Over on this meta question, anorton wrote

I propose a policy that if someone reports that a question is part of a take-home test, we have a 4 step process:

We close the question as soon as possible to prevent any possible cheating.

We then ask the reporter for the test's due date

We also ask the reporter for some verification that they are, in fact, a professor or someone qualified to ask for the delay of answering the question.

We reopen the question after this deadline has past, or if the reporter does not respond within a reasonable timeframe.

This has strong support, currently at (+20/-3) votes. Michael Hardy suggested that it would be helpful to add a close reason specifically targeted at this scenario, this idea is currently at (+12/-1). This meta question is a feature request for such a mechanism, and an opportunity to discuss how it should work.

Some questions that would be worth discussing:

  • Should this be a "flag" or a "close" option? Flag options appear at rep 15, close at rep 3000. Do moderators respond faster to flags than closes?

  • Would there be a way to have the option bring up a web form requesting information like where the exam is being given and when it is due? (The "close as duplicate" option brings up a form asking what question this is a duplicate of.)

  • Would it be reasonable within the software to close a question in such a manner that it automatically reopened at a later time? This could be used both for a short term close while moderators are investigating the claim, or to close a question until after the due date of the exam.

  • $\begingroup$ Paging @anorton $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2013 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ And @MichaelHardy $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2013 at 13:46
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ You can't @notify users that never commented or acted on the post itself, they'll never get this ping $\endgroup$
    – user9733
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What you can do is comment on the answers where they made these suggestions and link to this question. $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2013 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ You could also @notify me in chat... I'm nearly always in the chatroom (albeit highly inactive/grayed out) $\endgroup$
    – apnorton
    Apr 13, 2013 at 3:25

1 Answer 1


I don't really see any need for any additional tools here, if you want to verify the identity of the reporter the moderators or SE have to get involved anyway. And any 15+ reputation user can use a custom flag to notify the mods, anyone without a Math.SE account can mail either SE or one of the moderators.

External people probably wouldn't find the right way to report this anyway if it was added, so they'll use whatever way looks reasonable to contact the moderators or SE. And any active user here should know how to flag and can just use a custom flag to do this.

A custom close reason could be possible, SE is planning to change the close reasons significantly and there are some indications that they might allow sites to define their own off-topic sub-reasons.

There is no way to automatically reopen after a certain time, but moderators can lock posts for a specific duration. The duration is fixed to a few values only though, but that probably could be changed.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I agree completely. A way to reopen after a given time or at least a wider selection of lock periods would be great. (+1) $\endgroup$
    – robjohn Mod
    Apr 12, 2013 at 16:43

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