This question here has been asked on May 27th, 2013 and closed the same day for the reason »This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; ...«

Today we have to realise that this question has got more than 5.000 views!

How can we avoid in future to make tex.sx look ridiculous, because questions that draw a huge interest have been closed?

I am well aware that the views are a result of the headline of the question. But however, people come and find a closed question to an issue they experience themselves! We have discussed a grace period here: Should we have a Grace period to avoid premature Voting to Close and Reopening Cycle

  • 14
    The mere fact, that a question gets a bunch of views does not qualify them as a good one (statement independent on the question given in the link). If a question is closed to early, one should vote for reopen it. A question might get a lot of views for a title too general, not really indicating what caused the problem so users click on it (too) fast, increasing the view count
    – user31729
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 19:07
  • The thing i suggest here is to rename the question title. After that, it will still be too localized (or off-topic now) as the solution is installing a missing package.
    – Johannes_B
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 20:19
  • @Johannes_B Editing might be warranted, but the issue was not a missing package. (In a sense, that's the problem here: I think the hits are mainly from people who do need to install a package.) Answer upcoming.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 20:20
  • What happens, if we keep the very well answerable question »Why does \tabelofcontnets not work?« open?
    – Johannes_B
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 20:20
  • @ChristianHupfer Though I agree with the reasoning, the reopening speed is not even close to the speed of closing questions. So that's not a good argument for closing questions by just via we can open it again anyway.
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 13:43
  • @percusse True: I think here the fact that the OP found a solution (sort out the installed TeX systems) probably had an influence.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 14:22
  • @percusse: I did not say, that we should use the reopen vote as some kind of a remedy for anything if (by us?) a question is closed too fast.
    – user31729
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 14:40
  • @ChristianHupfer Me neither.
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 14:48
  • 1
    @percusse: But your comment can be understood in the sense I would have said this way ;-)
    – user31729
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 14:50
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer Ah OK I meant that, once a question is closed nobody comes back to it again. So if a question is mildly broad and somebody casts a vote then it is gone almost forever unless a familiar face brings it up in chat room. So in that sense we are a bit elitists that I wish we weren't. So you gave it as an alternative to object the closing but it almost never works like that. Because it goes back to the same reviewers who closed it.
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 14:58
  • @percusse: ... which is due to the fact we are small of groups doing reviews (a small group, not an elite one ;-))
    – user31729
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 15:01
  • 1
    @ChristianHupfer That's certainly not true. We have a small group of reviewers. We are actually pretty big in terms of active user base. That review system is broken. And we are stuck with it.
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 15:03
  • @percusse: That's what I wrote (about the smallness of the group)
    – user31729
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 8:11
  • It won't be a small group if people can stop using the review system as is today. There is almost no lingering close voted questions. They are shut down by happy trigger fingers which suggests that they have to have an idea about all questions which is nonsense.
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 14:18
  • @Keksdose: I think, you should accept Joseph's answer ;-)
    – user31729
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


As mentioned in a comment, a high number of views does not in itself mean that the question is a good one for the site. For example, a 'provocative' title may attract a lot of hits while meaning that the question does not fit the Q&A format or indeed be really about TeX at all. Views of questions come primarily from people searching for text, probably in the case in point the error message ! I can't find file `ecrm1000'. or some variant of that. That does not mean that the question or answers were helpful to the viewer: that is what votes are there to show (of course, only a subset of viewers will vote).

Questions can get closed while still being useful, and the correct thing to do there is to make the argument for reopening. That might involved editing the question to clarify how it is useful to others and so on. Thus the issue to decide on is whether that applies here.

Reading over the text of the question linked here, it's clear that the issue the user has is not a general one as such but a problem with multiple TeX systems being installed. Beyond a rather general 'sort out your TeX system(s) so that each one is using its own files' there is not an answer we can give here. (Indeed, it's arguable that this is an OS issue as much as a TeX one.) That makes this particular question (historically) 'too localized' or nowadays probably 'off topic' (a configuration issue on an isolated system).

Of course, one might wonder if the error message suggests there is a general question to be answered. There almost certainly is, and we might arrange to have such a question on the site (if we do not already): someone could post a well-formed question and an answer at the same time. However, that is not the same as saying this question should be reopened: as I say, while the error appears general it's quite clear that the issue in this case was not. (One could argue that we could remove the edit parts from the linked question to make it general and simply ignore the fact that the OP had TL2012 around at all. To me that seems to be taking an edit too far: the questioner wasn't really trying to get 'managed' TL working at all.)

Fundamentally, as a Q&A site the idea is that (open) questions should have some value beyond just the person posting them. That's why we tend to try to 'clear up' things like system misconfiguration, typos, misunderstandings and the like in comments. These cases don't make good general questions so are likely to be closed but at the same time we can try to help the person who asked.

  • 4
    Well analyzed and stated!
    – Pops
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 18:29
  • I agree with everthing here. I'd like to add, that if someone down-votes or votes to close a question and they don't comment why they are doing so, so that the question can be improved, (assuming there isn't an existing comment representing their view) then they are being a far worse stack.exchange user than the OP! Changing the OP's behavior turns them into a productive stack.exchange user in the future, helping to improve the site. Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 0:09
  • @MHH: I agree with you that downvotes without explanations do not show proper behaviour, in my point of view. Also downvoting below -1 should avoided
    – user31729
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 16:06

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