An issue recently came up with regards to two similar Ettin questions:

Does a (half) beheaded Ettin take bleeding damage of some sort?

When partially beheaded, does an Ettin retain full control of its body?

The community closed the second question as a duplicate of the first. I was one of the close-votes and had done so because both questions are basically asking the same thing "What happens when you cut off the head of an Ettin?"

However, a mod reopened it saying they didn't think it was a dupe - overriding a community decision.

Is this/should this be standard practice? Or should a mod begin a reopen vote and let the community decide if it's worthy to reopen or should stay closed instead of overriding a community decision?

some additional discussion from the chat


2 Answers 2


This is standard practice within the diamond moderator mandate.

This happens rarely though. We do this when there's a clear and urgent need, or when a community decision was in clear error. This community has its stuff sorted out so this kind of situation doesn't present itself more than once in a blue moon.

This was one of those situations: an error was made, and I'm sorry to say that, though I'm sure it was with good intentions. In this case, closing that question as a duplicate was incorrect: although they are two questions about handling Ettin semi-beheadedness, our duplicate votes are for when two questions are the exact same question, not merely covering different sides of the same topic. I think we can agree that “do they take bleeding damage for this?” is not the same question as “do they lose control over half their body?”, right?

The stated purpose of the duplicate close votes is to collect the answers to the same questions in one place so that people don't have to go looking. But a person looking for whether an Ettin maintains control over their body isn't going to be helped by answers telling them whether the Ettin takes bleeding damage.

SevenSidedDie reopened the question on approximately that basis. I'd been keeping my eye on the question myself, and planned to do exactly the same if SevenSidedDie hadn't beaten me to it.

Now, if there was a singular “So how do we handle an Ettin losing their head?” canonical question that covered various niche scenarios like this, both of those questions would be viable duplicates of it. We don't have one of those questions yet though, and right now what that person's doing is OK. It's fine to have multiple separate questions exploring a specific confusing phenomenon — it's how we get all our questions for instance.

Or should a mod begin a reopen vote and let the community decide if it's worthy to reopen or should stay closed instead of overriding a community decision?

We actually cannot do that. Diamond moderators get a unilateral close/reopen vote power and that power doesn't come with an off switch. It's why you'll see our close votes so rarely and often at the end of the list (unless it was from before we became diamond moderators) — we only add our votes when we're sure, and whatever we vote for happens immediately.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's kind of a bummer. As I said in the chat, I understand the reason for reopen and the assessment on not the same, I just don't agree it isn't the same (and neither did the others who closed it.) And while it often isn't abused, it does seem silly to have multiple variations on the same question that have the same answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Nov 30, 2017 at 19:07
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch They did get different answers though. One got a "yes, they ought to retain full control" and the other got "no, they probably don't take bleeding damage, but the DM can decide on whatever makes sense." Also, I gotta say, thanks for taking this well -- it does suck to be the one being overridden. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2017 at 19:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I totally get how they could be different, I just don't think they are. And I think the selected answer on the first question was selected because it's what they wanted to hear :) And I'm definitely not bummed out on lost upvotes because I didn't copy-paste my answer. Nossir. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Nov 30, 2017 at 19:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ "We actually cannot do that" Here's the relevant mSE question, if it helps. \$\endgroup\$
    – wizzwizz4
    Dec 10, 2017 at 11:36

Yes it's standard practice, and yes it should be. The system gives moderators that power for a reason and, while we can discuss the circumstances under which it's appropriate to use it, it's clearly the intent of the network that moderators have that power and therefore that they be allowed to use it. It also happens to be the case that the network intends moderators to use it prolifically in this particular case, but that's beside the point.


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