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It seems to me that one of the more serious problems on this site is that a good question often ends up getting erroneously closed.

By erroneously closed, I mean that the OP's thread is marked as a duplicate and a link is made to a thread that doesn't have a proper answer to the OP's question.

It is understandable how this mistake can be made by a high-rep-count member who was trying to be helpful: the member could have misunderstood the OP's question, or the member could have misunderstood how the linked thread doesn't really answer the OP's question, or perhaps the member wasn't aware of the grammatical issues that were actually involved in the OP's question.

After a short period of time, I'd expect the member(s) to get better at it: live and learn, so to say.

When votes are taken to close a thread, I'd hope that there would be some members voting who would see that the closing would be erroneous, and so, prevent that closing. I would hope that's how it works. But in actual practice, it doesn't seem to be working out that way.

I've seen numerous threads closed as duplicates, and when I click on the link to the thread that's supposed to have the answer, I often find that the thread doesn't address the OP's question, or when it does, it has a bad answer. Often that old thread simply has bad info throughout it. This has happened many, many times.

The procedure for closing threads as duplicates might need to be tweaked. It probably should be changed. It needs to be fixed, imo.

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    Thanks for posting this! You might want to link some examples, like the one from tonight. – Bradd Szonye Mar 29 '14 at 9:05
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    When an old thread has bad answers, the idea is that you improve it by posting a better one, thus killing two birds with one stone: answering the new question and improving the old one. If instead you only answer the new question, the old one will still suck for all eternity, and the new question will still be a duplicate for all eternity. That being said, we can, and do, close older questions as duplicates of newer ones if the newer ones are clearly better. It is not a one-way street. – RegDwigнt Mar 29 '14 at 15:09
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    Could you provide examples? I know what you are saying is true, and I have often marked new questions as being duplicates myself when I see that the top score answers the question satisfactorily. But I agree with RegDwight when he says if you come across old questions which have not been fleshed out, so to speak, you should post an answer yourself. It's never a waste of time in my opinion as sooner or later, a good answer is always rewarded and appreciated. – Mari-Lou A Mar 29 '14 at 18:53
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    One issue is that questions can be couched differently and look as though they are not duplicates, but cover essentially the same ground and often there is already an answer which covers the new question. Another issue is that there is no "Don't close" vote; it takes five votes, not a net five votes. – Andrew Leach Mar 29 '14 at 20:28
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    I know this question is the one that prompted this post. Happily it was reopened; I don't recall which question it was marked a duplicate of last night. – Bradd Szonye Mar 29 '14 at 21:16
  • Flags as duplicate – Ronan Mar 31 '14 at 15:38
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    I feel strongly that a duplicate question must be a duplicate question. The fact that an answer to an older question happens to mention something that can be interpreted as an answer to the new question is totally and absolutely irrelevant. Unfortunately, some influential people on this site disagree with me on this. – Marthaª Apr 4 '14 at 18:00
  • @BraddSzonye Off-topic, but FYI, if you check the revision history of a question (you can access it by clicking the "edited X days ago" link under the question) you can see its open/close/delete/undelete/etc. history there (in this case, you can see the original duplicate link there). You can also see who performed the action (e.g. if it was a vote, who voted, or if it was done by just a mod, etc.). – Jason C Apr 12 '14 at 4:19
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    @RegDwigнt This does not address the problem. If the older question does not actually ask the same question, or address the same problem, it's not possible to answer it meaningfully on the older question page. Questions which aren't duplicates are being closed. – Araucaria Jul 7 '14 at 17:10
  • @RegDwigнt I've recently cited a previous thread as a reason for 'duplicate' closure. The question asked in the later thread was not precisely that asked in the former, but the (correct) answer in the earlier thread certainly answered the later question, and the discussions in the earlier thread seemed to leave little to add. Is this correct 'closevote' procedure on my part? – Edwin Ashworth Aug 19 '14 at 10:17
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There is no way to vote against closure on StackExchange. The best we can to is to state our positions in comments and on Meta (which may convince people to retract their close votes). Once a post is closed, we can vote to reopen, which takes time. If you feel that a post has been closed inappropriately, please question it on Meta and, if you have sufficient privileges, vote to reopen, which will put the post in a queue where other privileged users can see it. Editing the post to address the close reason also helps. (But beware of editing it to say “This shouldn't have been closed!” which sounds presumptuous and may turn off people who would otherwise have agreed with you.)


How to retract a close vote – see the bottom of the form: enter image description here


You can also vote to “leave open” in the review queue for close votes, but that does not directly count against the close votes. Instead – if enough people vote to leave open – it simply accelerates the close-vote aging process. See this MSO post for details.

  • Is there in fact any way to retract a close vote? It may be that the best you can do is vote to reopen one the question has been closed. – TimLymington Mar 30 '14 at 0:04
  • @TimLymington Yes, see the new image in my post. Once you retract, you cannot vote again. – Bradd Szonye Mar 30 '14 at 0:09
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    Yes: you do need to say exactly why the question is not a duplicate. "There is [this question] but that deals with X whereas I am asking about Y". That at least affords the opportunity to address Y, either by an answer, or a comment to say how the other question already covers that too. – Andrew Leach Mar 30 '14 at 9:55
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    There is a way to vote against closure: you go to the review queue and vote "leave open". – Matt E. Эллен Apr 1 '14 at 7:57
  • @Matt Does that actually accomplish anything? – Bradd Szonye Apr 1 '14 at 8:28
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    @BraddSzonye if 5 "leave open" votes are cast before 5 close votes, then the close votes are removed and the question is removed from the review queue. If the question is closed, however, then the "leave open" votes expire. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 1 '14 at 9:45
  • Bradd, if you can confirm what @MattЭллен has said: Please revise your answer, at least adding the qualification "for users with less than X prestige...". Whether you add it to your answer or Matt posts it in his own is up to you two, but if someone with a certain amount of prestige can vote against a proposed closure, that seems important and relevant enough to be mentioned at the answer level. – Terry N Apr 9 '14 at 2:17
  • I haven't been able to confirm it yet. It might be documented somewhere. Unfortunately there's no way that I know of to do this deliberately; you can only go to the review queue and hope that you get the post offered to you for review before you run out of votes. I don't see it as a practical option even for users with sufficient reputation so I haven't bothered researching it further. @Terry – Bradd Szonye Apr 9 '14 at 4:37
  • @MattЭллен That's not how it works according to this MSO post. Voting to leave open simply removes the question from the review queue and starts the close vote aging process. – Bradd Szonye Apr 9 '14 at 21:49
  • @MattЭллен On second thought, perhaps you are saying the same thing as that MSO post? It looks like Leave Open votes don't immediately expire all of the close votes, but it does remove some of the requirements for expiring them. – Bradd Szonye Apr 9 '14 at 22:00
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    @BraddSzonye I was mistaken. I thought the close votes were removed, but they're just set to age away. But, yeah, there is no way to get to a particular question in the close queue. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 10 '14 at 7:57

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