Last week, I asked this question: Can moderators redirect links from badly chosen duplicates to actual duplicates?
The answer (from moderator MetaEd) was
Moderators have the ability to edit the list of original questions that the duplicate question links to. They can delete links and also add new ones.
This leads me to a followup question today:
- Can moderators change a close reason from 'Please show your research...' to 'Duplicate of...'?
To be clear, I'm asking here about whether, in a discrete case, moderators can go into a question that has been put on hold for the "Please show your research..." close reason and change the close reason to "Duplicate of X," when the fundamental problem with the question is that it has been asked and answered elsewhere on EL&U.
Implicit in my new question is a viewpoint that many site participants may disagree with: I think that a hierarchy of permanence, definitiveness, and usefulness exists in the close reasons on this site; that "Please show your research..." is the weakest, most formal, and (theoretically) most easily reversed of those reasons; and that "Duplicate of..." is one of the strongest and most useful of those reasons (if the closed question and its antecedent really are effectively identical).
Closing for "Please show your research..." expressly holds out the possibility that, if the poster shows research, the objection to the question will vanish and the question will reopen. In practice, of course, "Please show research..." plays a somewhat different role: It's the go-to justification for preemptively closing a question without having to weigh whether it is substantively interesting, on topic, and unique at EL&U. More often than not, I suspect, questions closed for "Please how your research..." are faulty for reasons other than their lack of visible research—and those other reasons impel reviewers in the Reopen Votes queue to vote to keep an uninteresting, off-topic, or duplicate question closed on the rare occasion when a poster does edit an on-hold question to show research.
Evidently, one point of view is that the express terms of the "Please show research..." close reason matter very little in comparison with the practical fact that this close reason enables reviewers to close low-quality questions quickly and keep them closed indefinitely, absent some unusual effort by the OP or others to show research and to demonstrate the value of the question.
But lost in this tendency to embrace "Please show your research..." as an exceptionally convenient close reason is the problem that using it sometimes forecloses identification of an objectively better close reason.
A case in point arose earlier today. The question Can "Myself" be used as a subject? was closed because (as the first four close voters noted) the poster didn't show any research. In fact, the body of the question consists entirely of this brief text block:
"Myself will attend the meeting." is it grammatically correct? I think Myself can't be used as a subject of sentence. I myself~ is correct, right?
If the close voters had done a bit of research on EL&U, they would have found that the site already has a question with the very similar heading "Myself" as a single subject and the body
How do we use myself as the only subject of a sentence?
For example I once heard some people saying Myself am to be blamed. Is this grammatically correct? How is it different from I am to be blamed?
It seems clear to me that the newer question effectively duplicates the older question (which, by the way, having been posted in August 2014, was not closed for "Please show your research..."). If we were to close the newer question as a duplicate, a reader who later happened upon "Can 'Myself' be used as a subject?" would be redirected to "'Myself' as a single subject" instead of being told rather unhelpfully that the question was closed for lack of research. In my view, identifying the newer question as a duplicate of an older existing question is desirable as a matter of site tidiness and—more importantly—as a matter of objective accuracy: "It's a duplicate of X" is a more definitive and more useful (to future readers) close reason than "Please show your research..."
But now we get to the procedural time-suck of trying to reopen a closed question so we can close it for a better reason than the one that close voters originally cited when putting it on hold. I can't imagine that very many people care enough about the rectification of names to pursue the work of reopening a closed question through popular voting in order to assign it a better close reason.
But perhaps we don't have to. If moderators have the power to alter close reasons with several clicks of a keyboard, it might make sense for what might pejoratively be called "anal-retentive individuals" (among whom I count myself) to bring the inferior close reason to the moderators' attention by flagging it, explaining why it is less desirable than a different close reason, and requesting that the mods change it to the superior close reason. Hence my questions:
Can moderators make such changes?
Is there any other alternative to the insane baseline method of voting to reopen in order to clear the way for voting to close for a better close reason?