I think we need to be nicer when closing questions. I think of new people look at having their question closed as being a slap in the face and a real turn off for the site. The automated messages are informative, but not that nice. I don't think they suggest welcoming edits to improve the question. We have had a couple of recent questions be closed/edited/reopened very quickly and I think that is a good thing.

I think the last (generally the 5th unless you have mod powers) person who votes to close a question should post a "personal" comment. This should only get added when the question actually gets closed since the OP will not find out about close votes until the question is closed (unless they have enough rep, and then they presumably understand the process).

I would propose something like:

Your question was closed as a duplicate. A link is provided at the top of your question to the possible duplicate. If you don't think your question is really a duplicate, please edit your question to highlight the differences and then we can reopen it.

Obviously something different would be needed for localized and not constructive questions.

What do people think? Can we just change the automated text to be nicer?

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migrated to meta.stackoverflow.com by eykanal Jan 24 '13 at 14:00

This question belongs on our site for discussion, support, and feature requests for this site.

    
This isn't a bad idea, but I think a discussion like this belongs on the main SE meta, as you're proposing a change to something site-wide. We don't really have the capability to do that only here. I'm moving this question there. –  eykanal Jan 24 '13 at 13:59
    
I'm re-opening this question. A discussion took place on the main SE meta, which raised some interesting points, but I think we can have different discussion here, more related to our own community (where scale is less of an issue). –  eykanal Jan 25 '13 at 14:26

4 Answers 4

As a very junior user of SE sites, I have found myself in the position of having questions closed on numerous occasions, without explanation or the chance to improve my question. All I'm left with is an impersonal and officious comment which does nothing to help me to understand why my question was closed or to help me improve future questions. I'm left with the feeling of having been cut out of a very cliquey community, unwelcoming towards new members.

A more friendly and helpful, personalised comment would be very welcome indeed. I just wish that more SE site communities recognised this!

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Don't forget you can help out and provide some of those personal comments even if it wasn't you who voted to close. –  StrongBad Jan 28 '13 at 9:31
    
I'm usually too late and the question is already closed when I see them, as I'm an infrequent user of SE sites, but I agree with your comment, Daniel. –  James Jan 28 '13 at 14:48

I think is an excellent idea. I find myself writing something like that very often (one example here, others exist on mostly deleted posts). Having that text show up automatically—particularly with instructions to message me (the closer) after editing—would save me a lot of typing. I'd rather people edit questions and become a regular then close the question forever and drive the questioner away.

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Changing the automated text would be a tall order, as that would be done network-wide and the SE team is understandably resistant to such changes. Besides, there's something odd about trying to make an automated message have a personal touch. It means more coming from one of the actual close voters.

I'm a moderator on Physics and when I close questions there, I almost always leave a comment roughly of the form

Hi [username], and welcome to Physics Stack Exchange! This question is inappropriate for this site because [reason]. If you'd like to [make specific changes], I'll be happy to reopen it. See our [FAQ] for more information.

which I think helps at least some new users not to be too put off by the closure.

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The problem, for me, is that this blurb also needs to include the line "please alert me that you made the change by writing @myusername in a comment after you make the change". Anything to get around this would be very welcome for me. –  eykanal Jan 27 '13 at 4:03
    
Oh, well of course you can tack that on at the end. –  David Z Jan 28 '13 at 1:35

I'd like to bring to everyone's attention the AutoReviewComments userscript, which I understand is exactly done for this purpose. It gives you (editable) templates for the most typical comments one can leave under new users' questions.

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