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?


  • 3
    $\begingroup$ 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
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 15:54
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2016 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
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Surb I guess the one that first reaches 5 votes is the only one displayed? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2016 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 Mod
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 16:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 16:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2016 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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2016 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
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 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! :) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2016 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." $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2016 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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2016 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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ What if one person chooses to vote because they personally dislike the question? $\endgroup$
    – user64742
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck What then? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi I asked you... $\endgroup$
    – user64742
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2016 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. $\endgroup$
    – user64742
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 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. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ I meant more like "I do not like this question", but i see your point. thank you. $\endgroup$
    – user64742
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 17:00

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