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I have posted a question on meta asking to lower standards for re-opening questions on smaller SE sites, and wish to provide a link here because the question was generated from the frustration I feel towards being unable to re-open older questions here on Programmers, even after significant edits.

Please visit the question and vote to support if you agree.

To summarize, currently users get a single re-open vote for the lifetime of a question, and that re-open vote will expire in 4 days. This 4-day limit can be extended if someone else votes to re-open within that 4 days, however this only resets the 4-day timer and once it expires, all votes expire at a rate of 1-per-day.

I've made a few suggestions in the MSO question that would make it easier for smaller SE communities to reopen their questions, although the one I'd like to see implemented the most would be to refund re-open votes if they don't actually get used, so users can participate in other re-open attempts at a later date if the question gets more attention.

Just a FYI, I have been part of this site since beta and do not ever remember seeing an older question get re-opened by the community. I have seen a handful of newer questions get re-opened by getting the 5 votes needed, however I have never seen an older one get re-opened without moderator intervention.

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    As a side note, the majority of the answers so far are concluding that this is a problem specific to programmers.SE, not a problem specific to smaller sites. – Rachel Mar 1 '12 at 20:33
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    Of the four answers: Two have no reference to P.SE, one discusses the re-open process on a beta site, and the last one provides data that show we re-open more frequently than SO. So, none of the answers conclude this is a problem specific to P.SE or even support your premise that there is a problem. – yannis Mar 2 '12 at 2:42
  • @YannisRizos Read the comments... there's plenty of P.SE references. Some might not mention P.SE by name, but it seems generally agreed upon that the problem comes from the site community, not the site size. – Rachel Mar 2 '12 at 3:28
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    You reference the answers, not the comments. Answers are important, comments are not. – yannis Mar 2 '12 at 3:29
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    My mistake, I should have said responses instead of answers since answers mean something else on here. And I would disagree about comments not being important. Comments can frequently clarify answers and are often useful for additional information. – Rachel Mar 2 '12 at 3:36
  • No, responses doesn't work either, what you should have written would be: some comments, as responses would still be misleading. And to be perfectly honest most comments that concluded this was a P.SE specific problem were your own (and the rest were by people who are not active on P.SE). If you feel that way, write an answer summarizing your opinions and conclusions, and give people the opportunity to agree / disagree with you. Comments are not important, because there's no way to make conclusions out of a mechanism that doesn't allow for clear consensus. – yannis Mar 2 '12 at 3:49
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I fully agree. I did not know about the 4 day timeout time and I think that is almost the killer to reopen a closed question.

Now I am not entirely sure but I am under impressions?

  1. If a question get 5 up votes by regular user(who do not see open and close votes), does that open the question as well?

  2. If it does, does it has timeout period of 4 days as well.

  3. Is reopen vote different that question Up Vote?

According to me, a closed question is 90% dead. It will never revive for a number of reasons. Moderators tend to look after each other and agree. Common user can't do much even if they want to open a question.

However I do not agree where I can cast more than one vote to open a question. A vote is a vote and should always be a vote.

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    To clarify, you currently get 1 reopen and 1 close vote for the lifetime of the question. If you vote, and nobody else votes with you in 4 days, your vote expires and is gone, and you do not ever get to cast it again. If someone else votes within that 4 days, the 4-day timer is reset. Once it expires, all votes expire at a rate of 1-per-day. I would love to see expired votes get refunded, although I agree that if your vote was successful, you shouldn't get it back. – Rachel Mar 3 '12 at 16:58
  • That clarifies. So you existing vote get lost and you can't vote again. But does question up vote same as reopen vote? – Noname Mar 3 '12 at 17:04
  • Nope, that only applies to Close and Reopen votes. Up/Down votes work a bit differently - you can only vote once and your vote is locked after a period of time. If the post is edited, your vote is unlocked and you can change it. – Rachel Mar 3 '12 at 21:52
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Part of the problem is so many questions are closed by moderators as a unilateral decision often times quite soon after the question was asked. When this happens there isn't much of a chance for a question since few people even get a chance to see it before its closed.

  • You can still edit a closed question, which will naturally bump it on the homepage so more people will notice. You can also ask about the question on Meta, and / or in chat, which will also bring some extra visibility to the question. – yannis Mar 2 '12 at 13:46
  • @YannisRizos The point of my MSO question is that I find it extremely hard to reopen questions on here without moderator intervention, especially since we only get 1 reopen vote per question, ever. Ryathal, I agree this is part of the problem - the system is usually balanced in that it takes 5 people to close, and 5 to open, however when it only takes 1 to close and 5 to open, it makes it very hard to get questions reopened. For example, see this question. Question was closed twice by a single mod vote, and reopened once by the community – Rachel Mar 2 '12 at 14:08
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    It doesn't take a genius to see that it is much harder to get 5 user votes to reopen than 1 mod vote to close, especially when those user votes need to be fairly close together to actually reopen the question, otherwise they will expire. – Rachel Mar 2 '12 at 14:09
  • @Rachel The best practices question didn't fit the format of the site, plain and simple. It's actually not that hard to salvage a question, provided that the question is worthy of salvaging in the first place. And since you reference your MSO question, let me re-iterate that the response was overwhelmingly against your premise. (response: answers, votes on answers, comments). – yannis Mar 2 '12 at 14:12
  • @YannisRizos I'm sure I'm not alone in the fact I tend to ignore questions marked closed, unless I recognize them as having seen them before they were closed – Ryathal Mar 2 '12 at 14:12
  • @Ryathal Please don't do that. Closed is a temporary state, think of it as question limbo. You could contribute greatly to the site by improving closed questions. Read A guide to moderating programmers.stackexchange yourself - close voting & What's all this about heroic edits? – yannis Mar 2 '12 at 14:16
  • @Ryathal The review page is also an excellent tool that will help you identify troublesome posts and help improve them. Soon you'll have the privilege to cast re-open votes, please always consider improving a question before you cast a re-open vote, even if you only do minor edits (spelling, grammar etc). – yannis Mar 2 '12 at 14:18
  • @Ryathal The perception that closed questions are dead is incorrect, that's not how the system works. We can't really adjust the system to everyone's personal interpretation, can we? Lastly, I'm not promising that improving a question will get it re-opened. If you are uncertain of what needs be done and don't want to waste time editing a question, ask on Meta or chat. – yannis Mar 2 '12 at 14:23
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    Closing a question quickly is a good thing. Questions with no answers are easier to save and reopen, since there are no answers to invalidate. If edits to a closed question invalidate answers (and would cause answers to be flagged or downvoted because the author was unaware of changes to revise or delete the answer), I wouldn't reopen the question. – Thomas Owens Mar 2 '12 at 14:34
  • @ThomasOwens I do agree it's better to close before there are too many answers, however my question was about if it's too hard to reopen questions on sites smaller than SO, and I gave Ryathal a +1 because he is correct that having a single moderator close a question contributes to this problem and the frustration it causes. The fact that moderators have to step in to get questions closed in a timely fashion tells me that smaller communities don't necessarily have the active users required to be a true community-moderated Q&A. My MSO question is an attempt to change that. – Rachel Mar 2 '12 at 16:03
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    @Rachel It's a tough call. If a post is flagged, it can't just sit in the queue forever. Eventually a moderator needs to action it. If it's a bad post, I know I'm not going to decline the flag - I'm going to close it. If anyone fixes it, I encourage them to give it a couple of days, and if it's not reopened, flag it for a moderator to reopen (if the mod agrees it's in a good state). – Thomas Owens Mar 2 '12 at 16:10

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