I've recently gotten the privilege to close-vote and I'm uncertain about one aspect of it. It'll be easier if I describe it through an example:

Say I'm reviewing close votes and I come across a question that should clearly be closed. There are (3) votes to close because the question, for instance, is off-topic because of missing context. I, however, think that the reason it should be closed is because the question is unclear.

Should I stick to my judgement, or should I prioritize getting a bad question of the site as quickly as possible?


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    $\begingroup$ I think that what matters is the total of close vote (regardless of the closing reason). This means that if the question gets 5 close votes (with possibly different reasons), then it will be closed. The reason that is shown, is the reason that got the most votes. $\endgroup$ – Surb Mar 3 '16 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ The question will be closed once it reaches five votes to close for any combination of reasons. It could even be five different reasons. So it doesn't really matter. Having a question closed for the wrong reason is sometimes annoying because the OP will complain (probably hoping to get an answer during the time between the reopening and the reclosing), but otherwise I don't see that it makes much difference. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 3 '16 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi In a situation where there are 5 different closing reasons, do you know which one appears on the post? The first one? $\endgroup$ – Surb Mar 3 '16 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Surb I guess the one that first reaches 5 votes is the only one displayed? $\endgroup$ – Bobson Dugnutt Mar 3 '16 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Surb the "Default Off-Topic close reason" which for this site is for all I know identical to the first listed OT reasons, that is, not about math within the scope defined etc. (But one could have a different text.) $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 3 '16 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Surb It's the last reason. So if for example the votes are opinion / off-topic / too broad / opinion / off-topic, then there's a tie between opinion and off-topic, but since the last one of the two that was cast is off-topic, off-topic is used. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 3 '16 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Lovsovs I think you misunderstood, actually as soon as there are 5 votes for all the reasons combined, then the question is closed. For example a question with 3 votes for off-topic and 2 votes for unclear will be closed. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 3 '16 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi Huh, well that pretty much answers my question. If you'd like to make an answer of it, I'd be happy to accept. $\endgroup$ – Bobson Dugnutt Mar 3 '16 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I'm not sure to fully understand your comment. However, Najib answered my question in his second comment. $\endgroup$ – Surb Mar 3 '16 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Surb I understand why you wouldn't, since it was based on the misunderstanding that was the whole reason for me asking the question in the first place! :) $\endgroup$ – Bobson Dugnutt Mar 3 '16 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, it's very important. It looks silly when a question that is very obviously about mathematics and not something else gets closed for being "off-topic." I would wager that the majority of incorrect close reasons is when questions that should have been closed for a different reason are closed for being "off-topic." $\endgroup$ – Robert Soupe Mar 5 '16 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertSoupe Not this again... The only possibility for custom close reasons is under "off-topic", there's nowhere else for the "missing context" reason to go. And the text clearly says "not about math within the scope defined in the help center." I'm so tired of having this argument. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 5 '16 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi That's why I had that sense of deja vu as I typed that. I think Lovsovs's question has been asked before. $\endgroup$ – Robert Soupe Mar 5 '16 at 16:16

tl;dr: Vote to close with the reason that you think applies the best. If you're optimistic, you can also comment to explain your vote and explain the best way how to improve the question in your opinion.

The question will actually get closed as quickly no matter what reason you choose. Indeed, a question gets closed as soon as it gathers five votes to close, all the reasons combined; the reason with the majority of votes will be displayed, so for example a question with 2 votes to close as off-topic and 3 votes to close as too broad will get immediately closed, and the reason displayed will be "too broad". (See here for more info.)

It doesn't matter if other people think another reason applies. Often a question that deserves to be closed is flawed in several ways, but there's often no real argument as to whether the question should stay open. The end state is the same no matter the reasons chosen: the question is closed (well, "put on hold" first), cannot receive new answers, and becomes eligible for (possibly automatic) deletion after some time.

In general it's preferable that a question that needs to be closed gets closed for the correct reason, but if it gets closed for the wrong reason I don't think it's that big of a deal. The main concern is that the OP gets correct information on how to best improve their question to get it reopened, and you can simply use comments for that if you think the reason used was not the best one. I don't think reopening and reclosing a question simply for the sake of changing the reason displayed is a meaningful use of one's time. (I find that many users do not even read the reason displayed, for some reason. Apparently on mobile the reason is not very prominent.)

So to answer the question in the title: No, it's not very important.

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    $\begingroup$ For completeness: There's (as far as I know) one exception to "the reason with the majority of votes will be displayed". If a user casts an immediately binding close vote (be that a moderator or a gold tag badge holder wielding the dupehammer), that binding vote trumps other reasons. If a gold badge holder says it's a duplicate, it doesn't matter if four other people previously said it's primarily opinion based. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Mar 5 '16 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ What if one person chooses to vote because they personally dislike the question? $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Mar 8 '16 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck What then? $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 9 '16 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi I asked you... $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Mar 9 '16 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck I don't understand what your point is. What would you like me to answer? You asked me a leading question, presumably you already have an answer made up. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 9 '16 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ It's not a leading a question at all. I was just asking if there such a thing as "voting to close to due to personal dislike" or some other similar vote. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Mar 9 '16 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck Voting to close because you dislike the user who posted the question is forbidden, as far as I know. You technically can enter a custom close reason like "I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because I personally dislike the question", and I don't think it's explicitly forbidden, but good luck getting four people agreeing with you. Then either 1/ the question needs to be closed, then four people will vote to close anyway in an ideal world or 2/ it doesn't need to be closed, then the bogus vote will just age away. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 9 '16 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ I meant more like "I do not like this question", but i see your point. thank you. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Mar 9 '16 at 17:00

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