There are two different circumstances that motivate this request.

  1. A question is closed for the wrong reason

    This I see having two distinct sub-categories:

    a) Closed As Duplicate of a question that it isn't really a dupe of
    b) Closed for some reason that really isn't correct, but chosen by majority of the closers anyway

  2. A question is closed for one reason, but then after it is edited should actually be closed for a different reason.

I just witnessed a question that didn't really ask a question, so it should have been closed as "unclear", but it was closed as "not showing minimal understanding". Looking at the edit history this was because the user didn't originally include code, and then edited it in. At this point, when I saw it in the review queue, I didn't want to reopen it, but the close reason really needed to be changed.

I propose that even after a question is closed that users who haven't yet voted on the open/close status of that question (that issue is taken up in a different post) should be able to vote to close as a specific reason, and then if the quantity of voters for a reason becomes predominant, the close reason would change to that reason. This could also allow users to change the duplicate that a question is linked to.

So in the example I cited, when enough other users have voted for the "unclear" close reason, the close text box on the question would change to that reason.

It's important to have the correct close reason on a question so that not only the poster of the question can learn from it, but the users seeing it in the future (especially those who google into it) can see why the question is closed, and so are educated about what we expect on our sites. The close reason is very up front and "in your face" as opposed to just leaving a comment, which is easily lost in a block of comments.

  • One alternative is to simply post a comment explaining why the question is inappropriate. Is there a compelling argument that this is not sufficient? (Compelling enough to justify implementation effort to implement something of the sort you mention?) Would you like to articulate that argument in a bit more detail? How common is this situation?
    – D.W.
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 18:56
  • Another use case is when selecting a wrong close reason by mistake. A grace period would be nice at least. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 18:58
  • 1
    Because the comments aren't as highlighted as the close text box, which is really "in your face". In fact, on heavily commented questions they may be completely hidden if you come across the question after a lot of activity has already happened. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 18:58
  • 2
    @D.W., It's important not just for the asker of the question, but for education of future visitors. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 19:06
  • Would this still consume the user's close vote on the question? Part of me says it should since it's like voting to close the question over again, just skipping over the reopen process. But then, what if someone votes to change the close reason when it has four reopen votes? Should they be able to vote to close again if it gets that last reopen vote?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 19:11
  • @animuson, yes, I see it using the normal close vote, though it could be done without doing that. And yes, it opens up questions like you ask. The Team would need to make decisions on how to implement it. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 19:16
  • 3
    I handled a case just the other day where a question was closed as a duplicate of another question that was now deleted, so basically a variant of point a) that you have raised. Someone argued that the question should remain closed, but I was compelled to reopen and close it with the more appropriate reason because it just doesn't make sense to say "This question is a duplicate of that" when "that" can't even be seen anymore. Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 15:02
  • I feel this is important, particularly since retracting a close-vote is irreversible.
    – E.P.
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:42
  • Once a question is closed, changes of close reasons could be restricted to the five-day [on hold] period, which is a sort of "settling down" period in which the question is closed but things can still change.
    – E.P.
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:44

2 Answers 2


If you think that it's really important that the close reason gets changed then the simple solution is to flag it for moderator attention. However, most of the time a comment should be sufficient. If the user finds that their question is closed, they should be reading all the information around the closure to understand how their question can be improved.

The moderators can then decide whether it's really that important that the close reason is "corrected". If the question can be salvaged then it may help by having an appropriate close reason - but if the question can be salvaged then you (well maybe not you personally, but someone) should have done the necessary edits anyway and at that point the question will appear in the re-open queue.

Of course, it may be that deletion is the best solution all round.

  • 2
    I don't think the moderators need all that extra work, when it could just be handled by normal users. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 19:15
  • 3
    @LanceRoberts - That's true on a site like SO, but not so much on the other sites where the volume of flagging is much less. However, the times when it really matters that the close reason is "correct" are quite small.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 19:17

I see one downside to

A question is closed for one reason, but then after it is edited should actually be closed for a different reason.

This would allow people to modify the question over and over giving us more moderation work to do.

This would possibly create an infinite circle of re-closing for a different reason(unless there is a limit of edits allowed introduced but again that's more work to do).

I like the current mechanism which allows you to notify a moderator about a wrong closure reason and he can take care of it.

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