The question What do you describe the act of visiting a sick person in a single word in the English language was closed because it lacks sufficient detail, but after it was closed, @cobaltduck posted a comment link to Is there a single word for “visiting someone who is sick”.

As one of the closevoters, I have to admit I was partly motivated by the fact that there is no single "standard" English word other than visit (which is probably why Indian English sometimes uses condolence as a noun form in this context). If I'd thought there might be such a word, I'd have just left it open to see if anyone else could bring it to mind.

But we are where we are, and it seems to me that beyond question the later question should have been closed as a duplicate, not for being "Off Topic". It's beside the point that as it happens, there is no such word (since the fact that there isn't is in fact the "correct" answer).

So my question is: Should we arrange for the closevote reason to be changed? And if so, How? It seems a bit roundabout for five of us to vote to reopen, then re-vote to close for a different reason. Is this a fairly "open-and-shut" case where we should just ask a mod to do it? (Assuming they can).

  • I'll note that I recall it was a duplicate because the same question was asked again maybe two months ago, and closed as a dupe. It looks like that one may have been self-deleted by its asker, since it doesn't show up in searches for me.
    – cobaltduck
    Mar 24, 2016 at 19:34
  • 5
    My vote goes to: no big deal. There are plenty of questions on this site which should have been closed as dupes, but were not. There are plenty of questions on this site which were closed, but for the "wrong" reasons. The site will never be perfect. Don't sweat it.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 24, 2016 at 20:11
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    From a page visitor's perspective, the most useful thing about the "Duplicate" designation is that it shows where to go to see answers to essentially the same question (if such answers exist). But here cobaltduck's comment performs the same service, it seems to me, making the incorrect designated close reason more of a theoretical concern than a practical one. So I reach the same conclusion as Dan Bron—even though all my training as an editor makes me itch when I see uncorrected errors.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:12
  • @Dan, Sven: I'm not exactly worked up about this issue. Truth to tell, I'm more irked by the fact that someone chose to downvote my meta question here, given that all I've asked is whether we should try to revise obviously incorrect closevote reasons. It's not like I'm advocating that we should, so I can only assume the downvoter doesn't approve of the question even being asked. Mar 25, 2016 at 13:16
  • @FumbleFingers I didn't downvote you, but if it bothers you that much, now I've upvoted you to cancel it out. But the best advice I can give you is: honestly, stop fretting about downvotes. They're inevitable. Until there are enough to gather together and call "consensus" (at which time one should reflect on what message is being sent), they're just noise.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 25, 2016 at 13:19
  • Remember that on Meta, a downvote indicates that someone disagrees with the post. Presumably on this question it means "no, we shouldn't change the closevote reason".
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Mar 25, 2016 at 14:37
  • @Kit Z. Fox: I usually try to avoid asking questions on Meta in such a way that it's not obvious whether people are up/downvoting them because they agree/disagree with some suggested course of action, or simply expressing an opinion as to whether the issue should or shouldn't be discussed at all. Perhaps the downvoter did indeed just mean No, we shouldn't change the closevote reason, but I can't help assuming an implied ...and to even ask about this on Meta is a complete waste of everyone's time. Mar 25, 2016 at 15:14
  • It's a legitimate question, in my opinion; and if there were a simple, one-step way to make changes of this sort, I would gladly make them myself. But I imagine that simple isn't in it—so we're left to take solace in the equivalent usefulness that in-comment citations to duplicate questions provide.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 25, 2016 at 15:50
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    @Sven Yargs: I wouldn't have felt moved to post this question at all if it hadn't been such a clear-cut duplicate (no "wiggle room" whatsoever on that score, imho - though obviously KitFox has managed to come up with a perfectly good reason for not linking them as dups! :). But I was also partly influenced by the fact that cobaltduck's linking comment didn't actually include the title text of the original, making it not quite as obvious as it could have been. Mar 25, 2016 at 15:59
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    OMG!! Something was closed with the wrong reason specified?? Stop the presses!! Get Paul Ryan to call a special session of Congress!! We've got to fix this!! (Seriously, this is a closed question. Perhaps someone wants to edit it to include the dupe, in case the comments are stripped some time in the future, but otherwise it's waste of time and resources to even worry about it.)
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 25, 2016 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


Flag a moderator to ask for the question to be so handled. It's one of those 'exception-handling' things for which the position of moderator was intended.

If it isn't already something they can do directly, they are able to reopen the question and immediately close it as a duplicate. Whether they agree to do so is, of course, up to the mods.

  • Your final sentence is crucial, obviously. The specific example I highlighted is relatively unusual, in that (for me, at least) it's impossible to see how anyone could argue that they're not duplicates. I would expect that even if in principle the mods were willing to act on such flags, in practice they probably wouldn't unless the fact of it being a duplicate was irrefutable. Still, I'd like to see at least a comment (if not an answer) from a mod confirming that they accept at least the principle here. Mar 25, 2016 at 13:24

Lawrence has suggested the appropriate course of action - moderators can unilaterally reopen and then close as duplicate immediately. This process is facilitated if you include a link to the duplicate in your flag. Raising the question on Meta is also helpful, so the moderators can get a feel for whether the community supports the duplicate determination (although I think this one is pretty clearly a duplicate).

However, in this specific case, I don't feel that the suggested duplicate meets our standard for a single word request, so I'm on the fence about whether it makes sense to close the more recent as a duplicate when the original really ought to be closed (not that you can't have a duplicate of a closed question).

  • Ah. I wasn't expecting that. I'm really glad you've posted an answer confirming that you're happy with @Lawrence's answer, but it never really occurred to me you might not agree wholeheartedly that the specific example I linked to is in fact an "open-and-shut" case. Not that I want to get bogged down in trying to convince you otherwise, but why exactly are Is there a single word for “visiting someone who is sick”? and what would we call the act of visiting a sick person? not the same question, in your opinion? Is it just that the first one isn't very well posed? Mar 25, 2016 at 14:59
  • @FumbleFingers I think they are duplicates, just that neither one meets the quality standard for single word request.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Mar 25, 2016 at 15:13
  • Okay, I can see that. Thanks for the clarification. Mar 25, 2016 at 15:16

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