I've noticed in the last couple of days that there have been a few occasions when there's been a sudden surge of questions in the SO "Reopen" review queue.

Normally there's either no questions at all to reopen or at most three or four, and that's still the case, except that for the last couple of days I've gone to the review page and seen about fifty-odd questions in the queue, where just moments before there had been none.

I've gone through the reviews and the questions themselves seem reasonably legitimate (including the occasional audit), so I'm not questioning that... it just seems odd that there would be so many more than usual all of a sudden, and that they'd all appear at once.

Anyone got any insights, or should I just chalk this down as "one of those things"?

  • 14
    The sudden influx may be due to a recent, unannounced change: now all edits to a closed question push a question into the reopen queue, not just edits by the asker. Sep 6, 2013 at 16:08
  • @Gilles Pretty sure that's what's going on, based on my experience using the queue that's accounting for a significant percentage of the items.
    – Servy
    Sep 6, 2013 at 16:10
  • fair enough. I'll accept that as plausible. But any reason why they'd all suddenly appear in the queue at once?
    – Spudley
    Sep 6, 2013 at 16:15
  • @Spudley since the feature hasn't been announced, I think we'll have to let a SE employee answer why they just appear, but best guess is there is a script that adds them to the queue, and it only runs every few minutes. Sep 6, 2013 at 16:18
  • People go on editing binges, some that include a lot of closed questions, a lot more often then people go on reopen-binges. A lot of the items are people going around retagging, or doing other serial edits.
    – Servy
    Sep 6, 2013 at 16:21
  • yeah, fair enough I guess. (that said, @Servy, I'm really not convinced that a retag should be sufficient to trigger it into the reopen queue!)
    – Spudley
    Sep 6, 2013 at 16:24
  • @Servy Only edits made during the first 5 days push a question into the reopen queue. (That's the one thing that changes between on-hold and closed.) Thus clean-up mass edits that affect a long-quiescent closed question won't make it more likely that the question is reopened (someone could cast the first vote outside the queue, obviously). Sep 6, 2013 at 16:26
  • @Spudley I agree, but having recently reviewed a whole string of retagged questions by a single user, I can assure you it currently is doing exactly that.
    – Servy
    Sep 6, 2013 at 16:27
  • @Gilles Still, there are a lot of mass-edits by single users that hit enough recently closed questions. The reviews that I've done in the past few days have resulted in plenty of observational evidence of that.
    – Servy
    Sep 6, 2013 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


On September 6th, 2013, the automatic triggers for putting questions into the reopen queue changed. They were tweaked repeatedly over the years and, as of December 20th, 2019, a closed question will automatically be added to the reopen queue when it is...

  1. ...Edited (body edits only) within 70 days of closure by the author. Or,
  2. ...Edited (body edits only) within 70 days of closure by a 3rd-party, provided the editor has not also flagged the question or voted to close it. Or,
  3. ...Sufficiently popular, where popularity is calculated based on question score, top answer score, or views per month.

Note: for #2 (3rd-party edits), any flag raised by the editor other than "moderator intervention" disqualifies the edit from consideration, even when the flag comes after the edit, is declined, or is retracted by the flagger. Flag types include close and reopen votes, which are represented as flags internally. There are some unintended consequences to how this is handled.

As always, a reopen vote will add a question to the reopen queue if it isn't already in the queue. However, a reopen vote by the same user whose edit pushed the question into the reopen queue will result in the question being removed from the reopen queue if:

  • there are no other reopen votes more than (roughly) 15 minutes old, and
  • the reopen vote was cast after the voter's edit had already added the question to the queue


Previously, if the author edited a closed post within 5 days of it being closed, that would trigger it to be added to the queue. This was a great way to get additional views for questions that might've been improved enough to be re-opened, but it didn't do much for questions that 3rd-parties without the ability to vote for reopen think should be re-opened.

So the heuristics mentioned above are effectively a way of avoiding yet another flag and thus requiring two actions to enqueue a question: they are things that might indicate a closed question that could use some additional review - or if nothing else, at least a question that someone still cares about.

  • 1
    heh, so my guesstimate of "fifty-odd" was spot on... who'd have thought it? :-)
    – Spudley
    Sep 6, 2013 at 16:26
  • 1
    Don't know whether the "closed in the past year" rule works as expected. We just got apple.stackexchange.com/questions/15586/… in the Reopen queue (and several more of about the same age). Not too big of a problem right now at least...
    – nohillside
    Sep 9, 2013 at 14:38
  • 1
    That one was added due to the number of views, @patrix.
    – Shog9
    Sep 9, 2013 at 14:56
  • 1
    Fair point, maybe "duplicates" shouldn't score so high in general then bacause the topic itself is actively covered by another question already so the risk of them remaining buried is lower (compared to questions closed for other reasons)
    – nohillside
    Sep 9, 2013 at 15:33
  • 2
    That's a fair point @patrix (although I have seen some incorrectly-closed duplicates crop up). Feature-request...
    – Shog9
    Sep 9, 2013 at 15:37
  • 4
    Maybe you guys could remove the Revision tab on these when there's no actual revision... A bit misleading. It confused me a lot at first. "Why are there so many revision-less revised questions?"
    – animuson StaffMod
    Sep 9, 2013 at 15:41
  • 3
    Could this be taught to ignore retags, whitespace edits, capitalization edits, and removal of salutation lines? Sep 9, 2013 at 16:04
  • 1
    It already ignores retags, @Manishearth - "(body edits only)". Trying to differentiate between a significant and an insignificant body edit is beyond the capability of the system.
    – Shog9
    Sep 9, 2013 at 16:06
  • 1
    Heh... Without checking, I'm gonna wager it was actually Community's edit that triggered the review there. Since these don't happen anymore, this should be a temporary problem.
    – Shog9
    Sep 9, 2013 at 16:10
  • 1
    @Shog9 Over on SA, we only have about 13 10k users, and not all of those are active. Suggest smaller sites get tuned to no more than say 5 auto-reevalutes per day to reduce the burden. Also, they don't seem to be worth reopening almost ever, judging by the 20 from yesterday over on SA. Maybe the criteria can be tuned.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Sep 10, 2013 at 14:03
  • 1
    Does flag also include a reopen vote? Feb 21, 2014 at 15:13
  • 2
    Yes, @ShafikYaghmour - but a reopen vote will itself add the post to the queue.
    – Shog9
    Feb 21, 2014 at 16:32
  • 4
    Moderators should directly reopen questions they fix, @Monica. We don't vote to give people powerful tools so they can mess around creating work for other people.
    – Shog9
    Apr 25, 2016 at 17:16
  • 2
    That's not quite true either, @E.P. - an accurate description would be, "a new reopen vote will create a review task if there are no active reopen votes or review tasks for the post".
    – Shog9
    Jul 12, 2016 at 23:20
  • 2
    My answer on Meta Stack Overflow has some new details on how the problem with invalidated edits/reopen votes will be fixed in an upcoming release.
    – Kyle Pollard StaffMod
    Aug 12, 2021 at 20:23

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