We recently removed the 'close' link from proposals, preferring instead that users simply 'flag' proposals that have to be closed/removed for egregious problems.

Why did we do this?

My initial concern about removing the 'close' vote was that we might lose an important part of the democratic process. But… at its core, Area 51 is a vetting of ideas; individual communities coming together to rally around a subject to see if they have enough support to move forward. That does not mean the majority of Area 51 users have to love your site idea. It simply means you have to recruit a community of users large enough so that questions get good answers quickly.

But somewhere along the way, the close vote became a way for the Area 51 community to vote in a sort of "opinion poll" to decide which sites should be created or not. It's understandable that well-meaning users might use the vote this way — voting to close a proposal was adopted from our Q&A model for helping communities control their own content. But voting to close a proposal was never meant to assert that someone's idea for a site should never be heard at all.

The democratic process comes into play when a community rallies around an idea to create a site (or it is forgotten and removed through lack of support). As part of that process, you are certainly welcome to argue for or against an idea you feel strongly about — that's what the discussion section is for.

But aren't there are still a lot of horrible ideas being proposed?!

Yes, that is certainly true. I can understand the frustration when you just know that the vast, vast majority of proposals will never become sites and you just want to save everyone the trouble. But Area 51 is still very effective at culling half-baked ideas through its normal processes. If someone proposes a subject you don't like, you can often just ignore it. When the proposal fails to gain enough interest to move forward, it will simply be forgotten and removed through the normal maintenance processes.

But even if some crazy or ill-considered idea gains traction, proposals still have to make it through a rigorous "final evaluation" by the Community Team to determine if the idea as presented is both viable and a good fit for the network. We do this late in the process because we want to give proposals every chance to develop without interference from folks outside their subject space. It's only when we can consider the entire body of questions, the discussions around the proposal, and the community who is actually going to build this site, that we can make a more-informed decision about where this is going. And even if a proposal makes it through the evaluation, it still has to prove itself in a successful private beta to make it out the door as a public site.

So don't panic; proposals are not sites.

There are occasions when I may close an early proposal when it runs up against issues which make it a non-starter (e.g. content violations, untenable duplicates, abandoned proposals, etc). If you spot a proposal that needs this sort of "exception handling", feel free to flag it for moderator attention. I may not always act on those flags (sometimes I find it more fitting to simply let the process play out), but at least we can create an environment where folks can come to us with ideas without feeling like "you don't belong here."

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@Robert, I'm very glad that this feature has now been removed. I was getting very sick of people voting to close proposals with nonsensical reasons, and I believe if a site won't be viable, it simply won't achieve the required numbers in area51 and it doesn't need to be prematurely closed. – Kenshin Apr 17 '14 at 4:15
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This will be great! I recently proposed a BeagleBoard website, after seeing the Arduino and RaspBerry Pi proposals. Then someone voted to close it as a duplicate of reverse engineering... I think this will really help keep things like that from happening. – Dozer789 Apr 17 '14 at 15:11
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What about capping question downvotes, too? Mass question downvotes serve no real purpose either. – Brian Rushton Apr 18 '14 at 15:53
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This is one of the most reasonable things i have seen on Area51, +1 – Dilaton May 18 '14 at 15:49

It's a pity that SE team has forgotten the main motivation behind close votes concept: to keep noise ratio low. The problem with poor proposals, spam proposals or trolling proposals it's not that they are poor and have no chance to be launched and will be eventually deleted.

The problem is, that until they will be deleted, they are noise, distracting from finding something useful here (by useful I understand the serious proposals, which are not duplicates or attemts to split community because someone doesn't like them or was met with cold shower).

If noise is not a concert anymore, so please remove the close votes on questions as well. This will probably decrease the number of site proposals as well.

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Area51 is different from SE sites, as this is the place where you want to make the noise in order to make the proposal stand out from the crowd. If noise ratio is low, the proposal dies naturally. – kenorb Dec 29 '15 at 19:19

So now there is no opportunity for those who understand the community better to keep the community cleaner by voting to close as duplicates of existing proposals/sites?

That has to be one of the dumbest things the Area51 administration has done in a long time.

But somewhere along the way, the close vote became a way for the Area 51 community to vote in a sort of "opinion poll" to decide which sites should be created or not. It's understandable that well-meaning users might use the vote this way — voting to close a proposal was adopted from our Q&A model for helping communities control their own content. But voting to close a proposal was never meant to assert that someone's idea for a site should never be heard at all.

That the administration believes that votes were an "opinion poll" is disturbing.

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What opportunity is lost? You can still contribute, as Robert pointed out – JohnB Apr 18 '14 at 15:44
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@JohnB - by flagging a post? That's ridiculous. – warren Apr 18 '14 at 17:54
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The difference is not immediately clear to me, could you elaborate? – JohnB Apr 18 '14 at 17:56
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@JohnB - flagging requires moderator intervention. VtC requires community participation AND maintains transparency – warren Apr 18 '14 at 17:57
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I think moderator intervention is a good thing for A51, and certainly not ridiculous. I have seen lots of close votes that make me wonder what the heck the voter was thinking. There was a lot of "I'm guessing this is probably a duplicate, might as well mark it as such" followed by what I think was bandwagon voting. I've never had any close voting powers on Discuss.A51 or for proposals, but I still flag things that I think require moderator attention. I'm not sure why there is a need for transparency for this though. – JohnB Apr 18 '14 at 18:11
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@JohnB - not wanting transparency seems dangerous. I know Area51 is a private company, but the community is based on transparency. – warren Apr 18 '14 at 18:13
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I'm with you there, I prefer transparency. Tangentially related: it is exceedingly frustrating when proposals get deleted without notice and I scratch my head thinking "I swear this proposal on underwater juggling existed, am I going crazy?". I think it's important for question close votes to be transparent on regular SE sites, but I consider proposal close votes on A51 to be rather low priority for needing transparency. I don't think I've ever checked (or cared) to see who voted, but perhaps you have a different perspective on that – JohnB Apr 18 '14 at 18:21
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@JohnB - my perspective is simple: by seeing what has been linked in VtC (ie previous proposals and/or active sites), it becomes more obvious to proposers (most of whom seem to be pretty recent to the SE world) that what they want either already exists, or can be better served by joining something else in process – warren Apr 18 '14 at 19:06
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@JohnB Why do I feel this itch to create that “underwater juggling” proposal? ;) – e-sushi Jun 14 '14 at 18:19
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This, thanks @warren. Not allowing close votes is bad as it goes against the faq: We don't run Area 51. The community does. – OldBunny2800 Jan 31 '16 at 17:50
    
@OldBunny2800 - except apparently that part of the FAQ isn't true :( – warren Aug 24 '16 at 12:58

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