In April 2011, closing a question for some reasons (then off-topic and not a real question) caused the Community user to downvote the question.

Officially, this feature was removed in August 2013. Yet I still observe that closing a question as off-topic, too broad or unclear instantly decreases a question's score by 1, and reopening increases the score by 1. I can't swear that this is systematic but I've definitely seen it happen many times.

Here's a recent example. The timeline shows that the question received two downvotes. But while it was closed as unclear, its score was -3, and since it was reopened its score is back at -2.

I'm tagging this because the site behavior contradicts the official documentation. I don't mean this as an opinion either way on whether automatic downvotes should or should not happen: just get the story straight, please.

  • Had a quick experiment on a per site meta - reopening a post cleared before the change reversed the -1 from community but reclosing it with any of the close options did not change the vote score subsequently. Could be something sporadic though?
    – Rory
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 11:10
  • Through truth be told, I haven't seen this is Ask Ubuntu.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 23:19
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Let's Remove The Auto Downvote On Validated VLQ Flags (On Questions)
    – gnat
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 7:04
  • @gnat Uh? How would it be helpful to close a question “why does this effect happen?” as a duplicate of a thread that explains that the origin of this effect will not happen with newer posts? Better update the answer here. Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 8:36
  • @Gilles I've been thinking about closing this as can no longer be reproduced but decided that it would be more convenient for readers to be explicitly referred to the post about when behavior has changed
    – gnat
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 8:45

1 Answer 1


Note: the automatic downvote described below has been discontinued as of June 2018.

Closing a question no longer directly triggers an automatic down-vote on the question. However, closing a question can indirectly trigger a down-vote in one special circumstance: if there was an active Very Low Quality flag at the time the question was closed.

Although it's not particularly well-known, Very Low Quality flags have carried with them an automatic downvote for about two years now. This extra downvote - attributed to Community - is cast when the flag is marked helpful...

...And closing a question with an active VLQ flag marks the flag "helpful". Hence, the down-vote you've observed coinciding with the question being closed.

When a post is re-opened, all Community downvotes are removed. As Rory notes, re-closing such a question won't re-apply the VLQ downvote (unless, of course, another VLQ flag is active at that time).

  • Hmmm. Sounds like two more reasons to get rid of VLQ on questions: it's obscure, and it's debatable — is this question VLQ since the asker didn't put any effort into it, or is it not LVQ since it's perfectly answerable hence shouldn't be closed? Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 23:29
  • 4
    Eh; I kinda like this particular side-effect. For whatever reason, over half the folks flagging questions as VLQ don't downvote - as far as I'm concerned, this is a way of extracting signal from folks too misguided to click the right button. Regarding your example, it was VLQ because it was very poorly written; you edited it to improve that, at which point it wasn't anymore.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 23:35

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