Yesterday, the question Is adding “let me know if anything is unclear” to an e-mail really necessary or is it redundant? was closed, with a link to the meta answer of Tinkeringbell, where she explained nicely why the question in it's current form was not fit for IPS.

Six hours later, the post was reopened again, with no edits.

So I want to know what happened. I see 3 possibilities:

  1. The reviewers didn't agree with Tinkeringbells explanation and voted to reopen it anyway. They did not vote down her meta answer (it was +7/-0 today morning / 3 hours ago).

  2. The reviewers didn't look at the meta question that I linked to in a comment, specifically for the reviewers to know why it was closed. They also thought that the question was okay

  3. The reviewers didn't read the question, and just pushed some buttons.

There are problems with any of these actions, some are more harmful than others. In any case we should probably try to do something about it.
I would like to find out which of these it actually was, so that we can address the underlying issue.

I am not trying to find guilty people to punish. I don't want to scold any of the reviewers. This is about the underlying issue, how this could have happened and how to prevent it in the future. Reviewers please don't be scared to speak up!

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I expect the main problem stems from the (perhaps overly) detailed strictures on what constitutes an "interpersonal skill". Reading Tinkerbell's answer, I was surprised to see this:

Writing etiquette is different from social etiquette, writing skills aren't interpersonal skills.

Uh ... come again? Yes, I can see the argument here but to a new user like me, this kind of distinction is not at all obvious. Yet, despite my neophyte status, I still have been granted the privilege to cast close/reopen votes.

My solution: Raise the bar. Require a much higher reputation to cast these votes, to at least attempt to ensure that those who do vote are familiar with the ongoing discussion about what is or is not off-topic.

Alternately, revise and simplify these restrictions so that this forum doesn't require a meta-meta-"Sandbox" in which to "test out" potential questions. But I suspect that's a pain-point that deserves its own discussion.

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  • Fair points on how easy it is to get privileges here. It's been tangentially discussed in comments to this answer before... I think one of the main downsides of raising the bar right now would be that there's not enough people that keep their access to e.g. the review queues/delete voting. I don't know whether we can raise the rep for only close-voting, or if it's even technically possible to have the rep thresholds raised easily... I don't know whether there's any beta sites that have the graduated site privilege thresholds. – Tinkeringbell Jul 27 '18 at 11:05
  • @Tinkeringbell I don't know either if the thresholds can be adjusted easily. It just seemed like the simplest tweak without changing the overall policy. – Andrew Jul 27 '18 at 14:58
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    I can't see history, so I don't know if I voted to reopen it or not (it's possible). If I did, it would have been on the grounds that I don't agree that electronic communication isn't a valuable interpersonal skill. I disagree that raising the bar solves the "problem" though. As this stack already feels less welcoming than any of the others I've participated in, and while it might mean you get fewer issues with people disagreeing with the small established vision, it exacerbates a larger issue. – AHamilton Jul 30 '18 at 10:29
  • Actually, just so no one feels the need to explain it to me, I did find I can see this in "All actions" on my profile, rather than on the question itself. I did vote to leave it open originally, but skipped it (or didn't see it) when the reopen vote came around. – AHamilton Jul 30 '18 at 10:35
  • @AHamilton Well, what's the goal here? I offer a solution that hopefully would add more consistency to decisions to close/reopen. I agree it might have unintended side effects, and not work well with the "big picture". – Andrew Jul 30 '18 at 14:23
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    I wasn't the one who asked the question, so the goal may be different. I was simply saying that I agree with your first part, but I don't see a question getting closed and then reopened as a huge problem. Especially on fringe cases where not everyone agrees. If enough people are voting that they think a question is fine for this site, then it's fine, even if it annoys the clique. – AHamilton Jul 30 '18 at 18:20

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