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Many times, a question gets closed, and then the author edits it in an attempt to get it reopened. However, in many of these cases, the close reason still ends up applying, and so users in the reopen queue (rightfully) review to leave the question closed.

However, this review decision isn't communicated in any way to the question author. This leaves users in the dark as to what happened to their question, and often gives off the impression that there is "no review", which leads to complaints. Users often only get to know of the review decision only if they bring the question up on meta and someone else links to it.

I think it's important that authors are aware of the review that takes place when they contest the closure of their question. Not letting them know gives off the impression that there is no review and that all decisions are final. A couple examples where this can be a major point of contention:

  • In the case of duplicate closures, the author may not be aware of how the duplicate target answers their question, and thus never receive their answer (one major point of closing questions as duplicates is to point the author to an answer). Also, duplicate closures done single-handedly by a gold-badge user can seem entirely unilateral without any recourse, when it might be that the closure was reviewed by other users who determined it valid.

  • Sometimes, a different close reason might apply from the one shown in the notice, and in some cases the author might edit to address the shown close reason (but not the other applicable one). If they do, the edit will push the question into the Reopen Votes queue. The review guidance says to leave such questions closed, but the author is never notified of the fact that the other close reason still applies. This can sometimes result in users getting confused or complaining. (In this case, the author of that question actually was satisfied to learn that their question was in fact considered for reopening).

How can we somehow communicate to users that "your question has been reviewed by the community, who decided that at this time your question should remain closed", so that they don't have to request on meta, and are aware that their questions are indeed being reviewed?

  • 5
    "isn't communicated at all" is putting it mildly. Finding out at all requires using the timeline feature that is notoriously not communicated, advertised or even displayed in any way. The only way to find out involves knowledge over that. – mag Feb 11 at 14:05
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    I had this problem once with one of my early questions, and only now, when I learned how to access the /timeline of a post, I was able to see the reviews of my (now deleted) post. Without this knowledge I waited and waited, hoping for my question to be reopened until it was then deleted as abandoned closed question. – GDPR Feb 11 at 18:39
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I would focus more on the fact that the community will review than the fact the community rejected the reopen request, and I will make sure the OP can find the review result easily.

As such, I would do a text for the OP only, under the close reason, a text like;

Your question is being reviewed by the community for re-opening. Current queue length are on a X minutes average.

If the review is done, I would simply remove the message and leave a trace for the OP in the revision history with a link to the review.

For me, it's more positive to show the OP that way, than telling them, "the community didn't wanted to reopen your question" at the end of the review.

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    Good idea, but 1737747773 minutes average for Stack Overflow isn't very encouraging. ;) Also what about showing this above the question as we do with suggested edits? – GDPR Feb 11 at 18:41
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    How about displaying a estimate we just link to the review queue and indicate how many more reviews must happen before the decision is made? “Your question is being reviewed .... X editors must review it before a decision is made”. – Ramhound Mar 12 at 11:36
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This question stems from the problem that Reopen Review status isn't communicated. It's just one of many ways that people are impacted by that. It was the impetus for developing a new userscript.

SERopenReviewWarning, provides this information.

When a question has been through the review queue, the userscript produces a message under the Close message that looks like this example:

sample message

You can use this installation link with your userscript manager: https://github.com/BobVul/SEReopenReviewWarning/raw/master/SEReopenReviewWarning.user.js

If you've never used userscripts, you load a userscript manager, like Tampermonkey, Greasemonkey, or Violentmonkey, as an add-on in your browser. Then you use it to install userscripts.

That said, the problem described here could benefit from a different solution. If people saw this information automatically, it would avoid the issue described in the question. Most of the people in this situation will not have already loaded userscripts related to the Stack Exchange, and they aren't likely to run out and install this to answer their own question.

If the core users who respond to these queries have this userscript (probably the same users who might load it anyway), they would have instant access to the information. They would still need to respond, but it would save researching the question timeline.

For the situation in this question, the ideal solution would be for the Stack Exchange to incorporate the feature into the site UI, so everyone automatically has access to the information. That would have added benefits, including a reduction in good questions fading into obscurity because nobody realizes that reopening them requires external intervention.

That's a problem that's easy to happen on sites, like Super User, that get technical questions from non-technical askers. The multiple rounds of clarifications and edits, that are commonly needed to fix a question, result in questions failing the reopen review before they are ready to be reopened.

But in the meantime, at least we now have this userscript as a tool.

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So as my recently closed question has been brought along as an example to this issue, I tried to give this some thought over the last few days.

To me, on the "asker side" of the process, the general impression was that someone who clearly spends more time on the site than I do (gold badge, high rep etc.) for some reason decided that my quesion should be closed, copied a half-relevant rule with no explanation, and that's it, one person's decision prematurely ended my question. It felt wrong for a site in the StackExchange family where most processes are democratic (elections are held etc.), we have the "new contributor" badge with the hand-wave icon, and all that, and yet – seemingly! – one person swept my question away with no clear reason.

I'm not sure how common my feelings are, but to me, these things would have helped (in order of importance, sort of).

  1. Citing one single rule with no explanation doesn't help. In my case, it really gave the impression that the person closing my question didn't actually read it at all and clung on an unfortunate usage of the word "recommend" somewhere in the middle. If I knew the real reason behind closing my question (it was about mobile phones which is generally not welcome on SuperUser, an understandable rule that I somehow missed), I just wouldn't have bothered editing it in the first place and accepted the fact that it should be closed. Also, citing a rule with no comment gives the process a really bad "RTFM" feel, which is especially weird for the StackExchange family, because most questions asked here (at least on StackOverflow and SuperUser) would be unneccessary if everyone would read manuals back and forth :) My suggestion: encourage citing multiple rules, and add just a half-sentence comment on how is it relevant – shouldn't be long-winded, just what you can say about your decision in 10 seconds or less.
  2. It should be made clearer that multiple people were involved in the decision – and some voted for, some voted against, my question.
  3. And, as suggested in another answer here, the current state of the process, and what can be done about it, should also be visible. E.g.
    • Your quesion is closed, but it will be reviewed again if you edit it
    • Thanks for your edit, your question will be reviewed soon. (Link to the review queue.)
    • Sorry, we decided not to reopen your quesion this time. If it was deemed off-topic, please consider using another StackExchange site. If you are still unsure about why it was closed, please describe your situation on Meta. (And here a link should be provided for the appropriate Meta site, because at first I unknowingly used the wrong one and earned quite a few negative votes...)

I know that the review/reopen queues are already long, and some of my suggestions would slightly extend the time it required to work with such questions, and I also know the old rule that asking a question on the SE network is a privilege, not a right, but please also appreciate that often, the questions being closed have been worked on for significant amounts of time and might be truly important for the asker; just a few words to make them understand why they can't be helped this time would really be important for the person on the other side of the screen. Thank you!

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