eykanal has answered regarding the mechanisms of SE. I'll add a point about the vote to close: it is not mine, but I hesitated to cast one, so I'll explain my reasons.
So-called “big list” questions are discouraged, as being not constructive:
“this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion”
The idea is that asking “what activities can we do to improve research group atmosphere?” is not so different from “what is the best programming editor?”, “what are good resources on research ethics?”, and so on. Basically, if one can come up with 20 totally different but all equally valid answers, it means there is something wrong with the question. As the FAQ says:
What kind of questions should I not ask here?
You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.
Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.
The question you linked is somewhat borderline. To me, you gave it enough specifics (“what can a PhD student do”, e.g.) to make it viable, but by some aspects it is very broad (look at the variety of answers you got).
Finally: it appears to me, as a moderator on two other SE sites and someöne who joined the Academia.SE fun recently, that the Academia community allows itself more leeway on this rule than other SE sites do. Good for us, as long as it doesn't lower the quality and usability of the site. We should keep that goal in mind when we cross this type of question and wonder whether to close them or not.