Where a user has answered a question, I propose that either

that user cannot vote to close the question


the user's close vote ability is suspended on that question for one week

Conversely, a user who answers a question should be banned or delayed from casting a close vote on that question. Any earlier close vote on that question from that user should be automatically cancelled when they post the answer.

Ability to comment, request closing of the question in meta threads, and to do anything except add a close vote would not be affected. Logically the same request applies to delete votes, but if there are subtle problems with applying it to both I am primarily talking about close votes.

There are several reasons one might want this enforced as a feature [see first revision, or some of the comments here], but I am also posting this question to invite discussion of what "social norms" might exist about the use of the close and delete votes in parallel with answers.

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    $\begingroup$ In theory I think this proposal makes sense. However, you have expressed it in a slightly confrontational manner, which I think is unnecessary. Yes, I think people should not be allowed to both answer a question and vote to close it (although any SE update surrounding this should be carefully implemented and will probably never happen), but I don't think that political wrangling on meta should be brought into the equation. $\endgroup$ – user1729 Aug 17 '13 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ It just sounds petty and parochial. You have to remember that you are proposing a Stack-Exchange wide** change in the software, but that the reasoning your proposal is based on is related to disagreements on a meta - it isn't even the main site! (If people voting to close whilst answering a question is actually a problem -and I have no idea if it is- gather examples from the main site.) $\endgroup$ – user1729 Aug 17 '13 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ I would like to see examples or other indications that we would solve a problem with this restriction. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 17 '13 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx Ah, I see where you're coming from; that's entirely reasonable, I suppose. If the volume can be described as "incidentally" or "occasionally", I'd say that a simpler approach would be to ask justification from the people in question in a comment; since they've racked up enough reputation to cast close votes, it seems natural that they would be willing to explain themselves. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 17 '13 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ ...and now we are getting political...(and so I have voted to close.) $\endgroup$ – user1729 Aug 17 '13 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729: Just don't post an answer! :-P $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 17 '13 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ I am still not completely sure what I think of the general idea of the proposal, but it seems clear to me that voting to close as duplicate would need to be excluded from such it. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Aug 17 '13 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ I think an addendum should be added to this: the answerer can opt to delete their answer and re-gain the privilege to vote to close. An exceptional case that comes to mind is if, after someone gives an answer, the asker edits the question in a way that makes it worthy of closing. Another one is that the answerer didn't realize that the question was a duplicate. Allowing the answerer to delete the answer to re-gain their close vote privileges would handle both cases nicely. $\endgroup$ – Ataraxia Aug 17 '13 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft To be clear: I do not think that the question should be closed because it is a duplicate, but because the discussion was becoming overly political (and so "off topic"). If zyx was to re-write the question without mentioning his gripe with people on meta then I would rescind my vote to close. $\endgroup$ – user1729 Aug 17 '13 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ I've deleted a few comments. If y'all don't quit mudslinging, there's gonna be suspensions. Cool off. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Aug 17 '13 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ I second Tobias' concern. It has happened to me a couple of times (I'm sad to say) that I have answered a question, and then my attention is drawn to the fact that the question is a dup. At that point it is the civic duty to vote to close, but I do have mixed feelings about it. Particularly if there were no other answers. Ideally I should be able to tell, whether my answer is sufficiently different from those given to the original. I have deleted my answer occasionally. Only to see that somebody else then posts yet another identical answer - before we find 5 concerned citizens to close it. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 17 '13 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ I have deleted several more comments. I would like to reiterate Alexander Gruber's warning to keep things civil. $\endgroup$ – Alex Becker Aug 17 '13 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Should we also forbid people who vote to close a question, to vote for its deletion (because that robs the ability of having the question reopened)? What about downvoting it (because that may cause an eventual deletion by the software)? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 18 '13 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: I disagree with you about the idea that people who are involved in a discussion shouldn't proceed to close it. In some cases the question, or the topic, can seem perfectly reasonable. However as the discussion in the comments progresses (and I'm talking about meta here, of course, although sometimes on main), it becomes more and more apparent that the OP has an underlying agenda which may or may not be borderline dishonest. It can be even worse when that discussion is actually spread over several threads. People who don't follow everything in order, lack the context for closure. [cont.] $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 18 '13 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ These things happened before, with more than one user too. And they will happen again. If you want that the people who vote to close or delete will not be actively involved in the discussion, how can you be sure that they will have the proper context for closing it? (This, if you notice, is a similar problem to flag handling on the chat system. There almost always the people who handle the flag are people not involved in the conversation, and look where it got us.) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 18 '13 at 16:27

I think it should be community norm that one can either answer or vote to close but not both.

The reason for this is quite simply that it feels inappropriate to me to use for oneself an opition (answering the question) and at the same time to do something the main or essentially sole purpose is to take this opition away for everybody (else).

To implement this into the software might have some issues to it, since as others have pointed out there can be exceptions, but as a general principle the above should be the community-norm, in my opinion. (On main and on meta.)

I think this is also something that can reasonably be implemented just by agreement (opposed to things for down-votes, say) since at least when/if the close-vote takes effect everybody can see who voted and thus the violation of the agreement would become visible to everybody.

If in some specific case somebody feels the need to deviate from this general principle, it would feel appropriate to me they provide in each such case at least a somewhat detailed justifcation for doing this.

Since other SE communities got mentioned, I will mention thta on MO (main, the meta in this form is so recent there was not much discussion yet) it is rather community-norm not to answer and to close. Also, the links suggest it is rather considered like so on SO.


Proposals to this effect actually predate math.SE, they was first brought up four years ago on meta.SO: Closing Etiquette: Why Do Some Answer *and* Close? (current score +55). This Linked column of that thread contains several later threads on the same topic. Nothing ever came out of it. From scanning the threads, it seems that the majority expectation is that closed questions will be eventually deleted, taking the answer with them.

Perhaps this is indeed a better solution: delete closed questions on meta (other than duplicates). I don't think that meta would lose anything valuable this way.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually deleting closed questions on meta can be problematic. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 17 '13 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. Relying on deletion has a problem when the additional close vote from the answerer can be the decisive one. The magic number of 5 close votes or 3 delete votes might not be reached at all, or not until a much later time (during which more answers could be posted) without that person's vote. Potentially, someone wanting to shut down a question can post a repudiating answer, vote to close, and vote to delete after it is closed. If one or both of the votes are decisive, that seems to me like an abuse of the system, and if the votes are not decisive, there is no problem forbidding them. $\endgroup$ – zyx Aug 17 '13 at 17:05

I don't think this is a good feature request. I will address this in the context of the meta site first, and then in the context of the main site. (Mostly because I deem this request meta-related more than it is main-related.)


  1. Context. It can happen, and it has, that a user posts several threads which are linked by an invisible chain. However the discussions in the comments will often reveal this chain, to those users who actually read those discussions, which on meta can span over 60 or more comments. Sometimes each question can be seen as a reasonable question on its own in a cursory glance, and without thorough reading of the comments.

    I believe that people who are not following this context can be misled by these facts. They may vote to reopen immediately after reading the thread, without reading its comment thread (which may, or may not include links to previous questions). They may also be oblivious to a particular history that a particular user has in their method of raising topics, or logging complaints on meta.

    All this becomes very dangerous, because it can (and does, sometimes) end up with threads which shouldn't be posted in the first place, being kept open.

  2. Relevance. In the previous, and most relevant scenario described above, it is possible that each question has a relevant question. These questions, as I remarked, can be reasonable on their own (if presented carefully), and each may merit an answer. I don't see the harm in someone who is fully aware of the context of the question posting an answer as well as a vote to close.

    In some of the cases, indeed the answer can be sometimes the explanation for the closure of the question (as well other questions within the same chain-posting).

  3. Alternatives. In the comments to this proposal there has been several suggestions on how to handle such cases.

    1. The first was to post an answer explaining why a question should be closed. Directly. This makes no sense. If someone posts a question about A and receives an answer as to why their question should be closed, then the whole concept of Q&A system for the meta site is fundamentally flawed (which it very well may be!), and I know that I wouldn't have accepted such situation. Moreover, as a rebuttal another answer as to why the thread should be kept open (or reopened) may be posted.

      All this just contributes to cluttering the topic and derailing it further away from its purpose. In the end you have a question with answers which are not even relevant to its topic. That goes directly to undermine the philosophy of a Q&A system. And I strongly object to that.

    2. The other suggestion was to post comments requesting others to close the thread (at least in the case of a chain-post; where the solution is to answer one post and link it in the comments to the others). I find that to be demeaning and offensive. I can't see myself posting something like "This should be closed/deleted", even as a comment (not to mention as an answer like in the previous part), unless I feel that the post is extremely bad (in a case of a reopened thread, or undeleted thread, it's slightly different). And I will answer-close-delete much sooner than that.

      I don't know if I'm the only one who feels this way, but I have a very strong feeling about it. I find the idea of such comment to be insulting both to the OP and to the commenter. On the other hand, when someone starts reading a thread and they see that there are standing closing votes, they will read it slightly more critically, and consider whether or not to vote as well.


  1. Duplicates. It can happen, and it does happen that one posts an answer before knowing it is a duplicate (in fact, it happened to me just this evening). In that case, I don't see the harm of the user voting to close. I don't feel that the user should delete their answer in that case (not to mention that the whole delete-to-regain-closing-vote is flawed and open to exploitation). I also recall once that I voted to close a question as a duplicate (I was the first voter, too), but then I decided that there is more to say on the topic. I posted an answer which I think was quite good. Certainly this cannot be an isolated situation, and I am sure that others has been in that place before.

  2. Bad questions. It might also be the case that a user has post a relatively vague question, which when read can be understood as a particular question. Upon posting an answer, a long and tedious conversation begins in the comments with the OP, upon whoever is following it (and often it might be just the OP and the answerer) it becomes apparent that the question should be closed (because it's a crank, or otherwise). In that case, who is a better candidate to post the first closure vote than the answerer themselves?

There are probably other reasons to answer-close-delete a post, but I feel that those five a sufficient to poke some holes in the reasoning of this feature request.

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    $\begingroup$ Re: "They may also be oblivious to a particular history that a particular user has ... " Aren't we supposed to vote on posts, and not on users? I think this includes closevotes. $\endgroup$ – user90090 Aug 18 '13 at 23:47
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    $\begingroup$ @user90090: Yes, we are. But on the meta, it might be the case (and it's not an hypothetical) that a certain user opens several threads, and some are for the sole intention of getting his previous actions "approved" by the community (even if they wouldn't be, directly). I don't see how it is possible to separate "user" from "thread" in that context. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 18 '13 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ "I also recall once that I voted to close a question as a duplicate (I was the first voter, too), but then I decided that there is more to say on the topic. I posted an answer which I think was quite good." At least this has an easy solution, as we can now retract close votes. $\endgroup$ – Andrés E. Caicedo Aug 18 '13 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Andres: It was still a duplicate. I just had more to write on the topic, and I didn't want to bump the old thread. :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 19 '13 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Ah, sure. $\endgroup$ – Andrés E. Caicedo Aug 19 '13 at 0:03
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    $\begingroup$ "All this becomes very dangerous"?! Good to know you are around to protect us. ;-) $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 19 '13 at 4:04
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    $\begingroup$ Now more seriosly: re Me.1 either it is relatively evident or it is not so bad. If you get in early you get one of the first comments and if a couple of people agree it will stay visible all along. If you do not get in early, it is sort of too late anyway. To shut it down half-way can cause more issues than it solves. Anyway, I fail the see the relvance of answering and closing. If somebody does not read the comment they might not read the answers either. re Me.2 once again I do not buy there are so few competent people around here that it is necessary for the same person to do both. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 19 '13 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ re Me 3.1: I never promoted this much but to give as a main argument against it the deviation from a Q&A style on meta is not very convincing. re Me 3.2: Do you find it problematic in general to leave comments explaining a vote to close one cast? I always thought this was good form. And, now, this does not directly ask for others to vote, but then indirectly ir does (of course). Also, you do not seem to have a very general problem with asking for votes in view of the fact your create a thread just to this end (true for reopen but still it is for asking for votes). $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 19 '13 at 4:20
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    $\begingroup$ re Ma 1: From a general point of view it seems rather bad for the longterm development to have your answer in the new and not the existing question. (There might have been special circumstances but as a rule of thumb I'd say in these dup scenarios it seems better to add whatever answer to the pre-existing q.) re Ma 2: Somebody who did not get annoyed in the process. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 19 '13 at 4:24

I downvoted the Question because I don't think it fully addresses scenarios where a User might both Answer and vote to close a Question. This is in keeping with the sense of downvoting on Meta to indicate disagreement, rather than as a complaint about the Question's quality/scope/topic.

I assume the proposal concerns Questions on the Main site (Math.SE), so I won't try to apply the notion to Meta (other than to deny being one of the votes to close on this Question).

One scenario that I think is fully within the Community norms is where a User first votes to close a Question, either as poor quality or duplicate, but then the Question becomes clarified in Comments or edited (by OP or others) to make it acceptable. The User then sees that they can provide a good Answer and do so.

I may have done that once myself but not recently enough for me to have a clear recollection. However I do recall this recent Answer I posted on a Question that I voted to close as Duplicate. First I'd want you to note that I made that Answer Community Wiki to avoid an appearance of gaming the reputation system. Second I'd want you to consider that few members were in as much of a position as I to spot the duplication, adding weight to ones responsibility to do something about it. Third I am working on folding the new information posted there back into a revised Answer on the original Question, unravelling the existing literature references.

My preference would be not to automate a mutual exclusion of answering and voting to close, because of the complexity of accounting for cases like the above. I'd trust in the Community's feedback and moderation processes to handle Users who abuse those opportunities for reputation gain.

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    $\begingroup$ In the scenario 'question is clarified', it seems obvious to me that then one would also want to take back ones vote to close whether this is enforced or not. If the suggestion in OP were implemented this would happen automatically and save the manual effort. So, in this scenario it seems an improvement. Except you should be of the opinion that one might want to maintain ones vote to close in this scenario. If this should be the case I would be interested in an explication for the reason. But as said I agree that to implement this could be tricky due to exceptions. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 18 '13 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ You can take close votes back now. $\endgroup$ – user1729 Aug 18 '13 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729 yes exactly. But also in OP it is even said explictly "Any earlier close vote on that question from that user should be automatically cancelled when they post the answer." Making very clear that the intent is not an absolute exclusion from answering once one voted to close, but this is only about having both at the same time. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 18 '13 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I was reading hardmath's answer and assuming that they didn't know you could take close votes back. If the question was edited and you have deemed that it is now OK then why wouldn't you take back your vote? $\endgroup$ – user1729 Aug 18 '13 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729 I agree, as said in my first comment. The reason for my second comment was mainly to point out that even if one was not aware one can take back votes, just careful reading of OP would make clear that precisly this scenario is taken into account by OP. But perhaps I should not have written this as reply to you, but just as a general comment. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 18 '13 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ Ability to answer a question would be exactly the same under this proposal. Voting to close would not block an answer, it would be cancelled by an answer. So an answer would stop a close vote, but a vote would not stop an answer. $\endgroup$ – zyx Aug 18 '13 at 15:45

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