Even though a question may be closed by receiving 5 close votes, the votes do not necessarily need to agree. I think this is a good behavior, but recently I voted to close a question for being an exact duplicate (which it was) and found the question was closed as "not a real question".

This is unfortunate, while I'm happy to display my username and acknowledge that I voted to close, I'd like some additional transparency. That is, if it was a 4-1 vote for "not a real question" vs "exact duplicate" I'd be interested in seeing that level of information.

The point is to be transparent about why the question was closed, and though 5 users may agree the question needs to be closed they may not agree why. It's important to recognize all the reasons for closure, not just the majority reason.

I'd suggest displaying this information as something like:

closed on Jun 21 at 4:26 as:

  • not a real question by foo, bar, baz
  • exact duplicate by alice, bob

Once a question has been closed I'd argue it's more important to understand the rationale than it is to worry about an extra 2 lines of text. If the votes are 2,1,1,1 perhaps keep just 2 bullets, the first showing the majority vote, the second saying "for other reasons" as a summary of the change. The point is to aggregate the summary by reason.

  • 4
    A related request is When you hover over the name of the person closing a question it should show the reason they've chosen, but there's also Show all voted close types when a question is closed. Pick your poison if you can't think of a unique method for the display from these two.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 19:44
  • 2
    oh no, before the changes to vote as duplicate I often voted any reason when there were enough duplicate votes to avoid a few clicks... that would be awful to see
    – juan
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 19:45
  • 12
    Just fell victim to this. I just wanted to migrate a question, now I'm listed as closing it for a reason I did not vote for. Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 18:41
  • 16
    @Shog9: The benefit is that you would no longer be lying to the internet about my intentions and actions. It's libelous. Maybe you don't care, but the top site contributors generating advertising revenue who are actually named certainly do. Having said that, since most of the close reasons are now bundled under "off-topic", I consider this to be 75% fixed. :) Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 10:37
  • 33
    Wow. Extremely frustrating having the site actually lie about what you said. Unless this gets fixed, I think I may refrain from using the 'close' feature at all. I'm very happy to help improve the quality of the content on the site, but not if the site is going to pretend I did something that I didn't do.
    – phils
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 2:35
  • 15
    To ensure that the site's quality standards are upheld, bad questions need to be closed, and to close, members need to have an incentive to vote. To risk having one's vote publicly misrepresented is a huge disincentive when one consider whether to vote or not. I hope somebody finds the time to fix this bug. Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 7:44
  • 3
    @JackDouglas No, this has not been implemented. Shog9's previous comment explains: "the current implementation breaks out off-topic reasons by voter, but doesn't do this for votes on any other reason. No plans to change this at present." And I just now saw a question get closed as a duplicate, that I had voted to close for a different reason (one of the off-topic reasons). The site still falsely claims that I voted to close the question as a duplicate.
    – hvd
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 1:28
  • 2
    This is still a problem. stackoverflow.com/questions/32950646/… Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 14:12
  • 6
    This is very annoying! My name is displayed for something I didn't vote for.
    – the_lotus
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 14:15
  • 3
    @Shog9 "No plans to change this at present." This question has received no less than 10 bounties and currently stands at +237/-5. What is the reason for not implementing this?
    – Stijn
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 8:35
  • 5
    Or maybe we could just stop listing names entirely, eh @gnat? Of all the problems inherent in our current close-voting system... Look, you know what would really help here? If we required a consensus to close and ignored dissenting votes. So you get five votes for five different reasons and nothing happens. If folks can't agree on a problem, they don't get to close the question at all. Or maybe we just get rid of voting entirely. Something that actually affects how this works instead of painting the shed a rainbow.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 14:30
  • 4
    Exposing close votes in the timeline is probably the easiest of all options here, @gnat: doesn't require backfilling data for close records, doesn't require adding stuff to the data-dump... If folks are happy to see their close votes exposed on an obscure page, that's actually feasible. Post a specific feature-request, please.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 15:30
  • 3
  • 8
    I hate that this website TELLS LIES about me, claiming I voted to close for some absurdly stupid reason when I most certainly did not. I was just flagging a duplicate.
    – Boann
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 23:25
  • 6
    This is STILL a problem. It is lying. Please fix :( Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 16:28

10 Answers 10


Maybe something like this?

bulleted list of close reasons

I don't think it's necessary to show every explanation under the list, just the majority one is sufficient, but a breakdown of who voted what is probably good. The main problem is the increased vertical space usage, but I think it looks much better than merging them all together like the first suggestion here

  • 1
    Is it intended that it only shows the "tooltip" for not a real question?
    – juan
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 19:55
  • 1
    @Juan Yes, that's what I meant by "I don't think it's necessary to show every explanation under the list, just the majority one is sufficient" Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 19:57
  • 32
    If the question has been closed what's the concern about vertical space? Once a question has been closed I'd argue it's more important to understand the rationale than it is to worry about an extra 2 lines of text. If the votes are 2,1,1,1 perhaps keep just 2 bullets, the first showing the majority vote, the second saying "for other reasons" Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:01
  • I don't know if showing the order people voted is considered important, but that could become a problem with this if people vote "exact dup", "not a question", "exact dup", "not a question", "exact dup" Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:03
  • @Mark Oh, I just realized you edited your question to show the exact same idea a few minutes before I posted. Nice :) Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:05
  • The intent in that case would be to show "Closed as exact dup by ... / not a queston by ..." (aggregate by reason, not by user or order) Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:05
  • (-1) for the reasons in my answer.
    – devinb
    Commented Jun 25, 2010 at 11:44
  • 1
    Still a problem. Implement this please!! Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 12:04
  • Show what they voted to close it as a dupe of, though. Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 23:54
  • 1
    I think it MUST show every possible reason. If the close vote reasoning is mixed, show them all. Transparency and clarity will be useful.
    – jfriend00
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 21:56

Please fix this bug, at least when the question is migrated. This has a larger impact than just mixing up different reasons for closing when migration comes into picture.

Recently, I voted to close this question on cstheory.stackexchange.com as off topic, and after my vote, a moderator of cstheory decided to migrate the question to cs.stackexchange.com. Although I did not vote to migrate the question, my name was shown on cstheory as one of the users who migrated the question because of this bug:

migrated to cs.stackexchange.com by Tsuyoshi Ito, Robin Kothari, Artem Kaznatcheev, Dave Clarke ♦ 8 hours ago

Later, a moderator of cs.stackexchange.com saw my name in this list. He (naturally but incorrectly) thought that I voted to migrate the question, and asked me why I did so. It took some back-and-forth to resolve his confusion (hopefully now he understands the situation). This confusion should not have arisen in the first place.

  • 1
    It's not a bug if the behaviour is intended and expected.
    – Nij
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 9:07

Alternative #2:

Just list the members who chose the majority reason, with a link to the revision history to see the full list with the minority report.

closed by foo, bar, baz as not a real question (and for other reasons) on Jun 21 at 4:26)

The bolded parts would be links; the reason part to a FAQ entry on the reason, and the for other reasons part as the link to the revision history.

  • 2
    This is getting there. How about "closed by foo, bar, baz as not a real question (and for other reasons) on Jun 21 at 4:26" Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 14:06
  • That seems better. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 14:14

Similar to Lances's suggestions, but keeping it even simpler, just list the members who chose the final close reason. A breakdown of the votes can go in the revision history.

closed by foo, bar, baz as not a real question

Experienced users will know to look at the revision history if there are less than 5 names in the list, and others are unlikely to care.

  • 7
    And inexperienced users will wonder why it sometimes takes only three people to close a question. (I mean, should it? It would make just as much sense (maybe more, even!) to require five people voting to close for the same reason.)
    – Raphael
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 9:55
  • 1
    @Raphael I think that as long as full breakdown with detailed voting by reasons is available in revision history as suggested here, it could be tolerable to keep all five voters listed in question just as now
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 11:34
  • 2
    @gnat I disagree, for the reasons stated across the thread. In particular, showing wrong information and hiding the truth behind at least one click is clearly the wrong way around and confuses most users (who don't even have reason to think there should be other information in some place).
    – Raphael
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 12:50
  • 4
    @Raphael agree, you have a point. Note however that currently, truth is not just one click away, it's simply impossible to find at all. This bit me recently and honestly, I am now ready to accept any kind of compromise if only to get an opportunity to have a proof anywhere, elsewhere. I'd be happy to see it right there in close message in the question but if it's considered somehow undesirable I'd want it at least in revisions history
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 13:05
  • 3
    bounty awarded for idea for breakdown of the votes to go in the revision history
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 9:28
  • 2
    @Raphael We have gold badge supervotes and I don't think this would be any more perplexing.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 5:31
  • 1
    @Mr.Wizard True, even though those cases look different at least. (By the way, I don't think that high scores in a tag implies moderation capabilities, but well.)
    – Raphael
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 6:59
  • The notion of putting details in the revision history is worthless. The revision history is only useful to super-advanced users. The point of fixing this is for new users who don't know the rules of the site and need to know EXACTLY what close votes they got and for what reasons. Don't hide that info from new users who will have no idea about a revision history.
    – jfriend00
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 21:58

Since this question was asked, a similar change was made specifically for off-topic reasons. I can't find the Meta.SE post about it, but -- like you -- users complained that words were being put into their mouths about questions being off-topic, so the detailed reason now only names the people who voted for it, like on this question:

screen shot of close notice -- five close votes, three votes for that reason

Notice that we don't know from this display how the two circled close-voters voted; we just know that they didn't choose that specific reason. I just checked (using my diamond), and they both voted for one of the other built-in reasons (not other off-topic reasons). We don't need to know the full breakdown, which could lead to up to five reasons being listed; it's sufficient to show but correctly attribute the one that the system chose.

We can do that already for off-topic reasons, so maybe it's not as hard to do it for the others as it was when this question was asked in 2010.

  • 3
    That would be good, since apparently it isn't currently done for duplicates. I didn't vote to close this as a duplicate, and yet: i.sstatic.net/gIVjs.png Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 7:15

I don't see why we even need to show the names at the question level.

Alternative #1:

Just have a link to the revision history, and list them there collated by reason.

closed as not a real question by these members on Jun 21 at 4:26

The bolded parts would be links; the reason part to a FAQ entry on the reason, and the these members part as the link to the revision history.

  • 8
    I find it useful, particularly where there has been debate in comments about the closure. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 13:18
  • 2
    It's also useful for keeping an eye on community moderation (as a mod on smaller sites). Knowing who regularly votes and in which way can help in engaging the community.
    – Raphael
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 9:56
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit Wouldn't that need be met by keeping a record of close votes in the revision history? Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 1:02
  • @KyleStrand: Probably. Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 14:46
  • 1
    I like having the names at question level. It's not something I care about enough to click on every time, but seeing the names even briefly does later "ring bells" when I see those names again. Which is nice.
    – Wildcard
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 2:33

I would really appreciate this feature. Even though I can't vote to close (yet), I would like to know who voted for which reason.

I think the best way to implement this would be to show the main close vote reason as normal, but when clicking the word "closed" (or "on hold" for recently closed questions) expand the banner to show the individual close voters and reasons. (similiar to how viewing vote counts works)

example close notice

  • No point in hiding the information. The primary audience for this information is new users so the information needs to be right in front of them, not something they have to find or know something to click.
    – jfriend00
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 21:59

The final reason a question is closed is sometimes completely wrong and ridiculous; for example "unclear" or "too broad" on a question that actually received useful answers in short time. Currently, anyone who plows through the close review queue closing questions they have no competence in cannot be called out on it, because for all anyone else can tell, they might have been trying to close as a duplicate. Being able to see the actual reason of closure will make the close review process more transparent, so idiots who review improperly can be caught.

  • 7
    Could you maybe change this to read less like a rant about the evil close-voters and more like a reasonable argument? While you present a possibly valid reason, this answer can only be downvoted in its current form. Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 22:37
  • @ChristianRau I stand by my rant.
    – Boann
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 23:26

Tossing in my opinion as an individual, not necessary "on behalf of SE staff".

I actually don't agree with the premise of this request. While established users might benefit from seeing all of the reasons people voted to close, it's actually rather overwhelming to new users (who are probably more likely to have their questions closed in the first place).

The reason we display a big banner with large text when a question is closed is to show the author and any passers-by that the questions isn't a good fit for the site. In the case of the author, we want them to know what they can fix. Throwing several reasons at them at once, especially if they're just top-level reasons without full explanations, isn't very helpful. How do you choose where to start if you see four lines of giant text screaming at you? You probably don't; you probably just walk away.

The close reason that receives the majority of votes is usually a good indicator of what the primary problem is. That doesn't mean a post is perfect apart from the one reason displayed, but honestly, the fact that a question is a duplicate doesn't matter if it's too broad or unclear anyway. It would still be closed, even if it wasn't a duplicate.

Beyond the fact that the majority usually does a good job of identifying the most important problem with the post, conscientious authors and readers can learn more by reading the comments. Some auto-generated comments and some manual comments will show that there are multiple problems, and if, for example, the post is being edited, there's a good chance those comments are being read and considered.

So, in short, I'm not convinced that showing all of the reasons that people voted to close is a good idea. We could probably make it clearer that all of the users whose namea appear might not have chosen the displayed reason, but that's a much simpler, and much less important, problem to solve.

  • 4
    Would it be possible to have it be for some types of closes? Its rather embarrassing when something that you voted to close as 'unclear' gets migrated to another site when it really wasn't a good migration in the first place. I don't like throwing crap at other sites (and am outspoken about this). When my name is attached to a set of close votes that shows up there, they don't know who it was that threw crap in their direction. This might be resolvable with one of those 'oh, that element also has mouseover text' to allow further information for those who know without additional confusion.
    – user213963
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 20:10
  • 1
    Hmm...the real problem, @MichaelT, is that nobody should be migrating crap questions. If you find that happening frequently, we need to come up with a better solution to stop that from happening.
    – Laura
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 20:14
  • 1
    At which point, I'll refer you to my favorite feature request and that P.SE to SO has a 13% reject ratio (which I think is too high) especially when this shows up. But thats my pet meta issue that should probably be looked at elsewhere. For this issue, I'm still curious if one of those mouseover things (like mousing over over the tag score in the tags on the profile (bet ya didn't know that one, 'eh?)) could be used to help separate the specific votes without confusing the message.
    – user213963
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 20:23
  • wasn't your concern addressed in an answer posted right here, few months ago: "keeping it even simpler, just list the members who chose the final close reason..." Worth noting that it's continued with a truly excellent suggestion that sure won't confuse newbies, but will help experienced regulars find out details: "A breakdown of the votes can go in the revision history."
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 20:33
  • @gnat If the breakdown of reasons is in the revision history, it doesn't really address the problem raised in the post, which is to be more transparent to the author. This sounds like a thing that close-voters want for themselves, not a thing that actually benefits the person whose question is closed. And only showing the names of the users who voted for that reason will lead to a lot more "how did this question get closed with only 2 votes" support tickets, I predict.
    – Laura
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 20:36
  • authors interested in transparency strongly enough would find the way to check post revision history. Especially if it would be linked from close message, like "closed as... etc"
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 20:42
  • ... or like "closed as too localized by Bo Persson, Toon Krijthe, Martijn Pieters, animuson, Second Rikudo"
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 20:56
  • 10
    "The close reason that receives the majority of votes is usually a good indicator of what the primary problem is." -- note that the majority is actually not shown if a moderator seals the close (common if not usual on smaller sites). Then, up to four members of the community will be shown voting for the same thing the moderator did even if they did not. That's no good; it should be transparent if mods routinely disagree with the community, especially in a community that is still working on establishing its policies.
    – Raphael
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 9:58
  • 1
    Reversing my point, only showing which reasons where chosen makes it possible to collect data on emerging policy consensus.
    – Raphael
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 10:00
  • 1
    I think one of the big problems is that posts are marked as duplicate, when they're not. This allows the closer to show what's really wrong with the post, and also not look bad for incorrectly closing a question. Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 14:22
  • 3
    "established users might benefit from seeing all of the reasons people voted to close" That's reason enough to make that information available then.
    – Boann
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 23:50
  • 6
    I think this misses the mark. "Let's keep it confusing and misleading because the proposal to make it less misleading would make it more confusing" is hardly a valid reason not to do anything at all. As others have pointed out here, there are ways to avoid making it more confusing; if anything, we should strive to solve both problems, not settle for the status quo.
    – tripleee
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 13:15

This would actually cause huge problems and user dissatisfaction/confusion.

All that matters is that you want the question to be closed. The specific reason is simply a way of providing feedback to the user, but it doesn't mean that the question deserves to remain.

  1. First problem: Meta will be innundated with new feature requests that say "Why was my question closed? It didn't receive five close votes in any one category!" This is simply not the way that the site works. The questions are closed with five total close votes, the particulars don't matter, they are only a suggestion for improvement next time.

  2. Second problem: Even if users understand that it is a total of five votes, the purpose is that five users agree that the question does not belong on StackOverflow. While their reasoning does not matter, it is shown to the OP that five separate "trusted" users agree that the question is (in some way) inappropriate. Once we start differentiating ("three people think this, two people think this") then we are highlighting the disagreement. Highlighting disagreement only serves to lessen trust in the system, because the system no longer seems internally consistent. If no consensus can be reached by the closers, does it deserve to be closed at all? Yes, because what they agree on, is that it should be closed.

  3. Third problem: This causes confusion to the OP. Let's assume that they created a question to the best of their ability in good faith, and it got closed as "Not a real question". Not a real question has specific areas of improvement, ("Not clear enough, not specific enough, etc.) This provides guidance to the OP (if they want it) ask to how to improve. If we present two, three, or four reasons for closing, then the OP suddenly becomes confused. Which of these pieces of advice should they improve on? If one user votes to close everything as "too localized" because it is their favourite reason, then suddenly we are giving the OPs conflicting advice. It is best to pare down to the one main reason that they should improve their question.

Lastly, why does it matter that you disagree? You are free to add a suggestive helpful comment to the OP that indicates what they should improve on, but you have already voted to close. Your vote to close (whatever the reason) indicates that you do not want the question on the site and that has been accomplished.

If you need to distinguish yourself from the other close voters, add a comment. Use your words to explain to the OP what they should do better. This feature would just add confusion and be unhelpful to users.

  • 6
    I think the crux of my argument is based on something we have very different opinions about: "...that you do not want the question on the site..." is not necessarily true. In fact, it's really the core issue: I do not want questions that aren't real questions on the site, but exact duplicates are useful alternate wordings to other relevant questions. In the first sense I'm closing with the hopes someone will delete, in the second I'm closing with a desire to keep the question around, but prevent a split in answers by causing all answers to be directed at a single question. Commented Jun 25, 2010 at 13:29
  • 37
    There are very different types of "not want the question on the site". People massively abuse "not a real question" when closing, and if I vote to (e.g.) migrate to meta and four other people vote "not a real question", it shouldn't say "Voted to close as not a real question by Michael Mrozek" -- that's a patent falsehood, I said no such thing. Then the OP comments with "what the heck, this is a real question" and I agree with him despite the site claiming I'm the one who led the charge Commented Jun 25, 2010 at 14:25
  • Right; I'd rather have the question on this site than none at all. I would have voted for it to stay rather than be closed altogether. My vote was hijacked!
    – Lunivore
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 22:58
  • 6
    "While their reasoning does not matter" Of course it does. Though the rest of (2) raises a good point. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 14:07
  • 5
    Very often, a question that gets closed has multiple problems with it. This does not necessarily mean that the closers disagreed, and can provide useful information to the OP about the many things that need to be fixed with the question.
    – lnafziger
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 14:47
  • 11
    To the third point: if there are two or three reasons why users closed the question, and the OP only fixes one of those issues, then the OP is going to be confused why other users refuse to reopen. If there are multiple issues with the question, all of those issues should be highlighted. Sometimes I wish I could vote on multiple close reasons, but that would be a whole other headache, wouldn't it? ;)
    – JDB
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 14:52

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