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For the third time now in a short period, there's a close/reopen war on a MSO question. When it's closed, it disappears from the sidebar.

Seems like a relatively simple check to add so this silliness can be stopped once and for all.

5
  • I wonder if we should also make diamond-reopened questions uncloseable by regular users...but maybe that would cause more problems than it would solve. – JonK Sep 25 '14 at 10:46
  • Diamond mods can already protect a question if we so desire, so no change is needed there. – Ben Collins Sep 25 '14 at 15:26
  • @BenCollins protection prevents it from closure? I know a lock would, but that would also prevent any further input, wouldn't it? – Bart Sep 25 '14 at 15:30
  • Yes, lock is a bit of a clumsy tool. The only thing we can do there is set a time limit on the lock - but I don't think it's really needed in practice anyway. – Ben Collins Sep 25 '14 at 15:31
  • Hence the feature request I'd say. – Bart Sep 25 '14 at 15:33
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It's obvious that members of the community are expressing their opinion by taking this action. Once you vote to close a post, you can not vote to close it again. So that means 20 different users voted to close that most recent featured post. Stifling their use of the system as it was intended is unnecessary and bad for community relations.

I think that post is just fine on MSO, I even voted to leave it open when it entered the close queue. However, I respect the privileges that these users have earned by reaching the 3000 reputation threshold. If the team/moderators don't want a question to be at risk of being closed, they can do a blog post and feature that in the sidebar.

Yes, I do agree, that it is more efficient to just block close votes on questions with the featured tag. But it's not the right thing to do in my opinion. By allowing people to close vote the featured questions, it leaves a permanent record of these users beliefs about the question in the post revision history. It's a form of protest in some cases.

Overall, how many featured tagged questions end up being closed? I bet it's a pretty rare occurrence. Recently on MSO, it has happened to a few questions. So obviously there is a power struggle going on between the team/moderators and a certain demographic of the user base. I don't see obviously on topic featured tag questions being closed. It's only the ones where users seem to think they have a good reason to close vote.

What would happen if your feature request came to fruition? The first thing, is people would start a new question or five complaining about the other question and why questions like that don't belong here. It would spark a huge debate on multiple questions instead of just the one in the question.

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    "people would start a new question or five complaining about the other question and why questions like that don't belong here." Sounds like we can close 4 questions as dupes of the first one and a lot of noise would no longer appear in the featured post. :p – Bart Sep 25 '14 at 15:41
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    We had a discussion on these questions being allowed or not, and overall consensus is "yes". Some people disagree with that, and that's fine, I even was one of them. But I think it's unproductive to keep having the same discussion and close/reopen cycle over and over again on featured questions. Any such debate on a featured question is simply noise. – Stijn Sep 26 '14 at 7:27
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I'm declining this, mostly for the reasons that given in the other answers here. Yes, we have had a few close/reopen back-and-forths on posts recently, but it doesn't warrant creating a special case in the software.

  1. These instances are pretty rare, so probably don't justify any developer time (even if it's a pretty small change).
  2. There are always staff or other moderators around to reopen featured posts that get closed (and probably almost always quickly enough that these posts won't disappear from the heavily cached community bulletins).
  3. More importantly, the act of voting to close sends a signal that can be quite valuable to us (Stack Exchange employees). It's part of the very feedback that we come to meta to find. We will continue to reopen posts as necessary, but we do value the reactions that prompt people to want to close: they helps us reflect on how we communicate ideas and engage with the community, and identify places where we can get better at clarifying our goals and ideas.
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  • The whole situation is absurd I think, you're pretty much saying it's OK to have such silly close/reopen cycles and to have the same "Meta is not for this! - Yes it is!" discussions on those posts. I personally won't bother with voting to reopen. – Stijn Oct 3 '14 at 7:12
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    @Stijn I'm not saying it's at all productive to go through multiple cycles of closing and reopening. All I'm saying is that our software allows for questions to be closed, and we don't see a compelling reason to change that. We're also trying to clarify what meta is for: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/240440/what-is-a-meta-for to prevent that argument from coming up every time. – Laura Oct 3 '14 at 13:29
  • I have a counter-proposal: If a featured post gets closed, it cannot be reopened even by diamond moderators until it is edited. Yes, by casting close votes the community was sending a clear message that those posts did not communicate what was intended, yet thousands of comments later those have still not been edited to say that answers should be used to voice concerns and offer suggestions. (BAD: "volunteer by filling out this form. If you have any questions, feel free to post them as an answer here, and we'll respond in the comments. We'll follow up ... with everyone who applied" – Ben Voigt Dec 4 '14 at 4:12
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As frustrating as the current behavior can be, I don't think questions should be exempt from community editorial actions by default. Currently, we are looking through the lens of a few recent close wars involving Stack Exchange Inc. announcements. But I consider these edge cases. When I put on my moderator hat, I find that having a meta question closed that I think should be advertised provides an important introspection point.

Last week, the community team looked intently at our long-standing practice of using Meta as way to announce initiatives and to ask for feedback. (Meta.SE and Meta.SO are the most visible places, but we do more or less the same thing routinely on smaller metas too.) We may not change much about how we use Meta, but reflecting on how to best approach the community with announcements was a valuable exercise. Pushback on meta posts was even more valuable when I was an appointed moderator on a small community.

But I think the problem you have observed is orthogonal to the solution you've suggested:

When it's closed, it disappears from the sidebar.

Yes, we could prevent such questions form being closed or we could allow closed questions to be included on the Community Bulletin.

However, since the situation you are describing is actually rare in the context of all meta sites and since there are several easy workarounds (moderators can reopen closed posts with minimal effort), I don't think anything really needs to be changed here.

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  • I disagree. Voting to close a featured question is useless, the user voting is well aware the question will be reopened again by the team. It is just causing harm without any real benefit. Downvotes should be the measure of how many users disagree with the announcement, and of course comments. – Shadow Wizard is Vaccinating Sep 30 '14 at 19:33
  • @ShadowWizard: I think this is one of the times when a feature request can't fix the underlying problem. I noticed at least one spam flag raised on a meta post written by one of my colleagues. (For what it's worth, the effect produced the opposite effect from what the flagger likely hoped for.) – Jon Ericson Sep 30 '14 at 19:51
  • Guess someone was really really pissed off to cast a spam flag, lol! Curious to know, what you mean by "produced the opposite effect"? If 6 users will flag as spam, won't it cause auto deletion like any other post? – Shadow Wizard is Vaccinating Sep 30 '14 at 19:54
  • @Shadow Wizard: Hmmm... How to put it? Let's just say we didn't take the protest very seriously. – Jon Ericson Sep 30 '14 at 20:03
  • you reversed the flag and aimed it on one of the flagger's posts instead? ;-) – Shadow Wizard is Vaccinating Sep 30 '14 at 20:05

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