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Should a user have to add a comment when they vote to close

The close question feature is clearly broken in my opinion. I see obviously off-topic questions hanging around all the time, it's plain from any short trawls through that questions are being voted for closure for reasons entirely unrelated to their content.

Closing a question is supposed to be done not on a whim, but to keep questions in alignment with the guidelines. Many votes to close are obviously being cast by people who can't or don't read the guidelines (or don't care). They should at least be required to justify themselves. This might help hold them to account, and would help questioners respond/edit appropriately.

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    Every single close vote on SE sites is accompanied by an explanation, without exception. You may have seen them. "This question covers exactly the same ground as earlier questions...", " this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion", etc. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:52
  • It's highly likely that the question is getting close votes, but if it's more than a few days old flag it.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:52
  • Please show some examples of wrongly closed questions.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:55
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    The OP's own recent closed question is an... interesting... example. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:56
  • @Michael: Those explanations are pre-canned; I'm referring here to comments linking the specific question with the generalised reason for closure. That would seems to me to help everyone. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:59
  • @Cris well, either you are making a generic feature request (in which case the dupe pointed out by Michael is valid); or you are complaining about the closure of your specific question (in which case I think you're right, but the problem has now been solved by re-opening the question.) I totally understand that it stinks to have a question closed unfairly, but I think you're overreacting.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:02
  • @Michael: your interesting comment represents the kind of oblique clubby insider phrasing that's so infuriating when one's trying to get questions through. What on earth would be wrong with a simple, specific and tailored explanation of exactly what's wrong with a question? Or are those of us not in the know supposed to just read the runes? Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:06
  • @Cris Pre-canned as opposed to... post-canned? That's a pleonasm. But I digress. It's always been my opinion that people love to close questions on SO, sometimes without a legitimate reason to do so. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:07
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    @Cris Stack Overflow gets 3,000 new questions every day. Closing questions is an essential part of quality control here, because a large portion of the stuff that comes in is junk. Demanding an explanation for every close vote is completely ridiculous.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:07
  • @Eat more twisters: it was intended as a generic feature request, and, yes, it does look like this question is a dupe. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:09
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    My comment was referring to your defense of the closure of your second question. You knew that you shouldn't have reposted that question, did so anyway, and lashed out at those who closed it. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:09
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    @Eat more twisters: But it's not 'quality control' if it doesn't provide feedback to the user. In many cases I have no idea why questions are voted for closure, and reading the FAQ + precanned reason often provides little enlightenment. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:11
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    @Cris well, I for one have better things to do with my time than provide tailor-made feedback to thousands of I wnt to get Facebook frdndz Mail address plz send codez questions and explaining why I think they should be closed. Seriously - as far as I can see, the system largely works. If a question gets closed wrongly (as, as said, I think yours did), raising the issue on Meta is usually enough to get it reopened.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:15
  • @Michael: that's not quite fair. I wasn't sure whether reposting was OK or not, so did it on the assumption I'd soon be told if it wasn't. I won't do it again. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 22:06
  • @Eat more Twisters: the impression I've got is that question closure is wildly inconsistent, but I may be wrong. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


I assume you are referring to your own question and its duplicate that got closed.

I agree the original one got closed wrongly, and I voted to reopen it. Incidentally, it was the fifth vote out of five needed, so your question is now opened again. Problem solved, no?

In general, I think the close system works extraordinarily well. If you really think otherwise, please show some examples.

  • Wouldn't that question be an example? PS: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/60242/… Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:13
  • @Null that question is a great example showing that the system works: The asker complained on Meta, and it has been reopened. What's the issue? (I do agree with your feature request though, a "vote not to close" would really be in order.)
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:20
  • The issue is the user had to complain on Meta for it to be reopened, when it shouldn't have been closed in the first place. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:21
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    @Null with 3,000 new questions every day, the occasional mis-closing is going to happen. Do you seriously believe that forcing people to add a comment to their close vote is going to change that? I don't.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:22
  • No, I disagree with the comment idea. But I think the ability to rescind close votes and/or a "anti-close" vote feature would help. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:24
  • @Null yeah, that might help, I agree. (I +1'd your suggestion)
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:24
  • Problem not solved, no. I specifically didn't link to my own question when asking here because I was not complaining about that closure. The precanned reasons simply provide no guidance to questioners about how to rephrase their question. If someone's too busy to type a line or two specifically linking the question they're voting to close with the SO guidelines, then they're probably too busy to have read the question or the FAQ properly. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 22:23
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    @Cris consider sticking around for a while and participating in the site. I promise you, after a few weeks, you will realize that your request is unrealistic.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 22:28
  • @Eat more Twisters: perhaps, but if the closure feature is as broken as I suspect, then something else needs to be considered. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 22:43
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    @Cris then show some actual evidence that it is broken.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 22:47
  • @Eat more Twisters: I'm looking at it. Closures seem wildly inconsistent to me, but 'seeming' can be misleading, obviously. Shame there's no rss feed available for searches ... Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 22:53
  • @EatMT: I've a bit of a peruse of recent question closures, and have to admit the great majority look reasonable. I didn't realise quite how many flat-out dumb questions appear (my SO visits usually focus around searches, so I don't see the general questions lists often). Perhaps my perception of inconsistency did come from the particular cases that attracted my attention. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 4:46
  • @Cris fair enough. I'm sure there is inconsistency - that's where Meta comes in as a forum for complaints. As far as I can see, that works largely okay.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 5:48

When a user votes to close, they must choose from a list of reasons. There are valid close reasons, which are listed, and invalid reasons, which are not. The feature inherently prevents incorrect or unfair close votes. However, sometimes the nature of a question is up for debate, in which case having a pre filtered list doesn't do much.

In general though, people like to type as little as possible. (That explains a lot of questions that are really poor in quality.) Making people explain flags will not solve the problem, and will in fact cause people to flag less and allow irrelevant, low quality, and off topic questions to run rampant. An interesting suggestion, but I'm going to disagree.

  • Well, the feature could only 'inherently' prevent incorrect/unfair votes if it could read minds (and SO's programmers are clearly good, but maybe not that good). I also suspect getting people to think (by deciding what to type) would be a good thing, surely? Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:03

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