The closing of a post for "duplicate" or "too localized" carries no penalty. On the other hand, the closing of a post for "off topic" or "not a real question" carries a downvote. Apparently the first two are "not your fault" closes, while the latter means "your fault, reputation penalty."

And there is another category, "not constructive," or "argumentive and subjective" that carries no penalty. Why would that be a "no fault" close?

1 Answer 1


From the original proposal for this feature, site founder Jeff Atwood's "Should questions closed as “not a real question” and “off topic” get an automatic downvote?"

Having community downvote these OT and NARQ questions at the time of close would accomplish a few things:

  • earlier tripping of our protection heuristics for new users, that is, no more asking 10 questions in a row that don't get downvoted, but all closed
  • a disincentive for users who feel they can "try the waters" and float egregiously off-topic or utterly vague questions in our community, at no risk
  • no more using up daily downvotes, at a cost of -1 rep, to the users who helped close these questions and genuinely feel these questions should be actively discouraged by downvotes (as I frequently do)
  • OK. I get this much. But then why is argumentive and subjective "no fault," or "less "bad" than these?
    – Tom Au
    Apr 10, 2013 at 23:12
  • I think the reasoning goes that argumentative and subjective are harder to get right, are more of a gray area, and are more likely to have been made in good faith. Please note that I am neither endorsing the policy nor condemning it; I'm just trying to answer your question about why it is the way it is. Apr 11, 2013 at 5:41
  • 1
    It's worth considering that the automatic downvotes were implemented almost entirely because of Stack Overflow, which gets a lot of utter crap that has probably almost never appeared at all on this site. What makes sense for SO might not seem so relevant here.
    – David Z
    Apr 12, 2013 at 2:45
  • @DavidZaslavsky: "What makes sense for SO might not seem so relevant here." "You can say that again."
    – Tom Au
    Apr 12, 2013 at 22:55
  • I explored this question further in the following stack overflow meta question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/179923/…
    – Tom Au
    May 12, 2013 at 17:11

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