I have noticed that some closed questions have an answer that has quite a high score.

A high answer score means that (many) people:

  • have searched for and visited the question (high visit count)
  • found value in the answer

which in turn means the question/answer is on the whole "valuable" and (probably) good enough for reopening.

Clearly the answerer and the visitors understood the question enough decide to upvote the answer, so it must be close to OK.

Perhaps the question could be flagged for for editing to make the question "satisfactory".

One obvious grey area would be duplicates. Even so, why does the duplicate answer get so many upvotes? Can't the duplicate link remain (for information) but the duplicate question be re-opened, since it clearly has independent value and thus "rights". That would be up to the mod.

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    Those points are only really valid for questions which were closed as "unclear what you're asking" though... An answer's score doesn't have any impact on whether the question is primarily opinion-based, too broad, or just plain off-topic. – animuson Mar 13 '14 at 1:55
  • What about a queue/flag then? Any harm in that? – Bohemian Mar 13 '14 at 1:56
  • Well, what would you do with questions like Getting started with Haskell? Seems some of these shouldn't be reopened. – hichris123 Mar 13 '14 at 1:56
  • I've changed the question to automatic flagging rather than automatic reopening. Much better idea (although still not necessarily a good idea) – Bohemian Mar 13 '14 at 1:59
  • @hichris123 I would reopen it. That number of votes clearly shows the community liked it and wants it. Why must we be so draconian? – Bohemian Mar 13 '14 at 2:01
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    @Bohemian "What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right." – George Stocker Mar 13 '14 at 2:01

This already happens. If a question reaches a sufficiently-high "popularity" threshold...

where popularity is calculated based on question score, top answer score, or views per month

...then it'll be dumped into the reopen queue automatically. Most questions end up staying closed, but they do get another set of eyes.

That said, we're not sending very many items into the queue right now, as we set these thresholds pretty high: a score of 10 or more, answer score of 20 or more, 80 views per month. We could actually afford to lower this a bit.

If think there are questions that should've been reviewed and weren't (as a moderator, you can look this up via the timeline link) then don't hesitate to throw up some examples.

See also:


There is a difference between "Don't delete" and "re-open".

Re-opening means the question is on topic for Stack Overflow and the community would benefit from being able to add more answers.

Don't Delete means that the question is off topic for Stack Overflow, but has garnered enough inbound links, votes, views, and the answers are of sufficient quality that Stack Overflow's repository of knowledge would take a hit and the community would suffer if the content were deleted.

Closing used to be a implicit vote for deletion; but that was in the midst of the site finding its identity. Now that we've done that, we know that there are things that are off topic for Stack Overflow, but weren't at one time, and they generated great answers that we should not delete.

That does not mean that those questions are still welcome, or that existing questions that fall in that category should stay open.

Personally, I'd rather not have these questions flagged for moderator attention either. Most of the time if a question really needs to be re-opened, we've got a meta question where people are discussing it, or there are flags galore already on the question. In short, the community lets us know when they think we ought to take another look at a question. It works, and it ensures that not every link-bait question gets put in some sort of "hey, re-open me!" state.

One of the reasons why we close one-time very popular questions is that the community can't really benefit from more answers. If anything, the answers should be pruned and maybe even compiled together. Another reason is that we want a bright sign that says, "Yea, this question garnered a lot of attention, but it's not the sort of question we really want a thousand of, so please don't ask a question like this again."

Without the off-topic questions staying closed, we're just inviting more of the questions we don't want.

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    For example, I once argued against the deletion of a question with a highly-voted answer: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/123179/… , but that question was rightfully closed as being off topic. The 1000 votes for the answer to that question: stackoverflow.com/questions/209170/… don't indicate that it's on topic here, just that people liked it (and it got linked to from all over the place). – Brad Larson Mar 13 '14 at 2:10
  • I think Boh has a point WRT editing some of these though. I'm not particularly fond of seeing lots of visits to closed questions where the answer is useful but the question is awful - I'd rather edit and re-open, delete, delist or find some other long-term solution. – Shog9 Mar 13 '14 at 3:23
  • @Shog9 I do too; I didn't see that part of his post. Until he changed his title, I was fixated on that part of it; and didn't read through the post for other changes. – George Stocker Mar 13 '14 at 12:50

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