What is closing?
Closing is a democratic voting process where the community identifies questions that duplicate existing content, are unreasonable to answer in their current state, or do not belong on the site.
When should I vote to close a question?
Questions should be closed by casting close votes if:
- they are sufficiently similar to existing questions and would be answered identically to them.
- they are unclear, too broad, or otherwise problematic to identifying the problem in a way that can be properly addressed by answerers
- they are sufficiently off-topic, as outlined in the help center.
Note that once you gain the reputation to vote to close, you should no longer flag for moderator attention to have questions closed or migrated. It is your responsibility to vote now. See also: How should my flagging change when I gain the ability to vote to close?
How do I cast a close vote on a question?
The current number of close votes will be shown under the question, in parenthesis, like so:
If there are no close votes, it will simply say:
To cast a close vote -- or just to view the current count of close votes and reasons -- click the 'close' link under the question body. A list of close reasons, with descriptions and current counts, will appear.
If you wish to cast a vote at this point, use the radio buttons to specify a reason for closing the question, then click the "Vote to Close" button. If you select “off-topic”, you will need to select an additional sub-reason explaining why the question is off-topic.
- It takes 5 close votes to reach the closing threshold.
- You may cast up to 24 close votes per day (50 on Stack Overflow).
- Close votes age away harmlessly after 4 days if the threshold is not reached. Each new close vote resets the timer, and close votes only start expiring if the question has had 100 views.
What happens when a question is closed?
Once a question has been closed, it will no longer accept new answers and the words
[on hold] will be appended to the title. After 5 days, if the question remains closed, the word
[closed] will instead be appended to the title.
Closed questions can be reopened through a similar voting process. The current number of reopen votes will be shown as
current under the question, in parenthesis, like so:
A tooltip displays the number of votes required to reopen. If there are no reopen votes, it will simply say:
Questions can go through multiple close and reopen cycles, but each individual user may only vote once in each direction in the cycle.
Closed questions can also eventually be merged with another question, migrated to another site in our network, or even deleted. A closed question can be deleted as early as 48 hours after its initial closure.
Alternatives to closing
If you don't have enough reputation to cast close votes, or have used up your close votes for the day, there are alternatives:
- If the question is a duplicate, post a comment with a link to the original.
- If the question has serious problems (e.g. it is spam or offensive), flag it instead.
Reviewing close and reopen votes
Any post which currently has an active close vote or a canonical flag reason identical to a close vote will appear in the Close Votes review queue. In the review queue, users can either vote to close the question, edit the question, or vote to leave it open. Editing the question or gathering enough Leave Open votes will automatically kick the question out of the queue and immediately begin aging the close votes (no matter the number of views). If the question receives another close vote after being kicked out, it will re-enter the queue for further review. Questions with vote to close as a duplicate will also list each possible duplicate in a tab at the top for easy reviewing.
Similarly, the reopen queue will contain any post that currently has an active reopen vote. Users can vote to reopen, edit the question (which includes a reopen vote), or leave the question closed. A certain number of Leave Closed votes will again kick the question out of the queue and begin the reopen vote aging process, and of course, another reopen vote will put it back into the queue. As well, questions which get edited during the 5-day on hold period will automatically show up in the reopen queue for review. Questions which have had a revision will add an extra tab at the top so that you can quickly view the revision. Like the close votes queue, questions which were closed as duplicates will still list the duplicates in the tabs above.