I see an almost duplicate here, but the emphasis seems to be on retracting. There is a vote to close option, but (in the interests of democracy ;)) is there an option for vote against close? Should there be one? Has there been any development on this? If so, what is the expected timescale?

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ You can vote to leave open in the close queue. Either way this has nothing whatsoever to do with democracy. Not even with the attached smiley does this word make any sense there. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @quid, since democracy is by definition, the representation of the view of the masses, I dissagree entirely with your quip, especially with your sarcastic tone with the derogatory use of the smiley. $\endgroup$
    – martin
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:12
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, please note that I have no objection to your opinion. As an authority figure (in my view) you have always been fair and understanding. It is only with this issue that I disagree with you on. $\endgroup$
    – martin
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:19
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I did not intend to be sarcastic. I only thought that you did not mean the use of "democracy" quite seriously there due to you using a smiley, yet even in a playful the word is misused there in my opinion. And since this is a wide-spread misuse I am rather direct regarding this matter. Let me ask you a question: When you flag a post as spam do you consider yourself as participating in a democratic vote on whether the post is spam? I for one don't. And in principle the situation for closure is almost the same. (It is more complex in the details, but still it is just not a democratic vote.) $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @quid absolutely (and I have only marked spam on MO), so again we disagree (but only on this issue AFAIK). Looking back to the Athenian ideal of democracy (and the birth of such), surely, it was the most adept at rhetorical arguments who were the benefactors of such a system, and so it remains to this day, but the game of poilitics is something I regard with a certain distain (though I am surely outvoted (ironically!). $\endgroup$
    – martin
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There may be no such thing as vote against close, but there is such a thing as vote for reopen, and people have used it, sucessfully. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson but that is only once it has been closed, as far as I understand. $\endgroup$
    – martin
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 2:43
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Yes, that is only once it is closed. And, once it is closed, there is only a "vote to reopen" option, and no "vote against reopen" option. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 4:46

1 Answer 1


An existing way to express ones disagreement with and to somewhat counter an imminent closure is to click "leave open" in the close queue. If there are enough "leave open" (three, if I recall correctly) then the post leaves the queue and eventually votes will age away.

In earlier days on MathOverflow there was an improvised system of voting against closure that was implemented by comments. A user U could comment: "I vote against closure." and then the etiquette was that a user wishing to vote to close would not actually vote to close but rather comment "I cancel U's vote against closure."

This was in place for a while but was quite clunky and lead to conflicts including: users overlooking them in good faith, users (inadvertently) double voting, users just not knowing the quasi-binding character of these comments, etc.

Now, this could be implemented in software mitigating most of the described problems, except for one: either there will be more fluctuation or timing becomes more important.

Leaving things roughly as they are what typically gets proposed is: when there are five more votes to close than against then the closure takes effect. The first question then is when should it be reopened. If it is reopened as soon as the difference becomes again less than five, then single votes can change the status repeatedly, making this a mess. If however it is reopened only when the votes are balanced, then timing can be key; in a scenario of six users voting for closure and two against, the final status will depend on who voted more quickly.

Personally, I find both rather unsatisfactory. But, perhaps there are better ideas, yet I never heard one so far.

Beyond that I feel it would also send the wrong message about the entire process and encourage more tentative or opportunistic voting. Finally, leaving aside whether this has something to do with democracy or not, the process "as is" has a bias against "close" in that the question is open as long as there are not five voters to close and then if the same number of reopeners vote it is open again. Now I'd say of course it should be like this, but I still wanted to point it out to make clear that a shift there would strengthen the existing bias, and not lead to a more balanced situation. One may still be in favor of doing this, but please to not imply it is somehow necessary to establish balance, fairness, or even democracy.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .