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Occasionally, a user will cast a close-as-duplicate vote that's clearly incorrect. If that vote closes the question as duplicate, a gold tag badge user in a tag for the question ("dupehammer user") can then, as I understand it, unilaterally reopen it (thus overriding all the previous votes).

My question is about what happens in cases where the incorrect close vote does not close the post. In such a situation, a dupehammer wielder can close and reopen the post in order to clear the close votes on the question. This is clearly somewhat abusive if there are no close-as-duplicate votes, but in the case where all the close votes on the post are close-as-duplicate, doing this at least somewhat seems to tie into the dupehammer's regular functionality.

My question is not really about whether/when I can do this, but rather, when I should; under what circumstances should I as a dupehammer holder close and reopen a post in order to clear incorrect duplicate votes from it? Given that this is a fairly hidden feature at the moment, there's no obvious guidance for the circumstances under which I should use it.

In particular, is it my "duty" as a dupehammer user to clean up incorrect duplicate votes? Or the opposite: should I stay out of using the dupehammer to mess with vote totals, and only use it when the post is actually incorrectly open or closed? Or is the answer somewhere in between?

  • 1
    I suspect the issue here hinges on how you define "clearly incorrect". If I really thought a question was a duplicate, voted to close it as such, and then saw a gold badger effectively wipe out my vote because they disagreed with it, I might be somewhat put out. – Rand al'Thor Jun 6 '17 at 23:53
  • @randal'thor: Agreed that it can be controversial what's a duplicate sometime. It's even worse, though, if you get another four people to agree with you and then a gold badger wipes out all your votes, which is something that seems to be intentional in the current system, so it may well be that the ability to wipe out a smaller number of votes is also intentional. (Note that I've personally seen a gold badger wipe out five reopen votes. The post in question ended up being closed four times, and eventually locked, so it's one where none of the dupe votes either way were clearly correct.) – ais523 Jun 7 '17 at 0:01
  • @ais523 do you remember the "time to take a stand" post? It was single handedly closed and reopened by multiple moderators a bazillion times, before it got locked. – NVZ Jun 7 '17 at 0:23
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It doesn't hurt to wait until it's picked up the full five close votes before you vote to reopen.

  • If it never actually gets those five, then you don't need to do anything and you haven't 'wasted' your close and reopen votes for that question; you still have them reserved for later in case you need them.
  • If it does get the full five, then you can still reopen, and the end state of the post will be the same. It looks less abusive than a close-and-reopen (note that I'm not saying the close-and-reopen would necessarily be an abuse of power, but I'm sure some would see it that way), and less likely to lead to angry meta posts. As an extra bonus, there are now five people rather than just one who can't wrongly VTC again!
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In my opinion, there's a big difference between fixing an incorrect closure and preventing a potential incorrect closure altogether. I'd prefer gold badge holders not clear close votes in the way you suggest. If it became a common practice, I'd advocate for limiting the unilateral actions to one per question. In other words, if someone used a dupehammer to close a question, they'd not be able to use it to reopen. (Though there might be space for allowing another action after an edit or somesuch.)

The difficulty isn't whether the question ends up in the correct state, but whether non-gold-badge holders are encouraged to act on potential duplicates. If such users routinely notice their votes are nullified by one (or a small number) of very high reputation users, there's not much incentive to continue voting to close duplicates. Instead, I'd suggest users who disagree with existing close votes leave a comment explaining the question or (even better) editing the question to demonstrate the differences.

Like diamond moderators, high reputation users need to be aware their actions are "powerful and highly concentrated". Respecting fellow community members includes giving them the right to hold wrong opinions. Using those powers solely to negate the expressed opinions of other users seems disrespectful. It also has the potential side effect of discouraging them from expressing correct opinions.

  • FWIW, this action is already limited to once per post per user - so there's not much that can be abused here. Arguably it's sort of a waste, since if you clear 1 close vote you gotta sit out if 5 more come in and the question gets closed anyway. Note also that if two badge holders both close/reopen the same question, a mod flag is raised automatically - so even a gang of badge holders can't really mess with this undetected. – Shog9 Jun 7 '17 at 0:49
  • Presumably the same philosophy would apply to clearing reopen votes with a quick reopen-and-close by a dupehammer wielder? (This is something I've complained about before, but I'm no longer sure about whether I was right to do so, so I'm interested to see where this discussion goes.) – Rand al'Thor Jun 7 '17 at 0:50
  • Can you embolden and italicize the third-to-last line? I think that bears repetition and emphasis. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 7 '17 at 1:01
  • @randal'thor: I kinda dislike this pattern in general. However, I can see an argument for the practice on meta by a moderator team. Sometimes it really is necessary to override community consensus in order to have (or not have) a discussion on meta. Still, I'm not a huge fan of micromanaging close votes. At best it's a waste of time. – Jon Ericson Jun 7 '17 at 1:02
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Why the rush? The fact is, you don't know if the post will actually be closed as a duplicate of that question. It may not get more close votes or people may vote to close for a different close reason (or duplicate target). People can also retract their close vote, so no matter what the consensus is now, it may change before the post actually gets closed (if it gets closed).

Also, "wiping" people's votes like that is a good way to annoy them (and it looks suspicious in the history). Instead, consider a comment explaining why you think it's not a duplicate, or maybe an edit to the post.

3

It's definitely not your duty; the system will clean up these votes in a reasonable time anyway, so it's not like you gotta spend your days doing it manually.

I could maybe see doing it once in a blue moon just to calm a tense situation, but most of the time this is a waste of both your time and your privilege - once you've closed and reopend a question, you can no longer vote to close or reopen it again... Ever. You've had your say, and must rely on others to vote if need-be... Kind of a waste over 1 or 2 votes, eh?

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