I asked this perfectly valid question about SSL certificate validation:

What kind of web server do I have (pertaining to SSL activation) if I run a custom Node.js server on an Amazon Linux EC2?

And it was closed because:

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

And (I quote):

Additionally the question is also unclear due to the fact that no error report has been attached.

Why were these reasons used to close my question?

  1. There's no error message involved in this.

  2. The answer couldn't take more than a paragraph if you tried. And there can only be one correct answer.

So that invalidates both the "requires a broad answer / too many possible answers" and "no error message" claims. So, why?

I'm thinking instead of abruptly holding, locking, and closing the question in a 10 minute time frame, some effort could have been put in first to request further detail. I think this was poorly handled by the moderator involved (which is probably the same person who will respond to this).

  • 1
    Rather than abruptly swearing at 'the' moderator you could of politely asked for an extended reason why the question had been closed. Oct 26, 2014 at 17:58
  • @bybe 'the' = you. It was a valid question and you put it on hold for invalid reasons within 5 minutes of me posting rather than asking for more detail or anything.
    – J.Todd
    Oct 26, 2014 at 18:00
  • @bybe can you answer the question asked in this post, or did I forget an error message here too?
    – J.Todd
    Oct 26, 2014 at 18:03
  • 1
    How quickly the question was closed is irrelevant and nothing has been closed abruptly... when we believe we see a question that is not fit per our rules we close the question and that way the person who made the question is notified and can edit the question that will help community members. In rare cases us moderators make mistakes and sometimes question are misread and mistaken, not saying this is the case but we have 3 other moderators on Pro Webmasters who will review your question and make the final decision on this matter. Oct 26, 2014 at 18:10
  • @bybe you didn't answer my question here, regarding these close reasons being invalid. I'm implying that the question doesn't fit the close reasons but was rather simply a question that you didn't understand / know how to answer. It was answerable quite easily by anyone who had experience on the matter, and it was a question regarding the use of SSL which is on-topic here. It turns out that I could have answered the question easily ten minutes later. The question was wrongly closed.
    – J.Todd
    Oct 26, 2014 at 18:14
  • I've sent a message to the other moderators whom will edit, reopen or advise shortly. There's nothing more that I can say or do for you at this point, you shouldn't need to wait too long. Oct 26, 2014 at 18:19
  • In defense of @bybe, this individual provides the best answers that I can see on this site and does tend to moderate with appropriate caution. I understood your question and was researching an answer for you when the question was locked. It is possible that someone like I can edit your question to make it clearer, flag to reopen the question, and answer the question which is helpful to the users. I am sorry this all went wrong. Please make sure that you come back. We have good people here. But sometimes patience and understanding is needed.
    – closetnoc
    Oct 27, 2014 at 5:41

1 Answer 1


Before getting to your question, first let me state that moderating a site on Stack Exchange is a bit of a challenge since there's a higher level of standards placed on questions and answers so that the sites contain the best quality of information for others possible (we've all seen sites where the quality is not so great). That means we need to weigh each post against a series of criteria and make a judgment call on them.

Sometimes it's pretty clear to us, and sometimes not. For example, a question might seem well-written and on-topic for the site, but there might be a fundamental problem with it too, such as it could lead to multiple non-definitive answers (which is considered an "open-ended" or "polling" question), or it might seem too unclear for others to readily follow.

It's often tough for new users to understand all the various standards of this site, and Stack Exchange sites in general, which can lead to frustration. Hopefully they realize that asking politely why a question was put on hold is the best approach to elicit help in removing the hold, or at least helpful comments from other users.

Sometimes users act out of frustration though, which seems to have been the case here after reviewing the deleted comment. Please note that civility is required on the site at all times, and expletives and name-calling are absolutely prohibited. All the moderators here try to do the best thing for the site, but we're subject to the same errors and reactions as anyone else, though we do try to remain as objective as possible.

For the benefit of others who might read this in the future, if your question was put on hold or there was another moderator action that you're unclear or unhappy about, just add a comment (using the @moderatorname, combing both names without spaces) or open up a Meta question. Try to realize that we're all here to help one another though, and that keeping it civil will elicit the best possible responses, as well as possibly being helpful to others in the future.

Now getting to your question…although it might have seemed clear to you, it might not be so clear to others, which it needs to be in order to be helpful to others too (another criteria for questions here). Editing it to something like: Which web servers can be selected for SSL when running Node.js on Amazon Linux EC2? may help.

In regards to being too broad, the moderator might have felt this was an open-ended question leading to a list of possible servers, how to setup SSL with Node.js, or something else, and that an error report might be helpful in determining what the problem was…

The best thing to do is just ask what the issues with the question were and how could it be edited to better fit within the guidelines of the site, which is the process for adding the question back to the review queue for consideration to be re-opened, so it can be voted on by the community (refer to this for more).

Lastly, moderators can't be on the site at all times, so they might act on a post when they see it. For grey-area questions, or those that could possibly be clarified by asking for clarification, we might instead notate them (or review our comments as I do) and revisit those questions after period of time to see if there was a response or not. This depends on the moderator's opinion of the question though, and their style of moderation. We are after-all humans with variation…until Stack Exchange bots continue to evolve and replace us :-)

Hopefully the above provides a better understanding. I'll edit the question and re-open it so that it can be answered by yourself and others. If you feel it can be clarified even more, or made more specific, please edit it further.

  • It should also be pointed out that a moderator closing the question quickly brings any problems with the question to a question-asker's attention faster as there is no feedback for problem questions until after a question is closed. At least this way the issues with a question can be fixed quickly (hopefully) getting it good answers.
    – John Conde Mod
    Oct 27, 2014 at 1:45
  • Thanks @dan for editing and opening the OP's question. As well, Thanks for your measured response here. I Thank John too. Sometimes we all get a bit too itchy. As long as we stay away from the intersections when we get a bit wild we should all be okay.
    – closetnoc
    Oct 27, 2014 at 5:44
  • @JohnConde the question wasn't bad, that's the thing. Small edits were beneficial, but my question was quite easily answerable as I rather quickly found out. As a side note, perhaps more than 5-10 minutes should be allowed for improvement/discussion (in this case discussion) before actually closing the question. Even putting on hold should be done with more care, because as it turns out the question was valid. Itchy trigger fingers are no good on SE. I once had a question receive 2-3 close votes in 2 minutes and then be answered in another 30 seconds to become a hugely popular Q/A.
    – J.Todd
    Oct 27, 2014 at 8:28
  • Questions aren't always as bad as they can be perceived by individuals who don't understand them. Perhaps just letting the up-vote/down-vote system work, and then using moderator tools on anything bad that gets through afterwards could be something for you guys to look at.
    – J.Todd
    Oct 27, 2014 at 8:31

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