TL;DR: Grant 500+ rep users (except the OP) the privilege to flag a question for reopening.

Currently, you can flag a question for closing, and it automatically enters the "Close Votes" review queue, where 3K+ users can vote to close (or to leave open) the question.

close flags

However, there is no ability to flag a closed question for reopening. A <3K user must either:

  • Flag for diamond moderator attention, causing more workload for the moderators.
  • Create a meta-post on the question, requesting for the question to be reopened.
  • ...

Feature Request

Add the ability to flag a post for reopening, just as you can flag for closing. The UI of the flagging dialog for closed post could look like this:

enter image description here

A reopen flag would instantly bring the question into the "Reopen Votes" review queue, where 3K+ users would vote to reopen (or to leave closed), just like when a reopen vote is cast on a question.

This option would be available to everybody except the OP of the question, since he can bring his question to the review queue by editing it. A reputation limit could also be added to prevent abuse, e.g., 500 points.

  • 8
    This would be seriously abused by people who had their own question closed. It would either need to be restricted to only on posts that are not your own, or a reputation threshold, or both. – psubsee2003 Jun 30 '13 at 18:33
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    @psubsee2003 It would still have to pass from the review queue. And, if I remember correctly, you can only flag once on each post, so they would not have much room for abuse. And I am open for discussion on the specific limits. – user000001 Jun 30 '13 at 18:35
  • The point is that we just don't want someone to say "my question was closed unfairly, let me flag it to be reopened" and throw it into the review queue. They should try to figure out why it was closed first and improve it. If you make this a privilege, or limit it some how, it lessens the chance for abuse. – psubsee2003 Jun 30 '13 at 18:38
  • 3
    You can re-flag once the first flag has been handled. – jscs Jun 30 '13 at 18:40
  • 2
    You got the font size and anti-aliasing wrong, not to mention the kemin g just a hurts to look at. :P +1 for the freehand circle, though. – American Luke Jun 30 '13 at 19:36
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    Perhaps post that here – Kevin Jun 30 '13 at 20:09
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    What does this accomplish that an ordinary reopen vote does not? – user102937 Jun 30 '13 at 20:28
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    @RobertHarvey You need 3K rep to vote to reopen. Many users that cannot vote, would be able to repopen flag, just like they can cast close flags. And you would still need 5 additional votes to open the post. – user000001 Jun 30 '13 at 20:31
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    So essentially you are asking for the required rep to vote to reopen be reduced to the amount required to flag instead. – user102937 Jun 30 '13 at 20:35
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    @RobertHarvey No. The flag would only bring the question to the reopen queue. 5 3K users would still need to vote to reopen it. Just like with close votes and close flags. – user000001 Jun 30 '13 at 20:36

This idea has an immediate appeal to those of us who appreciate symmetry. However, I strongly suspect this would be an extremely impractical flag to add...

See, closing and re-opening aren't exactly equal. Most notably, closing requires you to specify a reason - reopening does not. This cuts both ways: closing requires more effort, but other voters also have a reason they can either agree or disagree with; unless the person voting to re-open left a comment, there's nothing to indicate why he thought re-opening was a good idea. Hopefully it's obvious... But if not, a good many voters won't do anything to change the status quo.

It's already possible to flag for re-opening, of course. And over the years, over 900 flags have been raised on Stack Overflow for this purpose with 37% resulting in the flagged questions being re-opened. That's actually quite good - the chance of getting a question re-opened via the reopen queue is somewhat less. Part of this higher success rate is almost certainly due to the ability of moderators to reopen anything with a single click - but still, you have to convince them to do so. And this is where the current flags have the advantage over a predefined "please reopen" flag: they give folks an opportunity to explain why the question should be reopened.

To be clear: I'm not totally against this idea; I like that it would increase the amount of community review for closed questions without creating more work for moderators. However, I think there are more effective ways to do that which have less potential for just generating noise in the queue. For example:

  • Adding items to the queue in response to 3rd-party edits. Currently, this is done when the author edits, but not if someone else does the same. It would be possible to change that - although there are some pitfalls we'd have to avoid.

  • Adding closed but answered items to the queue if/when an answer collects an up-vote. If someone understood the question well enough to answer it, there's at least a small chance that it's salvageable; reviewing these questions as a matter of course could also prioritize those questions that've already attracted some amount of effort from others and thus are more "deserving" of preservation.

  • Adding popular items to the queue immediately upon closure. Let's face it: the reason most questions that get 1 reopen vote don't get reopened is because they are not very good questions; that's why they got closed in the first place. However, there are a comparatively small number of decent questions that are simply a poor fit for Stack Exchange in general, or were asked in a way that rubs a few people the wrong way - these tend to be the ones that folks fret over when discussing closed questions, since some of them could be salvaged with careful editing.

  • Something else I haven't thought of yet...

Failing all of that, it might be worth adding a re-open flag that prompts for a reason and then displays this in the review queue - but frankly, this seems like a lot of work for a very small chance of success.

Update: declining this, since pretty much everything I suggested has been implemented as described here.

  • 1
    From what I see the reason why the queue has a lower re-open rate is that an edit is all it takes... many of them simply don't rate re-opening. If this were implemented you could auto comment with "I think this should be reopened because..." to help give more context for future voters. – ben is uǝq backwards Jun 30 '13 at 21:20
  • That does have an effect, @ben - but the reopen rate for reviewed, unedited questions is still only about 27%. Stop and think for a minute: if we're going to make it easier to add questions that haven't been changed to review, then why not just send every closed question into the queue? – Shog9 Jun 30 '13 at 21:28
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    I agree with most of your answer... I doubt it's worth it from the numbers, which are fairly similar to the ones you gave last year. I would argue that the difference is that someone believes the question shouldn't have been closed. At the moment the only option is to appeal to a mod whereas for closing someone with less than 3k rep can put it in the review queue. If someone believes that a question should not have been closed and is able to elucidate that reason in a comment I don't see why a mod should automatically be bothered. – ben is uǝq backwards Jun 30 '13 at 21:32
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    Lots of people believe lots of things, @ben - but being able to sway others to believe the same is another thing entirely. When these matters are discussed, there are generally two types of questions being considered: decent questions closed because someone thinks they're a poor fit or off-topic, and lousy questions closed because... Well, because they're not good questions. The former could certainly benefit from a flag that amounts to little more than, "because I think the people who closed this were wrong"; the latter requires... Something else. And of course, there are a lot more of #2. – Shog9 Jun 30 '13 at 23:50
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    "Most notably, closing requires you to specify a reason - reopening does not." So why not increase the symmetry even more by requiring a reason when flagging for reopen? – jamesdlin Apr 1 '19 at 20:45

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