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My request is simple: Many times, there will be a question where some people feel like it should be closed. At the same time, I'll feel like it's a perfectly legit question, and it should therefore NOT be closed. Right now, I have to wait till it gets enough close votes (which it always does for some reason, as soon as 1 or 2 people vote to close, e/o else decides to vote as well) and then vote to re-open. How about, as soon as there's one vote to close, there should be an option to counter the close vote, something like "vote not to close" or whatever. This would then bring the "Vote to close" number down by one. Only when the vote to close outnumbers the vote not to close by 5, that's when a question is indeed closed. Any thoughts?

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I agree - this would be something I would like as well. –  tim Jul 17 '09 at 22:04
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And then we can add votes to ignore votes not to close... –  Axeman Jul 28 '09 at 22:40
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+1 I just came here to make the same suggestion and found this when searching. At present there maybe 5 people who want to close a question and 100 who want to keep it open, but the latter don't get to do anything about it until it's been closed. –  Dan Dyer Aug 31 '09 at 21:28
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What's the status of this? I'm very much looking forward to this feature... –  Roee Adler Sep 1 '09 at 9:41
    
What Rax said.. –  Paul Nathan Nov 11 '09 at 18:15
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I like this idea. Currently, the question has to be closed before re-open votes can be cast. It would be more democratic to allow a battle between "close" and "leave open". As soon as the first vote to close is cast, a link to "leave open" appears. –  raven Dec 5 '09 at 18:04
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Oh god yes please, that 5 people can close any question gives way too much power to a small cabal, especially given that its difficult to rally people to revisit and reopen. –  Schwern Dec 13 '09 at 23:37
    
@Shwern, even more relevant for community wikis. There can be no rep gain from a community wiki, so if a question, started as a community wiki, is closed, it better be for a damn good reason. –  MPelletier Apr 12 '10 at 2:26
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Why was this feature declined? –  Warren in Toronto Jun 25 '10 at 13:21
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@Warren: Did you bother scrolling down the answers list looking for answers from staff (they have diamonds next to their names)? If you had, you'd see an answer from Jeff Atwood that starts "Declining, because..." –  Powerlord Sep 24 '10 at 14:42
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Personally, working on a specific field (encryption/cryptography) I think the current method of handling is does not even come close to statuc-completed. The review queue is certainly not the correct way of handling this. –  owlstead Aug 25 '12 at 11:39
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If there's going to be a "vote not to close", then how about a "vote not to reopen" for closed questions with fewer than five reopen votes? –  Jack Maney Jul 1 '13 at 20:11
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Why is this marked "status-completed"? Has it actually been implemented? –  Cory Klein Jul 19 '13 at 21:04
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@CoryKlein Actually it's been declined, but (later) Shog9 probably figured "completed" is a better tag, because it is basically possible. –  Dukeling Nov 27 '13 at 22:18

10 Answers 10

up vote 189 down vote accepted

I am definitively in favor of that process.
By the time the 5 "close" votes are here, not enough people are still looking at the question to care to vote for reopening, even if they wanted to at the time where closing votes were being (slowly) set.

Of course, it has been proposed "numerous" time on UserVoice already:


Note: since 2014-05-13 ("When did I get close-vote superpowers?"), users with a gold badge in a tag for a question can immediatly reopen a question closed as duplicate.

This is a (very small) improvement, which doesn't address the initial issue: there is no way to be notified when a question get (finally) closed in order to cast one's own reopen vote.

As I commented before, notification is really broken or non-existent on Stack Exchange sites.
(That is why I have almost 8000 "favorite" questions, in a desperate attempt to catch some of the events which can change the questions I have answered to)
... and "close" events aren't detected anyway, even when you "favorite" a question.

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Don't forget also the trivial ability to reverse your own close-vote (e.g. in a case a question was improved significantly).

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I'd rather be able to retract a close vote (and then use it elsewhere... for instance, to re-open the now-good question if it still gets closed) –  Shog9 Jun 28 '09 at 21:49
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@shog that... is a very different feature request from the one the OP asked for. This one is declined for a reason, but I wouldn't be as opposed to allowing people to undo their own close vote. It's funny how people can't understand the editorial layer (3k users) trumping the "rule of the people" with upvotes. Because popularity, you see, is never wrong... –  Jeff Atwood Jun 5 '12 at 23:26
    
@Jeff: this one? Yeah, I still think that makes some sense, for the reason Assaf gives here. But a "vote not to close" option (where you've not previously voted to close) is a recipe for gridlock (the discussion on ChrisF's answer points to this pretty clearly). Was just discussing this with Geoff in the context of a beefed-up "review" dashboard - at most, "disagreement" should just kick off the vote-aging timer sooner. –  Shog9 Jun 5 '12 at 23:41
    
This is the related feature request meta.stackexchange.com/questions/915/…. –  Mechanical snail Aug 15 '12 at 22:39

this seems to come down to adding another dimention to the voting system.

        interesting
            ^
            |
            |
proper<------------>improper
            |
            |
        uninteresting

we already have buttons for voting on the intersting/unintersting axis
the buttons for voting on the open/close axis should simply be labeld
'close' and 'open'.

if close > x+open 
   then mark as closed
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Excellent diagram. Good solution to the problem. –  Kelly S. French Jul 30 '09 at 16:31
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I tend to like the things way up in the top right hand corner –  bobobobo Apr 4 '10 at 14:18

As the Mechanical snail points out, this has now been implemented, though not quite as-requested.

Of note:

  • Only accessible from the review queue (so rather difficult to target a specific question). Yes, this is very much by-design.

  • Voting against closing does not override anyone's close vote. However, a sufficient number of "Do Not Close" responses (currently 3) will kick the question out of the review queue and start aging the close votes - regardless of how many views the question has had.

  • If the question is closed, Do Not Close votes do not translate into re-open votes. However, we may use them to prioritize items in the Reopen Queue (when such a thing exists).


The philosophy behind this is reflected in my response to Miles' bounty:

The development of new Stack Exchange sites has led to a disturbing tendency for on-topic questions to attract close/migration votes from a minority of users simply because they are arguably "more on topic" at a different Stack Exchange site. The "silent majority" cannot prevent such migrations. The suggested (and notably unpopular) approach of monitoring questions until they are closed, and then voting to reopen, does not work in migration scenarios. Let's revisit this feature request.

When you find a problem with the way in which folks are behaving on the site, try to correct it with a scalpel, not an axe. The "silent majority" can prevent such migrations:

  • If you see a question being closed that shouldn't be, leave a comment expressing your rationale. Make it constructive - "I like this question, therefore it should stay, close-voters are stupid" accomplishes little.

  • If you see a good, on-topic question in danger of being migrated, flag it - a moderator can always step in to prevent the migration. Note that we can and do review migration paths available to ordinary voters to address problems with migrations.

  • Answer the question. Most of the sites on Stack Exchange are not available as migration targets for non-moderators. Moderators are encouraged to decline flags asking for clearly on-topic questions to be migrated. And nothing says "this question is on-topic" quite like a good on-topic answer.

We're also working on revamping the "review" tools to put questions on the path to being closed in front of those with the most expertise in their topics. I can't always tell if, say, an question is better off on Cross Validated, but there are plenty of folks who can. This will also give us some better data for determining when the silent majority has actually reviewed a question, and the ability to then age close votes accordingly. Which is really what you want.

Requiring that "silent majority" to go around casting "unclose" votes wouldn't do anything but create more work within the system for the benefit of a few edge-cases and a rather larger increase in the ability for griefers to waste the time of those already going out of their way to review and moderate. It's a tool for creating gridlock, something Stack Overflow in particular doesn't need any more of.

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If a high-rep user with VTC privileges upvotes a question, isn't that essentially a vote not to close? I agree that a separate "vote not to close" option could be redundant, but I really don't think the OCD issue is addressed by vote aging alone. It would be very unfortunate if a community like ServerFault could no longer answer questions relating to specific subtopics like network security, Linux administration, database administration, etc., simply because any 5 people can decide that an on-topic question "belongs" in a narrower interest group. –  Miles Erickson Jun 6 '12 at 22:56
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Not necessarily; in the case of good, off-topic questions, not at all. I've certainly up-voted good questions on SO and then voted for them to be migrated to SU and SF in the past. Ditto for a well-asked question that ends up being a duplicate. It might hold true for NaRQ and NC, but I'm not even convinced there - the truth is, close/reopen and vote-up/vote-down are often nearly orthogonal - tool-tip instructions aside, people vote for all sorts of reasons that have no connection to "useful/not-useful". –  Shog9 Jun 6 '12 at 23:10
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Trivia: there've been over 9 thousand questions on Stack Overflow where the same user has up-voted and voted to close. –  Shog9 Jun 7 '12 at 0:10
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The advice write a good answer is frustrating in practice. I've lost count of the number of times I've spent time (often quite a bit of it) writing a good answer, and somewhere in the middle was rather rudely told "This question has been closed. No more answers will be accepted." Since it has auto-save and could easily detect such things, perhaps an answer that's being actively edited could still be allowed to be submitted, even if it's finished after a question is closed? –  Jerry Coffin Aug 15 '12 at 23:11
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“Only accessible from the review queue (so rather difficult to target a specific question). Yes, this is very much by-design.” I understand why, but this does make the feature request very much status-declined, not status-completed. –  Gilles Aug 16 '12 at 1:14
    
It's as status-completed as it's gonna get - I think this goes a long way toward providing the opportunity for legitimate disagreement on pending closures without completely hamstringing the voting system. Close voting was never intended to be a parallel popularity metric - if you think a question on the road to closure is worth keeping, you're far better off making that clear to potential closers than you are getting involved in a voting war. –  Shog9 Aug 16 '12 at 2:47
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Agree with @Gilles (how about that!) - this really should be marked as status-declined. If I can only do this through the review queue, then it's really not satisfying the original feature request—at all. –  Adam Rackis Aug 16 '12 at 16:29
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Does a mod "Do Not Close" take the question from the review queue and age the close votes or is the mod's vote here non-binding? –  waiwai933 Aug 31 '12 at 18:19
    
@waiwai933: a mod's Do Not Close removes it from the queue and starts aging, just as a sufficient number of DNC responses from ordinary members would. The close votes remain, however, for the usual four-day aging period. If a moderator sees a question in the queue they strongly feel should not be closed, they can close and immediately re-open to clear votes and remove from the queue (this also works for questions that aren't in the queue). –  Shog9 Aug 31 '12 at 18:25
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I had felt intimidated into deleting my own question because someone down-voted and suggested migration to another site. I chose to delete the question to avoid having a poor-quality question on my hands - even though there was a good answer posted by another user whom I wanted to have that credit. After some thought, I decided to try to find a better way - and after reading this answer, I went back, un-deleted my question, edited to improve both the question and the answer and flagged for moderation. To paraphrase: Nothing like a well-written question and answer to ward off a down vote. –  jmsmcfrlnd Feb 12 at 23:24

Would the same work for reopening too?

Would it reopen the moment the number of close votes dropped to 4, or would it have to gain a net score of 5 reopen votes to be reopened?

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Ooh +1, Very good point, I didn't think of that. No, I think once it's closed it would work the same way in the reverse, meaning only once the vote to repoen outnumbers the vote to leave closed by 5, that's when it reopens. Obviously, you can't vote again if you already voted to close/leave open. –  BFree Jun 28 '09 at 13:10
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Easy, it closes at 5+ net close votes. Once closed it reopens at 0 or less net close votes and so on. –  cletus Sep 3 '09 at 2:30
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In this case, we don't need "stay open", we need "open" and "close". –  David Thornley Oct 20 '09 at 13:55

It is already "possible" to do this!

Step 1

Go to the new Review interface for close votes.

Step 2

Click through the ≈ 60,100 questions (on SO) with close votes until you see the one you want to vote not to close.

60.1k close votes

Step 3

Click Do Not Close.

Step 4

Profit!

And...problem solved!

But seriously

The functionality already exists, but is hard to use. If you agree with a close vote, you can always cast your vote to close directly from the question. Why should it be harder if you disagree?

(Also, it seems the queue interface is biased toward more recent questions, so you wouldn't have to click that many times. And voting not to close doesn't literally cancel out a close vote, but if several people do it the question is removed from the queue.)

More discussion

Shog pointed out that close votes come with reasons to close, and so contain more useful information. (Here we're not concerned about obvious duplicates and the like; people aren't going to be disputing those: only the more complex cases.) Shog is afraid that allowing no-close votes will lead to people canceling out close votes without providing a useful rationale. I'll grant you that's a problem, but the problem is symmetric: close vote reasons are vague and often require additional explanation for why they apply, and most of the time close voters don't explain exactly why they think it's e.g. a duplicate. Fundamentally it would be no harder to comment along with your no-close vote from a question, than to add a useful argument along with a your close vote for a non-clear-cut question. I therefore see the no-close-vote proposal as orthogonal to the problem of people not providing rationales.

For example, I have seen a fair number of duplicate votes for which the questions look subtly different; it may require a minute or two of reading to determine whether they really are dupes. In these I don't recall ever seeing comments like "This poster's underlying problem is xxx which is the same as the other question".

Because it's easier to get questions that should be closed out of the queue, the current system encourages questions getting closed and reopened repeatedly. Lack of explanation is a different problem; perhaps adding a comment field to the (no-)close dialog would help.

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Why should it be harder? Because disagreement by itself isn't particularly productive. Make a clarifying edit, post a comment explaining why the close reason is incorrect, refute the arguments of those who think it should be closed, start a discussion on meta... Those are all more useful activities than silently voting. This is part of the review queue as a way to clear out posts that don't need to be closed but have pending votes anyway (either because they were incorrectly voted on, or because the question was improved after the vote). –  Shog9 Aug 15 '12 at 23:01
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@Shog9 "Because disagreement by itself isn't particularly productive." why is there a vote to close then? "vote to close" = "I disagree that this question should be there" = not particularly productive by your logic. –  curiousguy Aug 16 '12 at 12:37
    
Disagreement by itself, @curiousguy. Closing is a sort of limbo for questions that don't belong or can't be effectively answered in their current state - an opportunity for improvement, discussion, and resolution prior to deletion. A question that repeatedly flips between closed and open without any edits or discussion is a waste of time for everyone involved. –  Shog9 Aug 16 '12 at 13:18
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@Shog9 "Closing is a sort of limbo for questions that don't belong or can't be effectively answered in their current state" What about questions with good, accepted answers? What about questions with many good answers with really interesting data based on hard facts (not people POV)? They are closed sometimes (don't ask me how often statistically, I can't tell). Would people have to explain "please do not close because the question already has an answer"? Sometimes, the system is not working. –  curiousguy Aug 16 '12 at 13:53
    
@curiousguy: are you arguing the system isn't working because sometimes folks disagree on what can be effectively answered (and what an "effective" answer is)? That's the entire point of having a system - to resolve these disagreements. Which brings me back to my original point: it's far more productive to work to a resolution than to simply disagree. –  Shog9 Aug 16 '12 at 14:01
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@Shog9 "to resolve these disagreements" So, those who disagree should at least explain why the question and the answer are not valid (linking to the FAQ explains nothing). "it's far more productive to work to a resolution than to simply disagree" Exactly. This which brings me back to my original point: a vote to close is a disagreement that the question is useful, so those who vote to close should be obliged to post a public comment explaining their vote. It is not possible to explain why the question should be kept not knowing why it should not be. –  curiousguy Aug 16 '12 at 15:03
    
@curiousguy: anyone with a minimal amount of reputation can see the reasons chosen for closing. If those aren't obviously applicable to the question, then that's a pretty good argument against closing right there. Stop and think about what you're asking: you can't force anyone to leave a reason except by having them choose a reason from a list - which is already how closing works. –  Shog9 Aug 16 '12 at 15:26
    
@Shog9 (earlier): If people can easily dispute a close vote whose reason they think obviously doesn't match the specified question (and those are a non-negligible fraction of the queue), before the question gets closed, then there will be fewer questions that "flip between closed and open without any edits or discussion". –  Mechanical snail Aug 16 '12 at 21:39
    
Sure. Other ways to prevent toggling? Remove the close feature entirely. –  Shog9 Aug 16 '12 at 21:50
    
@Shog9: Edited with more discussion. –  Mechanical snail Aug 16 '12 at 21:57
    
Regarding your edit: the vast majority of disputed closed questions I see could - and should - be edited to address whatever issues are motivating the votes in the first place. That doesn't mean they should be closed - it means they should be edited. But everyone on the site can already edit - you really can't make that any easier. Combating one form of laziness by making another form of laziness more accessible is... Lazy. IMHO, if you don't care enough about a question to spend a few seconds editing it, it's no wonder you're struggling to come up with a comment arguing against closure. –  Shog9 Aug 16 '12 at 22:17

Sounds like you'll get a closing war: close it, no, yes, no, yes,... with a long comment thread why and why not. Than SO is the discussion group and not Meta. I don't like this scenario.

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I think currently there are no long comment threads so why do you think they will start happening? What war are you talking about? It's about ability to vote at the moment you want to vote without waiting for a question to be closed/re-opened. -1 –  Piotr Dobrogost Jul 6 '09 at 10:15
    
Possibly, but that's what moderators are for. They already step in and clean up long boring comment threads. –  MarkJ Nov 11 '09 at 17:52

This is a splendid idea. But the whole concept must be as simple as possible: "Vote not to close" is in fact the same as open, so I think it could be simplified. The whole concept could be as in the case of score votes. There would be two buttons, available all the time, regardless the state (open/closed/on-hold) that would operate on current number of close votes (0-5):

  • close (+1) - raise number of close votes. If it reaches 5, the question goes to on-hold/close state and no more close votes can be cast.

  • open (-1) - lower the number of close votes. If it reaches 0, the question is goes to open state. It cannot go below zero.

This concept is very simple and easy to understand, and also has all the benefits we starve for:

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Please leave the closing/reopening system alone. It works fine as is. There is a bias towards reopening, but most of the noise is getting purged properly.

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You could just as easily ask for a "don't reopen" option to counter the vote to reopen. –  Nathan Fellman Jun 30 '09 at 18:31
    
@Nathan: But why? Why would I want more complexity to a simple process? –  GEOCHET Jun 30 '09 at 19:10
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It doesn't work fine. You can't vote until after the question is closed or re-opened. It's simply broken. How about voting to unelect Obama, now when we can? :) -1 –  Piotr Dobrogost Jul 6 '09 at 10:19
    
@Piotr The Senate actually has this option: Impeachment –  alexanderpas Dec 9 '10 at 5:21
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@alexanderpas: Yes, but he was talking about if that was the only option. If we just got a random president and had to impeach them all until we got a decent one. –  Ullallulloo Apr 15 '11 at 21:49
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How is there a bias toward reopening? As others have pointed out, the fact that you can't reopen until closed is a bias against reopening, as interested parties have moved on. –  orbfish Nov 23 '11 at 17:13

Declining, because there's already a solution: track the question (favorite it, or leave it open in a tab in your browser) and if it reaches the close threshold, vote to reopen it.

Beyond that, the 10k rep tools include a report that will show you

  • recently closed questions
  • questions with close votes
  • questions with open votes

(I plan to improve this a bit in the future.)

That gives you the ability to monitor questions that are on the edge either way and vote to close or reopen. But remember, you can only vote to close once and vote to reopen once on the same question.

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This really seems to miss the point of complaints. The chances of a good but not particularly popular question getting reopened seems to be near-zero. Having to add something to a watchlist and check later is a crappy solution. –  ceejayoz Dec 27 '09 at 15:40
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@ceejayoz: the chance of a good but not unpopular question getting closed in the first place is rather slim. It's usually lousy and/or unpopular questions that get closed. However, I still see some value in being able to retract close votes in cases where a user is able to "reform" a post in response to criticism; however, the work-around right now is to ask them to re-post their question, which has other advantages as well... –  Shog9 Dec 27 '09 at 18:26
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It only takes 5 people who are trigger-happy to close. I've seen it happen a number of times with decent questions that are simply poorly worded. –  ceejayoz Dec 27 '09 at 20:15
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For questions with a lot of voters (open/close), this will virtually force a close war since people can only vote-to-open or vote-to-close, in groups of five at a time (closers, then openers, then closers, etc)... until your run out of people. That seems to annoy people for some reason: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/34815/… –  Robert Cartaino Jan 8 '10 at 0:26
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This feels like bureaucracy. "Get the right forms.. tick the right box.. wait in line.." –  bobobobo Apr 4 '10 at 14:19
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What about the users with >= 3000, but < 10000 rep? That's a significant number of users, I would imagine. This is a poor solution in any case, for the reasons already mentioned. –  EMP Apr 28 '10 at 4:35
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@Jeff, this is really a time-sucking deal, having to track questions so that when they reopen I can close them. –  Lance Roberts Oct 10 '10 at 2:24
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I'm downvoting this suggestion because the suggestion (marking something as a favourite and checking later etc) is less simple/usable than simply upvoting once now. –  ChrisW Jan 16 '11 at 23:17
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This hardly solves anything. As other users have noted, once a question gets to a certain number of votes to close, 2 or 3 usually, then it takes almost no time at all to get the final closing votes because many users will vote to close without giving it a second thought due to the existing votes. Likewise, a reasonable question with a few votes to close will often prevent quality, valid answers before they are submitted because even if the person with an answer doesn't vote to close, they are less likely to bother answering because of the implied inferiority of the question. –  Nathan Taylor Mar 14 '11 at 19:25
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@Jeff I don't want to track questions. It increases my work load. If I come across a question (not one I am particular interested in) with some close votes which are not deserved, I want to vote not to close and move on. –  Tony_Henrich Apr 29 '11 at 18:01
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Did it ever occur to you, Jeff, that it would only take five disgruntled users (trusted ones, granted) to delete this answer of yours? And none of the other users could even oppose it. Ironic, isn't it? –  sbi Oct 13 '11 at 13:19
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@Tony: I certainly spend a lot of time on SO, and sometimes I'm still amazed about the sheer stupidity of the current system, which requires veterans to fight a constant uphill battle against trigger-happy close-voters who don't know what they are doing in a part of SO they have little idea about. –  sbi Oct 14 '11 at 18:06
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This is a terrible decision. It's not a big feature, and the lack of it causes controversial but valid questions to be hurt. –  Kos Nov 27 '11 at 13:32
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Any chance on reconsidering this decision? It's pretty clear that the community thinks this is the wrong way to go. Also as someone who has +10K I do not check the recently closed questions frequently, why should I not be able to have take an action when I see a problem rather than have to add another mental task? It's not important enough for me to keep track on such questions but it should be in your interest to avoid false closings. –  Motti Dec 28 '11 at 12:22
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I also think this should be reconsidered, as a >10k user who doesn't track questions. The point of votes is that they act concurrently -- we don't wait until a question has five upvotes before allowing downvotes! –  katrielalex Feb 19 '12 at 23:24

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