Today I found myself in a bit of a discussion (if I'm being honest, it seemed more like an argument) with a user who closed a question. I am reasonably new to contributing to the site, and the user who did the closing certainly is not. As such, I want to get a sense of how inline their actions are with the general Math SE ethos - as well as know how to handle similar situations in the future. To me the "Be welcoming, be patient, and assume good intentions" standard the site has should bear some weight in the discussion (see: https://math.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice).


A question was asked by a Low-Reputation User (LRU) about a specific part of an answer in another post. It stands to reason that the LRU couldn't comment within the other post, and so they opened a new post. The question itself seemed, to me, to be on-topic, interesting enough to warrant its own post, and very distinct from the original post. The person who answered the original question unilaterally closed the new post as a duplicate (using gold-badge privileges).


Now, after some discussion, it seems that the user who closed the question did so because they didn't appreciate the user "deliberately trying to circumvent the rules of the site" or failing to "minimally" contribute to the site to be able to post comments. My responses were simply that the question didn't seem to violate any particular rules, was on-topic, and deserved to stand on its own right. Moreover, question asking is a form of site contribution. Now, I don't necessarily advocate the circumvention of rules, but I also don't believe that 'question policing' should be done using standards of morality rather than site rules. As such, I have the following questions:


Question 1: Is it appropriate to vote to close this type of question? If so, on which grounds?

Question 2: Is it appropriate to use badge privileges to unilaterally close this type of question?

Question 3: Was it appropriate to use "duplicate" as a reason for closure.

Remark The question has been self-deleted (Thus only those who have 10k+ reputations are able to read this link).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This seems partially related: Clarify an old answer. (Maybe also some other posts which are linked there.) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak thanks this is certainly related. The main distinction here being that the posting user in this case is unable to comment for reputation reasons. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:07
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm with you, I think, in wanting close decisions not to depend on the reputation of the Original Poster. There is a dedicated thread on Meta to solicit Reopen votes inter alia, so if a Question got improperly closed-as-duplicate (e.g. by gold badge holder or otherwise), I would post a note there asking consideration. You will get an idea of the appeals that work or not by scanning the past "answers" in that thread. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath maybe I misunderstand the argument being put forward, but it seems to me it is: especially as asker does not have the commenting privilege, we should cut them some slack. (Whereas for a user with commenting privilege it might make sense to insist on they first ask in a comment.) That is, OP argues in favor of taking reputation into account (to some extent). $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 19:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @quid: I can see how that's a reasonable interpretation, and I was trying to highlight my interpretation before putting forth a remedy. It certainly matters whether the new Question is of suitable for Math.SE or not. I think sometimes it happens that one Question is well-answered by appeal to a result that is known to more advanced users but unfamiliar to many interested Readers. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ would you mind linking to the two questions? (I'm curious to see how they are related.) $\endgroup$
    – auden
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ @heather unfortunately I can't as the newer question has since been deleted. I will add an edit that gives a sense of the relationship though later today. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 20:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @quid: There are instances where a user posts what should really be a comment as an answer rather than as an actual comment, because they don't have enough reputation points for the latter, isn't that true? Those cases don't draw much criticism that I have seen. (Admittedly, I have not been here as long as others.) So we already, in a sense, take reputation into account in some cases. The present situation isn't exactly the same, but I think it's similar enough that the same consideration might apply. $\endgroup$
    – Brian Tung
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ @BrianTung perhaps you wanted to reply to hardmath? $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: No, I meant to reply to you, though I am not really disagreeing with you; I'm just elaborating, saying that the slack which you say OP is arguing for, is something we already cut in other, similar circumstances. $\endgroup$
    – Brian Tung
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @BrianTung alright. It is an interesting analogy that I did not think of myself. However, I do not agree that "[t]hose cases don't draw much criticism that I have seen" in the sense that the community let this stand. There is even a dedicated flag and auto comment for this. Usually, such (non-)answers simply get deleted (possibly, if the poster gets lucky, their answer will be converted to a comment). In another sense it is true they do not draw much criticism; mostly the answer just gets flagged and deleted, and everybody moves own. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 22:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yet note that initially the question was simply marked as dupe. This seems the closest to simply flagging the answer, the standard action in your scenario. The reason there was any argument was that a third user stepped in and started to question that action. (Maybe or maybe not legitimately if the question is a suitable one; but that is orthogonal to this analogy.) @BrianTung $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


Answer to Question 1: It depends

It still depends on the exact reputation of the user. The user clearly did not have 50 reputation, so it would be unreasonable to insist that the LRU post a comment instead, because that is not possible. That being said, if the user had 20 reputation or higher, it would be a better option instead to contact the OP through chat instead of asking a new question.

Now, you also mentioned that this question was interesting enough to warrant its own post, in which case, it would seem unreasonable to close it as a "duplicate", considering it's different enough to make its own post. Now, I can't see the post because I don't have much reputation, but from your description, it seems like it shouldn't have been closed as a duplicate.

Answer to Question 2: No

A gold-badge user is supposed to confirm that the question is actually a complete duplicate, meaning that answers from another answer can be copied over or quickly edited a bit to become valid, before they close it. In the OP's case here, it seems like the question was not a complete duplicate and should not have been closed.

That being said, it would be appropriate to close an question that's an obvious violation of site rules or an obvious duplicate, but in this case, I don't believe it is appropriate to close this question without any consensus or other opinion.

Answer to Question 3: Partially, yes, partially, no

Let's take a look at the options for closing a question. This question doesn't seem unclear, too broad, or primarily opinion-based. That leaves off-topic, and duplicate. So, this kind of question, assuming it should be closed, would fit into one of these categories. If it is too similar to the original question it would be a duplicate, and if it is too specific (as in addressing a specific issue that only the OP can answer), it might be off-topic or low-quality.

That being said (again), I believe this question should not have been closed, for these reasons (from what I know from the question here):

  • It is on-topic for this site.
  • It is different enough from the original question to warrant a separate post
  • It is a quality question

So in summary, if the user had chat privileges, he/she should have used chat instead. That being said, I do not believe that it was an appropriate action to unilaterally close the question, and I don't think the reason for closing was 100% appropriate for the situation.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Downvotes without reason is useless and more so on meta. $\endgroup$
    – user312097
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 11:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Certainly if a user is gold tag badge, then can also express their opinion whether a question is a duplicate or not. In this case, the dupehammer will close the question immediately, but it only takes one gold badge holder or 5 regular users to re-open again. Moreover, dupehammer has the advantage that the user who closed the question can be pinged. (This is not true if a question is closed by regular users.) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 6:46
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I disagree that gold-badge users should as a general rule wait to use the dupehammer until there are already 3-4 close votes. The dupehammer exists for a reason, and your proposed rule would mean that we should go to extra lengths to make it like it didn't exist in the first place. What gold-badge users should do before voting to close is be extra sure the question is actually a duplicate -- which, according to the OP's description, was not the case here. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Thanks for the additional information on the dupehammer system. $\endgroup$
    – user279728
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm That is probably a better general rule. Thanks, I'll edit that into my answer. $\endgroup$
    – user279728
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 12:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I also think chat could also be better promoted on the site as an option for new users to address issues as I didn't discover it for ages. I knew it was there but couldn't find how to get to it and use it $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 12:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RobertFrost I agree with this. Maybe you'd like the make a post on the SE Meta if there isn't one already? $\endgroup$
    – user279728
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 13:09

You must log in to answer this question.

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