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tl;dr

Users that have retracted a close vote should be able to vote again on that same question.

I don't believe there is any danger in allowing this, provided some controls are in place (see below).

Long Version

As a 3k+ user, I want to look at a question at any point in time and determine whether it belongs on this site and, if not, state exactly why it doesn't in a close vote.

People who write questions are free to edit them at any time. As a result, close votes can become invalid and the new close vote retraction feature was introduced as a response to this.

While I welcome the new feature, I wonder why we have stuck with the "you can only vote once" paradigm. If I'm monitoring a question to the extent that I withdraw my close vote, why shouldn't I be allowed to vote again if subsequent edits render the question unsuitable? I propose that if you retract your close vote on a question, you should be allowed to vote again.

Note that by implementing this feature, one would also be able to change a close vote (by retracting and then selecting a different close reason). To combat willy-nilly vote changing (which may confuse other users), I propose one of the following defences:

  1. An edit must occur between retraction and re-voting. This ensures something has changed in order to make the user want to vote to close again.

  2. A time limit ensures that X minutes must pass between retraction and re-voting.

  3. No specific restrictions are enforced, but the reputation required to re-vote is raised to something higher than 3k. The idea being that more experienced close voters are unlikely to change close reasons lightly. Perhaps this could be a tantalising rep target at 7.5k (to fill the void between 5-10k).

A similar question was asked previously, but I'm hoping some of my defences listed above will negate the fears listed in the accepted answer.

Example Use Case #1

A poor question is raised and the OP receives several close votes and comments. Being a good user, the OP then adjusts the question to meet the quality standards of the site. One or more close-voters retract their vote now that the question is good enough.

But wait! A duplicate has now been found, which wasn't spotted originally due to the poor quality of the question. None of the retracting close-voters can vote to close as a duplicate and are forced to leave a comment. Hopefully passing 3K+ users will spot the comment and act accordingly, but unnecessary time is wasted. This question should be on the close queue and heading for death.

Example Use Case #2

Commonly on Stack Overflow, a user will present insufficient information to diagnose a problem. Perhaps their code example doesn't compile or they haven't provided definitions of all the referenced methods. I will leave a comment to indicate this and, after a small grace period, will vote to close with "This question appears to be off-topic because it lacks sufficient information to diagnose the problem.".

If the user edits their question and adds the info, I retract my close vote. But I often realise the question should be closed for another reason, e.g. a duplicate or the new(ish) reason: "This question was caused by a problem that can no longer be reproduced or a simple typographical error.".

Example Use Case #3

Perhaps the most common: you find a reasonable duplicate and vote to close. But then... you find the most wonderful, exact duplicate you could imagine. Too late, your vote is cast. You can retract it, but you can't then easily kick the ball rolling on a new closure with the real duplicate. Sure, a comment might cause things to start, but often it doesn't. Flagging for diamond attention isn't appropriate.

This can also happen when the OP refutes the original duplicate and provides some extra information that steers you towards a related but different duplicate.

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related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/199338/… –  FallenAngel Oct 11 '13 at 13:21
17  
I see a problem when I vote to close a question as "unclear what you are asking", OP edits the question, now it is clear, but offtopic/duplicate/whatever. In this case, I'd like to change my close vote. –  Johannes Kuhn Oct 11 '13 at 13:43
    
"if subsequent edits render the question unsuitable" you should roll back to the version that was suitable. –  Mołot Jan 15 at 12:56
    
@Mołot Perhaps it wasn't great wording, but imagine if the changes to the question make it into a duplicate? That shouldn't be rolled back. That should be closed. –  Duncan Jan 15 at 13:00
    
@Duncan if it used to be a valid non-dupe, it should be rolled back :) –  Mołot Jan 15 at 13:02
2  
@Mołot Nope. I disagree. The important thing is that the question reflects what the OP wants to ask. If, as we discover more details, it's a dupe then that's a good thing and we should close it. –  Duncan Jan 15 at 13:03
    
@Duncan if there was details lacking, it should be put on hold as too broad or unclear. So in that case there was no valid revision to roll back to. And chameleon question by all means should be rolled back. –  Mołot Jan 15 at 13:08
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A more common failure mode in my experience: I vote to close, somebody else edits the question to make it suitable, I retract, and then the OP rolls back the edit. I'm very reluctant to retract close votes on small sites (where there aren't that many active users with VtC in the first place) for that reason. –  Monica Cellio Jan 15 at 17:20

4 Answers 4

In theory this sounds useful, and quite consistent. What you're proposing is that we treat close voting as we do normal voting, where you can change your vote one way or the other once a post has been edited, as many times as you want for however many edits it receives.

I worry about the following things, however, and the thought of them leaves me sufficiently concerned that I'm willing to say this might be a bad idea.

Consider:

  • Easy to just edit a post so you can vote to close it again
  • The same group of users hovering over a question to decide its ultimate fate, now consider this group at odds with each other. The system would have to allow this only on substantive edits.
  • Suggested edits approved by people other than the author seem really weird here, even if substantive.
  • How often do you really think this is necessary?

Now, we could work around the potential for abuse, but that leads me to my last point:

  • This would not be easy to implement

I'm not marking this as declined because you've tickled my consistency bone and I want to see input from more folks. In other words, this is just my opinion on the feature, and not an official response to it.

In the meantime, if you see a question flip-flopping like the scenario you describe, it's probably time to have a moderator take a look at it; they aren't limited on the number of times they can close or reopen a question with a single vote - and there may be other oddities they should have a look at.

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2  
Maddeningly, I can't think of more examples right now. I just know that I've felt the need to do this on several occasions since the new retracting feature arrived. Your points about edits are excellent and valid. Perhaps I put too much faith in the idea that people of a sufficient reputation (i.e. my 7.5k idea) would not behave that way. In the meantime, I'll try to consider a simple method to counter those problems because I agree that the feature isn't worth it if the implementation isn't fairly painless. –  Duncan Oct 11 '13 at 13:41
    
@DuncanJones I don't think many of our higher rep users would abuse this on their own, those that would are surely a small minority. When you get into a group scenario, with snark showing and tempers climbing, people can behave somewhat differently. My concern is, contention predicates the use of this; I've seen even some of our top closing users arguing with each other in comments as if the question author wasn't even there, or had a say in it. This is why we don't let them use magic outside of Hogwarts. I may be over-thinking, more examples if you manage to find them would help. –  Tim Post Oct 11 '13 at 13:48
    
Ah, excellent. Johannes has just thought of an example which has certainly happened to me before. Although I suppose this is only a small variation on what I already suggested. –  Duncan Oct 11 '13 at 13:50
    
What if any edit was considered valid, but not if made by the person trying to re-vote? Fairly easy to implement, but less open to abuse. –  Duncan Oct 11 '13 at 13:56
    
I'm still worried about the 'hovering' thing, which we see somewhat often coming from chat. Intentions there are always good, but when someone's question becomes the room topic briefly .. I need to chew on this some more. –  Tim Post Oct 11 '13 at 14:09
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To avoid the hovering issue, it could be changed to only 1 successful close and open vote –  Richard Tingle Oct 11 '13 at 14:25
    
I stated this in the comments of my original request for the current feature: allowing people to re-cast a retracted vote also allows them to keep bumping the question into the Close Votes review queue. –  animuson Oct 11 '13 at 16:01
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@animuson so, far, the only argument that I've found for not allowing people to freely cast and undo their close votes as much as they want, is because it would allow them to bump the question in the close votes queue. Are there any other arguments that I'm missing –  Sam I am Oct 11 '13 at 19:04
    
@animuson And it might also be useful to understand why people might be driven to do that? I struggle to see the benefit... –  Duncan Oct 12 '13 at 12:45
    
I've added a bounty to hopefully draw some attention and provide that community feedback you seek! –  Duncan Jan 15 at 12:06
    
@TimPost You put me in strange position, as I agree a lot with both you and OP ;) I hope my answer answers "hovering" and other issues? If this was a forum site, my answer would really be a reply to you. If I omitted some risk, please tell me. –  Mołot Jan 15 at 13:14
1  
I've just encountered another case today. This question (revision 1 at least) I voted to close as "unclear". However, it's quite plausible that once some additional info is added it will become "too broad" or perhaps even a duplicate. –  Duncan Jan 16 at 9:27
    
@TimPost I've edited my question to include two new use cases. I think the recent adjustments to closure reasons (on SO at least) have made this problem more common. –  Duncan Apr 30 at 8:49
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@Duncan The use case for duplicate is quite interesting. I'm going to talk to a few folks on the team about that, because we're eyeing duplicates in general. Gonna touch back in a bit regarding the rest that you added, thanks for caring about this so much. –  Tim Post Apr 30 at 12:10

"if subsequent edits render the question unsuitable" you should roll back to the version that was suitable, not vote to close.

On the other hand, changing a close vote reason without retracting it would help in the situations when question turns from "unclear what you are asking" to "off topic" or "too broad". And I see it happen pretty often.

Allowing close vote change would help to close question with a proper reason, as Duncan wanted, but without flaws Tim Post♦ mentioned. No option to cast another vote prevents "hovering" and constant re-closing by the same group, and edit-to-close approach, at the same time allowing questions to be closed with the reason most proper at the moment of actual closure, if the reason changed.

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Can you expand on why this approach would negate Tim's concerns? –  Duncan Jan 15 at 13:04
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Because once vote is deleted, the same person would not be able to vote again. So no way for "The same group of users hovering over a question". –  Mołot Jan 15 at 13:05
    
I agree that edits that break a question should be rolled back, but we also tend to say that the author gets the final say on edits -- so what do we do if the author is the one who rolled back to the unsuitable form? –  Monica Cellio Jan 23 at 22:00
    
@MonicaCellio we treat it as an chameleon question - current consensus seems to be: rollback to what it meant when answers was posted, if it invalidated them, and comment to the OP about not chameleoning, and keeping questions in good shape. If in doubt, or if OP still disagrees and it starts to cause problems, flag for ♦'s attention describing it as chameleon and let them worry. –  Mołot Jan 24 at 7:41
    
Oh, once a question has answers I agree -- an edit that invalidates answers needs to be rolled back no matter who did it. I meant before that. Thanks for the tip to pass the buck to the mods. :-) –  Monica Cellio Jan 24 at 13:53
    
@MonicaCellio even without the answers if OP insist on turning a question into something unsuitable, passing it to ♦ is best bet. They are either paid to handle this, or they were chosen as most trusted ones to handle this. Both unsuitable questions that can be edited to be OK, and edit wars with OP, are bad things to happen. –  Mołot Jan 24 at 14:08
    
If the OP insists on an unworkable question it should be closed, not replaced in place. (Someone else is free to ask the workable question.) But that brings us back to the original feature request: once one of these edits occurs now, you can't recast the close vote you retracted on the basis of the good edit. If it has to be handed over to a mod then so be it, but this is something the community ought to be able to do. On large sites it may not be a problem (ok, so five other people will close it), but on small sites this can be a hinderance. –  Monica Cellio Jan 24 at 14:44
    
@MonicaCellio I came from Drupal Answers - it is not a problem there. Moderators are pretty responsive. And "community" should be able to re-close bad question, OK, but at the same time the same 5 people should not be able to re-close it again and again. If community is too small, well ♦s are exception handlers, so it is their job to step in when there are 2 needs impossible to meet. –  Mołot Jan 24 at 14:59
    
On one site I use (I hesitate to call out a bad example for public scrutiny), most moderators like to say that the community should handle things that it's very difficult for the community to actually handle because of its small size. I guess the takeaway here is that there's a lot of variation in the 100+ SE sites, and we need to remember that what works on some doesn't on others and, conversely, that what's a problem on some isn't on others. It's a pity we can't do more per-site tuning. –  Monica Cellio Jan 24 at 15:03
    
@MonicaCellio You can always ask to change moderators. –  Mołot Jan 24 at 15:06
    
Oh, they know how to stay in the community's (and SE's) good graces on average. It's just that some functions work better than others. –  Monica Cellio Jan 24 at 15:11

If you want to prevent hovering, then change the vote mechanic so that rather than forgetting the vote after reaching 5 and changing the status of the question, the votes, both to close, and to reopen, remain in place and the status changes when one exceeds the other by 5.

In other words, if 5 people vote to close, and later 5 people vote to reopen, then the question is reopened, but those first 5 people's votes are still recorded so they can't add a second close vote to close it again. If 5 other people vote to close, then it is closed again. Unless one or two more people vote to keep it open first, which you should be able to do before the question is actually closed.

Either way, retracting your vote should not prevent you from changing your mind again later.

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I would agree with this if it were limited to duplicates. If you find a better duplicate it makes sense to be able to update it. If, as you say, one finds a duplicate after closing it for another reason it makes sense to be able to update to help the OP more, however poor their question.

I don't really see that it's fair to the OP if it were done for any other close reason.

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I think duplicates would be a common use case, hence why I included it in the question. But why would it be inappropriate (or unfair) to vote again to close if a question has been edited to the point of unsuitability? Other passing 3k users could pull the vote trigger - why do we specifically want to prevent 3k users just because they have voted before? –  Duncan Oct 11 '13 at 13:21
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Because you can roll it back @Duncan and then ask for a moderator lock if the OP keeps reverting. –  ben is uǝq backwards Oct 11 '13 at 13:23
    
Sorry, I didn't quite understand your last comment. Would you mind rephrasing? –  Duncan Oct 11 '13 at 13:26
    
If someone messes up their question then roll it back –  ben is uǝq backwards Oct 11 '13 at 13:32
    
I'm kinda liking a 'Suggest better duplicate' feature on its own, to be honest. It could allow input of another question then churn it back through review. The repetition there seems a bit off, though. –  Tim Post Oct 11 '13 at 13:37
    
I think rolling back the question would be a bit rude in certain circumstances. Perhaps the user has altered the question significantly, but just strayed off the edge of acceptable. Simply rolling back that change would be rude. But a comment, plus a close vote (in case the comment is ignored) would be appropriate. –  Duncan Oct 11 '13 at 13:42

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