Never mind the alarming rate at which questions are slammed shut on EL&U, I was infact wondering how come questions on EL&U can be closed by a single user when Stack Exchange, Movies and TV (the ones I am using) require 5 close votes to close a question.


2 Answers 2


All across the network moderator votes are binding. So a question can be closed by five regular users (who have gained the right to vote to close), or 0–4 regular users and a mod. The same holds for reopening.

You can easily tell moderators from regular users by the diamond (♦) next to their name.

Here are some of the questions on Movies and TV that were closed by a single user, a moderator:

As to "the alarming rate at which questions are slammed shut on EL&U", you seem to not be aware of our Christmas truce. We have been closing exceptionally few questions lately.

  • Seems I was unaware of the vast powers of a moderator too. But the question eventually remains the same! The moderator is after-all a single user. Are we to say that the judgement of a single moderator is equal to that of 5 regular users?
    – Sayan
    Dec 26, 2012 at 7:01
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    Yes. That's by design, since day one (July 31, 2008). See Who are the diamond moderators, and what is their role?
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 26, 2012 at 7:06
  • 1
    Well the design looks to be flawed. Can I edit my question an start a discussion on that or do I ask a fresh question?
    – Sayan
    Dec 26, 2012 at 7:13
  • 6
    @KeyBrdBasher The question makes me think you must be unfamiliar with the way SE works in general. Lacking basic knowledge as well as reputation is going to make yours an uphill battle. It might help to participate in the site as is for awhile until you are more familiar. No, do not make such a major change to a question. Edits can fix mistakes, clarify, or deepen, but should not fundamentally change the meaning of the post. That is the nature of a Q&A site: changing the question too much ruins the answers that are already posted.
    – MetaEd
    Dec 26, 2012 at 7:22

Never mind the alarming rate at which questions are slammed shut on EL&U...

It's a little hard to “never mind” that, when that's the way you start your question. Still, your verbiage prompts me to ask: Are you looking at the rate, or are you looking at the rate and the reason?

Most of the time, when a question is closed unilaterally by a moderator, it's closed because it's a duplicate question, which means (a) the question has already been answered on the site, and (b) the O.P.s are provided a link to that location, so they can see the answer to the question.

Out of all the closed questions currently on the front page, only two have been closed by a moderator for reasons other than being a duplicate. Those are:

95422: Is it correct to say: "it is not that far a distance"?

which was closed because it's too vague, with a comment explicitly stating that more elaboration would be grounds for reopening the question, and:

95528: I can't seem to find a consolidated list of military euphemisms, such as "incomplete victory", "friendly fire", "vertically deployed anti-personnel devices". Do you have any links?

which is clearly off-topic, according to the FAQ.

All the other closed questions on the front page (there are currently 9, out of 50 questions) were either closed because they were duplicates (5 of the 9), or else they were closed by a quorum of five users (2 of 9).

I find nothing “alarming” about this, and I think that, more often than not, questions get closed without being “slammed shut”. Moreover, any question that gets “slammed shut” can be reopened after additional consideration (five reopen votes by users with sufficient reputation will reopen a question); however, if you're hoping that will ultimately happen to your recently-closed question, I'd suggest using more level-headed and objective rhetoric.

(Data was taken on Wed, Dec 26, 6:00 AM Eastern US time)

  • ....if you'd like that course of action to remain a possibility. Is there a threat in there somewhere J.R.?
    – Sayan
    Dec 26, 2012 at 11:58
  • @KeyBrdBasher: Absolutely not. I was only trying to be helpful; I think your chances might be better if you try to be more objective, and less inflammatory. That said, if you do want your question reopened (which may or may not be the case, I don't know) you might get your five votes either way. If it were me, though, I'd focus more on the merits of the original question, and not on perceived problems with the site. (As far as threats go, the worst I could do is downvote this question, or vote to close it, which I haven't bothered to do.)
    – J.R.
    Dec 26, 2012 at 12:03
  • Ok, let me first apologize to you if my statement seemed inflammatory or hateful. While I asked this question today(the same day that one of my questions was closed by a moderator), it is not a direct consequence of that action. Infact, over a period of time I have been noticing the flurry of closed questions. My question in particular being closed down was just the trigger for me to seek some answers(yes I intend to ask some more). I agree with the moderators and other users that closing questions are necessary in order to keep up the quality of questions being asked and community at large.
    – Sayan
    Dec 26, 2012 at 13:49
  • But in the process we have become far too critical and choosey. If I understand correctly, this is a site for enthusiasts; and an amateur one or expert, every enthusiast makes mistakes. The core problem is not with the rate or number of questions being closed(which in themselves should be a matter of concern) but, the attitude of not trying to answer the OP's question or atleast let people help out the OP in streamlining the question. Correct me if I am wrong, but questions are not supposed to be closed if they are salvageable through editing or not exact duplicates.
    – Sayan
    Dec 26, 2012 at 13:58
  • @Key: As you can see, I've reworded my answer, too; I think you pointed out that I didn't word it very well in my first cut. So, there's no need for an apology. As for how soon a question gets closed, there are several schools of thought on that, and I don't think we'll reach a universal consensus anytime soon. Yes, I cast close votes every now and then, but I try not to abuse the privilege, and I try to leave helpful comments as well, striving to be an overall positive member of the community, while accepting that others will have different standards and criteria than my own.
    – J.R.
    Dec 26, 2012 at 14:04
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    @KeyBrdBasher Correct me if I am wrong, but questions are not supposed to be closed if they are salvageable through editing or not exact duplicates. On the contrary: if they have problems, questions get closed. But closing is a pause state. You can fix then and when done, just flag it for moderator attention and your question, if properly fixed, will be reopened. You can even post on Meta to ask for suggestions on how to improve it. :)
    – Alenanno
    Dec 26, 2012 at 17:43
  • @Alenanno: "if they have problems, questions get closed". This is the kind of thinking that will eventually drive people away from the site. If at all a question has problems(and a lot of them do) try to fix them, or atleast provide some feedback before unceremoniously closing it. And when you say that closing is a pause state, I do hope that you realize that its more of a limbo state from where seldom something constructive comes out.
    – Sayan
    Dec 27, 2012 at 7:41
  • @J.R.: I have no problems as such with people casting close votes, hell m all for it! Its a indispensable feature to keep the site healthy. But at the same time its damning to see that closing questions has become more of a condescending trend and power(read rep) show for some users.
    – Sayan
    Dec 27, 2012 at 7:45
  • @KeyBrdBasher But that's up to you. You have like forever to tune/fix a question before posting it. Why do we have to wait before closing it? Perhaps you see it as harsh, but trust me, there's nothing there against you as a person. I've closed questions that I liked and then get criticized. It's not a good feeling. We are all grown-ups, are we really arguing over a closure of a question on a Q&A site? Life is too short for this. But anyway, closing a question sends a signal to everyone "This question is currently not a good fit, we might fix it so come back later". [cont'd]
    – Alenanno
    Dec 27, 2012 at 10:05
  • [cont.] I'll be more than happy to help anybody on any site, as far as it's possible for me to do so in terms of expertise etc, but you need to show some interest for your own question. You say it yourself: It's a indispensable feature to keep the site healthy. I might try to fix a question myself, I've done it before but sometimes we can't. The OP knows better than us what would fix it. I always hope to see users asking on Meta, it rarely happens. But when this is done and the user fixes the question, I'm more than happy to reopen it.
    – Alenanno
    Dec 27, 2012 at 10:07
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    @Key ~ RE: "When you say that closing is a pause state, I hope that you realize its more of a limbo state from where seldom something constructive comes out." More than half the closed questions that ask for reconsideration from meta end up getting reopened. RE: "This is the kind of thinking that will eventually drive people away from the site." Perhaps some will be driven away, but others will be drawn in. I could only stomach a day or two of Yahoo! Answers before I'd be driven away by the lack of quality; I make daily ELU forays because a higher quality makes the site more interesting.
    – J.R.
    Dec 27, 2012 at 10:42

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