I recently had my question closed, but I don't understand why, and it doesn't seem fair.

Why wasn't my question left open so others can decide if the question is good themselves, and how can I get it re-opened?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

(Taken shamelessly from English Language & Usage.)

Typically, people react poorly to having one of their questions closed. This is understandable but it suggests a misunderstanding of why we close questions.

Closing your question is good for you

Something about your question is giving us pause and we feel that it would be best to wait on answering until we get the issue resolved. This does a handful of things that help you:

  • ... get better answers. A little clarification goes a long way toward getting an answer that helps you. Instead of a handful of, "Well, I think this is blah..." you get "This is the answer look at these awesome references."

  • ... potentially mitigate downvotes. If your question is attracting downvotes, a close will typically stop them and give people a chance to resolve their concerns in a more constructive manner. A few edits later, your question will get reopened and those downvoting you will have a chance to change their votes.

  • ... point toward an already existing answer. Closing as a duplicate will give you a link to an answer that the voters feel will answer your question. It may not be a perfect match but it gets you far enough that we feel you can make the rest of the connections on your own (or with a little bit of research).

  • ... learn how to ask better questions. After a close-reopen process you have an opportunity to learn more about what the Programmers.SE crowd likes in a question. This is valuable information! The more you learn about asking questions, the better answers to those questions will be.

Your question is not yours alone

You are the primary focus when answering a question you have asked but the Stack Exchange network also considers future visitors when closing. Sometimes we can make a few changes to your question that will still get you your help but also increases the chance of helping people wandering in from a web search.

If we close a question, sometimes we are explicitly taking these future visitors into account. Something about your question may be accidentally excluding these visitors from getting their questions answered. A few edits and a reopen will help both you and them.

While it is easy to see this as people walking all over your question, that isn't what they are trying to do. While your name is attached to the question, the question really belongs to everyone who uses Programmers.SE. This includes those future visitors and part of our job is to make sure that we are accurately predicting (and answering) those questions. We can do that by closing your question, making a few edits or changes, and reopening. And we should do that.

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Interesting, my question only received down votes after it was closed. My experience has been that it is really hard to get a question reopened once it is closed. Is there a guide for how to do this? Even asking for help in meta hasn't gotten me anywhere. –  Jim McKeeth Jul 29 '11 at 1:05
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@jim in the specific case of that question, "point toward an already existing answer" is correct IMHO. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 29 '11 at 1:18
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It does seem like there is a limited number of people who can vote to close and it would require many of them to look at an updated question and consider reopening. The odds are against it. –  JeffO Jul 29 '11 at 2:41
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@JeffO Folks who are under 3k rep can flag a question for review. Flagging is not just for questions that don't belong. :) I (and probably other moderators as well) also regularly check moderator tools to see which questions are getting reopen votes and whether there's been any activity on them to improve or make a case for reopening in comments. –  Anna Lear Jul 29 '11 at 3:22
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