According to multiple mods, gold badge holders can now unilaterally close questions as duplicates. I hold seven gold badges for tags on SO, which means I can, on my own, close questions as duplicates for those tagged questions.

Simply put: DO NOT WANT.

However, I do not see any ability in SO (the only SE site I spend much time in) to opt out of any privileges, let alone this one.

Is there a spot that I'm just not seeing that allows me to turn off this new privilege?

  • 15
    The inevitable, snarky MSE answer will probably look something like, "So just don't vote to close, GOSH"...but that kinda stinks. I get the feeling the extra responsibility is intended to be quasi-mandatory though, so good luck getting to opt out. Tangentially speaking, I sometimes wish I could go back to suggesting edits on sites where I have the edit-hammer... Commented May 12, 2014 at 22:42
  • 9
    @NickStauner mentioned it, but to be honest that is the answer. If you are uncomfortable exercising the privilege then just don't do it - the world is not going to stop because you're not voting to close. I think eventually you'll give the feature a try and realise it's not so bad.
    – slugster
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 22:51
  • 2
    That's why this feature-request is so important. Commented May 12, 2014 at 22:52
  • 2
    @LanceRoberts: That feature request would appear to be for moderators. IANAMNDIPOOTV (I am not a moderator, nor do I play one on TV). I am merely a high-rep SO user. That being said, an extension of that feature request for more general privilege control might be interesting. Commented May 12, 2014 at 22:54
  • 3
    Here's the canonical answer on this new power: meta.stackoverflow.com/a/254590/13295 Commented May 12, 2014 at 22:57
  • @slugster: I have used the feature. IMHO, it is dreadful, which is why I am asking this question. Commented May 12, 2014 at 22:59
  • It will be a real bummer when brought to MSE, since we have a huge problem of not being able to migrate old SO-related posts to MSO. Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:01
  • 2
    Seeing as I only have a bronze badge in VB.NET (and now C#) I don't know what the review UI looks like for gold badge, but I would hope they do see a difference when one review is "just a vote" and the next review is binding. (Obviously a reviewer could filter on the tag(s) they have gold badge(s) for.)
    – Mark Hurd
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 5:19
  • Good question; bad answer. There's a fair amount of mistakes made when using the Hammer, and there's no auditing or feedback in place to detect or correct misuse of the Hammer. Its unfortunate we can't get rid of this cursed privilege.
    – user173448
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 3:25

5 Answers 5


We've no plans to make "opting out" an option. This is in keeping with existing behavior: once you gain the ability to vote to close, you can no longer flag for closing. The system trusts you more, and there's no way to tell it to trust you less*.

To be perfectly frank, I've never liked the attitude toward closing that turning it into a voting system brought with it: too many people vote without much thought, expecting other voters to keep their carelessness in check. If that doesn't apply to you (and I don't think it does) then you're exactly the sort of person we'd all appreciate having a bit more say in what gets closed.

And if you do make a mistake, you have the ability to immediately re-open the same question you immediately closed. Reopen votes on duplicates are binding for badge holders in the relevant tags as well.

*short of creating a sockpuppet and working it up to whatever rep threshold gives you the weaker voice.

  • 14
    +1 for the official word, but in defense of the OP, there are scenarios where one has a feeling something should be closed or reopened, isn't sure enough to cast a binding vote, but feels strongly enough to want to cast a normal vote, if only to draw others' attention without writing a whole meta-question about the broader class of similar scenarios. I suppose writing that meta-question is the ideal way out of the conundrum, so you could argue that the lack of an opt-out function is a way of refusing people an excuse to not write the meta-question for hashing out the right way to vote. Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:37
  • 25
    You could also leave a comment, @Nick. Assuming anyone else bothers to look at the question, they'll see that too.
    – Shog9
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:38
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    I accepted this answer as being the official statement on the matter. The arguments presented here and in other answers are irrelevant, as I do not want to wield a close-hammer. So, I have tossed together a Greasemonkey script to remove the close link, so I will no longer be closing questions. Commented May 13, 2014 at 12:02
  • @CommonsWare OOI, is that script clever enough to remove the close link only on questions where you have a gold tag? Commented May 13, 2014 at 12:44
  • @Duncan: No, but since I only answer android questions, that's not a big limitation. I don't know if "production-grade Greasemonkey script" is a thing, but my script certainly is not one, particularly since I had never used it before. :-) Commented May 13, 2014 at 12:53
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    @CommonsWare what about all the other close reasons? Surely here you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. Just don't vote on duplicate closures unless yours is the 5th vote.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:23
  • 4
    @ChrisF: "what about all the other close reasons?" -- that's why I asked how to opt out in the first place, in an attempt to find a more surgical solution, as I am a Greasemonkey n00b. I do not mind helping clean up SO, but SO took away my broom and replaced it with a nuke. If I can't have my broom back, I can at least lock up the nuke. "Just don't vote on duplicate closures unless yours is the 5th vote" -- I process way too many questions to keep track of what features I should/should not be using or under what conditions I should/should not use them. Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:50
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    @CommonsWare - You only have the "nuke" for closing as a duplicate. For all the other close reasons yours is still only one vote in five.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:54
  • @ChrisF: Yes, but, as I mentioned, I'm a Greasemonkey n00b. Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:58
  • I really, really want to disagree with this (specifically wrt the dupehammer). But I just can't. :-) It makes too much sense. Commented May 19, 2016 at 10:29
  • -1 this mechanism probably needs some humane improvement Commented Oct 27, 2018 at 14:38

When I first got the privilege of unilateral closes as a mod of a tiny site, I had the same first reaction. But I've come to appreciate that unilateral actions can head off a lot of pain later. I was able to monitor comment threads and meta posts until I became convinced that the conversation no longer constructive. My unilateral decisions were subject to oversight from other mods and the community itself. But usually what was needed was for someone to make some definitive decision. Putting that responsibility in the right hands is the whole point of the feature.

Some things to put your mind at ease:

  • For the foreseeable future the feature will be limited to duplicate closes. These are easily the least controversial types of closes since they usually bring the asker one step closer to getting a solution (if not giftwrap an answer directly).

  • Other gold badgers and mods will be able to reverse your decision. You'll never be able to irreversibly close a question since the community has many ways (including flags) to make their dissension known.

  • The feeling of "oh no, what have I done, take this privilege away" will fade over time. The surest way to help it along is to vote to close questions you don't have to power to close unilaterally. Once you get a taste of what it's like to get things done it's a serious culture shock to be blocked from acting. (I feel this on sites outside of Stack Exchange that don't let me suggest edits or vote.)

  • Duplicates are a huge problem on Stack Overflow and this is a first step at handling the problem. We can't keep adding more mods to do things like close duplicate questions. It's vital that we find more ways to empower users to fix problems large and small. Expect to see other features along these lines.

The next time you see a duplicate in a tag you have a gold badge in, why not vote to close and see how it goes?

  • Regarding "will fade over time", please bear in mind that you and I have never met (IIRC, and my apologies if I am forgetting), and I feel quite confident that you do not know me. "why not vote to close and see how it goes?" -- as I noted in a comment to the question, I already have. Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:46
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    @CommonsWare: I don't know you personally. But my answer wasn't directed at you personally either. I mean, sure, I had your words in mind as I wrote it. But the truth is I had formed an idea or even theory of what it must be like to be presented with this particular choice. My model was the moment when I became a moderator and is informed by the experience of many other people I've seen go through the same transition. I wouldn't like to call it a pardigm shift but I can't think of another way to express the change persepctive I noticed in myself. Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:55
  • "But my answer wasn't directed at you personally either" -- please note that you opened the bullets with "Some things to put your mind at ease", which would appear to be directed at me personally. With regards to your experiences at becoming a moderator, you opted into that. I did not opt into this change. That being said, I apologize for the harsh tone of my previous comment. Commented May 13, 2014 at 0:01
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    @CommonsWare Honestly, you're one of the most knowledgeable Android & Java people on SO. My point being: you really do know what is a dupe and what isn't. You've been around long enough, and so you understand the system. So getting around to the point here: if you're not sure, simply don't vote. I think that's what Shog was saying in his answer above: if you are just voting and not checking (I know you check), that's not the point of the close voting system. You know enough to make these decisions, so good luck!
    – hichris123
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 0:11
  • 1
    @hichris123: "you really do know what is a dupe and what isn't" -- not with 100% accuracy. That's what checks and balances are for, and I feel that unilateral close ability fatally screws that up. Commented May 13, 2014 at 0:19
  • 3
    @CommonsWare: you are 100% so far. ;-) Commented May 13, 2014 at 0:20
  • 5
    @CommonsWare We also have checks and balances in the form of others being able to reopen if you somehow screw up. Commented May 13, 2014 at 5:31
  • @CommonsWare Consider the worst case scenario - you VTC as a duplicate and you were wrong. Even that wrong action probably has positive consequences. The OP will be forced out of hiding to comment about why that duplicate is not correct, hopefully leading to a better understanding of the question by all. The community (or you) will reopen and things are better than they were before. Commented May 13, 2014 at 8:52
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    @CommonsWare Community closures with 5 votes are also not 100% accurate, with duplicates the later voters tend to often just quickly glance at the target and can easily miss more subtle differences. The real checks and balances for closing are the reopening process and the reopen review queue. Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:53
  • @MadScientist: "Community closures with 5 votes are also not 100% accurate" -- I never claimed that they were. SO/SE is welcome to have the gold-badge/close-hammer feature. I merely asked how to opt out. Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:55

You are an expert.

Don't downplay that. You've been around and answered enough on that tag that you are actually fully qualified to receive one of the many mod powers for that tag.

Further, there's still plenty of oversight. Mods, other users, and even you can re-open a question you've closed. Leave a comment when you close one, and let the author reply if they want to demonstrate that their question is notably different, if you feel the need to, but don't feel that the dupehammer has no oversight, and isn't community justified.

Lastly, so, so, so many questions need to be closed as duplicate. By demanding that your vote be followed by 4 other people before action is taken, you're wasting time and limited votes. Let them use their votes on other questions - some of which won't even be in your tag.

Don't give in to impostor syndrome. You are not only qualified, but requested, by the community no less, to participate more fully and more dramatically in improving our site.

Please don't take this lightly. You can refuse - we're not going to make you, but we're also not going to allow you to simply hide your expertise and provide a crutch that allows you to pretend you don't deserve or can't handle this task.

We trust you. We need you. Please reconsider your position on the dupehammer.

  • 1
    "You are an expert" -- so are most dictators. That doesn't make dictatorship right. Mods run for office and were elected. I did not and was not, respectively. "there's still plenty of oversight" -- I have limited evidence of this. "but requested, by the community no less" -- upvotes on questions/answers does not mean that anyone has requested that I wield a dupehammer. Nor was I ever asked directly if I wanted to wield a dupehammer, outside of stuff on this Meta question. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 19:56
  • "Please reconsider your position on the dupehammer" -- I had backslid and had been unilaterally closing things as dups for several months. I'll stop that now, and I thank you for reminding me why I detested this move in the first place. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:01
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    @CommonsWare Well, I obviously disagree with you, but I understand your perspective and am glad you continue to participate in whatever way you feel most comfortable.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:39

If this just a normal close, so a single edit puts the post in the reopen queue, then I don’t see the big problem. But if it stops the questions being reopened in the normal way, then it is a big problem.

The reopen queue works so fast anyway and most questions that are closed in error are very poor questions anyway.

However I would rather have a gold tag badge holder have a bit less power, so that one other close vote is needed.

I would also like to see per user “review queue” that shows all questions that have had new comments or been edited since I voted to close them.

There is also the need for a workflow that allows me to leave a comment pointing to anther questions that may be a duplicate, then come back in a few hours time to vote to close if there is no other comments etc to convince me it is not a duplicate.

  • 4
    The only irreversible close is migrate. Since this only applies to dup-closing, there's nothing to worry about - so far, I've seen questions getting reopened faster than normal, as the same group can reopen with a single vote as well.
    – Shog9
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 13:57
  • If a question gets reopened depends a lot on the traffic that the labels are getting. For "my" cryptography tag questions hardly ever close, but if they get closed they never reopen. Commented Oct 27, 2018 at 15:51

Unilateral closing (and also deleting) is a very bad idea, even for mods. There has not only been abuse of it, but there have been plenty of mistakes made. All of those votes should get a few eyes on it, not just one decision-maker who might be a little too busy and miss something (as I often do).

There was a great feature-request to allow a closer the option to apply a normal, non-binding vote, but that was declined. It would have solved the problem (if extended to all unilateral voters), but despite the huge vote-count it didn't get any play from the Team.

  • 6
    I dropped my opinion on that particular feature-request long before I had a binding vote anywhere, and my opinion hasn't changed since - I've seen too many people treat votes carelessly to want to give someone the choice to do so.
    – Shog9
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:41
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    @Shog9, I agree with your comment on that one that if they're not sure they shouldn't vote at all, but I've seen too many with an agenda go around deleting good questions, or poor ones with good answers. I'm much more hung up on deleting than I am on closing. p.s. Could you please fix it so we can migrate stuff from here, people are inappropriately closing as off-topic stuff that belongs on MSO. We need to be able to move that stuff over unclosed. Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:44
  • 1
    Migration is still kind of a pain; if you find something good that's closed, flag it.
    – Shog9
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:45

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