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I recently posted this question about character optimization:
What class has the most damage output per round at level 6?

I made several revisions to it, and it received the required 5 votes to be re-opened, so clearly some part of the community felt that it was a perfectly valid question. Only a few hours after it was re-opened, it was closed again, and now has gained some reopen votes (I fully expect that it will be re-opened again in the next day or two).

How do we handle controversial questions such as this one, where a significant portion of the community believes it should be opened and another portion thinks it should remain closed?
Obviously, a cycle of open-close-open-close is undesirable.

Note that this is not a question asking about the viability of my post in particular. That already has a meta post on it here:
My question was closed for being opinion based. Now it's been reopened and closed again. Why?

Rather, this is a question regarding questions that have been closed and opened multiple times in general.

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    \$\begingroup\$ “Obviously, a cycle of open-close-open-close is undesirable.” Why do you say it is obvious? It is not at all obvious to me. \$\endgroup\$ May 25 at 0:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov would you say this was desirable? In my opinion, It's much better for questions to simply follow the close-edit-reopen cycle once, and at that point (once members have indicated the question is satisfactory to them) to simply let it play out as it will. I know, for example, one person has commented on my post expressing their frustration that it was closed again, as they have an answer for it. \$\endgroup\$ May 25 at 0:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m not saying it’s a desirable outcome, rather mostly neutral. If anything, it’s evidence of a healthy, active system of community moderation. We have enough users engaging in curation activities for this happen - that is desirable. I read other stacks where my question flags age out without ever clearing the review queue. \$\endgroup\$ May 25 at 1:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Examples of what @ThomasMarkov says: Law has too many items that enter the queue as "seeking legal advice" and too little engagement, at times barely keeping stuff alive. 3D printing has like 4 people that actively use the moderation tools repeatedly that are non-mods, so that mod closures are comparatively high there. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    May 25 at 9:36
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Repeated close and reopen rounds occur in a narrow range of circumstances.

One of the most common situations is that a question is simply contentious: several people think it ought to be closed for some reason or another, several other people think it ought to be open.

The situation your question is in, however, is different: your question's had several iterations. Each iteration has had problems, so people have voted to close it. Then it gets edited, and the next iteration resolves some of those problems, and some voters have decided it's ready to reopen. Others think it still has problems, or has new problems, and still needs to be closed, so people have voted to close it.

Close/reopen wars get won by exhaustion of votes. Eventually, the close/reopen tug-of-war settles on one side or another. You can only vote to close a question once, and the same goes for reopening, so each person has their say over subsequent rounds of closing/reopening and then everyone who can vote has done so and the question remains either closed or open.

In the case of a contentious question, we might host a meta to come to agreement on whether to keep the question closed or not, and that usually resolves things all on its own. In your situation, it's trickier—the question has gone through several different iterations. We haven't really voted to close and reopen the same question multiple times; we've voted to close or reopen different questions each time, but all contained in the same post. It probably should've been asked as a different question somewhere along the way, but the changes were so incremental each time it's hard to say when that should have been done. Sometimes this just happens, and it's not ideal.

Assuming your question is stabilised, we basically go back to that first paragraph I wrote: either your question has problems and gets closed, or doesn't and stays open, or it's contentious and we have to talk about it. There's already been two closures and two reopens, so that's ten votes used up—the community will weigh in with more if it's called for.


That said, your question does have a bounty posted. Active bounties mean we can't vote to close it. If the community decides it needs to be closed before the bounty runs out, a diamond moderator (provided they agree) would step in to refund the bounty. Really, at this point, your question is now going to be measured by its activity and whether we see serious trouble brewing in the answers coming in.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! I didn't know that a bounty meant it couldn't be closed, but I'll keep it in mind for the future \$\endgroup\$ May 25 at 15:52
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The Voting Continues Until The Question Improves

Or until everyone with a strong opinion is locked out of the debate.

In principle, these open-close wars can go on for a very long time, but probably not forever. There are a few subtleties about the system that tend to quench the controversy over the mid- to long-haul, including:

  • You only get one close and one re-open vote per question so you can't have stable cliques constantly closing and re-opening the same question.

Questions can go through multiple close and reopen cycles, but each individual user may cast at most one close and one reopen vote per question.

  • Close votes age out over time

Close votes age away harmlessly if the threshold is not reached after a number of days. If the question has at least 100 views, close votes will age away after 4 days; otherwise close votes will age away after 14 days. Each new close vote resets the timer, so all close votes must be at least 4 or 14 days old respectively before aging occurs.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ in the Navy we used to say "The floggings will continue until morale improves" and so I laughed at your title. \$\endgroup\$ May 25 at 21:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast in our lab hangs a banner saying, "Morale will continue until the beatings improve," juxtaposition intentional. And yes, I had both quotes in mind as I wrote the title. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    May 25 at 21:35
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Whose vote is most valuable?

No one user’s vote is most valuable. Every user with access to close votes gets one vote, and no vote is more valuable than any other.

In a comment, you wrote:

It's much better for questions to simply follow the close-edit-reopen cycle once, and at that point (once members have indicated the question is satisfactory to them) to simply let it play out as it will.

This idea is inconsistent with the principle that every vote is of equal value. If 100 people think a question should be closed, and 5 think it should be reopened, why should it be that those 5 reopen votes have the final say, and the remaining 95 voters who think the question should be closed should abstain from voting?

Community moderation is working as intended.

Everyone who has earned the privilege to vote can vote, and a cycle of close-open-close-open is indicative of a healthy and active system of community moderation. There are several other stacks that I read where question flags age out sitting in the review queue because nobody is doing moderation activities.

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Just work on it - the number of close-votes is limited.

Every user can only try to close or open a question once each, then can't re-vote to close or open the same question for quite some time. I know in some cases on 3D printing I can vote to close something twice if the old vote idled out and some months have passed. So... don't worry about re-voters. That's only up to diamonds.

Just work on the question till it stays open.

Especially don't bounty it yourself.

Putting a bounty on a question prevents closure votes to be added. That is bad sportsmanship and I have seen users time-outed on other stacks for putting a bounty on a negatively regarded question that had accumulated 4 out of 5 close votes. That is gaming the system.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Again, I'd like to say sorry about that \$\endgroup\$ May 25 at 15:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given that the entire stack exchange engine is a gamification of the concept of questions and answers, telling someone not to game the system, particularly on a role playing game site, seems to me to be bad form. 😁 \$\endgroup\$ May 25 at 21:33

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