Most questions are viewed by a few, say 10, people with close rights. If five of them vote to close, it gets closed, so that's around 50% agreement between close right persons.

For popular questions, say that 100 people with close rights look at them. Now the agreement percentage is down to 5%; in fact, a question with 90% approval and 5% disapproval will get closed.

Would it make sense to require a higher number of close votes for popular questions?

See for example https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4857544/why-do-we-have-postfix-increment

  • Interesting. They have such a ratio put in place for delete votes but I'm not sure how effective it'll be for close votes... – BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 2 '11 at 18:49
  • It makes sense to me. +1 – Trufa Feb 2 '11 at 18:58
  • Your example is very poor. It's more a CS theory or programming question, and should no longer reside on SO as it's a very subjective (and due to the assertions the OP makes about readability, somewhat argumentative) question. There is no objectively correct answer that everyone can agree on. – Pollyanna Feb 2 '11 at 19:12
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    @Pollyanna The question has been re-opened. Perhaps argumentative, theoretical and subjective questions are not so deeply considered out of topic by all the community, in spite of the efforts of the site management. – Dr. belisarius Feb 2 '11 at 19:28
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    Just because someone looks at a question it's highly subjective to call it popular and then infer that lots of people like the question. Sure it's popular to look at the title and then click on it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good question when you get there. The fact that the majority of people do not vote at all says something. It would be interesting if there was a "meh" button that did not incur rep reduction. Is a non-vote a "meh"? – chibacity Feb 2 '11 at 19:28
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    I tend to vote to close on questions that ask to read the minds of language and system designers. With very few exceptions, these questions are just an invitation to speculation. – Rosinante Feb 2 '11 at 20:51
  • This is like this q – bobobobo Dec 28 '11 at 13:11
  • I disagree with this premise because I think the current close voting system works extremely well. (Not perfect - but perfect is impossible) – Andrew Barber Dec 28 '11 at 17:56

If 90% of people who look at a question want it to be opened, then they'll vote to reopen it in short order.

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    Well, the question is, why is it closed in the first place? – Andomar Feb 2 '11 at 18:56
  • @Andomar: The postfix increment question? I don't know. A lot of popular questions get closed because people with enough reputation to vote to close are more familiar with the guidelines in the FAQ about what kinds of questions should be asked. It's hard to objectively answer questions about code quality, and that's what this question is essentially about. – Bill the Lizard Feb 2 '11 at 19:02
  • So why do popular questions get closed by a vote of 5%, while normal questions require over 50%? – Andomar Feb 2 '11 at 19:22
  • @Andomar: If it were based on percentage of views, rather than a set number of votes, then very few questions could ever be closed, and even fewer could be reopened. – Bill the Lizard Feb 2 '11 at 19:27
  • @Bill the Lizard: That would depend on the percentage. Say the percentage is 20% of views by close-vote-capable people. Then MORE questions would be closed, not fewer. – Andomar Feb 2 '11 at 19:57
  • @Andomar: Then you could have one person close a question by themselves and require ten to reopen it later. Is that better? – Bill the Lizard Feb 2 '11 at 20:02
  • @Bill the Lizard: One person sounds awful, the question should be looked at by a representative number of close-vote-capable-people. Easily fixed by adding a boundary condition, like 5 * closeVotes >= totalViewsByCloseVoteCapablePeople AND closeVotes > 3 – Andomar Feb 2 '11 at 20:11
  • I disagree with this answer. Only those who view it after it has been closed will vote to re-open it. I've seen several questions that I didn't think should be closed but had gathered a few votes to close by the time I looked at them. I couldn't counter-act the votes to close because it wasn't closed yet. Okay, I could have checked back later, but, you know, I've got a life. Also, once it is closed, very few people will bother to go to the question at all, so they'd never know to reopen it. In short, in most cases a closed question is liable to remain closed, however deserving it may be. – Spudley Mar 13 '11 at 14:18
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    @Spudley: If you don't care about it enough to star it and check back later, then how much do you really want it to be open? If a high enough percentage of people want it to be open, then it will get enough votes. It happens all the time. – Bill the Lizard Mar 13 '11 at 14:42
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    @Bill - its not that I don't care, it's that I'm looking at it now and it's not closed yet. If it gets closed after I've gone then by the time I come back it'll have dropped off the radar completely; so even if I do vote to reopen it, no-one else is going to even see it, let alone vote with me. – Spudley Mar 13 '11 at 15:02
  • @Spudley, I'm agree with you, but you can edit question, to make it up, to other see it, Also left a comment to describe why you want to be opened, I try it in some cases it was good. – Saeed Jan 9 '12 at 22:37

Everyone with closing rights also has reopening rights. This is to keep an even balance, they get the rights at the same time and they require the same number of votes.

If 5 people out of 100 choose to close it, it only takes 5 other people from that 100 to reverse it. If you have greater approval than disapproval, it will stay open because each user can only close vote once per post. Effectively, popular questions already need more votes to close.

Popular questions also stand a better chance for reopening - the number of votes required to delete a question is increased in proportion to the voting on the question and its answers. This makes it less likely for the question to become community deleted by those against it, and thus more time to accumulate the small number of 5 reopening votes needed to get it back open.

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    That's exactly what I said! ;) – Bill the Lizard Feb 2 '11 at 18:56
  • @Bill You were a lot more concise, though. – Grace Note Feb 2 '11 at 18:57
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    I will make a side note that also, increasing the literal number of votes to close for popular questions is actually making it harder to reopen them. In order to keep it balanced, the reopening vote requirement must match. The majority statement is that reopening takes a lot longer than closing because of fewer numbers and slower accumulation. So once a question does get closed, it'll be increasingly difficult to reopen it as the few reopeners wouldn't accumulate fast enough as the votes age away. – Grace Note Feb 2 '11 at 18:59
  • The question is not about reopening, but closing. Anyway, off-topic, reopening requires people to see the question. Most people don't see closed questions. Reopening is often a Catch-22 – Andomar Feb 2 '11 at 23:10

No. Popularity does not, and should not, supersede the site guidelines. We shouldn't decrease the site's signal to noise ratio and allow subjective, off-topic, etc questions simply because they are popular.

Further, introducing such a rule suddenly ties questions to time. Every new question will be a race to close it before a few people upvote it so it can't easily be closed.

It would create an environment where Getting To Know You style questions, which seek user opinion and apply to large groups of people not only remain open, but are encouraged as a way to drastically increase reputation.

The site is intentionally designed to have a laser-like focus on the niche of its topic - practical answers to programming questions.

By allowing people to post questions that are off topic, merely because they would be popular, you lose the laser-sharp focus, and you'll find that the experts we have managed to attract would start leaving because the site becomes less about practical program problem solving and more about opinions and subjective aspects of programming.

If the question doesn't fit, then it should be moved to a site where it will be better served by experts in the more theoretical or subjective areas of programming.

Please see this as a possible outlet for your interests that don't fall into the spectrum of Stack Overflow guidelines.

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    Besides, if you make it hard to close, and easy to open you significantly change the signal to noise ratio on the site, and make a defacto rule that popular questions are permitted, and even encouraged due to the rep increases one might get for posting a popular question. – Pollyanna Feb 2 '11 at 19:16
  • My point is that popularity DOES affect the closing guidelines. – Andomar Feb 2 '11 at 19:19
  • @Andomar: If it did, the site would be swamped with offtopic-but-popular questions of the type "what is your favorite X" and "[completely offtopic question] PROGRAMATICALLY". Closing was introduced as an acknowledgment that popularity is orthogonal to relevance, and as system to combat that. – Piskvor left the building Feb 2 '11 at 19:34
  • @Piskvor: Yes, the fixed vote requirement makes it easier to close popular questions. But why is that? – Andomar Feb 2 '11 at 20:04

There is nothing privileged about the metric of 'percent of viewers'. You could also measure 'percent of members of the Ancient Guild of Herring-Ticklers.' We've demonstrated over and over again that some popular questions are awful from the standpoint of the guidelines. So, the rules establish a set of checks and balances: the mob cannot keep a 'cute' question open. A small number of people who have earned the rep can close it. However, on the other hand, the popularity is a brake on deleting it altogether. So long as it's not deleted, it can be re-opened.

Do you really want to make it harder to close this?

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The issue seems to be, what happens if there is a consensus of high rep people on the the site that a question be closed, but it is wildly popular with people who don't have the 3000 rep needed to vote to close/ reopen.

Maybe the answer is to give upvotes a FRACTION of the vote that is needed to close, and balance this information against the votes of "informed" close voters. Say the fraction is one-tenth. Then a question with 10 upvotes would need SIX votes to close instead of five.

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(Just answering my own question because the systems prompts me to do so, and I disagree with the other answers.)

To me the other answers misstate the problem. For a question with 100 views, the threshold for closing is 5%. For a question with 10.000 views, the treshhold is 0.05%. The result is that popular questions have a much lower treshhold.

Now popularity is an indication of the question doing something right. There are even badges for asking popular questions. Rewarding something right with a lower closing threshold seems strange to me.

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    Popular questions also have a lower reopening threshhold, so it balances out. – Bill the Lizard Dec 28 '11 at 13:33
  • Once a question is closed, it disappears from people's "inbox", and the view count drops dramatically. – Andomar Dec 28 '11 at 13:51
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    I disagree with your answer because I disagree with the whole premise of your question. I think the current system works very well - I rarely see closed questions I would not have voted to close. When I do, I vote to reopen, and such votes on my part have always prevailed. So to me, the system works exactly as intended. – Andrew Barber Dec 28 '11 at 17:57

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