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A specific question has been locked inappropriately and without good reason. How can the lock be removed?

I know the question I am asking is not a typical question and would fall foul of the rules if posted on the main site rather than meta [edited: it was originally posted on the main site, but then moved to meta], but if you allow arbitrary decisions to be made by moderators without any kind of transparency, you need to explain yourselves; otherwise, you can expect more of these kind of completely-off-topic questions.

Please provide an explanation with any downvote.

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    Comments so far have been removed as they had descended into bickering, and I think my answer covers most points they discussed. – Andrew Leach Jul 6 at 6:54
  • OK, sorry. I still don't see any explanations for downvotes, other than your own answer, and that surely only accounts for one of them. – Jake Jul 11 at 4:37
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    Only a moderator can unlock a historical lock. That question is not worth reopening, it was acceptable 10 years ago because the site was in its infancy and needed content. As for the downvotes, it's my guess that they are probably connected to the comments which have now been deleted. Not having seen the comments, but knowing of their deletion (and Andrew Leach's explanation) suggest they were pretty egregious. – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 7:17
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    Very very very closely related: I didn't know the yellow ax question had been locked. Did you? Now that I shall fight to reopen until my dying breath! (A little drama never hurt anyone) – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 7:18
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    There is never any explanation for voting (do follow the links on that question too), but on Meta sites, an upvote generally has a meaning along the lines of "I agree; I support this" and a downvote "I disagree; I oppose this". Unfortunately the tooltips are the same on both sites, and are not really appropriate for Meta. Also, you can't tell who has voted which way on any post, so guessing that I have downvoted is not the thing to do. And actually, I haven't [yet]. – Andrew Leach Jul 11 at 8:31
  • @Mari-LouA I think the downvotes were since then, and in any case the downvotes should relate to the OP not the comments it attracted. On Stack Overflow it is customary for a comment to be made to explain the downvote, though this site's mileage may vary. Andrew, sorry to be accusative. I can only reiterate that I thought there were some excellent explanations and comments (that were not deleted) in the referenced post, and it seemed a shame for them to be locked down (as well as us, metaphorically). – Jake Jul 22 at 2:17
  • @Mari-LouA PS. The comments were not as egregious as you might think: nothing more than the "I think you need to understand" gloves coming off :) – Jake Jul 22 at 2:28
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It may be helpful if you edited your question to indicate why such a lock might be inappropriate.

I locked it in October 2016 following a number of close votes and a flag suggesting the historical lock: it was off-topic by even the then-current standards as it shows no evidence of research. The historical lock indicates that the question has historical value, both because of the existing answers and to show that standards do evolve.

The lock is "closed but", as the post notice indicates. If that question were asked now (or even in 2016) it would be closed in short order because a simple dictionary search provides the answer, as the top answer demonstrates. However, leaving the question on the site allows other people who don't do research (or who rely on Google for "research") to find it and not ask it again. Given that virus is the mot du jour, that was probably the right decision.

The question was asked ten years ago and has post number 3838. We're now at over 530,000. These days, given the volume of questions on the site, the community is far less tolerant of people who do not show any evidence of research. Stack Exchange can usually help where all else has failed, or where research is particularly difficult for some reason (although it still has to be shown). Here, it's particularly easy.

Even if the question were to be left open, it would certainly be protected: there are a number of deleted "answers" on that question.

Note that pointing to a similar question which has not had this treatment as evidence that this question should not be locked is not likely to have the desired result. It's far more likely that the unlocked question you find would actually be locked or simply closed or maybe even deleted.


Hm. I realise I haven't answered the specific question! To get a lock removed, ask here on Meta.English with detailed reasons about why the lock is inappropriate. There's a standard MSE post which is relevant to that process, and another which explains the historical lock itself.

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  • @AndrewLeach Thanks for your answer and taking the time and trouble to provide a full explanation. Apologies for my ranty approach, I think lockdown is getting to me. However, would it not have been possible to edit the originating question, e.g. to "Why is the plural of virus viruses and not virii" - I have seen this approach taken on other SE 'sites' where the OP was poor but nonetheless attracted some good quality answers and comments. I've edited the question to clarify that I thought my own question fell foul of the rules, not the referenced one, but had forgot about meta. – Jake Jul 11 at 4:31
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    Locking prevents any votes on the answers, and edits, etc. Why not unlock and close? It's not an exceptional question that it needs an exceptional solution rather than the normal one: closing. – curiousdannii Jul 11 at 5:21
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I agree that it should be unlocked: locking prevents us from voting and editing (for example, that quote from Wiktionary no longer exists). There is nothing exceptional about that question, so the normal solution, closing, should have been used. I think it should be unlocked and then immediately closed.

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