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Given the enormous amount of people who are unsatisfied with the current question closing policy, I am thinking if it wouldn't be better to have a 4-status system:

  1. open

  2. frozen (less demoralizing than "closed"). No more answers will be accepted until the question is edited and improved. Very easy to re-open after edit.

  3. closed, for different possible reasons:

    • It had been frozen, but after x time the author has not improved it yet.

    • Nothing can be done to improve it (for example it is a duplicate).

    • It has generated too much debate.

  4. deleted

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Closed is the same as your "frozen". The idea behind closing a question is to prevent answers to a question that is not a good fit for Programmers (or, more generally, to the Stack Exchange format). Closed is meant as a temporary state. Either the question gets sufficient corrections and reopened or it can't be salvaged and gets deleted. There are even some automatic procedures in place to clean up some questions.

Closing early (as in before any answers have been posted) is a very good thing. It enables people (preferably the author, otherwise the community members) to fix the question and make it a good question. Once there are answers, it takes more work to make the question good, since edits will either have to be sure to not invalidate any existing answers or the community will also have to clean up the existing answers to make them valid (otherwise, a moderator would have to delete them).

There are also two other states for questions - protected and locked. Protected questions can not be answered by users who have not hit a reputation threshold. Locked questions are to resolve extremely serious problems and prevent all voting and editing (and for questions, new answers) and provides for questions that are being discussed on Meta, questions that have historical significance but are not good questions, or have generated a large number of off-topic or chatty comments.

If you're trying to save old questions, go through the list of closed questions. If you see a question that you don't think should have been closed, ask about the reasoning in Chat or on Meta. If you can save it, make a heroic edit, clean it up, and vote to reopen (and maybe share your work on chat to get more feedback, edits, and reopen votes).

From my perspective as a moderator, I rarely see flags to reopen a closed question. If you make a heroic edit and aren't getting reopen votes, flag it for review by a moderator.

However, something that we haven't been doing (and perhaps should consider) is looking at the old closed questions that don't meet the criteria for automatic deletion and either salvaging them or deleting them. However, that would need to be a new discussion.

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Given the enormous amount of people who are unsatisfied with the current question closing policy, I am thinking if it wouldn't be better to have a 4-status system:

There is probably an even larger amount of people who are satisfied with it. A high volume of "closing questions sucks" posts doesn't mean much. Nobody has the need to post "closing questions rocks" posts, so you don't see that.

less demoralizing than "closed")

Closing is not supposed to be demoralizing. For salvageable questions, closing is a pit stop--it's basically "frozen", as you say.

How do you plan on making it easy to reopen on edit? Giving the power to the OP makes no sense, s/he may just keep hitting reopen. Very few non-mod actions are unilateral, so you'd still need voting for it. And getting a post reopened isn't that hard--you can always flag it for mod attention and it'll be reopened pretty quickly.

  • 5
    Closing questions rocks! – Ben Brocka Jul 16 '12 at 14:12
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While I agree that frozen might make it sounds slightly less permanent it could also carry the connotation that you can't edit it.

Overall I don't think this would have a significant impact on people's responses to closed questions; I can certainly see a lot of people simply saying "why you freeze my question" instead of "why you close my question". I don't think this solves anything.

Plus what's "closed" mean now? Is it functionally no different? I assume not, it seems to just mean "it's old and we don't like it". Then why have it at all? Suddenly "closed" does mean something bad, since you have "failed" your edited window.

  • By "closed" I mean permanently closed, and automatically deleted in 24 hours unless someone votes to keep it for historical reasons. The idea is to quickly get rid of questions like "What language should I learn next" by closing them immediately, while at the same time giving more chances to questions that can be potentially interesting but need some editing. Currently there is no way to distinguish between the two. – lortabac Jul 16 '12 at 21:00

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