So, let's look at both sides of the fence here. New users are the life-blood of this site. We are not exclusive and we don't want to be. Lurkers are great, and new users are even better. We want to encourage people to come and to participate in our site. And we make no assumptions that you should know all of the rules of our site right off the bat. Especially if you've never used a StackExchange site before.
There is a policy at Wikipedia to not bite the newbies. Users are supposed to assume that newbies are just learning the ropes, and I for one do try to apply that here. And I know from personal experience a number of our mods do as well. When posts are closed, especially with new users, I often see comments by the mods here explaining why it was closed, usually with links to either the Meta or to our FAQ.
It's not a slap on the wrist
So, this is something that many users have trouble with, new or old. Closing a question is not meant to be insulting, nor is it meant to be a personal offense. Closing a question has nothing to do with the person, it is only about maintaining the quality of the site. But users new and old often times feel hurt by having a question closed. And this is one of the reasons comments are often left explaining things (led with a "welcome", not a "you're stupid"). We want to encourage users to learn to post questions that fit better with our site. Again, it is not meant to be a personal assault if we close a question.
Voting is our system for determining quality of a question or answer on things that are on topic. And often times I will not vote down a bad question immediately if it was asked by a new user. Instead, I will leave a comment detailing how to improve the question, or if I can improve it myself, I will edit it and leave a comment about what can be done better in the future. However, we do have votes for a reason. Our system is designed in a way so that we can vote quality posts up, and less helpful posts down, while still leaving them in the system. So while we can be lenient for a little while, it actually hurts the overall quality of the system if we are too lenient with how we vote.
Now, while this talks to your problem, and how you might be feeling, it doesn't necessarily address it. It says, "this is why you think we're jerks, but we're not." but doesn't try to help with the fact that "you think we're jerks".
It's hard to make a site-wide or community-wide policy that can fix this, but we, as some of the more vocal or experienced members can take steps to help improve this situation. Not that we will stop closing questions, because we don't want to do so at the cost of our quality, but maybe coming up with a way to help improve things.
So, I'm going to suggest the following for those of us who are a bit more involved in the community.
- Make sure you go through Users' first answers and first questions and vote and comment on the good things, and inform them of what can be improved
- Whenever a question by a user with < 200 rep is closed, be sure to comment and inform them of why (duplicates are maybe an exception)
- Encourage two-way communication by linking to chat and saying "if you have any more questions, feel free to respond by leading your comment with @Ktash"
- Give users upvotes if their answer is right, even if it is not the best answer (but be wary of doing so at the cost of burying a better answer)
I know that many of us here try to follow these guidelines already (or maybe just need a reminder to do so more frequently) but hopefully with these steps we can see an improvement for new users' initial experience in our system.
One thing to consider is that we also have to deal with a lot of these, and sometimes that may make us a little curt. I think we all try to do our best to be as sunshiny as possible all the time, but sometimes things may slip through the crack on our 4th or 5th game recommendation close for the day. I'm not using this as an excuse, but merely pointing it out. New users see their one post get closed, and we will do our best to be friendly. But on the other side of things, our mods close quite a few in a day and that is on top of other moderation duties (as well as lives since many are volunteers).
We are a community
Please, come chat with us on the bridge. You will find that a lot of times, we would love to make game recommendations or strategize with you. We are all avid gamers, so we would love to talk about video games. It may seem that there are "powers that be" that dictate everything, but we are a community, and we can be a very vocal one. Many of our moderators are selected via elections, so we promote from within.
Those who don't say anything are hard to account for, so speak up and make your voice heard.
Speaking of speaking up
Our system is ever changing. It has to be, honestly, to keep up and to maintain a quality. We vote on new policies and do our best to address new issues. We often have large, site-wide (and sometimes very heated) debates about what content will and will not work on this site and why. And as with any community or group, we don't always agree exactly. Sometimes we take votes, and sometimes our moderators take decisive action. I know this may seem draconian, but democracy doesn't work in all cases (just like the Q&A format for this site). Sometimes momentum just needs to be force and a decision needs to be made. For example, the Identify-this-game vote that was held recently was within 1 vote for a majority of the time. Had it been split down the middle, I'm not sure what would have happened, but likely it would have come down to our more experienced users coming to a decision on the matter so that things can move forward.
(Seemingly) Inconsistent rules
I know it may seem that our rules are a bit inconsistent. And, you know what, some of them very well might be. But, as stated above, we are always changing, and truth be told, usually arguing about some big site-wide decision like game-rec's or identify-this-game questions. And you'll find a lot of arguments for both sides. Please, I implore you to check out the ITG voting page for links for arguments on both sides. Many of which use existing policies as a basis.
The truth is that it isn't black and white, just like life isn't. Some of us are going to say that strategy-recommendation questions are completely on topic and A, B, and C are why. While others of us are going to say that it's not because of D, E, and F. And you'll likely see both sides citing existing policies as well as making compelling original arguments. But this all brings me around to one simple thing: speak up. If you think something is inconsistent, say so. But do know that there are times when we don't want to revisit a discussion. For example, I wouldn't recommend bringing up the identify-this-game questions. We have come to a collective decision about it for now and that is just where things are going to stand. Sometimes, rules are going to be there because they have been. That doesn't mean at some point in the future they can't be reopened, but it usually needs to come with either
- something that is not working with what was decided or
- something that is demonstrably missing or wrong with what was decided.
We all want to make this site as good it can be, and we just are doing our best to collectively decide what that means.