This site suffers from overzealous community reviewers and trigger happy close voters. This can be exemplified with one of my recent posts:

Is there any objective data on Apple laptop hardware reliability [on hold]

Of course it might probably be argued that there might be certain problems with that post. One problem may be that this is a topic that violates religious convictions and is taboo for discussion? Perhaps there are even objective reasons to evaluate the question as "bad"?
But if those problems are there, why are there no comments suggesting improvements?

The only (indirect) comment from the close voters, except my note of protest, is the reason given in the post notice that it was

put on hold as "too broad"

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

This question is not "too broad". Without a further commentary – especially from the close voters – on how to limit the question: how could this even be narrowed down further?

As I already wrote in a comment on main:

This question is judged as off-topic because 4 other members do not want to improve this question and comment in that direction but they just want to kill it.

No comments suggesting improvements, just the naked close hammer is not "be nice".

And those four members did that voting uniformly and not constructively and that was plain wrong on top.

Four community reviews in such a quick succession, all with the same wrong reason and without constructive comments leave me no other choice as to conclude that this is an example of robo-reviewing (bandwagon lazyness?).

My reasoning for sorting the initial question into the "valid" box:
It is about Apple hardware, asks for a very concrete problem that should be answered with objective data, explicitly steers systematically away from "primarily opinion based", it is not "recommendation" (to the contrary: it's intended as a fishing lesson to avoid that as well) and does not ask "why" but "how" (as in 'how to get a realistic picture of reliability').
It is narrowed down to just one type of hardware from a limited time-frame with a very limited set of possible machine types to consider (SandyBridge, Retina, Touchbar the main differentiators); so it is basically just one data-set for a small range of machines that are seen by consumers and marketed by Apple as essentially the same across all those years and models.
The comments that are below the question already indicate that it can be answered, even if perhaps not with the kind of data I originally envisioned (as is common for answers: "do not do that, try this instead").

I fully expect the possibility that it might still be seen by some as "a bad fit for the site"; or as I like to phrase it "just unwanted".

But now a comment and an answer to this question suggest that "too broad" would not be the reason those two posters would have chosen. This just enforces my impression that all closers ticking just one "too broad" box is indicative of a problem, a problem perhaps with the initial question, but very well maybe even with the review process as it unfolded here. 4 quick votes just choosing the same checkbox indicates either a clear problem that fits that box, or if does not fit that box, like it does not do here, something else.

Without direct feedback from the closevoters or access to the data "time spent to read and review and vote" this will remain guesswork?

It seems to me that this exchange needs more of this: What are review tests (audits) and how do they work?

  • It is symptomatic that the tag community-moderation does not exist. But why can't I use the tag "review"? It's always changed to review-page. Is that a synonym? Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 12:27
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    Thanks for bringing this up in meta. I remember a couple times in the past where people really did a lot of work documenting things and got tons to "too broad" closes.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 13:22
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    I agree that it is not too broad, there is also another issue - I think the original is off topic as it asks to find an off site resource and it could be that all but the first voted for that. However the wording of that reason give a reason as it might cause opinionated answers but I don;t see how in this case. I suspect the wording of the close reason might need cleaning up
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 20:11
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    I think Monomeeth and I want to try and edit the main post down. Can you put down an objective measure of what hw reliability would be in an answer here. Then one of us (or several of us) can edit and really trim the post down so that's it super clear what narrow range of hardware is contemplated - what "reliable" means. If you don't care about battery life - leave that out - if keyboards is primary - focus on that. If you want complete hardware repair data - you can certainly ask for that and I'm sure someone can explain why they feel that trade secret will likely never get out, etc...
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 1:39

2 Answers 2


I've had a look at your original question (including the full timeline) and thought I'd share my thoughts even though I wasn't one of the close voters.

Is it on topic?

I recall reading your question not long after it was posted and thinking to myself that it was probably off-topic for the following reason:

Questions asking to recommend or find a Mac, book, tool, tutorial or other off-site resource are off-topic for Ask Different as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, edit this question to describe the problem and what research has been done so far to solve it.

The above close reason is further discussed in this meta post: What exactly is a recommendation question?

Now, as a Mod I have a binding close vote, so this is something I generally exercise only in clear cases, preferring instead to let the community decide (which is what I did in your case).

I've now reviewed the flags and each of the four close voters selected the "too broad" reason for closing. Obviously I can't comment on how much individual consideration was given by others (and therefore whether they were being "trigger happy"), but I do wonder whether the "broadness" relates to your terms of reference (i.e. MacBook Pros produced from 2011 to 2017). Clearly, that's a lot of MBPs your lumping in the same basket.

I guess this is where part of your frustration comes in, namely that none of the close voters offered comments suggesting improvements. So we can't be certain on why any of them felt this particular question was too broad.

Personally, I think you're asking an interesting question, but I'm not certain it's actually on topic here.

Wrong close reason?

As I mentioned above, all four close voters selected the same close reason. So this isn't a case of all the close votes being lumped with the first close reason. What I mean is that when a question is closed by the community, those close votes can reference different reasons but the system will only show one of them in the close notice even though the reasons may have differed. In this case, all close votes agreed on the reason (so I guess I'm in the minority as to what I see as being the main problem with your question).


I do think that Ask Different like all SE communities does suffer from robo-reviewing from time to time.

However, it's not clear to me that's what has happened here. Your main evidence seems to be:

Four community reviews in such a quick succession, all with the same wrong reason and without constructive comments leave me no other choice as to conclude that this is an example of robo-reviewing.

According to the timeline, the close votes you're referring to occurred in a span of 1hr 21mins between the first close vote and the fourth close vote. That may seem to be in quick succession, but I've seen questions closed within a couple of minutes of being asked, so in comparison this wasn't quick.

As for the close reason we've already covered that, which leaves us with the lack of constructive comments.

I tend to agree that in the case of this particular question having had some comments would have been helpful. The main point (or focus) from which I think you were approaching your question is not one that can be easily limited down further to a specific problem. And my assumption that the "broad" reason was due to the large number of MBPs you were asking about is, at best, a guess.

So while I agree having comments would have been helpful, and that an argument could be made that the lack of comments is not an example of "being nice", I don't think this is indicative of robo-reviewing.

Seeking clarity

One thing I would suggest to all users if they have a question closed without clear direction is to ask about it here in meta or, if they have 20 or more rep, to pop into chat and try pinging the close voters directly to seek clarification. Ideally this wouldn't be necessary, but at least it's a couple of avenues open to you and others.

  • Many thx. From what I understand here, I guess 2 things: without knowing "time spent for review" this will remain guesswork. 2.: You also see the Q as non-salvageable? Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 12:49
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    @LangLangC a great edit can salvage almost any post. Sometimes it takes two passes or two people, but I’m guessing there is one or two solid questions in the post, minimum. I’m just not sure which one you want to start with.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 2:52

The following will now indeed read as quite broad. It lists the most probable of the possible angles to approach the problem I can think of at the moment. If the question can be edited into form again, I do not expect all aspects to be covered there:

The problem – or goal – is arriving at an as objective measure as possible to enable informed decisions primarily for buying hardware or scheduling repairs. If a still working 2011 MBP battery dies now it seems not very wise to buy a new one for a unit that is suspect for imminent GPU failure. If a 2016 TouchBar is known for keyboard failure then an identical keyboard choice for 2017 should influence a buying decision.

As a negative example: "Is the 2015 MBP really the best laptop Apple ever made?" – Not answerable here as this would invite opinion and a recommendation. Those personal opinions and even recommendations are not absent from this site, despite being frowned upon in principle But as an answer: "These are the facts and stats known about this machine so you can form your own opinion" should have a corresponding and site-fitting question to it.
(Do I need more RAM? What memory to buy for macbook pro 17" early 2011?. 8-16 RAM update worth it?) (Example Q that was reopend and answered: Is it useful to upgrade MacBook Pro to 16GB RAM?). These have different levels of opinion and those kind of 'tools I am looking for' attached to them. I do not want to ask something along the lines of Should I do X?

The main problem for what I want to know is that those reports found on the net are just not a meaningful statistic. 200 defects of the exact same type seem like a lot in a forum post. If those are multiplied by several forums it's even more impressive. But we do not know how many of these are duplicates in SE parlance for a start and more fundamentally this is the classic base-rate fallacy.

To stay away from primarily opinion based answers I think an approach similar to this might need to be chosen:

Hardware reliability A statement of the ability of hardware to perform its functions for some period of time. It is usually expressed as MTBF (mean time between failures).

Ideally I envisioned this to be expressed here as the number of units produced in relation to the number of units that needed to be serviced.
"Needed to be serviced" should mean real hardware problems that affected functionality. That would not include "user errors" like tinkering with the software, little scratches, big dents, broken glass from blunt force It would include burning components, failed thermal grease. Anything that cannot be fixed by an experienced user without voiding a warranty, if that might be long expired.

As long as any Mac under consideration has user serviceable parts, I think those are generally easy and cheap to replace, and can be ignored. So battery life time is less important than chips on the logic board for old models. As components get "tighter integration" it seems to be that whole unit parts like "topcase" seem to to be a better description, even if the real problem is just 'keyboard failure' or 'swollen but otherwise intact and alas glued in battery'.

Since those desired absolute numbers were indicated in comments as unobtainable I wonder what the next best approach would be? Number of service cases from a very large single customer with in house servicing? Average time a customer trades in his machine? Market survey about the average life time? Number of procedures done under AppleCare? Extended warranty programmes? Class action law suits?

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