I recently closed a question as a duplicate of another. Since I had a gold tag badge, it was instantly closed. The OP of the question had a gold tag badge as well, and decided to reopen it single-handedly. I was confused by this.

Now the question is quickly re-closed by other users.

Should this reopening be considered a conflict of interest sort of thing? And should we restrict gold tag badge users from reopening own questions single-handedly?

I haven't noticed any patterns of such behaviour anywhere. This is a one-off instance. But I was told by some users to ask this on meta either way, so that we get others' view on this.

NOTE: Answerers, please stick to the subject of "reopening own posts singlehandedly", instead of going into tangential discussions about my way of closing a question. Thanks. :)

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    It's worth adding, in the name of impartiality etc., that the question closed was over three years old, and had received many an answer, not all of whom were repeated in the older question. – Mari-Lou A Oct 4 '17 at 14:59
  • BTW not a one-off instance, it happened before but with a completely different user, more distinct, and I think... think... I may have done the same. Not sure, of course, if I reopened my own question (singlehandedly? Not sure…) I was acting in the best interests of the community. </sarcasm> – Mari-Lou A Oct 4 '17 at 15:33
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    I haven't dared to use my gold hammer privilege (SWR) yet, but I when I do, it will be with wisdom and humility and in a way that will honor my esteemed colleagues who have the same privilege. (This is called BS.) Seriously, I might reopen my own question, but I would explain why my question really, really was not a duplicate and edit to make that clear. If I couldn't make it clear, I wouldn't reopen. – ab2 Oct 4 '17 at 20:01
  • I checked, I've never used my hammer to reopen an SWR question of mine because they have never been put on hold or closed as duplicates. Those few questions that were put on hold, I have had to fight tooth and nail to reopen. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 6:59
  • @Mari-LouA Where's the question? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 5 '17 at 11:34
  • @Araucaria The question is a duplicate, not an exact copy, but pretty close. If the user wants to come forward, he or she can. I added the info in the first comment because it could've seemed that the question was new. It's not. If I thought it weren't an acceptable duplicate, I would not hesitate to reopen it with my dupehammer. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 11:38
  • @Mari-LouA Are the answers there better than the answers on the other one? Which one has the most views? Should they be merged? Just wondering. Can't have been that problematic if it had been open for three years! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 5 '17 at 11:40
  • @Araucaria the newer question has good answers, not all of whom are in the older question, but many answers are the same and upvoted fairly high. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 11:43
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    @Araucaria actually, it was closed a 2nd time by another user with a dupehammer. There are only 3 users, in total, who have voted to close it. I missed that valuable piece of info. Three dupehammers, a right ding-dong battle. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 11:49
  • Oo-er, does sound dramatic :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 5 '17 at 11:50
  • A 3rd question posted around the same time was also closed as a duplicate of the same older question by "Harry". But the OP, "Bob", edited his post and their question was reopened. It's interesting to note that it too contains more or less the same answers. But "Bob" accepted an original answer which is not replicated in neither of the two questions. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 12:02
  • I do not see the point in discussing one particular instance here. Bringing up a user's name and cornering them is not my intention. Just thought it would be nice to hear from the others whether or not it is the right thing to do to reopen one's own question single-handedly. What in my question is causing confusion? Let me know so that I can clarify. Thanks :) – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 12:15
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    @Mari-LouA Ah, well if the accepted answer wasn't available on the other question, then by default that the answer to that question doesn't appear on the other page and thus This question already has an answer here would not apply and the question should be reopened! (or merged). – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 5 '17 at 12:27
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    Found it: english.stackexchange.com/questions/172162/… with close/reopen/close/edit history and the link to the duplicated qn there. – Mitch Oct 5 '17 at 17:36
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    Closing a question does not 'touch' the question/does not change the 'recent activity' level, it keeps getting pushed down from where it was. Presumably the hammerclose does nothing different. Reopening does bump something to the top of the recent activity queue. – Mitch Oct 5 '17 at 19:45

A 'gold tag badge' user is conferred with mod-like superpowers without mod-like training and behavior expectations of all kinds. Surely, when the system was changed, the designers anticipated the possibility of this scenario, but the benefits of the system outweighed the potential 'abuse' (not sure that's the right term) of it.

I don't think there's anything that can be done to circumvent this issue without bringing this up in Meta SE. And things are very slow to change from there.

What happened and with whom, I don't know, so I can honestly say I'm impartial.

I think it's unwise to reopen one's own question. For me, far better the humility of allowing the question to remain closed than the embarrassment of opening it only to have it closed again by five more users. But that's just my opinion as an exceedingly humble person, so much so that I'm well known for my great humility and praised for it all the time.*

If you feel strongly about it, take it to Meta. But it's unlikely to happen often.

Edited to add: As pointed out by others in comments, if you run into this, you can flag it for the moderator's attention; a mod closing is unlikely to be undone. Or the OP can bring it to meta to ask for the question to be reopened.


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    Okay, makes sense, this as well. I do not feel so strongly about it since this is not a recurring theme on ELU. I don't know about other sites. Unless this is a major concern, I don't think I'll ask on MSE. But anyone can pick up the ball and run to MSE from here. Feel free to do so, whoever is reading this comment. :) – NVZ Oct 4 '17 at 15:14
  • Seems that it's already asked on MSE. See sumelic's answer. – NVZ Oct 4 '17 at 15:26
  • @NVZ - Hmm... The comment says it best, then: "in case it happens more than once with same user, you can always flag and moderator can warn the user, since it's indeed abuse of power." – anongoodnurse Oct 4 '17 at 16:01
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    @NVZ - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/279436/…. Nevertheless, whoever said it was correct. (is that you, too?) – anongoodnurse Oct 4 '17 at 16:57
  • Ah, that comment? Not me. :) – NVZ Oct 4 '17 at 18:26
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    This is so far the most sensible answer. Others are quick to nitpicking on side issues. I accept this answer. :) – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 14:54
  • I aim to serve. ;) – anongoodnurse Oct 5 '17 at 15:44

Everyone with over 250 rep has the right to vote to reopen their own question. They don't lose this right when they get a gold badge, and it would be obscene if they did. If their reopen vote happens to have a golden hammer attached, that's not their fault.

The answer to this is simple, it seems to me. One shouldn't be able to golden hammer another golden badge holder's post. Problem solved. If the question is really close-worthy, it will get the necessary 5 close votes from regular users.

  • No, the question was not on the front page, it was on an old page. Must be that NVZ bumped into it and used his dupehammer powers – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 11:44
  • Yes, but if NVZ had just had a normal close vote due to it being another gold badge member's Q, then it would have entered the review queue and got closed there. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 5 '17 at 11:48
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    I bumped into it and a dozen other partial duplicates searching for something. Two or three stood out to me, in that they were 95% same, albeit not verbatim. I closed one or two. The OP reopened one themselves. Which led me to think, "why would that be reopened when it's a clear duplicate and already answered a dozen times?". If it were a single vote to reopen, that would have been fine. But this was a dupehammer reopen, which I think is a misuse of the feature for some self gain(?). – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 12:22
  • @Araucaria Again, you are discussing whether or not I'm right in closing it, which is not my question. Please stay on-topic. Thanks. :) – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 12:23
  • @NVZ No, it's just a reopen vote. The golden hammer wasn't applied by the OP, that part was applied by the system. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 5 '17 at 12:23
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    @Araucaria The golden hammer wasn't applied by the OP, that part was applied by the system. That's absurd. It's like I didn't kill the man, my gun did. OP knows they have the gold badge, just like the shooter pointing the gun knew he was going to kill a person. – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 12:24
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    @NVZ The OP has every right to vote to reopen their question. That's completely within the rules and is completely normal. If that happens to result in the question being automatically reopened, that's patently not the OP's fault. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 5 '17 at 12:26
  • @Araucaria Once a user has a diamond mod power or a gold tag badge to close a question, they no longer include in the "vote" to close or reopen category, and instead they "close" or "reopen". I think you are not familiar with the system and are questioning the feature here. – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 12:30
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    @NVZ Yes, that subsumes their vote to reopen. Everyone with over 250 rep has the right to vote to reopen their own question. They don't lose this right when they get a gold badge, and it would be obscene if they did. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 5 '17 at 12:33
  • @Araucaria last comment, I upvote as well. That should be your answer instead of debating my closing of something. Update your answer, please. :) – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 14:41
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    I can't see why you made your last statement (as irrelevant as it is to the OP's question). What's wrong with one hammer counteracting another? If the question is really close worthy, then that is equally a reason for not having any hammer closing at all. – Mitch Oct 6 '17 at 0:41
  • @Mitch I can't get the links between the different sentences in your comment. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 6 '17 at 7:01
  • @Araucaria Sorry. This whole thing is complicated with many issues on top of each other. Assume an 'Also, ' then before the 'If', two separate issues. – Mitch Oct 6 '17 at 11:45

If Stack Exchange were to deny users the earned "right" to cast a reopen vote on their own question because of a conflict of interests, then they would also have to deny them the right to reopen a question that was not theirs but where they had posted an answer, maybe an answer with a heap of upvotes.

Regardless of whether they had a gold dupehammer or not.

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    Heavy voting does confuse things (it feels like the high upvotes should somehow count against close votes). But in the instance at hand, closing as a duplicate, there is no expectation of eventual deletion, just an emphasis that the duplicated question is the place for all new answers to go, all vote rep maintained in all duplicate questions and their answers – Mitch Oct 5 '17 at 13:22
  • Ah, I don't see why you have to put words into my mouth. I'm not taking away anyone's anything here. :( – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 14:53
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    @NVZ then what does "restrict" mean for you? For me, in that specific context, it means to prevent, limit or stop. Well "taking away" is another way of saying prevent/stop users with gold hammers from reopening their own questions. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 17:31
  • Re: "right" to cast a reopen vote -- that I don't intend to argue about. I was discussing gold tag badge singlehanded actual reopening, not merely one vote (out of 5) of reopening. – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 17:35
  • My question was "should we (the community) do X?", not "I want X to be done." - so I'm not getting why you and Araucaria are cornering me into feeling like I shouldn't have bothered bringing meta-food for thought. Answers I expected are "No, here's why..." or "Yes, here's why..." :( – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 17:36
  • @NVZ it's a civil enough discussion. Where have I said the question is not a duplicate? It's not a carbon copy but I have always said that it shares many similar answers. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 17:39
  • @Mari-LouA I donno, but somehow some of your words are sharp and pointed at me the individual, rather than you speaking in a way that we can reach a community consensus. – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 17:43
  • The "you" is not aimed at you, it's generally speaking. It's you = Stack Exchange. I'll change it. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 17:47
  • @Mari-LouA Ah, dang it. I'm still always misreading the "you"s. Refer my IPS meta Q: How do you vs How should I – NVZ Oct 5 '17 at 17:54

Should this reopening be considered a conflict of interest sort of thing?

Not necessarily.

And should we restrict gold tag badge users from reopening own questions single-handedly?

No. The way it works currently is how the system is supposed to work.

We don't prevent users from casting normal close and open votes on their own questions. If we decide to trust gold badge holders to have better judgement than other users about what kinds of question in their tag are duplicates, that should apply to their own questions as well.

This has already been brought up on SE Meta: Don't allow user to use their dupehammer to reopen their own question

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    Okay, makes sense. – NVZ Oct 4 '17 at 12:38
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    That doesn't make sense. No matter what kind of expertise one has, one has terrible bias about ones own work. – Mitch Oct 4 '17 at 14:03
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    @Mitch - I agree that the ethics of reopening one's own question are questionable. But what's the alternative? – anongoodnurse Oct 4 '17 at 14:08
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    @anongoodnurse Not being able to single handily reopen one's own question is the alternative. They could be given a voting power just like everyone else. – Hank Oct 4 '17 at 14:57
  • @Hank - You missed a fine point in my question; no matter. See my answer. – anongoodnurse Oct 4 '17 at 15:02
  • @anongoodnurse I read your answer (I'm actually the sole upvote) and didn't miss anything in your question. What I specified is the alternative, but that doesn't mean it disagrees with anything you said. It can be taken to Meta and nothing will happen but it doesn't change what the alternative is. What is the alternative for right this moment? That is the real question. – Hank Oct 4 '17 at 15:04
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    @Hank - My point (in case you missed it) is that there is none. In case you maintain there is, please detail how to go about it. Thanks. – anongoodnurse Oct 4 '17 at 15:05
  • @anongoodnurse There is an alternative, just not one for this exact moment in time. – Hank Oct 4 '17 at 15:06
  • Ah, thank you for the MSE link. I couldn't find it there. – NVZ Oct 4 '17 at 15:25
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    @anongoodnurse I assume by alternative, that you mean an alternative in the situation 'I see that my personal thing has been closed'. The actual situation is that 'a thing has been closed', there the alternative is as usual many people are available to choose to close/reopen or not. I think the true situation is always the latter and a person shouldn't be allowed to vote on their own items. If they are bothered by others messing with their stuff they can always flag or bring up in meta like everyone else. – Mitch Oct 4 '17 at 15:53
  • @Mitch Good points. However, I wouldn't mind having the normal reopen-vote-ability maintained for an OP on their own posts. It's the dupehammer I'm not fan of in this context. – NVZ Oct 4 '17 at 15:58
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    @NVZ I'm surprised that one can vote to reopen one's own question/answer (it would be consistent but perverse if one can vote to close one's own). But never mind, you can't vote up or down one's own things for good reason, personal bias. Same goes for all these things, even if you're a mod or have mini-mod powers. It's even more imperative that a mod not be able to do such things for themselves because that is essentially the definition of corruption. Look, I know this is just SE and it's not like paid contracts for buildings are being given only to family members. But it's still corrupt – Mitch Oct 4 '17 at 16:06
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    @Mitch I voted to close one of my oldest questions, I got so exasperated by the comments etc., I gave up. Happy days :) But if we can vote to reopen a question that we have posted which we think has been put on hold unfairly, why not use the dupehammer? It's not even a monthly occurrence, possibly it has happened twice in two years (by two different users). – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 12:14
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    @Mari-LouA I think it is a mistake to allow voting to reopen ones own (personal bias of the Q or A author). That principle informs not allowing voting up or down. So consistency in not allowing corruption (self-judgement) would take care of rare cases (that those cases are rare is not really an argument for or against a rule's applicability). I have always been shocked when I see it, like a police car turning on their siren to go through a redlight then turning it off immediately afterwards, or a government official passing a bill favorable to an industry that they just invested money in. – Mitch Oct 5 '17 at 13:19
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    @Mitch and what if I, the author, sincerely believed that my question is not a duplicate, why shouldn't I use my earned privilege (I'm playing devil's advocate)? – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '17 at 17:57

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