I've seen How to uninstall completely remove Oracle 11g client?.

Voting to undelete will not work because it was deleted by a moderator, but I managed to vote for reopening for some reason.

I doubt this is intentional, perhaps not as important, but still.


2 Answers 2


This raises an interesting question: how should the UI behave in this scenario?

Only users with 10K reputation can even see most deleted questions, so asking them to just undelete posts they feel were wrongly closed (and disabling the ability to reopen until this is done) makes sense - except that if a moderator was involved in the deletion, 10K users can't vote to undelete.

Reopening and undeleting when a sufficient number of reopen votes are accumulated would allow the community to override moderators in cases when it makes sense to do so, but with a higher number of votes required. This has a few problems though:

  • It fails to provide concerned 10K users with a way to make the question visible without also reopening: if cleanup was needed prior to reopening, this would require that it be done by 10K users.
  • It reduces the number of votes that would otherwise be required from 8 to 5.
  • It's very unintuitive. A quick check shows only three deleted questions on Stack Overflow that were reopened by vote after being deleted:

    1. How to uninstall / completely remove Oracle 11g (client)?
    2. Extracting data from JSON and create a Pie chart
    3. Sending URL with queries using IP address

    ...only one of which was deleted by a moderator. A total of 130 deleted posts have had at least 1 reopen vote cast since their deletion, with 41 of those having only a single vote from the post's author. These are pretty small numbers considering the scale at which Stack Overflow operates.

In short, it probably makes more sense to disable the reopen vote in these cases and just direct the voter to either vote to undelete, flag, or raise the issue here on Meta. Given the frequency with which this happens, it's not a pressing issue in any case.


Originally, moderator deletion votes were "binding" in the same way as moderator close votes: they immediately took effect, deleting the post. Other users could still vote to undelete, overriding the moderator just as ordinary users can reopen questions that a moderator has closed.

This became a problem because - unlike close/reopen - the post's author could always vote to undelete his own posts. Making moderator delete votes impossible to override was a rather heavy-handed solution to this problem, but it was effective and has no doubt side-stepped a lot of drama over the years.

Since then, a more specific fix for this problem has been implemented: author's votes are only binding when they were the only delete-voter (multiple undelete votes in these cases were also disabled a few months later). A loophole remains that allows one-vote undeletion by the author if he was the last delete voter however.

  • I think your search is missing some questions - this question was reopened by voting after being deleted, and was undeleted on my request by a mod... er, actually, you? Chances are there are more too. It's a problem since to us normal users, the questions are still hidden (since they're still deleted) so you can have 5 high-rep users all want a question alive again, and after reopening it's still hidden. That seems broken.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:42
  • I ignored questions that had since been undeleted, @David. There are three more that have since been undeleted.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:50
  • I'd argue the opposite: several normal high-rep users go to all the effort to reopen a question... and it's still gone, and they can't get it back. That's unintuitive.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:55
  • 1
    Yes, it's clearly useless right now - but of the two obvious "fixes" (auto-undelete upon reopen and simply removing the reopen option until undeleted), I don't think "reopen==undelete" is very obvious. Of course, it doesn't help that these won't show up in /review (where most users can't see them anyway) - so the clean solution is to just make undeletion possible in cases where it isn't already, and encourage folks to use it when they get confused.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:57
  • Why is it not obvious? Perhaps it helps to think of it in what users want, not what the UI presents. Users want the question alive again. The UI gives them "reopen". They vote to reopen, thinking that will make the question alive. A two-word change to the link to make it "reopen and undelete" would (a) make it obvious and (b) let people achieve what they're trying to do.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:59
  • Btw I do think more than 5 votes might be good in this situation though.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:00
  • I'm saying it's non-obvious because - in the entire history of Stack Overflow - it has almost never been used. You can argue that it shouldn't be all you like; based on actual behavior, it's pretty obvious that it is. And fixing that still leaves the other problems noted above - in short, you're increasing the complexity of the system to institutionalize what was probably just an oversight to begin with.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:04
  • I can't get at the stats you can. But in the last two hours here on SO I've battled for undeletion of one question and I'm sadly going to have to for another, another user has mentioned liking the ability to reopen while deleted, we've had two questions about this issue and a third incorrectly nominated as a duplicate, etc etc. I don't think it's as rare as you say - not nearly.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:14
  • Now that the more specific fix has been made, would it not make sense to allow moderator delete votes to be undone again? This would probably make things easier for the mods as well as the commnunity; pressing "delete" would no longer make them responsible for the post's status for the rest of eternity.
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:42
  • Yes, disabling the reopen button seems like the correct course of action. If the question gets undeleted then it can be reopened. Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:48
  • 2
    I agree with @Josh here. If we have a reason to keep something perma-deleted, we can always just perma-lock it. Maybe make a moderator delete vote bump up the number of required undelete votes by one or two, if you want a moderator vote to hold more weight.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:49
  • Isn't this backwards? People are asking for a way to get the question undeleted when reopening, and you're deciding to solve it by stopping them reopening?
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:52
  • Please note this thread where at least two users, including me, disagree with the above. @animuson asked me not to link to it. Thing is, I don't mind if opinions are disagreed with, but being told by a mod who disagrees with me not to link to the question, effectively resulting in the opinions he disagrees with not being heard here, is wrong. Note one user was specifically afraid of the answer you have come to above noting it would be a bad solution.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 23:19
  • @DavidM You are mis-reading my comments again. I told you not to edit your opinions into the question here, and instead post an answer.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 23:20
  • I never wanted to edit "my opinions" into the question; I wanted to merge the two and put all material in that question in this one.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 23:21

Reopening should also undelete a question. If a question was reopened, there is probably enough community interest that it should not have been deleted in the first place.

In fact, it is a useful tool in case something was wrongly deleted - which happens, with the very best intentions something can still be deleted that shouldn't be. But that's okay, because SO is a self-correcting site. However, if a question can be reopened but remains hidden and invisible, the self-correction isn't working: it leaves the question in a limbo, invisible state - an odd open-but-unusable state. It seems it's probably a bug, and reopening should also undelete.

(In addition, one might regard a question being reopened but still deleted is it being in an inconsistent state. As programmers, we should dislike inconsistent states :))

  • 3
    Hmm, if you want inconsistent states, a nice moderator search for deleted:1 closed:0 (questions which are deleted but not closed) yields 855,799 results.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:10
  • 2
    The Community user/owner deletions surely @animuson? What about the other way around? Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:15
  • @ben Well just from search I can't limit results to deletions that didn't occur by the Community user or owner. It was just an interesting stat I felt like sharing because he mentioned inconsistent states.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:17
  • Guys, if you disagree with this can you add a comment why, please? There are no comments explaining the downvotes for what I think is a very logical, consistent and useful approach.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:39
  • Transitioning immediately from deleted to open via five votes is not consonant with the rest of the post status system. It would harm the democratic nature of that system, not improve it, because it would lower the number of people making the decision, and not allow review by others before the question is reopened. I am in favor of being able to undo a moderator deletion, but not in favor of a short cut to full restoration. I think Shog's answer probably explains what people disagree with in yours.
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:34
  • I didn't say it needed to be five votes. In a comment to Shog's I actually said it should be more. What I'm pointing out is that it's an inconsistent state and should be fixed, and if what people are trying to do is make a question alive again, that's the state it should transition to eventually. I don't mind how many extra votes it takes, but leaving it in limbo is not useful.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 22:54
  • It's the limbo that matters. It doesn't have to transition straight away. But it does have to transition sometime, after a delay, after examination by others... who knows... But the current system, where it remains deleted, is not visible in any queue, where normal users have done all they can to make it alive yet have still failed, is broken. It needs a system to move it (slowly, with votes, anything sensible) to undeleted once it has been voted to be reopened because a reopened question needs to exist to be useful.
    – David
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 23:31
  • I agree that the transition should be possible for questions deleted by a moderator. The easiest way to make that transition is to allow undelete votes to work normally, and to make reopen votes work after that.
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 0:01

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