On Stack Overflow, a question can be "open," "closed," or "deleted" (there are probably many other status but we will ignore them). "Closed" and "deleted" are quite terminal (a "closed" questions could be reversed, but it would require the questioner to rewrite the question, and other persons to notice the question is good enough.)

I suggest to add a new status: hidden until re-edited. Some questions are really questions, but they are written so badly that they would need too much re-editing and/or too many questions from answerers to be clear. Many persons are shy of voting to close them, and downvoting them is quite useless, unless down-voting gain momentum, but then it often goes quite down. We could add a new option instead of closing them (or losing hours trying to comprehend what the questioner is asking): Hide them until they are re-edited. It would be a privilege like closing, probably with less votes needed (I would say 3 votes). Those that vote for it have to add manually something to tell the questioner what the problem in his question are (I think these suggestions should appear as comments visible to everyone to the question, so it's clear to everyone the problems of the question). If the questioner re-edits the question the question is unhidden automatically. The point is that it's the work of the questioner to try to write a good question, not the work of the answerers to try to "divine" what the questioner was asking.

To be more clear, what I'm looking for is something similar to the "drive-through" of F1 :-)

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    Similar: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/92939/… – user1228 Oct 6 '11 at 14:50
  • @Won'tಠ_ಠ Yes... You are right. That post suggested giving the power only to mods while I was more for the control of the masses. The pseudo-fake-religious tone of that message made it difficult to search for it :-( – xanatos Oct 7 '11 at 6:50
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    Similar, not duplicate. I'm for anything that forces users to bring themselves up rather than indiscriminately mowing them all down. – user1228 Oct 7 '11 at 13:05

In this discussion, I explained why I close and request a flag for reopen on editing. With the current system, close and reopen is the preferred method. 99% of the time, this results in a closed question and no further action. This system would just delay the closing by a few days.

Additionally, automatically re-opening the question on an edit is not the proper metric - An actual human needs to look at the question and determine whether or not the problems have been fixed. How many times have you seen edits like:

Edit: Please don't close this question. I can't find a site where it is more on-topic, and I am very much in need of some expert advice.

which only serve to bump the question to the top and accelerate the closing process.

An automatic reopen is easy if the poster is willing to put forth some effort and fix the question. Flag it; the mods will be more than happy to reopen it if the problem gets fixed. However, consider my anecdotal experience with reopening close-and-fix questions:

I am a mod on an SE 2.0 site which receives a few dozen questions a day. This is a markedly different situation from SO, where one question isn't really considered valuable because you have so many.

Whenever I feel that there's a hint of a quality question underneath the close candidate, I take the time to write a comment explaining why the post will be closed. Especially if the questions shows potential or the user is new, I want that question to be reopened and to generate traffic and more experts. Often, I'll edit it 90% of the way to completion - fix posts made with CAPS LOCK on and paragraph breaks on every line, translating some of the most opaque pseudo-english you've ever read into great grammar, generating schematics, linking datasheets, formatting code and quotes, summarizing linked articles, retagging, generating tags, etc. Then, I leave a comment directing the user on how to give the one little piece of information that we need to answer the question, in the friendliest tone possible, and request to just click "flag" and request mod attention to get it reopened.

Most of the time, I never hear back from these people. Sometimes, I get a comment or flag for attention requesting a reopen without making any change to the question, after an edit reverting to the original, or a non-constructive edit.

I've closed 156 questions in my stint as a community mod thus far. As far as I remember, I've had the requested positive response and reopened the post all of three times. It's for this reason that I close first and reopen later.


People always forget that a closed question is not closed forever. You can still edit and improve it and then vote/flag for reopening. This is basically the same thing you're asking for.

If the questioner reedits the question the question is unhidden automatically.

*couhg.cough* People are creative if it comes to these things...

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    Clearly it would be useful only with persons that "want" to be helped :-) But you can't help someone that doesn't want to be helped. – xanatos Oct 6 '11 at 9:21

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