As per Jeff's request (see comments), I will try to illustrate how I see things.
The high number of closed questions and frustrated users complaints is a pretty good indication that our rules and/or guidelines are too complicated to understand by the average developer (and I'm one of them).
If the goal is to create an elitistic community of programmers (and attact elites), we should keep them and continue to apply them blindly. It will probably work long term.
However if we really want to make the internet better for programmers, regardless their level, culture, beliefs, [put any difference here], we should either ...
- simplify the rules
- be more flexible about them
I agree that that kind of questions should be avoided in the future:
However, I see a lot of closed questions that should be kept open because of the value they (and will) provide to programmers in general:
- Is outsourcing (offshoring) disloyal?
- How do you deal with bad coworkers?
- Do speakers get paid for their tech talks ?
- Want to quit - they want me to stay
- Punishment for breaking the build
- I no longer want to be a developer
- Why are so many programmers arrogant?
- Job hopping, is it a problem?
- Stagnating in programming
- Being a good mentor.
- How do programmers stay healthy?
- Evolution of mainstream programming languages: simplicity versus complexity.
But on the other hand, I see many questions that should be closed according the same rules, but are left open. I selected questions where at least one moderator answered:
- Promotion or De-motivation
- Giving employer power of attorney to obtain your inventions
- Should a developer be forced to memorize details?
- How important is it to finish projects?
- So they're trying to pull me into management
- How involved should our employers be in our education?
- How do you ask or get asked to speak at a software conference?
- How does one network at software conferences?
IMHO, all the questions above deserve to stay opened. With their answers, they are all very valuable for the vast majority of programmers and contribute to a better internet.
I think we should measure how valuable a question would be before closing it, instead of applying rules blindly. That's the role of the moderators. To be effective, this task must be collective.
I agree that questions which main aim is having fun and/or social interactions should be closed, however, some highly interesting questions should be able to remain on the site. Because they are interesting and useful, and only for that.
When in doubt, moderator should request opinions like Mark Trapp did.
That flexibility, that is called practical wisdom, and I strongly believe it's the way to go.