The Help Center topic What if I disagree with the closure of a question? How can I reopen it? suggests, among other things to do:

  1. Flag the question for moderator attention. Again, explain why it should be reopened. There is more than one moderator, and moderators do reconsider their decisions.

This is almost never the right approach. We tell users that moderators are not arbiters of correctness; there's even a standard flag-decline reason for this. On the sites I'm active on, moderators will almost never overturn a community closure with the binding mod vote. (Mods might reverse a single-mod closure if there's been an edit.) Yes, occasionally there are reasons to expedite a reopening, but if so somebody will probably flag (or ping a moderator in chat) anyway.

I see a lot of flags requesting that closed questions be reopened. I've been declining them and telling people not to do that; only now did I notice that we're telling them to do that.

This is bad advice. Please remove it.

(If there were a reopen flag analogous to the close flag, for <3k users, that would be different. The flags I'm talking about go only to moderators and request mod action.)


3 Answers 3


I hear you, there's some mixed messages being sent here. The tricky piece is how this Help Center advice serves some Stack Exchange sites reasonably well, depending on their size and maturity, but others not at all. Allow me to explain.

On very small, new sites, there's a decent chance moderators will be doing the majority of closing anyway. Heck, there may not even be any users with enough rep to vote to close yet. Whereas on sites like, say, The Workplace or Software Engineering, there's no shortage of everyday citizens voting to close, at which point sending a user to the mods to ask them to reverse a decision the community made collectively is a bad look for everybody. Now, we'd also rather avoid the messiness of having custom, per-site advice on this part of the Help Center.

So we thought about how this copy could be updated to do a better job of offering guidance in both scenarios, and made this edit.

  1. If a moderator (user with a ♦ symbol after their name) closed the question, then you may flag it for moderator attention. Again, do this only after editing and include a detailed explanation of why it should be reopened. There is more than one moderator, and moderators do reconsider their decisions.

There you have it. You should only flag for moderators to reopen your post if a moderator was the one who closed it. Hopefully this'll cut down on you being flagged to reopen posts...or at least decrease the effort needed to correct folks expectations when they do.

  • 3
    Thank you! Good job balancing the needs of large mature sites and small young ones. Dec 25, 2016 at 0:55
  • 2
    Anecdotally (because I didn't think to keep records), I have seen a big decline in these kinds of flags, and increased use of meta for the purpose, since you made this change. Thanks! May 26, 2017 at 15:35

Looking at that section of FAQ, what about reversing the order entirely on recommendations on what to do if you disagree with a close/hold:

  1. Vote to reopen
  2. Edit the question to substantially address the specific reasons listed for closure
  3. Ask on site meta for help understanding how to edit or for help with the content needed for the edit itself.
  4. Comment constructively on the question

I substituted "ask for help on meta" for the "flag for mod" since on my site, working out issues there seems to build consensus and rapidly fix marginal posts.


That paragraph in the help centre should only be removed if users with less than 3k rep are given a standard flag option for reopening, like the existing "flag to close" option.

Imagine you're a user with <3k rep and you find a closed question which should be reopened (and has been closed for long enough that simply editing it won't send it into the Reopen Votes review queue). How are you going to alert anyone else to its reopenability, except by a custom mod flag? None of the standard flags are any use in this situation.

So yes, remove the advice to raise a custom mod flag asking for the question to be reopened - provided that low-rep users have some other way to go about getting it reopened. I've been in this situation myself, and it's frustrating not to be able to get a wrongly closed question reopened just by flagging, without going to the trouble of posting on meta.

See also Can we have the ability to flag for reopening?

  • 1
    In that case you should edit it if it's new (within the "on hold") window or bring it up on meta. Or in chat, if the site's room is active and that's easier. Oct 28, 2016 at 19:57
  • 5
    @Monica Why make it so difficult though? Writing up a whole meta question is a lot of effort just to get a question considered for reopening. And not every site has an active chatroom. Oct 28, 2016 at 20:00
  • 5
    Because a meta post is visible to the entire community, while a mod flag is visible to moderators only. For transparency, those discussions should happen in the open, not in the mod chat room. Oct 28, 2016 at 20:04

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