There are VERY many questions on Stack Overflow nowadays that are being closed when they are possibly legitimate questions, and the community has very little part in this. I am not satisfied with this current system, as I believe that we should actually let users debate and discuss what they think about a particular question, and then let people with enough rep to close questions decide based upon what points people are making.

This may seem like a very tough and unneeded thing to accomplish, but haven't you ever felt that a question has been closed when it shouldn't have been, denying the asker the right to get some good answers? I have thought of a method of implementing a system that would let this happen.

First of all, in the UI of a question that has been closed or is about to be closed, this can be added:

  • If it has already been closed, we can add an "appeal" button onto the "closed" box. What this link will lead to will be discussed next.
  • If the question hasn't already been closed, we can just add a "Submit to Closing Discussion" (or other wording) link next to the "flag" button.

These buttons (which will require some amount of rep to use, maybe 100?) will lead to a new section of Stack Overflow, called "Closing Discussion" or something similar. A general link to this could be located in the main navigation, in the mini-navigation (which has the Featured tab, etc.), or in the page footer (this would probably be the best option).

This new section will look similar to the normal questions interface on Stack Overflow, but the questions will actually be about discussing questions. The votes system will be a bit different, where voting is basically your opinion on the topic (whether to close or not, or to reopen, etc.) and voting would require a certain amount of rep, say 100. Answers would then be added to the "question" and they will explain opinions why the question should or should not be closed (comments will then be added to the answers as discussion).

Question creation will be automatic, through the "appeal" and "submit to closing discussion" buttons. The questions will link back to the question being discussed, so that people can easily see what the issues are. The people who are going to be casting the real closing/opening votes on the real question itself will then read what the community is saying about the question, respond accordingly, and just understand the points of both sides. With this, we can actually cut down on the rate of inappropriately-closed questions, and the community will have an even bigger say in how Stack Overflow works.

Some of this may already be accomplished with the present architecture, but I think that we should have a user-friendly, streamlined, and dedicated system for this. This is, of course, a big feature suggestion, as it proposes adding a whole new section to Stack Overflow. However, I think that the community would really benefit from this. What do you think? Please tell me (and more importantly, all of us!) what your opinion on this matter is - do you feel that many questions are being incorrectly closed too? Do you feel that the user body isn't getting a say in this?


By the way, I will be adding some mock-ups of the designs soon (I'm leaving right now...)!

  • 11
    Could do with just a little more bolding.
    – random
    Sep 18, 2009 at 3:56
  • @random I know, I just wanted to see what effect such a huge amount of bolding would have on the responses... :D Sep 18, 2009 at 3:57
  • Looks like the text from a comic strip.
    – mmyers
    Sep 18, 2009 at 4:01
  • @mmyers I assume that's a compliment!??!?!?!?! Sep 18, 2009 at 4:03
  • Comics usually only bold a word or two, not as slavishly as this post does.
    – random
    Sep 18, 2009 at 4:06
  • Yeah, but the overall ratio of bold-to-normal is about the same. Honestly. Ever read Watchmen? Sep 18, 2009 at 4:34
  • Watchmen was never that abusive with the bold though.
    – random
    Sep 18, 2009 at 5:02
  • 6
    We need a new close reason: too much bold! Sep 18, 2009 at 7:37
  • Okay, I'll remove some of the bold... :D Sep 18, 2009 at 7:54
  • 3
    And another reason to close: Wall-o-Text Sep 18, 2009 at 9:42
  • Or you could just create a clone and do it just like you want!
    – juan
    Oct 29, 2009 at 1:48
  • (half the specification in on this question it seems)
    – juan
    Oct 29, 2009 at 1:48

5 Answers 5


Although I agree that some questions seem to be closed overzealously, I don't see the need for all the extra debate. Do you really want to spend all that time arguing over the detailed merits of questions? Coming to a consensus sounds like the ultimate committee nightmare. A simple vote makes your opinion known concisely and with the minimum of fuss. If the majority of the community agrees, your opinion will stand.

The one simple change that I think would dramatically improve the open/close system is having a vote not to close option, rather than waiting to reopen, to avoid the close-reopen asymmetry. See that link for the detailed discussion.

You are also suggesting providing much more power to lower rep users, which I think is a completely separate point. In my opinion though, the ability thresholds are there for a reason, and work pretty well, for the most part.

  • 3
    I like that "vote not to close" idea. We'll discuss it! Oct 29, 2009 at 1:56
  • 2
    the vote-not-to-close was declined. this leaves SO broken, ruled by anonymous-close-cowards, in my opinion. Jun 25, 2010 at 13:23
  • @WarreninToronto 100% agreed. Far too many people have the power to vote to close now. Consider this, if you had a vote of 50 people for closing a question: 45 vote for not closed and 5 vote for yes close. in the current system it would be closed, should that really be the case?
    – Kohan
    Nov 18, 2012 at 15:05
  • Maybe you should revote on this, and require only 5 people to agree, ignoring all other responses.
    – Kohan
    Nov 18, 2012 at 15:17
  • @Kohan, see vote against a running close-vote and what's linked to/from that. (And as for your feature request that you deleted: see here for details on Martijn's comment "Enough 'leave open' votes removes questions with close votes from the review queue".)
    – Arjan
    Nov 18, 2012 at 15:50

You asked for a user-friendly streamlined method...and then went and suggested a huge addition to the architecture.

I am wondering why the current method does not work...

  • Question is discussed in the comments.
  • Question gets closed
  • Question continues to be discussed in the comments.
  • Question can get reopened with 5 reopen votes.
  • Question continues to be discussed in the comments.

I do not see what is wrong with this. Sure the comments could be made more user friendly...but for all intents and purposes it works remarkably well.

  • 3
    Agreed, if it can't be debated cogently in the comments, why add another layer where it also won't be championed effectively?
    – random
    Sep 18, 2009 at 4:28
  • 3
    The funny thing is one of the reasons meta was created to begin with was so that those type of long-winded debates over open and close could be moved here.
    – TheTXI
    Sep 18, 2009 at 4:57
  • the problem is it's too easy to close, and too hard to open. maybe that's better than the reverse, but it's still an annoyance for the human beings who have to put up with the combination of anonymous close hit-and-runs. Jun 25, 2010 at 13:24

It would take too much time to do all of that processing for the crappy questions. I think five is a good number. Most questions like that aren't worth my time to discuss them.


The votes system will be a bit different, where voting is basically your opinion on the topic (whether to close or not, or to reopen, etc.) and voting would require a certain amount of rep, say 100.

what if we upped your rep requirement to, say, 3000? Then it would be in line (exactly) with what we have today.

  • However, in this case, only people with a rep of 3000 or more would be able to somehow contribute (other than comments). If we had a system where a question could be attributed to a question, it would be nice. However, I think that the answers to this question are interesting, and I agree with them. Sep 18, 2009 at 7:53
  • 3
    However, people voting to close and reopen will likely read the comments. If they want a vote, let them ask and answer questions until they reach the 3K threshhold. Sep 18, 2009 at 15:22

If five experienced people vote to close, and there's no quick five votes to reopen, it can't be that good a question. In that case, I'm fairly indifferent to whether it's open or closed, and I certainly don't see that it's worth making a big deal over questions that are borderline acceptable.

If you think too many questions are being closed, then you might want to argue for refinement of the close reasons, or suggest that more votes be needed to close than to reopen. I doubt either of those would be a great change in the code or process.

As far as the community goes, anybody who can comment can take part in the debate. If somebody wants to have a vote, they can just go get 3K reputation.

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