One of the (many) motivations for changing the question closing system was that the 'closed' terminology implied permanency, thus likely discouraging users from editing their posts after closure.

Is there any basis to this? More specifically, have more closed questions subsequently been edited and reopened after the change than before it?

Are there any other useful statistics I'm not thinking of that might demonstrate the helpfulness of the change?

(If this can be done in the DE, I apologize - I don't think my SQL is up to par right now.)

  • Woah woah woa Emracool, I think your SQL is quite up to par. If it can be done I'm confident you can do it :) Mar 24, 2014 at 1:18
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    But intuitively, you know - the phrase "on hold" sounds meaningless overall. It sounds like "Hi , your question has been lifted up into the stratosphere and is being studied by 3 nuclear physicists. Sit back and relax. You are .. on hold " . On hold sounds quite bureaucratic and ambiguous Mar 24, 2014 at 1:19
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    It does no good that the close voters still actually vote to close - and that's in their mindset as well. Comments like "..., so I'm voting to close this now." and "This will get closed." still give the impression that "on hold" and "closed" is the same thing. (The fact that the banner looks the same plays into that as well.) While, technically, they are the same, the difference in terminology isn't represented elsewhere. (That said, I don't think this really needs to change. We'll never truly desensitize "close" anyway.)
    – user98085
    Mar 24, 2014 at 2:08
  • I'm pretty sure Shog9 posted some stats showing that it has in fact had a tremendously positive effect. Mar 24, 2014 at 4:31
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    @Adel - The other alternative is that we put questions into a review queue and don't show them until they're "approved". Instead, SE operates with the assumption that folks will abide by the guidelines for writing good questions. Putting things back in the on hold queue is (or at least should be) an exceptional event.
    – jmort253
    Mar 24, 2014 at 5:31
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    Whether or not "on hold" vs. "closed" caused more people to edit (and try to save their question) is one measure. Another measure, that probably can't be sussed from the data, is if there was a reduction in the number of people complaining on meta that their question was closed. Feb 20, 2015 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Most closed questions are never edited and the closing overhaul did not change that:

Closed questions over time.

This graph excludes duplicate closures because they rarely need reopening and before February 6, 2013 a banner was edited into the question. Rather than try to sort out those edits, I just excluded duplicates. The image includes deleted questions. The same query excluding deleted questions shows the same relative trends though with somewhat smaller numbers.

By removing closes, we can get a better view of edits and reopen events:

Edits and reopens

Only the first title or body edit after the close and the first reopen are counted. Self-edits are counted if the editor and the question owner are the same user after the question is closed. (Self-edits could be the second or subsequent edit.) Edit and reopen events occur in that order.

To answer the question, there is a noticeable increase in edits and reopened questions after the "on hold" changes. (Look at July, 2013 to see the increase. You can also see the effect of the change on the first graph.) The increase in edits seems mostly the result of an increase in self-edits. The majority of reopens need an edit first and the best person to make that happen is the asker. The "on hold" changes did not seem to improve the odds that an edited question would be reopened, however.

Finally, here's a version of the graph that includes all questions asked:

Most questions are not closed

Relative to all questions, the "on hold" change had no impact whatsoever.

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