I've noticed in the reopen queue history and 10k close page that there are at least some people who will cast a reopen vote on nearly anything they see.

I've gotta ask... why do you do this?

A bit ago, Rachel commented

@RobertHarvey I am showing the number of close votes/voters compared to the number of reopen votes/voters. I think the core problem here is summarized at the end of my answer: Your chances of getting something closed or reopened is tied to a random variable: how many people review the question at the same time as you. In the case of new open content, it is viewed by many people, including our group of "close happy" users. In the case of closed content, very few people view it, and we don't even have a decent sized group of active "reopen happy" users.

I'll say that is not completely accurate in that if there is sufficient change to the question to merit it reopening, it's actually rather easy to get it reopened. Sometimes it takes a bit of hunting for votes in chat (we can typically find 3 or 4 without bugging a mod)... but when it is something that should be reopened, the biggest challenge is finding the votes.

However, here's the thing... you've got one vote and one shot to get a question reopened. When you use your vote as a one off protest vote on everything that goes through the queue or when a question that you answered gets closed - it makes it that much harder to find the votes when something should be reopened (and try to use the reopen review rather than asking in chat or bugging a mod). Once that reopen vote times out, you can't cast it again - it is gone. So even when it does get fixed, you won't be able to cast a reopen vote on it.

If it is true that that reopening depends heavily on getting people to hit 'reopen' in the review queue rather than leave closed, why do you vote when there's no change? or when there's only a minimal change that doesn't fix the perceived issues that closed it?

And for that matter, if you honestly think it is something that should get reopened, but don't believe it will, edit it so that it is a good question that even the most hardened close voter will agree it is something that should be asked.

Tossing your votes as a one off protest vote makes it that much harder to reopen good questions when the question does get edited into shape. So why cast those votes without trying to edit the question to address the close reason and make better and unequivocally able to be reopened?

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    You're probably seeing activity from the few remaining inclusionists that are still here from the NPR days. Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 16:04
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    If you had lower reputation, this question would have been down-voted and most likely closed.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 16:53
  • or people spamming reopen votes for the badges that yields...
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 8:05
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    (its = possessive, it's = "it is" or "it has". See for example <wikihow.com/Use-its-and-it's>.) Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 23:18
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    @PeterMortensen thank you. I look forward to when you have sufficient rep to be able to do edits here too.
    – user40980
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 23:28
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    I'll say that is not completely accurate in that if there is sufficient change to the question to merit it reopening, it's actually rather easy to get it reopened. You're operating from the presumption that the closing was legitimate and the question needs to be "sufficiently changed" in order to make it worth reopening. However, P.SE is infamous for its over-zealous closing. Not nearly as bad as it used to be, now that a few moderators who shall remain nameless are no longer around to abuse their unilateral closing powers, but even so... Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 3:32

2 Answers 2


Speaking for myself, I cast reopen votes without edits because I have different standards for closing than you do, and believe the question stands on its own merits without needing to be "edited into shape." I could ask the reverse question of you, why you vote to close so many questions that I find perfectly fine as is? Why do you vote to close when it's possible the question will get edited later and your vote will have been wasted?

It's a simple difference of opinion. If I can find four other people that agree with me, great, and around 10% of the time I do. If I can't, so be it. I accept that as a consequence of a community-moderated site. My opinion doesn't always match the status quo.

As far as a vote being "wasted" if it's ever "edited into shape," I've never seen the situation where it didn't gather enough votes from other people. Also, the vast majority of closed questions are either edited before the reopen vote expires or not at all.

As far as "addressing the close reason," the close reasons are being interpreted extremely broadly nowadays. "Unclear what you're asking" is an especial favorite, which seems to mean anything from you put the (mostly irrelevant) code in a link instead of the question body to you should only ask questions about things you aren't extremely confused about. How exactly would you suggest fixing the latter?

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    "Why do you vote to close when it's possible the question will get edited later and your vote will have been wasted?". According to How soon should I vote to close? you should never wait before voting to close. The question should be okay at the first revision. If that's not true vote to close immediately. If the question gets edited so that it can be reopened then the vote was not wasted since the question is now ok.
    – Bakuriu
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 9:36
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    The same question was posed on meta.stackoverflow as well. The answer was the same: vote to close immediately. It's difficult enough to get bad questions closed as it is, especially when you have users on the site who think everything should just stay open. Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 16:21
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    That was a rhetorical question, guys. Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 17:21
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    Rhetorical or not, it revealed a flaw in your reasoning.
    – mrr
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 6:52
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    What flaw? My point in asking those questions was I vote to open immediately for essentially the same reasons people vote to close immediately. Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 12:16

Your question contains value statements you assume are universal. I'm guessing they're not.

  • "some people who will cast a reopen vote on nearly anything they see" - They probably don't see it that way. I can't imagine anyone trying to do the wrong thing. I can imagine people holding a view of the right thing that's different than yours.
  • "one off protest vote" - This phrase is pretty loaded. You're attributing motives that may or may not exist. Why do you assume a vote that's different than yours is in protest? This phrase also hints that some votes are more legitimate than others.

Another theme is "sufficient change" versus no/minimal change before a question is re-opened. I'm guessing the re-openers didn't see anything wrong with the question in the first place. Either that or it's a glass half empty/full thing. Some people think a question is sufficiently bad to be closed while others think it's sufficiently good to remain open.

Finally, I just don't think most people are interested in "hunting for votes in chat" or editing other people's questions so "that even the most hardened close voter will agree". This is a level of effort that sounds absolutely crazy to me. Maybe I'll click through a few items in a review queue, but I have absolutely no interest in writing people's questions for them or turning every closed question into a consensus building exercise. Yuck. I understand there are users who believe this is what's required and, from what I can tell, their reward is a greater say in how Programmers works. That's all fine. I just hope the hyper-active users don't seek to exclude more and more voices in the name of consensus building.

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    I have difficulty understanding reviews like programmers.stackexchange.com/review/reopen/64295 programmers.stackexchange.com/review/reopen/63634 ( i.sstatic.net/qGBwT.png ) and programmers.stackexchange.com/review/reopen/66383 ( i.sstatic.net/9fn50.png ). The options are a protest vote, gross misunderstanding of the scope, or an attempt to do the wrong thing and actively harm the site.
    – user40980
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 14:09
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    The consensus building is often around 'what can we do to make the question better?' and 'can this be made better without further input from the OP'. Bringing the question to the attention of chat is a way to act more quickly on reopening rather than waiting for it to hit the queue (prompt action - both closing and reopening - helps maintain the engagement of the OP in the question). Other times, there may have been a minor edit before the edit that fixes the question and for those who have already done a 'leave closed' review, its needed to bring to their attention.
    – user40980
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 14:14
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    @MichaelT - Your examples are all from one user. Maybe reach out to them? When posed as a "people who vote to reopen" question, a lot of blameless users feel accused and rotten. My guess is gross misunderstanding, by the way. There's nothing else to suggest the user is trying to actively harm Programmers. Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 15:37
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    Those were just the first two I was able to pull up and were clear because they were reviews. Reopen votes from outside the queue are harder to demonstrate (and decay with time). There are also examples in the past where (other) single individuals have gone through all the reviews and done a reopen on each one... though that would take a longer time to find.
    – user40980
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 16:01

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