I'd like to find a method of making a larger proportion of the community involved in the reopen process and remove some of the opacity in this process. At the moment there are three ways to reopen a question. Flag for moderator attention, bring it up on meta or cast a reopen vote. I'm going to completely ignore the first two and concentrate on the queue.

When casting a vote it goes into the reopen queue. On Stack Overflow, this means that it gets looked at by a very select band of users (full disclosure: I seem to be one of them). At the time of writing there have been 7,713 reopen votes in the queue; 3,353 of them (43%) are solely from the all time top reviewers1.

Rightly or wrongly, a number of people have taken an interest in which questions get re-opened and which don't and, based on the number of reviews they perform, have a great influence over this process. I fully believe that my decisions have been correct and have even "skipped" elusive reopen reviews before, because I didn't know enough about the subject and the question had no obvious (to me) reason to be closed. This does not mean that it is correct that I get to decide or that I have decided correctly.

My own experience suggests that hardly any questions get reopened2.. Most, quite frankly, don't deserve to be. But, there are certainly a number that should be reopened but won't have been because the wrong person reviewed them.

Reopen votes are rare, as of 23rd July 2012 there were only 944 questions with pending votes as compared to 58k with pending close votes. Questions with reopen votes are also difficult to find. You have to have 10k rep, access to the "moderator" tools and therefore the full queue history or happen to be sitting in review when one comes in.

No one is insane enough to go through the entire 155 page history of the queue (I hope!); the "moderator" tools, as far as I can tell (I'm new to them), display at most 28 questions and hardly anyone gets to see anything in the queue. My point is that for anyone to reopen a question is difficult. Even 10k users don't have good visibility on questions with reopen votes and you've still got to find 4 people to agree with you.

My request is, I believe, a method of giving greater visibility to questions with reopen votes. The difficulty is obtaining this visibility without reopening a lot of crap.

  1. Do not remove questions with pending reopen votes from the queue in order to make them more visible
  2. As currently, if three people click "Leave Closed" start ageing reopen votes otherwise they would never go away.
  3. If more people click "Leave Closed" then speed up the reopen vote ageing process. It's not entirely clear how close and reopen votes age; but, increase the speed. The more people who click leave closed the quicker the votes age.
  4. REMOVE all badges.
  5. Make it very clear that this is about the future of the site (to a certain extent it is) and that there is nothing to gain from reopening a question.

My hope is that the community as a whole will have a greater say in what questions get reopened rather than a select few.

The potential negative is that it may require greater use of question / historical locks to stop the more blatant off-topic / unconstructive questions from the early days being reopened.

1. I'd be willing to bet that if you go down another 20 places you'd make that 55% with an extremely long tail off.
2. I don't have any actual data, this is experience and looking at the history. If a moderator or SE employee (I hate the word team) has any data that they care to put in an answer that would be brilliant.

  • The phrase "a number of people have set themselves up as the final arbiters of which questions get re-opened and which don't" is badly posed. The team set up the condition for access to the queue, of the qualified people these folks have taken an interest. Others, like myself, have not taken an interest. That could still be a problem, but an attribution of overbearing arrogance on the part of these people isn't really warranted. Nov 11, 2012 at 22:17
  • You're correct @dmckee; though you note I counted myself among the arrogant :-). Does it read better now? Nov 11, 2012 at 22:22
  • 1
    Yes, it does. Thanks. Limiting the chance for people to take offense will probably help the discussion. Nov 11, 2012 at 22:25
  • The last thing I want is for people to take offense. I would rather more people were involved in this, hence the request. Nov 11, 2012 at 22:26
  • One of my pet peeves is that it only takes 3 "leave closed" votes to make the question leave the queue, and these 3 votes can be cast by the users who closed the question in the first place. It's not uncommon for the users cleaning up the site by casting close votes to be the exact same ones as the ones browsing the reopen queue, so it's likely they'll see a question they voted to close in the queue and simply vote to leave it closed. This is more noticeable on smaller sites that have a much smaller group of users performing janitorial tasks.
    – Rachel
    Nov 12, 2012 at 20:20
  • There's a "discussion" for that @Rachel... Nov 12, 2012 at 20:29
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    It's rather unfortunate that it's very easy to close questions, which quickly fall into obscurity, never to be reopened again; but it takes a concerted effort (or moderator intervention) to reopen them. Nov 12, 2012 at 23:38


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