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Three days ago new user Billy Lane asked How do I become a great gm?, with the full text of their question reading:

I’ve played D&D on Discord now for a year, and I used to play D&D way-way back in the 80’s. And now I’m going to be dming my very first quest. And, I want to do an amazing job. I know it’s a learning process and will take time, but I’d love to know what are some specific things I can do to be a great gm?

This was quickly closed as "needing more focus" (I think rightly so, though as a new user I think more could have been done to help OP understand how to focus it) and is currently at +1/-2.

Today KorvinStarmast was doing some copyediting and brought to the front page a post coincidently called How do I learn to become a good GM?. It is nearly eleven years old and is currently sitting at +61/0. Thomas Markov, since this hit the front page has voted to close, and there are two other close votes at present - but up until today this appeared to be a well-received question, with many answers totaling near +130.

As far as I can tell, these are pretty much the same question - you have DMs with some amount of experience, asking very generally for how to become better. If it turns out the older question is closed, that would seem pretty consistent to me. If so, I'd be interested in understanding the line between [closed] as modern maintenance, and 'left open for historical reasons, please don't ask questions like this now'.

If it is left open, I'd be interested in knowing whether the more recent question should be tagged as a duplicate, as well as what the older question has that at one point made it acceptable and well-received, but no longer meets our standards.

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The more recent question was closed for "needs more focus" because it is just a short discussion prompt (entire text quoted below):

I’ve played D&D on Discord now for a year, and I used to play D&D way-way back in the 80’s. And now I’m going to be dming my very first quest. And, I want to do an amazing job. I know it’s a learning process and will take time, but I’d love to know what are some specific things I can do to be a great gm?

But as broad and unfocused as this is, the 2013 question casts an even wider net, asking more than just "how do I become a good GM?", including:

  • How do I learn to become a GM? (needs more focus)
  • What are good resources to use to learn to GM? (shopping question)
  • What are examples of good GMing in books, blogs, and live play? (shopping question)
  • How did you learn to be a good GM? (opinion based poll/discussion prompt)
  • Or do you feel as bad at this as I do, even when it's a successful, fun encounter? (opinion poll)

So to directly answer this meta question, we reconcile the treatment of these questions by treating them the same: closing them for "needs more focus". The 2013 question in particular is asking at least five distinct questions, none of which are themselves on-topic for the site. This should be a perfectly straightforward decision to close.

Now to be fair to (some of) the answers, there is some good advice there. But the good advice that is there sits among a lot of noise. That is, there are pearls on that question, but that doesn't mean the question is good. We are trying to optimize for pearls, not sand. And optimizing for pearls means curating the sand; in this case, that means closing questions that should be closed, regardless of how old the question is. That is, there is no "left open for historical reasons". This has been discussed over and over on this site (2011, 2015, 2016, 2021, and 2023), reaching the same conclusion every time: we close questions that should be closed, and a question's age is not part of that decision making process.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed that there is no "left open for historical reasons". I was confusing with "closed and locked rather than deleted, off-topic but preserved for historical reasons" \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Dec 28, 2023 at 6:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes the most useful thing to do with a poorly-scoped question is to close it but leave it up (as opposed to deleting it), and then close further copies as duplicates. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex P
    Dec 30, 2023 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexP Yes, I think that’s the right move. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2023 at 21:08

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