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I cast the final closevote on What is different between “ellipse” and “oval”? just now, citing "Lack of research" as my reason. But just to reassure myself that the "difference" really is easy to look up online, I copied the title and pasted it into a google search.

Unsurprisingly, I guess, I found an 7-year-old ELU question Are there any differences between “oval” and “ellipse”? high in the list of results.

But I was a little surprised to see that the earlier question hasn't been closed (in fact, nearly 50 votes have been cast on that page, and the question has been "protected"). Which strongly implies that my closevote on the later question was a mistake.

Even if I had found that earlier question before closevoting, and had cited it as a duplicate, my reason would have been "outvoted" by the preceding 4 closevotes, so it wouldn't really have made any difference.


So what I'm asking here is the question posed in my title. Without mod intervention, the only way I know to "fix" things is if 4 other users were to join me in voting to reopen the later question, then we could vote to close it again for the right reason. Which would probably have to involve more than just the original 5 closevoters, since I think the system gets sniffy about repeated open/closevotes from the same user.

  • Why would the system be sniffy about a procedure it supposedly encourages? I have, in the past, cast a close vote before editing just to initiate the reopen option. Editing a Q with three or four close votes doesn't seem to make a lot of sense as things stand. I'm currently trying to rescue this one – Phil Sweet Jan 14 '18 at 17:37
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    @Phil Sweet: As I recall, if you retract a closevote, the system tells you you won't ever be allowed to vote on the question again. The voting system probably has other restrictions aimed at preventing potential oscillations like that (I'm pretty sure they have tweaks aimed at keeping the lid on "edit wars"), but I don't really know. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '18 at 17:45
  • @PhilSweet Editing to improve a question would mean any future reviewers would refrain from casting the last close vote. If by any chance the previous close voters see the improved version, they may choose to retract their votes. Also, the system would remove the existing close votes after a period of time waiting for that last vote. So there really is no need to vote to close a question if you are sure your edits have made it much better. – NVZ Jan 15 '18 at 9:45
  • Even if there are already 4 votes to close for lack of research, your vote to close as duplicate would at least generate a comment with the duplicate. With duplicates, it isn't just anonymously assimilated into the majority reason. (There may even be a note about the claimed duplicate in the notice.) – Lawrence Jan 15 '18 at 15:39
  • (1) @FumbleFingers: This is probably what you were thinking of: The Help Center says “Questions can go through multiple close and reopen cycles, but each individual user may cast at most one close and one reopen vote per question.”  … (Cont’d) – Scott Jan 24 '18 at 16:06
  • (Cont’d) …  (2) @NVZ: You’re ignoring the “herd mentality” / “me too!” phenomenon.  There are probably users who see a question with > 2 close votes and say, “Well, if those people thought the question is close-worthy, it must be, so I’ll contribute to the process of cleaning up the site by casting a close vote of my own.”  This might not happen so much on EL&U, but Stack Overflow, Super User, and others obviously have a problem with people who vote without thinking, or they wouldn’t have implemented review audits. – Scott Jan 24 '18 at 16:06
  • @Scott I understand that, and I'm no exception to that. I understand the bandwagon effect. – NVZ Jan 24 '18 at 16:08
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Yes, flagging for moderator to change the close reason to be a dupe to the other question is reasonable here.

  • 1
    Is there any substance to the idea I expressed in a comment there (that if there's a way for non-mods to handle things without needing mod attention, this should be encouraged)? Not that I'm overly concerned you may be overworked - it just seems like a good way of helping the site reflect the attitudes of the more general user base, rather than just a handful of (admittedly, elected) mods. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '18 at 17:53
  • @FumbleFingers The problem is even a gold tag badge grants you a binding vote only for the dup-reason close/open-vote. Since it was originally closed for another reason, it takes 5 non-binding votes to reopen it. Then any gold tag holder could cast a binding vote to close it as a duplicate (as I have just now done). – tchrist Jan 14 '18 at 17:56
  • If nothing else, it's a salutary reminder to me (and perhaps others) that we should try to avoid being so trigger-happy with our closevotes. I must admit I never actually read the question or answers on the earlier one until a few minutes ago, but if I'd happened to have looked at it before today I might have erroneously closevoted that one too - were it not for the upvotes, which would have given me pause for thought. Now though, I'm quite happy to say it's a valid ELU question (Heck! I've even upvoted both the earlier question and the good answers now! :) – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '18 at 19:04
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Having a moderator involved would definitely be much simpler than convincing 5 or more users to reopen and re-close it.

That said, since the new dupe has no extra info or a different way of asking essentially the same thing, I for one do not see the need to have it closed as a duplicate and for long stay visible instead of letting the roomba delete it few days after it's closed for lack of research. We can guide the asker in the comments too.

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