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This post is somehow related to this one, but I believe it focuses on different part of this discussion.

I have been an active member in the stackexchange community for a while and I have seen quite a few cases where close question does not work as well as intended I think.

As there are several options when you vote to close a question I would like to focus on some of them and propose a way to improve them.

  1. Exact duplicate. We see this one quite often and I believe in most cases this is fair reason to close a question. Still, after the question is closed I believe it should contain more information. When a user votes to close a question as an exact duplicate he choose the original question that this one is duplicate of. What I find really strange is why once the question is closed this information is not available. I would like to see some text like closed as exact duplicate of <link_to_thread>. In fact I do not care that much for the usernames of the users that voted to close the question(which are listed) as for the question it is a duplicate of. Also I believe sometimes it is worth it to somehow "merge" the two questions or at least their answers. I have seen cases where an answer to the duplicate question is better than any in the original question, but this answer is somewhat "lost" once the duplicate is closed. I would even say that it is better to always merge the answers of the two questions and thus risking to have some low-quality answers to the original question, than never to merge them and risk to loose a really good answer.

  2. Off topic. I have seen many times a question that I find really interesting being closed because of that reason. There really are many questions that are "off topic" but sometimes I think users tend to close questions as off topic just because they don't understand what they are about. I believe there are two main reasons for a question to be closed as "off topic" if it is meant for another stackexchange site or if it is totally unrelated to any of these sites. In the first case I propose the appropriated site be indicated in the message that the question is closed as off topic. For instance The question is closed as off-topic, please use http://superuser.com/.

  3. Too localized - this suffers from the same problem as the case above. Often a question that is too localized for user A may be perfectly good question for another user B that has better understanding of the matter. I will propose a solution for this problem below.

It seems to me that reopening a question happens quite rarely(in fact I don't remember a question ever being reopened). I think this should not be so, but somehow a question gets "forgotten" once it is closed. I would like to propose using something I would call "unclose vote". A user that has enough reputation that sees a question has close votes, but thinks the question should not actually be closed may vote to "unclose" it. Off course casting such vote makes no sense for exact duplicates but could work for almost all the other alternatives, I believe. I would propose that a question is only closed if the number of close votes is no less than the number of unclose votes plus 5. And also same rule could work for reopening a question - a question is only reopened if the reopen votes are at least 5 more than the close votes. I believe that by introducing the unclose concept question that are wrongfully closed will be greatly reduced, while at the same time I believe questions that are really low quality or not suited for the community will still get closed as before.

I understand that the above suggestions will not be easy to realize but I believe they could improve the concept of closing a question significantly.

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As for your first, it is already done. The exact duplicate link is posted, and at the discretion of moderators, the answers for the two question can be merged into the original if the answers are any good. –  Josh Mein Jan 4 '13 at 19:16
    
As for your second point, when it is possible many users will indicate where the question should be posted. –  Josh Mein Jan 4 '13 at 19:17
    
As for 3, you can edit a question if it's current too localized into something that's no longer too localized. I see questions being reopened all the time, if you don't I guess you're not looking hard enough. As for the proposal, it's a common proposal I've seen quite a number of times. –  Servy Jan 4 '13 at 19:20
    
@JoshMein Where is the exact duplicate link posted? Also what you say in your second comment might be true in most cases, but I think it would be better that the closed as message contains that information. –  izomorphius Jan 4 '13 at 19:21
    
Right below the title of the question. –  Josh Mein Jan 4 '13 at 19:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Most of the "changes" you are requesting are already in placed or are a good practice followed by many users.

Exact Duplicate

I would like to see some text like closed as exact duplicate of

The system automatically handles this by adding the links of all possible duplicates linked by those closing.

enter image description here

I would even say that it is better to always merge the answers of the two questions and thus risking to have some low-quality answers to the original question, than never to merge them and risk to loose a really good answer.

This is handled at the discretion of moderators. If they come upon a post that has good answer that do not already exist in the original they may move the answers to the original post.

Off Topic

I believe there are two main reasons for a question to be closed as "off topic" if it is meant for another stackexchange site or if it is totally unrelated to any of these sites. In the first case I propose the appropriated site be indicated in the message that the question is closed as off topic. For instance The question is closed as off-topic, please use http://superuser.com/.

This is a common practice put into place by many of the veteran users/moderators.

Too Localized

Most questions that are closed as too localized will rarely help other people as they are very specific to the user's situation. Although, I do have to say that I have seen this close reason overused by some inexperienced users.

Miscellaneous

It seems to me that reopening a question happens quite rarely(in fact I don't remember a question ever being reopened).

As already mentioned by Makato, there is a Reopen Question queue already in place to handle this. Questions that have been improved are reopened all of the time.

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  1. Exact duplicate closures always have the links to the other questions at the top of the closed question. Here's an example.

  2. Off topic questions doesn't necessarily mean they're a good fit for other sites. If a question is eligible to be migrated, and it's a good fit for the target site, then they'll be migrated across. Otherwise, they'll be closed.

  3. "Too localized" generally means that this question only really applies to a specific problem at this specific time, which I could agree that this category is abused a bit. I've always taken it to means a question which only really applies to a particular problem (i.e. "What does this method mean?") that could be researched instead.

  4. Questions can get reopened. There's even a Reopen Question review queue for it. I've also participated in reopening questions as well.

  5. Understand that closing a question doesn't mean that this is the end of the line. Far from it, actually! A closed question gives the OP time to refine their question, and prevents others from answering a question that may radically change in scope/definition by the time they look at it again.

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this sounds good, but still I see question with for instance 10 upvotes being closed. Having 10 upvotes for me means that 10 people find this question interesting and don't think it should be closed. –  izomorphius Jan 4 '13 at 19:27
    
It doesn't really matter how many upvotes a question has, it can still be closed. Typically, if a question is very popular, it'll get protected instead of closed (preventing "thanks" or "me too!" types of responses). Without the intervention of a diamond Moderator, it takes five people to close a question, and five to reopen it. –  Makoto Jan 4 '13 at 19:28
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@izomorphius Just because someone upvotes a question doesn't mean they think it shouldn't be closed. It also doesn't mean that we shouldn't close it anyway. Certain categories of questions (in particular not constructive or off topic) contain questions that many people want to see, or even answer, but they would cause serious problems for the site specifically because so many people want to answer them. The site isn't designed to handle it. Just because a question is closed doesn't always mean it's a bad question, just that it doesn't belong here (as it stands). –  Servy Jan 4 '13 at 19:45

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