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We once again have a perfectly reasonable question, Is there a complete list of good-aligned gods of hunting?, that has been closed. It should not have been. This time there is the claim that it is a “shopping” question.

We should close problematic questions. This isn’t one. It already has two answers that seem, if I say so myself as the author of one of them, pretty solid. We have many examples of questions like this one that have been quite successful as well. In actual fact, requests for thorough lists and other resources have long been the recommended way to approach the kind of problem the querent has here, instead of asking for any one example—which would be a shopping question.

And, if I can editorialize a little... It seems to me that the community, or a segment of it, has become extremely trigger-happy with their close votes and should desist, because it’s really annoying to bring it to meta every time. We should concern ourselves less with enforcing the letter of the law and more with its spirit—one of the close votes came from a user who literally expressed sadness at “having to” vote to close it. We don’t! We, who have the close-vote privilege, are experienced users entrusted with the right and responsibility to judge questions and whether they are likely to cause problems. Please, we should exercise that capacity critically and intentionally, not robotically “following the rules.” The rules were never written to be used that way in the first place.

The Stack Exchange system is very intentionally decentralized. There isn’t really supposed to be any one person or small group of people “in charge.” Moderators are “exception handlers,” not rulers or even leaders—as established members of the community, they may be leaders, but the diamond doesn’t automatically make them so, and their leadership is based purely on their experience and ability to explain the advantages and disadvantages of a particular stance—not any vested authority. The authority and responsibility for maintaining the site falls instead on every single user, with that responsibility gradually building up as we gain reputation. We do a disservice to the site if we abandon our personal responsibility and judgment in favor of fixed “policies” suggested by other users—they aren’t special. If they’ve received support, that’s good and well and you should consider that heavily, you should understand what they suggest and why they suggest it and why that has received support, and consider those points in your own decision making. But the key word is consider. In your decision making. No one here is going to come up with a perfect one-size-fits-all policy that covers all eventualities including those that haven’t come up yet. We have a responsibility to make a choice—yes, a subjective, personal, ad hoc choice—with each case. Does this match the pattern the policy was written to protect against? Is it likely to cause the problems we’ve discussed? Or is this case, for whatever reason, different?

And some of those who voted to close the question will argue that no, it isn’t different, and fine; I disagree so I’ll take it to meta. But since at least one user seemed to feel “required” to close the question despite their own opinion, and that’s not how this system is supposed to work at all. And for those who want to over-emphasize the role of meta in communal decision-making, I would point out that each time I bring a question over here, it seems as though the community agrees with me and re-opens it. Food for thought, maybe.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Spirit over letter point seems buried, is a good point, and I am not sure how it ought to be pulled out. Just a thought, no action needed. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 17 at 18:14
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It has been reopened after an edit. Hopefully, that closes out this meta.

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OK, to address what I think was going on with that question

If it had been framed as a bounded list question, it would likely have been OK. The problem with the question (initially, IMO) is that it wasn't well framed but that is no surprise. New user. Closing a question while we dig into "what kind of question is this?" is often a good idea. Engaging with the asker positively can have beneficial outcomes once the scope is ironed out.

There were two things that struck me, but I was a bit late to the table for that meal so I may have missed a few details.

  1. No evidence of prior research, and an initial presentation of a 'do my homework for me' flavored question - usually at any SE site such questions attract down votes and close votes.

  2. As a lore question, which is what I thought it was, the "I want 5e only lore" or "I want lore from any edition" was not clear, and it took a while to tease out. In the end I think that is what the original desire was, but that is a guess by me.

Closing it while it was getting cleaned up / clarified was a correct move, IMO. We do that with all kinds of questions.

Bounded list questions are not shopping questions

In hindsight, if one of us who saw the question in its raw form recognized that it was a potential 'bounded list question', then mentioning that in a comment and linking to that meta about how we are mostly OK with bounded list questions, we collectively might have headed off some of the disagreements.

My two cents.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Gotta be honest, I thought it was pretty obvious that it was a bounded list question, and thought my edit made that clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 18 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan If I had been paying closer attention when I made my first comment asking for clarificaiton in scope, or if I'd have thought of it, I'd have added a link to "bounded list" in the comment I did make as an aid to the process of getting that question better scoped. But I didn't. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 18 at 14:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, I could have dug up the meta about it, I just hate doing that. Ultimately, I want people to get away from “but meta says!” and just approach the question critically. Meta is useful for discussing and sharing experiences and bringing up ideas you hadn’t thought of and why things can go wrong, but you still have to approach each question with “ok, is this actually going to cause a problem?” “It looks vaguely similar sorta to something someone said could be a red flag on meta once” might be a reason for a second look; it’s not a good reason to slam the close button. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 18 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan My thought is that had I dropped "bounded list questions are on topic" that might have prevented a close \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 18 at 16:56

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