This question: Why do the Japanese wear masks like Surgeons in Tokyo? was closed with no down-votes, no discussion, no attempt to clarify for the user how to ask it appropriately, and an incorrect answer left in place. Other than the format, this adhered to the rules in the FAQ.

On the other stack sites, it takes votes to have a question closed, not a single decision maker. There needs to be discussion or agreement.

This could have been phrased,

 [title] I'm travelling to Tokyo, should I be wearing a mask?[/title]" 
 [body] I've seen people.... why is that, and should I do the same? [/body]

And a moderator could have gently nudged the poster to improve the format.

This is a valid question, and I would have answered:

Japan is a small island nation, where politeness as society are held in high regard;
people wear these masks when they are sick or have colds, to prevent the spread of
illness, not because of the quality of the air.

If questions truly don't adhere to the rules, so be it. But this stack site should use the same governance rules that the other stack sites have.

2 Answers 2


The rephrasing is a valid argument, and I agree that with reformulating it could be a fit. But in the way it's currently posed, it is off-topic -- it has nothing to do with travel, and the OP doesn't even imply that he/she have seen people wearing masks in Japan themselves. Rewording as per your suggestion is appropriate and I will personally vote to reopen should that happen.

On top of that, the answer is not incorrect, if you read it carefully:

[...] In fact it's the other way around. My Japanese friend always wears one when she has a cold because she doesn't want to infect other people!

The editing call is not for us as users to make -- the OP should be the one to do it. Changing completely the content of a question or answer of somebody else is frowned upon on SE, and you can certainly understand why. If the OP decides to edit and improve their question, then this question can be easily reopened. Remember that closing a question is not the same as deletion, and doesn't carry a penalty or a stigma.

  • The asker does indeed currently have the option of editing the question in this way to make it a travel question and voting to reopen it. If this is done I would probably also throw in a reopen vote. As it was when I voted to close it though it was a "factoid" question which I think are not great SE anyway but it wasn't even a travel factoid but a cultural factoid. But yes turning the question around I see that it can indeed be made on-topic so go for it and I'll support it! Mar 26, 2012 at 10:32

Just to speak up here because I was the one who closed the question: I did leave a comment explaining that as the question is right now, it's off-topic for Travel.SE and the way it's phrased, perhaps the OP is more concerned with the cultural aspects of the discussion rather than travel - and linked to the appropriate Area51 proposal. If you've noticed elsewhere, then when there are questions that are slightly vague the moderators do leave advice on how to improve the questions.

As an aside, we do have the same close-vote system that other SE sites do - questions can be closed by members once a question receives five close votes, but as with other SE sites moderators can close down questions with a single vote. In the initial stages of forming the community, it's important that collectively we all keep this Q&A site 'on-topic'. There have been numerous occasions when users have close-voted questions not yet noticed by moderators.

  • I have not seen an instance where 1 person has closed a question. Most of the sites have multiple mods making the decision: Closed as "whatever" by 1,2,3,4,5 [with an explanation] Here it seems there are sole decision makers, and I think that wrong, and it will prevent people from contributing and answering. Mar 26, 2012 at 17:01
  • @StuartSiegler That applies here too. See this question where it was closed off by community instead of the moderators. 'Diamonds' (or moderators) always have a binding vote on any StackExchange site. The close vote category itself has an explanation, in addition to which I also left a comment. Mar 26, 2012 at 22:09
  • @StuartSiegler - as another mod, I assure you, we have no 'special' settings unique to Travel.SE - it's the same on all SE sites. If ever we're unsure, we flag it for one of the other mods to back up our decision.
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 27, 2012 at 0:56

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