# The “Reopen request” thread and closures on meta

There is a thread that is used for reopen requests Requests for Reopen & Undeletion Votes, etc.

Some users do not use this thread for their questions on closed or deleted questions. A main reason could be ignorance about the existing thread; the question is not even tagged nor is there any clear documentation that I know of that points to it. However, other reasons can be that they feel that the point of that question does not really capture their concern or intent. Not each request about a closed or deleted question is a direct request for reopening.

However, some others users seem to be of the opinion that almost every meta question about a specific closed or deleted questions must be posted there and enforce this via votes to close (often cast with no explanation). This concerns even questions that are not direct requests for reopening or undeletion. For two recent examples see There's a closed question I'd like to discuss, but I am not sure how to form a proper question out of it. Would it be appropriate for discussion here? and Why was this question deleted by Community, after being closed but with score not below $0$?

What is the etiquette related to this? Under which circumstances is it alright to try to force a user to use this thread via voting to close their meta-question? Where would this be documented?

• You wrote: Some users seem to be of the opinion that almost every meta question about reopening or deletion and so on of a specific question should be posted there. In fact, this comments suggests that also users with the opposite opinion exist: The thread should be used only for cases which are clear-cut and should not be advertised too much. – Martin Sleziak Nov 8 '14 at 13:12
• Thanks. Yes, they exist. I am one of them; I only did not include my opinion in the question. But, thanks, for the link to a moderators comment calling for restraint in promoting that thread.. – quid Nov 8 '14 at 13:17
• I'll simply copy the relevant part of that comment so that it is not misinterpreted: Ideally that thread should be reserved for more clear-cut cases, and advertising this thread will likely result in a lot of re-open requests for poor questions which haven't been improved. Also I would point out that even if this comment was posted by a mod, that does not automatically mean that it should be considered "official policy". – Martin Sleziak Nov 8 '14 at 13:22
• Do you feel I misinterpreted the comment? // Yes, it is not "offical policy" but I think it still suggests that "all questions related to reopening must be posted there" is not official policy either. – quid Nov 8 '14 at 13:24
• I wanted to avoid possibility that I somehow change the meaning of what Arthur said there. (English is not my first language.) That's the only reason why I added the second comment. – Martin Sleziak Nov 8 '14 at 13:29
• I would reiterate what I think I said way back when: this isn't a threaded discussion board and trying to "group" things that should be separate questions as answers on a single question is a terrible idea and leads to having a completely unusable "question" with nearly 200 answers. – Isaac Nov 10 '14 at 23:44
• @Isaac what is the problem with many answers to that question? – Tobias Kildetoft Nov 11 '14 at 8:01
• @Isaac I agree to some extent; and mentioned on that thread that perhaps at least a new one could be created from time to time. But my post was not about the thread itself but rather about the etiquette related to forcing/encouraging people to use it. It seems you would (also) be against forcing people to use it. – quid Nov 11 '14 at 9:20
• @TobiasKildetoft one problem is that one has to scroll way way down to add another answer. another (though it is not clear how much of a problem it is) is that the thread is auto-protected for too many (deleted) answers. – quid Nov 11 '14 at 9:21

In brief: The thread in question fills a certain small niche, as a supplement to the reopen review, and it does that well.

Over stretching that thread to contain almost all questions that seem like or can be seens as a request for reopening or undeletion will on the one hand make it less adapted to fill that niche, and on the other hand might alienate some users for very quite little in return.

What is that niche?

The thread is a supplement to the built-in reviews and allows to draw attention to questions that might fall through the cracks, regardless the built-in tools. It is, in my mind, mainly a tool for frequent users of the site. Looking at the last couple contributions, and from memory, it is mainly used by experienced users for questions that are not their own to post "clear-cut" requests for reopening (or perhaps also un-deletion).

What is a "clear-cut" request?

First, it should be clear that the post really asks for reopening (or undeletion or both); and by clear I mean it should be stated explicitly. Second, there should be a specific reason for the request compatible with the sites standards (for example, closed as unclear but got clarified, or closed as dupe but somewhat different on closer inspection). Yet "Why did this question get closed/deleted?" is not "clear cut" on both counts, and definitely not on the second.

Why should other requests not go into that thread?

This thread is not the local dump for "Please reopen my question" pleas but by contrast a tool for communication mainly from frequent users for frequent users. To clutter it with all kinds of non-viable requests and discussions is not a good idea (as is even alluded to in that thread).

Why it is not a good idea to force/close requests into that thread?

One reason is already given above. Another is from the side of the OP. When one must ask for the reopening of one's question one is likely not in the best of all moods. If then one is faced by some process that smacks of bureaucracy it might not go over that well.

Even if no request was posted in that thread it would not increase the volume on meta that much. There are at the time of writing 4360 questions on meta and 196 (non-deleted) answers to that thread. So, if we would not have it and each of the answers as a question, we would have 4555 instead of 4360 , or less than a 5% increase. (I do not know how many answers are deleted, but I do not think that many that it changes substantially the conclusion. Also, fairness dictates to acknowledge the thread does not exists since "forever" but again since long enough that it does not change that much.)

Summary:

I think the thread should be used by frequent users that post clear-cut reopen and related requests with some frequency, and it can be used by however wants.

By contrast, we should not force casual users that did not use it out of ignorance or some other consideration into using it. (One might point out the existence of the thread for the future, but that's it.)

I feel insisting on the usage of that thread is one more thing that can trip-up a user for quite little return; it makes meta just a little more unwelcoming for good-faith requests. In addition, to harming the quality of that thread.

• I agree the thread could be useful for clear-cut requests, like a question closed as a duplicate that is actually not a duplicate in some important respect. But other requests are for questions where the reason for closure is clear (e.g. the two most recent requests), and which in any case cannot be described as "clear cut" requests for re-opening. – Carl Mummert Nov 10 '14 at 18:31
• It says 207 answers for me, so $207 - 196 = 11$ deleted answers. Not many. – Daniel Fischer Nov 10 '14 at 18:33
• @Carl I believe the penultimate request is from me, and matches exactly the dupe-case. (The one at the top by active is older.) Also, I do not claim the thread is perfect. But, the frequency of reasonable requests seems pretty high; note a reasonable or clear-cut request is not one with which I necessarily agree, but one where it is clear what is meant and there is some reasonable argument made. – quid Nov 10 '14 at 18:42
• I forgot the ordering varies from one user to another. The third one on my list (i.e. the ordering I see) is yours, @quid, and I agree it's clear cut. The first two on my list are PSQs. – Carl Mummert Nov 10 '14 at 18:46
• Another thing should be mentioned is a question whose first edit post-closure was insufficient, but got a substantial edit later on, since in that case the question will not be added to the reopen queue automatically. Of course, this should be used with caution. – Asaf Karagila Nov 11 '14 at 15:23
• I'm a bit annoyed at the "clutter" argument. Celebration threads, for example, generate much less clutter, but that argument wasn't received at all during the discussion. 5% may not seem high, but that means that one in twenty questions would be about reopening. Even more, considering that many users don't use the thread. Considering the nature of these threads, they will also be bumped often to the top -- some people become aggressive at what they perceive as a personal attack. – Najib Idrissi Nov 12 '14 at 8:46
• @Asaf (and everyone else): It will be bumped to the top, though, which means people will see it. And presumably the person posting the request will have the privilege to cast reopen votes (especially if, as suggested, it is to be used only by veterans): questions with active reopen votes get into the review queue. – Najib Idrissi Nov 12 '14 at 8:48
• @NajibIdrissi I do not understand the bump argument. The situation now is (and I think always was) that controversial cases, cases likely to generate a lot of discussion, should not be in the common thread, or at least the discussion should be in a separate question. So, those that might create a lot of discussion should be outside anyway. // For the celebration: I agree that the clutter argument related to celebration threads misses the point. – quid Nov 12 '14 at 9:18
• But, I also remember that I argued for a celebration thread to stay open that you closed. So, perhaps you should not complain to me about anti-celebration-thread actvities ;-) For the bump on main suffices: I do not browse by "active" most of the time but by "newest"; I would never notice the edit. (And even browsing by active it is too easy to overlook or just skip some 'on hold' question. And as W.W. explained this was the reason to have the thread in the first place.) @NajibIdrissi – quid Nov 12 '14 at 9:20
• @quid If I remember correctly the celebration thread that we are talking about was something that, I thought, didn't warrant celebration, but that's a bit off-topic right now. Otherwise, you make good points. My personal impression, after all this, is that perhaps we should do away with the main meta thread altogether. As I mentioned, someone has to post to the main thread anyway; that person very probably has reopen privileges (especially if it's only to be used by seasoned users as some argue); a question with active reopen votes goes into the review queue. – Najib Idrissi Nov 12 '14 at 9:30
• @NajibIdrissi yes, this is correct (re the celebration thread). As alluded to in a comment on you answer, I could, too, get around to the idea that meanwhile the niche of the thread is quite small and it might not be necessary anymore. – quid Nov 12 '14 at 9:45

This raises the question (sorry, but this is too long for a comment):

What is the purpose of the meta thread for reopen requests?

Supposedly it is only to be used for "clear-cut cases". One possible criterion for that is "most reasonable people would vote to reopen it".

But then, isn't that precisely what the reopen review queue is for? Any question with active reopen votes gets pushed to that queue. If it is completely obvious that the question should be reopened, then it will be reopened through the review process. It's even possible to add a comment for reviewers to questions, as those appear during the review process. And it is, as far as I know, official policy to mention in the main thread that a meta discussion has been opened -- so a comment would appear no matter what.

So the only reason to post in that meta thread is when you believe you need to argue your point and it could generate some discussion. I can quote my own comment from that other meta thread:

My opinion is that the asker should first post on the main thread, and then if there is a need for a lot of further discussion, a new thread should be opened. Requests for reopening will almost always generate at least small amounts of discussion, it's what the comment section is for.

So in conclusion, I think it makes sense to force users to use the main thread. It was created to clean up the front page of meta. Closing is, I think, the best course of action for a question that should never have been asked in the first place (and instead been made into an "answer" to the main thread).

As for the two cases you linked, that's more debatable, but:

• The first one basically wanted to continue the discussion from the main thread on meta. "In particular: does the author make valid points?", "a question I'd like to discuss". To me, it sounds a lot like the asker wanted to have the question reopened.

• The second one is anyway a duplicate of the many meta questions about automatic deletion, and a google search would have given the answer. My opinion (yes, again) is that this was a roundabout way to get the question to be undeleted (which he did get, but then it was deleted again by Community). Considering that, closing as a duplicate of the main thread makes sense. Edit: Actually, I just noticed that the reference to the "Community" user deleting a question and the score requirement were added afterwards by someone else. This changes a bit the context of the question, because someone knowing that it's the user "Community" that deletes the question, and talks about score requirements, would probably know the underlying process... So I'm not so sure about that case. But the general point stands.

• Thanks. There are quite a number of things with which I disagree. Originally I thought I would point them out one by one. This would however be somewhat confrontational for not much progress. So, instead I decided to post my views on the matter as another answer. Again, thank you for taking the time to develop your point of view. – quid Nov 10 '14 at 18:21
• @Najib I quote: "But then, isn't that precisely what the reopen review queue is for?" Yes. It is. Note that the Req. for Votes thread predate review queues by at least a year. We essentially invented the queue! I am personally of the opinion that that post has outlived its purpose. But sometimes old habits are hard to break. – Willie Wong Nov 11 '14 at 9:48
• @WillieWong "But sometimes old habits are hard to break." A moderator-lock is not made of plastic either. :-) [See my earlier deleted comment for a related thought. But likely it would cause much noise.] – quid Nov 11 '14 at 11:47