This question appeared in the reopen queue today. It's hard to know why someone has voted for this question to be reopened. It could be that something has changed with the product and the question is now relevant or maybe the people who voted to close missed something.

Would it make sense to require a reason from a user when voting to reopen a question if they haven't made any changes to the question? Or am I missing something?

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Would it make sense to require a reason from a user when voting to reopen a question if they haven't made any changes to the question?

This sounds intuitively like a good idea (more information is always better, right?) but:

  • The review process should be simple. Either the question is good (enough) for the site (Reopen), or it isn't (Leave Closed). If you're not sure, or have no strong opinion either way, click Skip. This is independent of whether it has been edited or not.

  • If the first Reopen voter had wished to convey some exceptional context ("I know a really great answer to this!"), he or she could have brought it up in chat, posted on meta, or even flagged the question for a moderator. None of that happened.

  • Requiring a reason would be tricky. "Should be reopened" would likely be a popular reason, as might "I like waffles". It might even dissuade someone from voting to reopen when they should, because it makes the process just that little bit more difficult, or they couldn't think of the right way to phrase a convincing reason.

  • Making it optional would simply mean adding system & task complexity for an edge case that might be useful as intended only very rarely. As mentioned, there are at least three channels already for exceptional situations.

To me, it doesn't seem worth the bother. I do worry that it could work against the interests of the site, by making it a little less likely that first reopen vote would be cast.

  • I agree a required reason would likely be abused with non comments like "Should be reopened". OK that point alone has won me round. Maybe we should be able to see the user that voted so we can ping them in chat to ask for a reason? Either way you're right it is an edge case. – James Anderson Sep 23 '16 at 14:43
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    @JamesAnderson Votes are private. If I had to guess, I'd say a vote to reopen without an edit means they wanted a review of the validity of the close. After all, it only takes 5 people to close, not the whole community. Different eyes and all that. – Paul White Sep 23 '16 at 14:46
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    I think people should be able to add comments pointing out why the question should be re-opened. ;-) – Max Vernon Sep 23 '16 at 14:47
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    @MaxVernon They already can. For my money, that's (minor) comment abuse though. – Paul White Sep 23 '16 at 14:49

I absolutely think it would. I've noticed myself skipping reopen votes very often unless it's an edited question that became clear (or not).

If there hasn't been an edit we have no idea what conditions someone thinks have changed that would warrant a reopen vote. Adding a reason would definitely solve that.

  • Cool, if more people feel the same way then maybe we can open a feature request. Not sure where to do that but I'm sure it's possible. – James Anderson Sep 23 '16 at 12:13
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    @JamesAnderson - I added the feature-request tag. – Max Vernon Sep 23 '16 at 14:29

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