I'm slightly perplexed regarding the re-open mechanism on WB.SE. While it seems to work relatively well on some other SE network I use (namely RPG.SE), I have the feeling the nature of WB makes it difficult to challenge a question closure.

Last personnal example would be this question I asked. At the moment, the question has 32 positives votes, 3 negatives votes and 5 closures votes (I suppose there is some overlapping on the last two). So out of the almost 5000 people who viewed it, less than 1% reacted. Among that, 90 to 80% reacted favourably.

However, it has been closed for being "opinion-based", while neither the question nor (most of) the answers are opinionated: many people answered with historical facts, studies link about employement or just little-known actual facts to support their answer.

But as the OP, it's really hard to challenge the VTC, since almost nobody bother to VTR. I browsed the meta and stumbled about this thread. It mostly confirmed what I felt:

While purely factual site such as RPG.SE (based on rules) manage to reopen closed question, the fact that WB.SE is about fiction and prompt questions that are harder to analyze, we've become a "We are a close and reopen fast type of site, that neglects to reopen.", to quote the other thread.

In this state, we're (or were) at a low 7.2% of reopening rate. Not the worst rate among all the networks, but still pretty low.

Isn't there any way to come with a better system to reopen a question than waiting, with the low amount of people reacting, for 5 people to pull together to challenge a disputed closure?


1. The mechanics of voting is controlled by Stack Exchange

The first problem is that the actual process of VTC/VTR is programmatically controlled by Stack Exchange — not us. Any change would require their input (unlikely) and would affect all stacks (very unlikely). Such a request would need to be made on Meta.stackexchange.com.

2. We clear our queues very quickly

Ours is one of the most active sites for queue reviews. Just as with all stacks, a question finds its way into the VTR queue by (a) being edited or (b) someone casts the first VTR. Once in the queue, it's viewed by a great many people very quickly. As I understand it, a question in the VTR queue stays in the VTR queue until it gets its 5 votes (or until something else happens, like deletion).

Keep in mind that you're judging the VTR queue to have low visibility simply because your question wasn't reopened. You're ignoring the fact that there's a "leave closed" option and that people might believe that, edits notwithstanding, your question still warrants closure. Frankly, visibility isn't as much of a problem as you might think. IMO, most of the time, the OP has made little effort to understand the reason the question was closed and even less time trying to edit the question to conform to the rules.

3. The curious case of Primarily Opinion-Based

A big chunk of your problem is that we had to change how we interpret "primarily opinion-based." Nobody has "facts, references, or specific expertise" in magic (especially the unique system proposed by the OP). Since we do not have the ability to remove POB from use (we don't even have the ability to modify the text, which continues to make it a problem), we modified the interpretation.

In a nutshell, a question must be asked in a way that it simply isn't your opinion as to which is the best answer. You, the OP must provide clear information about how you will judge the best answer by adding goals, restrictions, and limitations. Basically, the question must be converted from an off-topic infinite list of things to an on-topic finite list of things.

4. Popularity != Suitability

While this is a problem found on many stacks, the simple reality is that ours is a highly creative and imaginative stack — and most people upvote because they like a question and not because they think the question is suitable.

The ugly truth is that a question on this site can be immensely popular and still violate the rules of suitability. Yup, we close such questions. Our goal is to (a) help you understand the rules of our site and (b) encourage you to modify the question to make it suitable. Questions written with the rules in mind tend to get better results, but as you've seen, that's not always necessary — but that's not a justification for not closing the question.

5. Stack Exchange does not require an explanation of votes

Personally, I frequently leave a comment rationalizing why I voted to close or reopen a question — but I am by far the exception. Stack Exchange requires no such comment. The reason for the closure is stated in the closure marquee. If you don't understand how that reason applies, you can always bring the issue to Meta (as you have done here).

But even if it made sense to leave explanatory comments, we have no control over the programmatic process. There's no way to enforce the behavior. It would require the Mods constantly reviewing every question to see whether or not someone had voted w/o a comment and then posting a private message to said individual reminding them to do so. The burden on the Mods would be catastrophically enormous.


In the end, it's the job of the OP to meet the rules and expectations of the site — not the obligation of the site to modify its rules and expectations for a single question. The process to change the rules begins here, on Meta, with a cogent explanation as to why the change should be made along with a proposed modification that is within the stack's ability to make.

  • $\begingroup$ Ok, stopped reading at 3 because we both made wrong assumptions: "Keep in mind that you're judging the VTR queue to have low visibility simply because your question wasn't reopened." I have not enough rep to know there is one. Investigated, found there is one I can't acces. I stand corrected as this is precisely what I was suggesting. My bad. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 14 '19 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Nyakouai, is this question, therefore, irrelevant or misdirecting? Should it be deleted? $\endgroup$ – JBH May 14 '19 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ I was about to do that, then I got a big warning about leaving it for other knowledge, and potential restriction on asking further question on too many delete, so I didn't hit the button. But yes, totally obsolete question sparked from a lack of knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 14 '19 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Nyakouai, Ignore the big warning. The information here isn't beneficial to others since it's foundation was a misunderstanding and you have to delete a lot to invoke the restriction (it's purpose is to keep users who consistently post lousy questions from "hiding" the fact that they post lousy questions). I've deleted Qs that were up/down voted and had answers. I'm still here. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 14 '19 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ "You cannot delete this question as others have invested time and effort into answering it. For more information, visit the help center." Welp, not in my power anymore apparently. But I tried. If someone with the rights to do so could, I'd appreciate. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 14 '19 at 15:22

Isn't there any way to come with a better system to reopen a question than waiting, with the low amount of people reacting, for 5 people to pull together to challenge a disputed closure?

Sure there is.

While the question is still on hold, edit it to clarify how it is on topic. You have a few (I think it's five) days to do that before the question transitions to "closed" status, at which point someone actively voting to reopen is required. That edit while "on hold" will push the question into the reopen review queue, where it will be seen by roughly the same people who are likely to see it in the close queue.

Beware, though, of meta-commentary in the question. It's not useful to write a dissertation on why you feel the question should be on topic, if doing so doesn't fix whatever was the reason why people voted to put the question on hold in the first place. For example, if the question is put on hold as opinion-based, make sure that the question contains some specific criteria by which the community can judge answers. Using the sandbox, or stopping by in chat, or even posting on Meta, may be beneficial as you can get specific feedback on what changes the people answering feel need to be done to that specific question in its current state.

I've had questions being put on hold as off topic. I've had questions challenged as "how is this on topic?". Particularly elsewhere on the network, I've had questions and answers alike practically downvoted into oblivion. Just because I have a diamond to my name on this site doesn't make me infalliable.

  • $\begingroup$ "For example, if the question is put on hold as opinion-based". That's the point. Wrote it when it was getting VTC without explanation. Tried to clarify at the time, but point taken, thanks for the input. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 14 '19 at 15:15

Improve reopen request visibility

The reopen request is fairly hard to notice (and in fact, never saw it unless I was the one asking), and is rarely sought (or so I think, given my own experience) by user.

Changing the requirements from 5 votes to a system similar to the review of new posts could maybe improve the visibility and thus the number and quality of reopening.

What I thought about was:

The OP (or any user) would vote to challenge a closure vote, and write a short explanation as to why they think the closure is unwarranted. Putting this request in a queue similar to that of the post reviews, or perhaps a queue only visible by moderation, would put the reopening attempts in a more visible spot and allow it to be judged fairly by the community.

  • $\begingroup$ From the help center: Leave a comment on the question itself calling for it to be reopened. Be detailed: explain why the question shouldn't have been closed, don't just assert that it should be reopened. Be constructive: name-calling is as likely to drive folks away as it is win them to your cause. Remember, anyone on the site with at least 3,000 reputation points can vote to reopen a question - even if a moderator closed it." $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Mod May 14 '19 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Been there. Tried that. Did not get much feedback. Hence me posting here: I'm suggesting what I think would be an improvement. Especially since closed questions for disputed reasons tend to generate a lot of comments (which lead us back to the lack of visibility). Then again, it's only a polite suggestion, to know community opinion about it. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 14 '19 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ Note that this is not a request to reopen the question used as an example, I just thought this was a possible improvement over the existing system. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 14 '19 at 9:03

Isn't there any way to come with a better system to reopen a question than waiting, with the low amount of people reacting, for 5 people to pull together to challenge a disputed closure?

Editing a question for clarification bumps it. That brings it to everybody's attention, and sends it to the reopen queue as well. And queues in this site rarely have content for more than a few minutes. I tell you, this is the hardest site in the network to get review medals.

About your question: it is about whether society would survive should half of all living beings instantly disappear. That is different from events such as lots of people dying from the plague, which affects very few species and takes much longer to remove people from the world.

We have zero datapoints for a sociological study of such an event. You might as well ask whether society would survive zombies or the Matrix. You could even ask if society would survive the sudden appearance of pokémon, since we would divert 100% of the available labor of the civilized world into supporting a global infrastructure for a cuter version of cockfights. In each of these cases, whatever argument you have to make a point is just opiniated speculation.

So unless we can access a few historical cases of infinity snapping happening, your question is likely to stay closed.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not asking for a reopening, I was suggesting something that is, IMHO, an improvement of the close/reopen feature. Don't want to sound rude, but I'd appreciate if you read the question completely before reacting, as it leads to OOT reactions on both parts. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 14 '19 at 15:06

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