I've seen the phrase "skews towards reopen" used a few times, and while I understand the connotation — that users think that it is easier to reopen a question than to close it — I don't understand is why they think so.

Could people who believe a question favors either status explain how the mechanisms of the site cause this? Understanding this might even change some thoughts about what to do about the closing system, etc.


A question requires the same number of votes to close as to re-open, but there are two factors that skew the system in favor of open rather than close:

  1. Questions start out open. So with an equal number of people voting to open and to close, the question will stay open.
  2. Questions can be voted open by their original author (who presumably wants it open, else why post it?) - this effectively gives him two open votes.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's worth keeping in mind when discussing the closing feature.

  • So, the question about closing is whether even splits should favor opening or closing. Or should closing be slightly easier to compensate for original author vote? – toast Jul 9 '09 at 16:10
  • @toast: actually, i think it's fine this way - we want open questions. Closed should be the anomaly, reserved for those that are judged unsuitable for whatever reason. – Shog9 Jul 9 '09 at 16:13
  • That's the way I feel. Even if things currently do tend towards open, they should. In the worst cases of open/close wars, we do have moderators who can settle the issue. – toast Jul 9 '09 at 16:26
  • Realized I never accepted this perfectly acceptable answer. – toast Feb 23 '11 at 18:42
  • I can understand the thought process behind this answer, but I totally disagree that it easier to open a question than close it. Closed questions get far less traffic than open questions, so the number of users likely to see the question and vote to reopen is far smaller. In addition, both reopen and close votes expire after 4 days of no other votes providing the question has received over 100 views. Its fairly common to see close votes on questions with less than 100 views, so they won't expire, but I almost never see reopen votes on questions with less than 100 views. – Rachel Oct 3 '12 at 16:26
  • Oops, I just noticed this answer is around 3 years old, from when the site was much smaller and votes didn't expire. I thought it was recent due to it being bumped to the Active list of questions with an edit :) – Rachel Oct 3 '12 at 16:28

I discussed this here (It makes more sense to link to it than it does to re-paste it.

  • I know that you can only vote to close once, but can you vote to open multiple times? And are open votes unlimited as opposed to the 12 close votes? I don't feel that 'default open' is a particularly convincing case. Semantically, I can say that the default is closed because until they are asked, questions don't exist. But once a question is asked, it is on the road to closure. – toast Jul 9 '09 at 16:04
  • @toast: that was my second factor - if you count the posting of a question as a vote to open (thus invalidating #1), then the author has two open votes - one of which takes effect immediately. So, still skewed. Think of it as a tug of war, where one team always starts out in the pit. – Shog9 Jul 9 '09 at 16:08
  • @Shog: I don't count the posting as a default open vote. It feels like arguing semantics. Having to worry overly much about whether or not your question is going to be closed when you first ask is the opposite of friction-less. – toast Jul 9 '09 at 16:13
  • Uh... My point is, you don't have to worry. Because when you ask a question, it's open. Unless you manage to convince five people that it's inappropriate in some way, it'll stay open. "Open" has inertia. – Shog9 Jul 9 '09 at 16:17

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