I voted to reopen this question (Merry Christmas to all and God bless). My reopen vote was recorded, but I saw that the 'delete' option was still available. Out of curiosity, I decided to "vote" to delete as well. (I don't remember the order in which I cast these two votes.)

I expected that I would either:

  • Get an error message stating I cannot vote to delete a question that I have myself voted to reopen. (OR)
  • The delete vote would "override" the reopen vote.

Neither of these happened, and I have ended up voting to both reopen and delete the same question at the same time, which I think should not happen.

Is this by design and my expectation is incorrect, or one of those bugs that nobody cared about?

Note: This is similar to the other meta question (Why can I vote to reopen a deleted question?), but the difference here is I am asking if both the votes from the same user should be active at the same time.

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  • 2
    Why did you vote to reopen? You voted to close it, clearly the correct action, and it has had no substantive edit since.
    – jonrsharpe
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 11:33
  • @jonrsharpe That is not really the point here. It was a semi-serious meta "question", which is a good place to experiment. If I hadn't done that, I wouldn't have found out this "feature". I only posted that as an example, because some people here are intentionally obtuse at times. That does not mean you focus only on that example.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 1:04
  • @MaskedMan downvote just because it's not that critical of a problem. Nothing personal.
    – user343082
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 16:01

3 Answers 3


Why not? Those are different actions.

You can also:

  • Vote to close a question and upvote it.
  • Vote to delete an answer and upvote it.
  • Vote to reopen a question and downvote it.
  • ...and many more things that won't make much sense.

The only action that "override" a previous one is up/down voting.

  • Well, a closed or deleted or normal post can have a score independent of its status, but posts that are deleted can't be open unless a mod did it, and similarly, posts that are open can't be deleted with the same exception. So they are mutually exclusive in end result. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 9:18
  • 1
    Just because there are a lot of things which don't make sense, it doesn't mean that all of them should be allowed. You vote to delete a post when you believe it doesn't add any value to the site, which is going in opposite direction from reopen.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 9:41
  • 2
    @MaskedMan the system assume people use common sense. If you think a question does not belong to the site and vote to close/delete it, do not upvote it and do not vote to reopen if it's closed. The system should not spoon-feed you. Simple as that. :) Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 11:01
  • 1
    @NathanTuggy But the examples above are not mutually exclusive. What ShadowWizard means is basically, "You can do whatever you want as long as the system allows them. But you have to use your common sense as the examples are extreme cases."
    – Rathony
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 16:02
  • @Rathony: That's great and all, but the question is not how should I comport myself but why does the system allow mutually exclusive actions at all? Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 22:43
  • It has nothing to do with common sense. If a question shows up in the reopen queue and I do not remember having previously voted to delete it, then the system should prompt me. I don't think inability to remember every vote you cast comes down to a lack of "common sense". While we are talking about common sense, let me ask why does the system inform you that you cannot vote on deleted answers, or that you cannot flag the same post twice, or for that matter, that "you have already voted to close this question." This selective application of common sense is anything but common sense.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 1:10

While it seems to make sense "why should someone both vote to reopen and vote to delete a single post", you are seeing it from a very narrow view. In the big picture, it actually makes a lot of sense and in some cases is a necessary feature.

From a historical perspective, the Stack Exchange sites have taken a very hands off view on telling people how to use their votes (all kinds of votes including up/down, close/reopen, delete/undelete), and leaving it to the community and individual users to decide how to vote, with the only exception being fraudulent voting (targeting a specific user).

This is because the privilege to use each of the different vote types is earned and as such, the user has earned a level of trust to use those votes wisely. Any restrictions on voting, even if it seems like it makes sense, would run contrary to that position. It also makes it harder for users to moderate posts when there are arbitrary restrictions based on a set of rules that may not apply in 100% of cases.

For your specific case of simultaneous delete and reopen votes, allowing this makes a lot of sense when you add a time component to the scenario. Realistically, it seems unlikely that someone would want to vote to delete and vote to reopen at the same instant in time, but consider a couple of scenarios:

  • A user votes to delete a closed post, but at some point in time in the future, the post is edited and it becomes a perfectly acceptable question. Why can't that user come back and vote to reopen that post now?
  • A user misclicks and accidentally casts a delete vote when they intended to cast a reopen vote (or vise versa)
  • A user votes to reopen a closed post, and the original author tries to "fix" it before the question is reopened, but in doing so, makes the post a lot worse and delete worthy. The original reopen voter may want to come back and vote to delete instead since it can't likely be salvaged anymore.

It is important to know that delete votes and reopen votes both can't be retracted (yet?) and delete votes also do not age away, so once you cast either of the two votes, the vote will remain until the delete or reopen action is completed, or the reopen vote ages away. By restricting someone from casting a different vote simply because they used another contradictory one previously limits their ability to effectively handle posts, especially when the post changes over time.

  • 1
    delete/undelete votes remain indeed, but reopen votes expire in the same way as close votes, see here. (For consistency, both of these changes should be applied to Close Votes, Close Flags, and Reopen Votes) Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 12:31
  • And also worth mentioning this feature request. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 12:36
  • @ShadowWizard thanks, I missed the reopen vote aging getting added, as I only saw the feature request you linked. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 12:44
  • I think reopen votes always aged away, what changed is the criteria when it's aging away (I was just looking for official mention of the expire that exists). Not really important though. :-) Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 12:45
  • You are just justifying one design flaw with another design flaw. I can retract my close vote, but I cannot retract my delete or reopen vote, it has nothing to do with "privileges". Anyway, all that needs to be done is when user clicks reopen/delete, the system should prompt, "You have previously voted to delete/reopen this question. Would you like to update your vote to reopen/delete?", along with two options to either keep the current vote or update to the new one. It doesn't violate your privileges in any way and the history of SE.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 1:16
  • @MaskedMan what you might see as a flaw, others take as a benefit. That is just a side effect of design.
    – user343082
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 16:24

Adding to other great answers, it is important to note that the reopen vote can cancel the delete vote and vice versa. Let's simplify a situation and say there are two delete votes (it usually takes three delete votes unless there are a certain number of upvotes for a question or an answer) and four reopen votes and no moderator is involved. If you cast your vote in this situation, your vote could reopen or delete the post, which will lead to cancelling either the two delete votes or four reopen votes.

It doesn't matter whether you are one of the reopen voters or delete voters. You can always change your mind. It is more important to cast your vote according to the guidelines.

If it is not allowed to cast both votes, you won't be able to correct your mistake or cast the decisive vote.

Even if your vote led to deletion of a post, a moderator can always undelete it or other privileged users can undelete it with three undelete votes. Even if your vote led to reopening of a post, a moderator can always close it again or other users can vote to close it again.

Conclusion: Your vote is neither final nor decisive. It's reasonable to allow both votes at the same time.

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