Assume some users voted to reopen a question. Then, a mod came by, noticed that the close reason on the question was wrong, so they reopened and closed the question again to correct the close reason. That's all fine, but the people who voted to reopen the question before the close reason change have now lost their reopen votes. And the question is no longer in the reopen queue.

Can we change this so that if a question is reopened and closed within a short period of time (maybe <5 mins), the reopen votes are not lost? Or alternatively provide mods with an interface to change the close reason on a question without having to reopen it first?

Edit: Since moderators sometimes use the ability to clear close/reopen votes for legitimate purposes, perhaps the second suggestion can still be implemented.

  • 3
    Edge case...An explanation of the procedures would be interesting.
    – bad_coder
    Feb 17, 2021 at 11:04

3 Answers 3


As a moderator, I sometimes use reopening and closing again explicitly to clear reopen votes.

I’d say it is rare that we accidentally cleared reopen votes this way, and not an edge case I would want to see fixed if it breaks our ability to clear reopen votes.

You are bringing up two further arguments for this feature:

  • what about a moderator that is going against the community consensus:

    Build a case on your meta site on why that moderator was wrong to (re-)close a post. Moderators are there to implement community consensus, which is why moderators are elected by the community. If you have a rogue moderator you have bigger problems and no amount of feature implementing work is going to fix that.

  • what about small meta sites with very little traffic, where consensus is reflected in close and reopen votes?

    That’s not consensus. That’s controversy and perhaps an unhealthy community that doesn’t care enough to build consensus.

The bottom line is that feature requests take developer resources to implement, and run a high risk of adding complexity to the system. Complexity leads to bugs leads to developer time being directed to fix those rather than implement other, perhaps more important features.

The occasional loss of a genuine reopen vote is, in my opinion, not worth spending developer time on this feature request. Not when the community at large can still cast additional reopen votes should that truly be warranted.

  • Well, we could give moderators the ability to change the close reason, so they wouldn't have to clear the votes just to change the close reason. Also I'm interested in why you would want to clear the reopen votes. Doesn't the community have the ability to differ from a moderator's decision on what is on-topic or not?
    – nobody
    Feb 17, 2021 at 14:07
  • This is never about a moderator disagreeing with the community at large. We do this when a post is controversial and is attracting a lot of often heated attention. Feb 17, 2021 at 14:11
  • Good, then the moderator should have the ability to change the close reason without being forced to clear the reopen votes. On some smaller sites, questions on meta are so rare that nobody visits it, so community consensus on what is on-topic is reached mainly through close and reopen votes. In such a situation, clearing reopen votes would be overriding community consensus. I admit its not going to happen often, but it still may happen every now and then.
    – nobody
    Feb 17, 2021 at 14:17
  • @nobody I’m pretty certain that this is about a very specific question where you disagreed with a post being closed my a moderator. I note that I would hardly qualify Information Security as a small site and its just you that disagrees there. The post in question is not a meta post, although there was a meta question about it. Feb 17, 2021 at 15:43
  • @nobody if that specific closure by a moderator is so much against the consensus of the IS community then there will be enough members to reopen that post again even without your reopen vote. Feb 17, 2021 at 15:46
  • I am not trying to bring up the issue of the question you refer to here. And I DO NOT accuse of the moderator of being rogue, incompetent or anything else. The only reason I brought this up as a feature request is because I thought it might be a useful feature to retain reopen votes when changing the close reason. Sec.SE has such a limited number of active reviewers that if, say, 3~4 reopen votes were lost, the question would not have any significant chance of being reopened. But perhaps you are right in saying this isn't significant enough to warrant developer time.
    – nobody
    Feb 17, 2021 at 16:40
  • @nobody: take into account that active reviewers are not the only users that have the privilege to reopen a post. And I'm sure that Sec.SE has an active chatroom where you could also discuss reopening a post. :-) Feb 17, 2021 at 18:29
  • @nobody Close/reopen votes, and delete/undelete votes, are quite bad at indicating consensus, even among the subset of users who can cast those votes, because those votes can not be immediately countered. Just this fact means that anyone who feels the current state of the post is correct can not express that opinion with a vote until and unless the state of the post changes and that user happens to return to the post. As a result of this, close/reopen and delete/undelete votes show only a very skewed view of a limited subset of the users you have the ability to cast those votes.
    – Makyen
    Feb 17, 2021 at 19:07
  • @Makyen That makes sense. Well, I you guys are probably right so I concede.
    – nobody
    Feb 17, 2021 at 19:21

Okay, so I know the following is guidance for using the review queues, but it's generally applicable to casting the first reopen vote too, in my opinion. From this faq:

Don't vote to reopen items that should be closed, but were closed with the wrong close reason (unless it should instead be closed as a duplicate).

Why are the people in your example voting to reopen a question that should remain closed? If you don't want to 'lose' your reopen vote, don't vote to reopen a question that should remain closed for a different reason, either in the review queues or as the first voter.

And well, if you do decide to use your vote 'wrong', it doesn't matter much if it's a mod or 3-5 other users that override your reopen vote by closing a post again. Only the mod will be quicker, possibly preventing other people from making the same mistake you did (and having lost their vote too when the question is improved), and clearing the post out of the queue saving others some time.

I'm not sure if the interface will add much usefulness. I can only imagine two scenario's where I'd reopen and close a question again for a different reason:

  • It's in the reopen queue now, gaining reopen votes because people are seeing the current close reason, finding it no longer applicable to the post, and not realizing the post should be closed for a different reason (and as such, should not get reopen votes, as per the faq quoted before).
  • Someone sends me a moderator flag, chat message or otherwise brings a question to my attention that could benefit from a different close reason, both to explain to OP what they should do to improve their post, and for the rest of the community so they know what they're supposed to be helping to fix. This might help when someone is vehemently arguing that their question isn't 'X' and shouldn't be closed for being 'X', and so focused on only arguing that point, that actually improving their question is being drowned out by it.

In the first case, I actually want to clear the reopen votes and set the counter to zero again, as those votes were likely cast in error and as such should not linger.

In the second case, I can just reopen and close the question again and leave a comment for the OP explaining what just happened, without anyone losing their reopen votes or removing a post from the reopen queue, so an interface, while nice, is not going to fix the problem of 'losing votes'.

  • The people in the scenario I present are voting to reopen because they believe it should be reopened (not just because the original close reason was wrong). I originally thought the feature I suggested would sometimes be useful for mods on sites with fewer active users, but I guess Martijn is right in saying this probably isn't a big enough issue to warrant developer time.
    – nobody
    Feb 17, 2021 at 16:47

Moderators have the power to override regular users' actions (like flags, etc.). This kind of power is granted to them by the community because we trust them to do the right thing. I believe that moderators can see the reopen votes before reopening and re-closing the question. So, it's an informed decision. If you disagree with a specific decision of a moderator, you can address it on the relevant meta site but I don't see why we should restrict moderators' actions in this case if they can see all the information needed to make a decision.

Moreover, moderators sometimes do this on purpose (not even to change the close reason), that is, reopen and re-close a question because they believe the question should remain closed, or in other cases, they would do the opposite (close and immediately reopen if they believe that the question should not be closed).

See this relevant post on Meta Stack Overflow:

Is it valid for a diamond moderator to use their powers to override the closing votes of other users, in order to reopen a question?

  • Well, we don't need to restrict the moderators, as I mention in a comment under Martin's answer. In fact they are restricted right now, since they can't change the current close reason without clearing the reopen votes.
    – nobody
    Feb 17, 2021 at 14:14
  • Well, that alternative probably wouldn't harm anyone. Your original suggestion would restrict moderators' abilities though. Whether or not the alternative suggestion is worth the developers' time is up for debate. I would say what you presented is an edge case and moderators should decide whether the question is worth reopening or not and act accordingly. Feb 17, 2021 at 14:22

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