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I won't belabor the research by repeating it here. It's been described in exhaustive detail at this post.

The executive summary:

Closing, editing and reopening all become more effective.

Can we do the same here?

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    I've applied the status-review to escalate this to staff per the meta escalation/response process. – Thomas Owens May 27 at 16:33
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    I am clearly against it. IMHO we have still too many community members here who close-vote (and downvote) each and every question which has only some minor issues, even if most part of the question is answerable and on-topic. – Doc Brown May 27 at 20:14
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    @DocBrown: [shrug] Stack Exchange didn't even ask the Stack Overflow community whether they wanted it or not. They ran some experiments, gathered data, came to conclusions and made up their own damned mind. In other words, they made the decision based on science, not gnat's closing proclivities. Remember, opening gets easier too. – Robert Harvey May 27 at 23:50
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    @DocBrown Depending on what those minor issues are, closing quickly before answers are given so that they can be resolved and clarified is preferred. Otherwise, the chances of getting answers that would be invalidated by edits increases. I know that I don't want to spend a bunch of time writing an answer that's only going to be invalidated by an edit - I want the right question written first. Lowering the threshold for both closing and reopening would make it easier for the community to take these actions without moderator intervention. – Thomas Owens May 27 at 23:53
  • @RobertHarvey: so you think the conclusions drawn from the data collected on Stack Overflow can just be applied here to Software Engineering and its community, too? – Doc Brown May 28 at 4:31
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    ... IMHO the situation has not really changed since the 3 votes for closing/reopening experiment 2015 - and your's and Thomas opinion since that time did not have changed, either. That's ok, I accept it, but I have a different one about this topic. – Doc Brown May 28 at 4:40
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    @ThomasOwens, in my view, those minor issues are that a question contains more than one question mark or that it needs more than a single paragraph for an answer. That seems nowadays about the limit before a question gathers close votes for "Needs more focus". – Bart van Ingen Schenau May 28 at 9:51
  • I am with @DocBrown in that previous experiment results didn't look very impressive to me. However I would be interested in re-running experiment - because in more than 4 years that passed scope of our site seems to be much solidified which may (or may not, there is no way to tell without trying) lead to better results in closing and reopening than what we got back then – gnat May 28 at 9:57
  • @DocBrown: I've heard a lot on this meta site about how we should be more liberal about keeping questions open. It's based on a false premise: that closing questions early prevents them from being rehabilitated when, in fact, the opposite is true. The evidence that I've seen (while five votes exist and I don't have a diamond) is that the front page continues to be littered with crap questions, very few of which ever get rehabilitiated. At this very moment, there are fifteen questions on the front page with negative votes. – Robert Harvey May 28 at 16:02
  • @DocBrown: Here's one to sink your teeth into: softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/q/410753. It's a perfectly good question, but it already has two downvotes (no close votes, though), and it's going to die on the vine unless something happens to save it. There are people on the site qualified to answer it. – Robert Harvey May 28 at 16:40
  • @RobertHarvey: now I have really trouble to follow your logic - how would "3 close votes" help that question to get better answers, for example? – Doc Brown May 28 at 18:26
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    @DocBrown: Questions that stay open have no incentive to improve. Questions that get closed are more easily removed from the front page while they get rehabbed. The purpose of closure is not to kill questions; it's the first step in the rehabilitation process. The purpose of deletion is to remove questions that have no hope of being rehabilitated. Much of the angst on this site is due to a misunderstanding of these fundamental principles. – Robert Harvey May 28 at 18:50
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    This community wants questions to stay open? Fine. But if you're going to insist on having 15 negatively voted questions on the front page at all times, at least provide a reasonably good story for doing something about those questions. Simply leaving them on the front page to rot doesn't seem like a viable strategy to me. – Robert Harvey May 28 at 18:57
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    @DocBrown: There's a bigger picture here. If you want questions to be handled better, convince the community to handle them better. Otherwise, three close votes rules the day; the science says so. – Robert Harvey May 28 at 20:11
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    @RobertHarvey: there is no science which I see to be valid for SE.SE. Maybe gnat is right, we need an experiment again here. – Doc Brown May 28 at 20:13
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I can understand why you are willing to try the way that has proven to work so well at Stack Overflow. I am observing it for about half year now and it looks really impressive and, which is especially promising, it seems to be free from (serious) negative side effects.

On the other hand, there is no guarantee that this will work well here. Rather opposite, I think we better be sceptical because as was pointed in comments we already experimented with such a change about five years ago and back then, results weren't encouraging.

Speaking of that prior experiment, I decided to re-visit and study past discussions about how it went (here, here and here) to see what we can learn from it. I found lots of insightful considerations posted back then and I strongly recommend checking these.

That said, studying these prior discussions left me uncertain about whether it is worth having this change now or not. Some points for or against it I've seen were apparently relevant back then but seem to be no longer applicable. It was particularly striking to discover that my own reservations against this change no longer hold.

It looks like in the years that passed site has changed too much to rely on analysis and conclusions made back then.

We had site name change (which seemed to have much more profound impact than I anticipated), we had a noticeable change in the way how diamond moderators approach blatantly off-topic questions. I think we even had some shift in topicality due to successful rise of the sites that handle law and open source topics (can't say for others but to me this changed alot in the way how I approach these topics at our site).


Suming up above, I think we could give this change yet another try - run an experiment with 3 close / reopen votes for a month or two and study how it works. Maybe this time it will help getting reopen votes work like it did at Stack Overflow (it failed in our previous experiment but reasons for that seem to no longer hold).

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  • I've seen the old discussions; in fact, I participated in them. Stack Exchange interpreted the facts to fit their own conclusions. It seems unlikely to me that SE would be willing to repeat an experiment they already conducted and concluded to their satisfaction. – Robert Harvey Jun 1 at 19:44
  • @RobertHarvey as opposed to how it was 5 years ago this is currently said to be a matter of a simple flip of a switch and it is going to be rather hard to justify rejecting this low effort change in the light of fairly strong evidence that results of 5 years old experiment aren't compelling anymore. Though frankly point of my answer is not to convince powers that be but primarily to summarise what I think about this proposal – gnat Jun 1 at 21:07

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