I realize this issue has been addressed here before a few months ago, but it seems to me we are still a little overly eager to close/hold questions as soon as they appear.

Do I need to worry about "tail: unrecognized file system type 0xbeefdead"?

Apparently, this question was considered "unclear" to 3 people inside of the first hour. Since it's hard to see what is unclear about it -- keeping in mind "unclear" does not mean "I don't know the answer" -- I'm inclined to believe there are people who prefer to shoot first and ask questions later at anything that appears in the Close queue.

If you suspect a new question is unclear, but there is some unclearness in your suspicions, post the question on chat to get some opinions, and/or wait a few hours to see what happens with it. In this case, an answer appeared fairly quickly which I think makes it clear just how clear the question was.

If there is any ambiguity at all, you should leave a comment explaining your decision (IMO this should be mandatory for the first vote). This way, someone else can spot your mistake and respond directly to it before you inspire a whole stream of gunslingers to repeat it.

It is of course possible to reopen questions. However, this then creates more work and hassle for other members. It also creates the impression that we are a bunch of busy body zealots. There should be a reasonable balance between setting a high bar in terms of quality and keeping the site accessible to casual users.

When in doubt, ask someone else. Do not take the fact that something is in the close queue for evidence of the fact that it needs to be closed -- all of the five votes that are required should be thoughtful and considered, not just the first one.

[If the "question" here isn't clear, lol, I guess it is about whether or not other people have perceived the same problem generally.]

  • 2
    This question appears to be off-topic because it contains beef, dead instead of dead beef. IOW, I agree, and also point out its helpful to pick the right reason... E.g., unix.stackexchange.com/questions/115925/… didn't go away on its own, even if you think that should be closed...
    – derobert
    Mar 24, 2014 at 20:33
  • I don't think I've ever thought of myself as a busy body zealot 8-)
    – slm Mod
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:05
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    Having 20K rep shouldn't lead you to think you are entitled to leave screaming comments directing others how to vote. Consensus can--and should--be reached with rational argument, not histrionics.
    – jasonwryan
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:41
  • 1
    @jasonwryan Agreed, sort of. I should perhaps have just flagged that for a mod, but decided to leave it so that the question did not have to go through one more thoughtless close vote -> reopen queue -> chat posse. I will remember to delete it later.
    – goldilocks
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:46
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    @goldilocks Thank you.
    – jasonwryan
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:53
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    it's worth noting that I've been much more liberal with close votes, especially "unclear" votes, since the change to "on hold". I believe this is network-wide convention, but it may be part of the problem.
    – strugee
    Mar 25, 2014 at 0:46
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    @strugee : As jason subtly points out, I'm not really the boss of anyone, of course. But I do think if you are going to be liberal with votes like that, the votes that you might not cast if you were conservative should be at least explained w/ a comment, and perhaps peer investigated first in chat. It's much easier to throw a quick link up and say "Does this seem unclear, or is it just me?" than to go through the reopen rigmarole. Adding a comment also makes it easier to resolve mistakes if they occur...
    – goldilocks
    Mar 25, 2014 at 12:10
  • 2
    ...While I don't like garbage, gambling on a bit of temporary trash is surely better than gambling on holding valid questions.
    – goldilocks
    Mar 25, 2014 at 12:10
  • 1
    @strugee My experience on Programmers.SE and SciFi.SE tells me that users entirely new to StackExchange aren't reacting differently to "on hold" versus "closed"
    – Izkata
    Mar 30, 2014 at 21:22
  • the closing activities are quite a disgrace sometimes! The OP is correct!
    – dotbit
    Dec 9, 2019 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


I was one of the people that voted to close that Q and I stand by my vote to close, it was unclear, as I had selected. Closing a Q is not an absolute thing. I have 5 options when reviewing questions on the site.

  1. Down vote
  2. Leave a comment
  3. Vote to close
  4. Leave it alone
  5. Ask in the chatroom

Given the lack of detail in the Q I opted to close it as unclear. I believe in keeping the site trim and try to cycle through most everything at least 1 time to help facilitate this.

I believe it's critical that we try and keep garbage out of the site, and the front door makes the most logical sense to me to do it there. Once poorly asked Q's are allowed to stay around, they generally just take up space and serve no useful purpose, again IMO.

If you see a Q that has been incorrectly identified as being closed, or is about to be, then by all means alert me or whomever else to this mistake. I have no problems retracting a vote if it's later brought to my knowledge that I did so incorrectly, or if one of our members or the OP cleans up the Q.

And closing a Q to me is not that traumatic. If we close something we're doing 2 things which IMO are good things. We're bringing attention to the OP that maybe they need to provide a bit more detail, or put a bit more effort into their Q.

The second thing being that we get our community to rally together to improve upon Q's that fall into this category so that they can be better asked. When Q's are incorrectly closed, it typically only takes minutes to get it reopened, and has the side effect of bringing additional resources to the issue.

  • 1
    Given the lack of detail in the Q I opted to close it as unclear. -> I'm not sure what details could have been added there, at least in terms of clarification. Would the OP's shoe size have helped?
    – goldilocks
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:06
  • Neck size.....Seriously I closed it when the Q looked like this: unix.stackexchange.com/revisions/121198/1
    – slm Mod
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:09
  • And in case you don't feel like following that link: "I'm trying to follow a regular text file with "tail -f -n 50 filename. I get the information from the file just fine except I always get this error message. It happens on every file. The '0xbeefdead' worries me--it looks like a hacker tag." That's pretty unclear in my book, so I voted it as unclear.
    – slm Mod
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:10
  • 1
    I did look at the edits before I got my knickers in a knot, btw. The original could have used some formatting and is a bit brief, but it makes sense. Also, note, a quick google turned this up for me: permalink.gmane.org/gmane.comp.gnu.core-utils.bugs/26045 implying we have a potentially valuable question...
    – goldilocks
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:13
  • 1
    @goldilocks - this is one of those situations where no one is right or wrong, all I can do is apologize for closing what turned out to be a decent Q once ppl dusted it off better and fixed it up. As it was I thought it was unclear and did not have much in the way of an effort from the OP, so I voted to close it. But I didn't just blindly vote to close (so I hope that is obvious). I'm always willing to retract votes of any form, and only use them to provide signaling within the site.
    – slm Mod
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:29
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    @goldilocks - most will probably find it hard to believe but unlike Gilles I'm not a robot and cannot search for every Q and make them all better, I too have a limited amount of time to dedicate to the site 8-). I'm sorry I made you feel the need to use all caps.
    – slm Mod
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:30
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    @slm he's a robot? That answers a lot of questions... And raises so many more...
    – mikeserv
    Mar 26, 2014 at 4:03
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    Re "That's pretty unclear in my book, so I voted it as unclear"; you also need to consider the question title, which read: "Do I need to worry about “tail: unrecognized file system type 0xbeefdead”?". Sure, the user should repeat it, but your quote seems unfair to the original question. Mar 29, 2014 at 11:50
  • 2
    @DanielBeck - I reviewed the Q and do/did take the title as well as the body into consideration when voting to close. Again the closing is IMO, this A explains my options and my methods. It takes 5 votes so in this case 5 ppl agreed with my assessment, or should. I think Goldy's real concern is if others simply went along with me willy nilly or did they weigh it with considerations too. That I do not know.
    – slm Mod
    Mar 29, 2014 at 12:16

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