possibly a summary), and accept that. But the world is not ideal. $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2011 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ If you delete the negatively voted answer then new users will not understand why it was closed and this cycle will restart in a year. I would only worry about upvoted bad answers. $\endgroup$
    – Phira
    Nov 14, 2011 at 21:59

I have, for the time being, permanently locked the question (since it is an okay question, but is attracting too many bad answers). (I don't think just protection is adequate, since one can easily get 100rep from associated an SE account on another site.)

If the discussion end up that we shouldn't have such questions locked, ping a mod or leave a comment on this answer so we can unlock it.

I have unlocked the question; it is currently protected by t.b. Apparently the software is smarter than I gave it credit for (see J.M.'s comment below).

I agree, however, in the abstract, that we shouldn't close questions for imaginary reasons that do not apply to the question. Protect and/or lock are much better; at the very least it makes clear that it is not the question or its content that bothers the community, but the unwelcome attention from "certain users" that it unfortunately attracted.

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    $\begingroup$ "I don't think just protection is adequate, since one can easily get 100 rep from associated an SE account on another site." - funny, I asked this question... $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2011 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @J.M. oh, I wasn't aware of that development. Thanks $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2011 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ Would it be fair to interpret "we shouldn't close questions for imaginary reasons that do not apply to the question" as "the list of close reasons in the dialog box is exclusive, so if one of those doesn't apply, the question shouldn't be closed"? That'd be my opinion, but especially now that I see it typed in front of me, I'm not at all sure that's what you meant. $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Nov 10, 2011 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac: The principle you stated is what I meant. But note that the descriptions of "not constructive" and "not a real question" are rather vague, and some people choose to interpret them more loosely than others. $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2011 at 11:21

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