With respect to Monica, I think she misses the point when she says:
The author wants to achieve a certain goal, one bound up with
community-building, and is asking about ways to do that.
Author intent is a slippery beast. We cannot use it as a metric for whether a particular revision of a post meets community guidelines, even when it's plain as day. Let me illustrate with an admittedly extreme example:
What's the best social network?
I'm performing a meta-analysis of published research to determine
whether there's strong evidence for a causal relationship between use
of social networks and high school dropout rates among males aged
13-17. There are lots of different social networks, each with their
own unique characteristics and dynamics, and most of them use this and
that and the other thing as a way of attracting users in my
demographic of interest.
My goal is to focus on research that targets one of the larger social
networks specifically, since that will make the analysis much more
practical. I'm wondering if anyone has used a social network where my
demographic of interest is really strongly represented. They need to
be able to create an account without any invitation or parental
permission and have some way to access the account from school
computers or personal mobile devices.
Which social network should I try first?
Here's a fine problem statement sandwiched between fairly poor questions. There are two good options for dealing with a question like this—edit it, or close it. You edit it when you have both the opportunity and ability to fix whatever makes it close-worthy without misrepresenting the author's problem or invalidating existing answers. Otherwise, you close it.
I would go so far as to say that the author's intent in the example above is explicitly clear—at least, I don't suspect them of lying about their goals and constraints (nor do I generally care if they're lying; good questions are separable from their authors). So I definitely have the ability to fix this with an edit, in a way that I'm confident will respect what's already there. If I also had the opportunity to edit (i.e., the free time and the inclination), then I would do so. If not, I would vote to close. Closing the question keeps it from accumulating bad answers, spam answers, and other answers that would tend to "lock in" the undesirable formulation of the question, until such time as it can be improved and re-opened.
The question in question
Is there a pan-community reputation service?
I'm working on developing a professional community that links multiple
open source software development projects. Each of these projects has
its own collaboration mechanism. Like many projects, they use a
combination of GitHub, Jira, Stack Overflow for primary collaboration.
A mix of forum or newsgroup software is used - anything from Google
Groups to mail list managers.
My goal is to encourage cross project contribution and usage. I'd like
to provide a consistent profile that lets users show and add to their
professional experience. I'm wondering if anyone has seen an identity
or profile service that lets users link their profiles from Github,
Stack Overflow, LinkedIn, or Jira. More than just being OpenID
approach, this would pull data from these profiles to create a
reputation and experience dashboard.
Of course, users should have the ability to link, hide, and unlink any
profiles they choose.
Has anyone seen such a thing?
I cast a vote to close here because I believed the question stated in the title and re-stated at the end of the body sent a much stronger message about the author's intent than the rest of the body. I had no way of knowing whether the author would be just as happy with a reformulated question, and I suspect that I didn't have much inclination to fix it for them because I read it as trivial
When users don't phrase their titles as questions and don't re-state them at the end, I'm much more confident that they could use some help expressing the "real question" they're trying to communicate, and so I'm much more likely to edit their post when I can see well-scoped, on-topic questions hidden in the body. Here, the opposite is true: I'm relatively confident, because the author took care to properly book-end their problem statement with actual, literal questions, that this formulation is what the author intends.
But let's also talk about the body, because it's interesting. The first paragraph gives context, evinces a real, practical problem, shows some background knowledge/research. Awesome! The second paragraph starts off well—love to see goals explicitly identified, goes back to that "practical problem" element. The first half-and-a-bit of this problem statement is really very good; unfortunately, it makes a complete 180-degree turn here:
I'm wondering if anyone has seen an identity or profile service
This is now a shopping recommendation. The rest of the question is a list of features the author wants. It's no secret why we dislike these:
These questions may seem tolerable at first glance. Isn't it our
mandate to help our fellow
ewoksusers? But consider the
voluminous amount of information you need to even begin properly
answering a shopping question:
- What is your budget?
- Where do you live?
- What are your preferences?
- Which alternatives will you consider?
- When do you want to buy?
Let's say the question asker provided all that information. Fat
chance, I know, but let’s pretend for a moment they did — and we were
able to provide the perfect, ideal shopping recommendation to them.
Even if that was the case, technology moves so rapidly that the best
shopping recommendations will be utterly obsolete within a year!
What’s the point of a bunch of labor intensive questions that provide
only temporary benefit to a limited (some might say Too Localized)
audience? There isn't any.
Plus, they attract spam. I can't tell you how many questions I've come across (or on how many SE network sites) with a list of answers like, "You can use this to do X, Y, Z." That's not useful and it's certainly not the high-quality Q&A that Stack Exchange intends to provide. Most of them don't tell me anything I couldn't find out by putting "free X Y Z" into Google and half of the links are broken.
Response to specific objections
The author objects:
My question wasn't a shopping question.
Sounds reasonable. The solution is to edit the question to make that clear to users who have the ability to vote to close and re-open questions.
This was a "do I need to go shopping question."
I'm not sure what you mean by this, but as long as someone in the future who has a similar problem will find your question and its answers useful, it should be okay.
I have a different principle for you - why are you trying so hard to fine tune such complicated rules?
That will hopefully become more clear as you become more familiar with the Stack Exchange network and its governance. It's a surprisingly esoteric implementation for such a simple concept: Q&A that leaves useful artifacts to help people solve practical problems. The complexity of the platform comes in all the fine-tuning—the threshold for what constitutes "useful," "practical," even "problem" is constantly changing, and it happens just like this, with arguments made and voted on by communities.
You have another problem with this community - low engagement. Perhaps you should be erring on the side of encouraging good discussion rather than making up additional rules on the fly to justify your overmoderation.
I hope this Meta discussion has shown to your satisfaction that these rules are not arbitrary, insurmountable or set in stone. You have been inconvenienced and perhaps confused but in the end you did improve your question and it was re-opened. Your thoughts about effective ways to conduct the beta and deal with low engagement are more than welcome (in another Meta question, perhaps).