For what I understand, SO is based on the Wisdom of Crowds which says that the aggregation of information in groups result in decisions that are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. This is also known as Condorcet's jury theorem.

But what may have been forgotten on SO, is this requires a large number of people to vote or to give their opinion, for it to be effective.

What I mean is a question can be closed and even deleted with very few votes, and then very few people can still see them to make them "undeleted".

I would like that the number of votes required to close and delete a question to be significantly raised (something like 50 or even 100 votes).

If this isn't possible for any reason, it would be at least a great improvement if a comment explaining the decision to downvote or to vote for deletion was mandatory (not only a selection in a drop down list) because in each category, there are still many different reasons. For example, what is say in a question may be not correct, or only the way it is said is incorrect, and it would only need to be rephrased to be judged as correct.

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    I agree in principle, but not in the details. The checks and balances lie not in the number of votes initially required, but in the fact that all these decisions are reversible by the same number of votes. The benefit to that system is that the "noise" content can be removed relatively quickly, while still allowing it to be brought back if necessary. Apr 16, 2011 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


A question that's closed is still visible to the crowd, so I think it's okay to have a relatively low number of votes for both the close and reopen actions. The number of people with the privilege to close who are actively voting at one time is low, so if you raise the required votes too much nothing would get closed without moderator intervention.

As for deleting, there's already a mechanism in place that requires more votes to delete questions that have many upvotes.

  • Ok, this looks fair, except if the deletion comes before upvotes could happen. There could be a "1 week" delay before a deletion becomes effective, and the mechanism you're talking about would be just enough.
    – Tristan
    Apr 16, 2011 at 14:01
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    @Tristan: I think there's a 2 or 3 day period between when a question is closed and when delete votes can be cast. Looking for a reference... Apr 16, 2011 at 14:08
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    @Tristan: This is already implemented, as deletion can happen after getting enough delete votes and after 48 hours. There are exceptions, most notably for spam, but those mostly don't affect actual questions. See e.g. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5221/… Apr 16, 2011 at 14:11
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    @Tristan: I found it on the blog post The Stack Overflow Question Lifecycle. "If question remains closed for 48 full hours, it is now eligible for deletion." Apr 16, 2011 at 14:11
  • 48h may be too short, I've just got some upvote for this, 2 days after you closed it : stackoverflow.com/questions/5660924/…
    – Tristan
    Apr 16, 2011 at 14:18
  • @Tristan: Upvotes after a question is closed still count towards deletion prevention. The important thing to note, however, is that you haven't gotten any reopen votes. Apr 16, 2011 at 14:21
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    Incidentally, in case anyone is wondering, this is exactly why I often close questions and don't delete them right away. I can be wrong, and I want the crowd to let me know when I am. The community can still vote to reopen a question if they disagree with a moderator's unilateral decision. Apr 16, 2011 at 14:23
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    @Bill: I'm not sure it needs to be re-opened since it's answered, I think it needs not to be deleted, since it's useful.
    – Tristan
    Apr 16, 2011 at 14:28
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    Note that the recent addition of powers at 15k and 20k, change the game a little. User with 20k rep can delete question without waiting the 48 hours. My unscientific observation is that this happens rarely and only with the most egregious cases. Apr 16, 2011 at 15:07
  • Reference for the above comment: meta.stackexchange.com/q/79192/2509 Apr 16, 2011 at 15:15
  • @dmckee: That's been my observation as well. Apr 17, 2011 at 1:13

I disagree. From experience, the vast majority of close decisions is justified.

Don't forget that it takes only five votes to revert a closing decision. If there is a large crowd feeling the question should remain open, it will be reopened.

In my opinion, if anything, the number of required votes should be lowered to 4 or 3.

  • "The vast majority of close decisions is justified" : For what I can see, it is justified selecting a value in a list, and any people can downvote, without telling why he does so, am I wrong ? "it takes only five votes to revert a closing decision" : sure, but only if the question is not "deleted", and then the large crowd can not act anymore.
    – Tristan
    Apr 16, 2011 at 13:52
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    @Tristan yes, but downvoting has nothing to do with voting to close. Voting to close requires five votes. Everyone is free to upvote or downvote whatever they please, without telling why. To cast a close vote, one of the reasons in the list needs to apply. This works pretty well in my experience, there are very few unfair closing decisions.
    – Pekka
    Apr 16, 2011 at 13:54
  • Ok, you are not contradicting what I just wrote : "it is justified selecting a value in a list"
    – Tristan
    Apr 16, 2011 at 13:56
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    @Tristan I'm not sure I understand what you mean. There is a set of rules about what kind of questions should be closed. Those rules are not defined by the crowd, but by the people running the sites. Voting to close is like saying e.g. "I think this question breaks rule #4". If five people think the same thing, it gets closed. If five people think it does not break rule #4, it gets reopened. It's far from perfect, but it's relatively democratic and works well.
    – Pekka
    Apr 16, 2011 at 13:58
  • I think you know what I mean Pekka : one of my question has been casted as "not related to software development", though it is obviously related (not a matter of opinion here), but it may not be conformed to some unwritten and commonly accepted rule.
    – Tristan
    Apr 16, 2011 at 14:04
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    @Tristan: 'only if the question is not "deleted"' - deleting requires yet another set of voters to agree, plus a cooling-off period (see e.g. this). So far, it has well kept the balance, not allowing delete-on-a-whim, but also keeping the site reasonably clean. btw, is there a specific question suffering by this, or is this just a "what-if" question? Apr 16, 2011 at 14:06
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    @Tristan I agree that one is an edge case, and as said, I tend to side with you on it even though the rules may say otherwise - it is an important piece of information, if it had been the jQuery manual it would have stayed open, and I would support changing the rules to include it. But apart from these rare instances, the system works very, very well. Raising the limit of required votes would lead to a lot of stuff that urgently needs closing - not getting closed, leading to an overall drop in quality.
    – Pekka
    Apr 16, 2011 at 14:10
  • @Pekka ok... :( @Pan Piskvor sure, there is a specific question almost deleted : stackoverflow.com/questions/5660924/…
    – Tristan
    Apr 16, 2011 at 14:14
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    To the point of the number of people that can see deleted post to correct them. This varies by site. On Stack Overflow there are more than 3600 people with this power, and let us not forget that these people have been voted as very helpful by their peers. Apr 16, 2011 at 15:10

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