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EDIT: This is a . Please don't vote to close this as a duplicate of questions which ask how to re-vote; I know you cannot and that's the whole point of this feature request.

Currently it's impossible to re-vote if you retract a vote, but I feel this is insufficient under certain conditions, especially but not only when voting to close as unclear what you're asking. E.g.:

  • User A posts gibberish nobody understands
  • User B votes to close as unclear what you're asking
  • User A edits and improves the question. It turns out to be a clever question but needs to be closed anyway but for a different and more specific reason, e.g. off-topic or too broad.

I assume that it's frustrating when your question gets closed for the wrong reason and I feel that once a question does get closed all cast votes should be as accurate as possible (if we didn't strive for this there would be no reason to offer different closing reasons to choose from in the first place).

  • This doesn't seem necessary, if the question really needs to be closed after the edits, someone else will vote to close it soon enough. – yannis Apr 3 '14 at 9:23
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    @Yannin that argument only holds if there is a downside to allowing people to change their vote reason. Currently a bad questions that changes how its bad will either stay open longer or be closed for the wrong reason – Richard Tingle Apr 3 '14 at 9:25
  • @Yannis Yes, but questions which are incomprehensible attract unclear what you're asking votes really, really quickly so by the time the user edits the question there might already be four "wrong" votes cast which cannot be changed. – Adrian Frühwirth Apr 3 '14 at 9:26
  • @RichardTingle Exactly and that's the situation I am unhappy with but maybe that's just me. – Adrian Frühwirth Apr 3 '14 at 9:27
  • Here is an example question (for the sake of argument let's pretend OP asked "Can I do this with grep and if not how can I achieve this?"). The original question was ambiguous and the edit renders the question too broad since what is being asked is not possible under the preconditions mentioned (I guess you can argue about the close reason, but it certainly isn't unclear anymore). – Adrian Frühwirth Apr 3 '14 at 9:32
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    @RichardTingle The downside is the same as with any action that's (easily) undoable, people will (naturally) spend less attention to it. Also, I don't like giving someone who've already voted incorrectly a chance to vote again. If the question was clarified soon enough for the original close voters to notice, then perhaps the initial unclear vote was a bit premature, and a couple of friendly comments asking for clarifications would have been preferable. That said, I don't doubt the exact scenario Adrian describes can happen (which I wouldn't call incorrect), but I think it's extremely rare. – yannis Apr 3 '14 at 9:34
  • @AdrianFrühwirth I wouldn't call that question "gibberish nobody understands". It's a bit unclear, but a comment (or two) from experienced users could have salvaged it without the need for the (initial) close votes. – yannis Apr 3 '14 at 9:37
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    @Yannis The assumtion that they voted incorrectly is flawed, there are numerous scenarios in which the original vote was perfect, many more where it was correct but suboptimal (e.g. a valid duplicate target but not the best duplicate target) – Richard Tingle Apr 3 '14 at 9:38
  • @Yannis Agreed, but my proposal is not based on this sole question obviously. – Adrian Frühwirth Apr 3 '14 at 9:39
  • @AdrianFrühwirth Fair enough. That said, I may need a better example to completely grok where you're coming from. – yannis Apr 3 '14 at 9:39
  • On a side note, from my experience many users who post questions that are really hard/impossible to grasp initially don't respond to requests to improve the question via comments (or don't know how). Many want a quick answer and might eventually get something that's good enough for their purpose and since editing takes time they don't do it; it feels like closing more quickly serves as a better incentive to actually improve the question. – Adrian Frühwirth Apr 3 '14 at 9:49
  • Closing quickly is certainly a good thing. Not only is a better incentive to actually improve the question, but more importantly it stops answers on the earlier, crappier version of the question from coming in. – yannis Apr 3 '14 at 9:51
  • Shouldn't we decide on one workflow then? Either ask in a comment to improve upon the question or vote. We already disallow comments like "what have you tried so far?" and I feel those are similar scenarios since this was also a call to improve the question by posting some code. – Adrian Frühwirth Apr 3 '14 at 9:55
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    @FallenAngle thats asking how you do it, with a reasonable answer of "you can't", this is a feature request asking to change that – Richard Tingle Apr 3 '14 at 10:14
  • @FallenAngel No, this is not a duplicate of said question. I am very aware that this is not possible right now and tried to explain my reasoning why I think it's bad under certain circumstances. This is a feature request after all, the other question was "how do I" which is not what this discussion is about. – Adrian Frühwirth Apr 3 '14 at 10:18
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I agree with the proposed change. There are a number of arguments that may be presented against this idea (which I think I recall from the original change that allowed retracting votes at all) and I will attempt to address them:

If people are unsure about their vote reason they have not taken enough time to vote

  • As indicated in the initial proposal, a question may have changed to be off-topic for a different reason. If the question is edited this argument is out the window.
  • When voting to close as a duplicate you may have chosen a perfectly valid duplicate. However, you have now found an even better duplicate and would like to change to that. This has happened to me several times.
  • Correction of a mistake is always a good thing

Allowing people to re-vote will allow a single user to monopolise the fate of a question

This is indeed true for votes that have already had an effect, but a retracted vote effectively "never happened", so I would argue for keeping the "no voting to close twice" rule but modifying it such that only votes that are not retracted count. Votes that age away should still "count" as per the current system.

The goals of closure

The aim of voting to close is that closeworthy questions should be closed as quickly and as accurately as possible. The ability to change your close reason to a now more accurate reason is in line with that goal.

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    but a retracted vote effectively "never happened" That's not true, if it's one of the close votes that generates a comment. Think of it from the perspective of the asker: "First, Richard told me my question is unclear. I've listened to his feedback and worked to improve the question. Now he's telling me it's off topic. Who the hell is this Richard guy, and what did I ever do to him?" (obviously exaggerating to prove a point here). – yannis Apr 3 '14 at 9:46
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    @Yannis But that's exactly the point I also tried to make, from a different POV. First it's "Richard and others told me my question is unclear. I edited it but it still got eventually closed and 4 out of 5 votes state that it's unclear what I asked even though I improved my wording, wth?". I guess it comes down to which scenario is more desirable? – Adrian Frühwirth Apr 3 '14 at 9:50
  • @AdrianFrühwirth I feel the "I edited it but then five completely different people thought it was off topic" is the more desirable scenario. On the couple of sites I care about my votes are binding, and I can change my close votes (re-open, re-close), to point to a better duplicate or a more informative close reason. The only time I got any kind of feedback for such an action, it was negative (although, to be perfectly honest, most times I don't think anyone even noticed). – yannis Apr 3 '14 at 10:01
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    (cont...) People sometimes tend to fixate on the close voter, and monopolizing the fate of a question (or just the appearence of monopolizing) may generate copious amounts of drama, for very little actual value (there's always other close voters). – yannis Apr 3 '14 at 10:02
  • @Yannis if the close isn't completed the OP will never know. Only the duplicate and custom close reasons generate any evidence of the vote happening and the custom vote isn't obvious evidence (as opposed to a normal comment) – Richard Tingle Apr 3 '14 at 10:11

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