I feel like I've become more aware of a trend, in that it seems that when a question ends up in the review queue, it tends to snowball into getting closed regardless of what editing efforts are made to salvage the post.

The most recent example I can find of this is New friend put us in awkward position. I originally had voted to close, but saw that the OP had provided us with her desired course of action in the comments. After editing this in, I retracted my close vote, leaving the total close votes at 2. Since these edits there has been no additional feedback on the post, but there are still close votes coming in.

My proposition is a curiosity in wondering if there's anything we can do to encourage individuals who are still casting close votes to at least leave reason for why they're doing so. If nothing else, can we at least have a discussion or some acknowledgement of this topic, and maybe that could even help encourage more feedback on posts that are being voted closed?

My fear is that an eagerness to participate in the review queue is leading to hurried votes, either not voting appropriately or not having/taking the time to provide feedback to make the post suitable for IPS. If we want to grow, either of these things could become problematic (as it discourages new users).

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    There might be a bandwagon effect in the close voters queue. It means more people tend to hit the close button, if there are existing close votes, regardless of the post's quality. I might be wrong, but it's a food for thought.
    – NVZ
    Jan 30, 2018 at 2:38
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    Thank you for posting this! I've noticed it too, but wasn't confident enough to post a meta myself :)
    – Em C
    Jan 31, 2018 at 16:52
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    @EmC Thanks! It's kind of difficult to post a meta about something that's speculation from observation, but I feel bad for the people whose posts get put on hold without anyone telling them what's wrong.
    – Jess K.
    Jan 31, 2018 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


You are bringing two separate issues:

  1. How to get users to communicate to the OP what is wrong with the question and if possible how to fix the question
  2. Getting users to retract close votes after the question is edited

As long as new close votes aren't cast there isn't much problem with close votes aging out instead of being retracted. Since people don't get notified when questions they've voted to close get edited they'd have to keep revisiting questions to retract votes after edits have been made. I don't remember the exact number but after enough people vote keep open the question gets removed from the review queue. Even if enough votes are cast to close the question after it's been edited, you can just nominate the question for reopening. The turn around on reopening questions on this site isn't that long so I don't really see this as being much of a problem.

To get people to leave meaningful messages when voting to close questions you need to change the culture of the site. You do this by setting a good example and encouraging other users to do so as well. There isn't a requirement of posting a comment when you VTC and I don't think that adding such a requirement would work out well.

  • Right, I agree with most everything you say. I definitely don't think we can require any commentary, but Im hoping even by having this conversation maybe it can encourage doing so when the vote is for reasons that are unstated on the post yet. The only thing I don't fully agree with is the sentiment that we reopen fairly quickly.. I've seen a couple users repost the same question before after being discouraged at a post on hold for over a day.. but maybe that lack of patience is dependent on the urgency of their question. Who knows, everyone is different.
    – Jess K.
    Jan 29, 2018 at 22:50
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    The users who repost a closed question are new members who probably don't know yet that closed questions can be reopened @Jess K. Users with Stack Exchange experience will go on meta asking what they need to correct, or simply wait for the Q to be reopened. Jan 30, 2018 at 5:01
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    The second problem would also be greatly reduced if the CV-ers left comments in the first place, because then OP could ping them once they had addressed the concerns.
    – Em C
    Jan 31, 2018 at 16:56
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    "As long as new close votes aren't cast there isn't much problem with close votes aging out instead of being retracted." More than that, it's actively harmly to campaign for people to retract their close votes, because that means they'll never be able to VtC again. If the OP edits their post again in a way that makes it off-topic again, we want people to be able to reuse their aged out close votes. Feb 1, 2018 at 4:25
  • @curiousdannii I've never seen someone edit a question to where I'd retract a close vote and then need to vote to close the question again. I don't think being strategic with close votes is necessary or productive.
    – sphennings
    Feb 1, 2018 at 15:18
  • @sphennings I have. And it's not strategic, it's just using the system as designed. Everyone should feel to revert their close votes if they want, but there's just no need at all to pressure anyone else to do so. Feb 1, 2018 at 22:10

I've come across a number of instances where this happened, too. I imagine it is very frustrating to the OP, especially if they are new to the site and not familiar with our standards.

What I've done is leave a comment of my own, whether or not I agree with the close votes.

If I agree with closing, I'll leave a comment relevant to why. In keeping with the purpose of comments, it should ask for clarification.

Hi OP, I don't understand [XYZ] / your question seems very broad without a location tag, can you please edit to include this information?

I'm using this as an example because the text for "too broad" or "unclear" both include the need for OP to edit and add more details. However, there's no way for OP to know which details are necessary unless someone tells them.

If I disagree / can't tell why others are voting, I've left comments like:

I noticed this question has a few close votes for [reason]. Can someone suggest how the OP can improve their question?

Thinking back, I'm fairly certain all the times when I've done this, someone has responded! So it was successful. All I had to do was break the ice.

I'm not sure why this happens in the first place - perhaps the close voters think the reason for their votes is glaringly obvious, or they are voting in queues or in a hurry and simply don't bother. But since the idea behind putting a question on hold is to give OP a chance to fix it, unless we definitely don't want something like it on our site, I feel like we should at least give them a hint. (Although it seems like people aren't shy about commenting on the truly bad questions!)

As far as reopening/retracting votes after the question is improved, there's a few options:

  • If you can get close voters to comment, ping them to let them know their concerns were addressed
  • Post in chat (a lot of active reviewers hang out there)
  • Post on meta and cast a reopen vote, if it got closed anyways
  • Post a "PSA" comment on the question if it's not closed yet, in hopes further reviewers will notice
  • Downvoter, any feedback? What do you disagree with? Just hitting -1 doesn't add to the discussion..
    – Em C
    Jan 31, 2018 at 22:32
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    Most of the time there's no need to leave a comment as the close vote reason is explanation enough. More comments is just noise. If you think it should be closed for a non-standard reason then you should be leaving a comment, but that's what the free form close vote box is for, so that's already accounted for. Feb 1, 2018 at 4:27
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    @curiousdannii.... A comment that goes with a close-vote for unclear what you're asking shouldn't state 'This is unclear'. That would indeed be a worthless comment. A comment should ask for clarification or suggest an improvement, basically provide more feedback on how the question can be improved and reopened. -> Which is a lot more welcoming and user friendly to people than saying 'unclear what you're asking, add more details'.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Feb 1, 2018 at 9:38
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    @curiousdannii what Tinkeringbell said; I think it's safe to assume the OP thinks their question makes sense when they post it, so the default text to "add details" (both unclear and too broad) doesn't help them know which details to add.
    – Em C
    Feb 1, 2018 at 12:09
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    @Tinkeringbell Sure, and it depends on the close reason. But if you're closing for primary opinion based, too broad, or one of the custom site close reasons, there's usually not a need to clarify. Also, I've seen that commenting can make the closure seem more personal, prompting some OPs to target the one close voter who commented, sometimes turning into a nasty fight, whereas letting the close reason speak for you appears more like the community as a whole. Comment to post suggestions for improvement or how to get help (help pages, meta, etc), but not just to say that you're voting to close. Feb 1, 2018 at 22:11
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    @curiousdannii Thanks for the feedback; I've clarified my position. I didn't mean to simply comment "VTC as too broad", but rather commenting in conjunction with the vote to let OP know what specifically I think needs to be improved.
    – Em C
    Feb 1, 2018 at 22:58
  • @EmC Yep your example of saying to add a location tag is good. Really though that should probably become a custom site close reason. Feb 1, 2018 at 23:01

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