tl;dr: Lots of icon questions seem to have been closed in a way that doesn't match the FAQ, doesn't match the existing meta discussion, isn't consistent, and doesn't seem to make sense in terms of what is and isn't UX - with no explanation. What's going on?
Edit: There seems to be some confusion about the focus of this question. When I refer to "gimme icons" questions as "I can't think of an icon for [app], think of one for me, I'm lazy" questions, I am not arguing that these are great questions that should be allowed. The focus of this question is, like the title, "What's going on with icon questions?". My argument, if there is one (this is a question after all), is that for reasons described below, new users (like me) are not currently given a clear picture of what sorts of icon questions are allowed - the FAQ, meta thread, and reason for closing all seem to be saying different things.
I thought this site - a site of UX experts - would be a good place for expert opinion and fact sharing about the communications and UX aspects of icon design. Things like...
- Knowledge on how certain common UI elements perform in usability testing
- Rationale on why certain iconography trends work in terms of easing user experience, and why others don't and confuse users
- Caveats about under what circumstances common visual metaphors that often work actually aren't appropriate (and vica versa) - e.g. important generational and cultural differences that UX people should take into account
...as opposed to the design side of how icons should look. I was really surprised to see that...
- Every 'icon' question looks to have been closed - even with loads of upvotes and good answers
- There's a meta discussion where the consensus seems to be that app-specific icon questions should be closed as 'too localised' but (in Ben Brocka's second answer) general questions like those above about the user communications side of iconography should be allowed
- None were closed as 'too localized'. They were all closed as 'off topic', and none that I saw had any kind of rationale or explanation for closing left as a comment - just abruptly closed
What's going on?
I came to this site because I wanted to see what UX experts had to say about the common convention of using arrows like ► ▼ to indicate that there is hidden content that can be expanded (►) and that the below content can be hidden (▼). It's a visual method that works for me, but I wanted to be sure that there is a good rationale and (ideally) real evidence that it works for people with lower than average computer literacy before relying on it (and if there is a known problem with it that I'm not aware of, naturally it'd be useful to know if there are alternatives that are known to avoid this problem).
Sounds like a reasonable question to ask a UX expert, right?
So why on earth are questions about what is an appropriate visual metaphor for a general user experience problem (such as clearly communicating common functions like delete, show/hide, moving in time) closed? That last one even has a pile of comments from people pointing out that it's a genuine UX question.
The FAQ explicitly says "the subject of icons is on topic" (while explaining, rightly, that "I can't think of an icon for [app], think of one for me, I'm lazy" is off topic). It may be true that the askers are usually in the process of trying to make an informed iconography choice - what else would prompt someone to ask? - but the essence of the questions are "What's known about what works?" not "Gimme icons, I'm lazy". Any ambiguity can be fixed by editing.
And why does it seem to be so inconsistent? This question here is along precisely the same lines - asking about the suitability of a certain visual metaphor - and isn't closed. What's the difference? Is the difference because the 'floppy disk' question invoked the name of some established UX Guru?