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Recently we had a question on gender neutral German job advertisements:

Do German job ads have to specify both female and male role types?

No doubt that the question is interesing, and it is also answerable but it had several issues:

  1. There were four related but different questions asked in one.
  2. Only one of these on the ending /in is about the German language as defined in our FAQ.
  3. All other questions were about legal or cultural aspects, which I believe are off topic as not related to the language.
  4. The question was even tagged further indicating that language may not have been the major concern of the question.

This made me believe the question was off topic and I put it on hold. We could have edited the question to make it on topic, but we had agreed to not perform such edits if they changed too much of the original poster's intention.

I asked the OP to edit their question to put more focus on the language aspect. I would not have hesitated to reopen it then, because I really believe it is an interesting topic to have. Sadly this did not happen.

Instead the community decided to reopen it without any such edits. And - foreseeably - we are now having comments discussing exactly those cultural and legal issues.

As we had not extended our topics to allow questions on cultural, legal, historical, or political aspects of Germany I now feel quite confused as to why this question was reopened, and how we should handle future questions about topics not related to the German language.


Additional note: now that the question was re-opened and was answered I made minor edits to the title and the question body in the hope this resolved the issue.

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Now I feel compelled to justify myself since I was one of the five users who voted for reopening.

I read this post when it was still open.
The first question was

Is the Entwickler/in referring to both genders of developers?

I consider this question on topic and answerable.

The second question was

(…) do German job ads typically have to use this kind of /in notation to avoid being sexist?

This is not a completely new question, but directly referring to the first one. It is asking for clarification of the rationale of this topic and the everyday use from an employer’s perspective.

The last question was

(…) Would a woman apply for a job whose ad only specified the male form and vice versa?

This question is asking about the use from an employee’s perspective.

The answer to the first question would be a simple “yes”. Anybody answering this question would certainly want to give more explanations, and the additional questions give a kind hint about the actual interests of the inquirer.

Then, the question was suddenly closed with a single vote and a reference to the Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz of 2006, which does not answer the question. Consequently, I voted for reopening.

It is true though that the discussion, which ensued after my vote, seems to be partly off topic; however, the question is not.

Nevertheless, the community appears to hold various differing views, which I respect. Therefore, I would like to apologize for any inconvenience my vote may have caused.

After this incident and considering the recent discussion about close reasons, I am unclear about the current requirements and expectations of the community. The closing of questions appears to be purely arbitrary. Since I cannot rule out the possibility that this is my misunderstanding, I think I’d better refrain from any further close or reopen vote.

  • Well, thank you for the clarification. I was reading the main question (asked two times) "do job ads have to..." as asking whether there was any obligation to do so (which is true of course). Only the one single sub-question is very much on topic. IMO an edit to both, the question title, and the body to bring that bit to the front would have been the best. I am really sad that the OP did not feel like doing so. Closing it fast was needed to avoid answers focusing on the social bits which would, after an edit, have looked rather out of scope. – Takkat Feb 25 '15 at 20:23
  • @Takkat I see your point. Naturally, I did not really read the question in the title; thus, the central question for me was the first one given in the text. — I agree that edits could improve (not only) this question; unfortunately, the “on hold – edit – reopen” workflow is hardly ever used. – Loong Feb 25 '15 at 20:33
  • Yeah we should put much more focus on encouraging edits and then reopen quickly. I do so whenever I get noticed of such edits - I also believe that if an edit was great a mod flag for reopening would speed it up. – Takkat Feb 25 '15 at 20:36
  • It may also be that users would much more appreciate even more radical edits to their post if we had explained them they were needed for reopening their question. – Takkat Feb 25 '15 at 20:39
  • @Takkat Yes. Currently, the close votes, the on-hold status, and the accompanying comments are more likely to put people off. – Loong Feb 25 '15 at 20:45
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    Oh another thing - please do not stop to use your votes for closing/reopening. It is the whole idea of a community driven moderation. – Takkat Feb 25 '15 at 20:56
  • I also voted to reopen for much the same reasons as Loong. For me, the question is about language usage, and of course it touches on culture, but language usage and culture are often connected. – fifaltra Mar 3 '15 at 11:12
  • @fifaltra: the edit I made to the question should have put the focus on the language aspect (which IMO it did not have in the first place). – Takkat Mar 3 '15 at 12:25

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