We vote to close a question which is not in accordance with the rules and guidelines specified on Help Center of ELL. We need consensus (five votes unless a moderator is involved) to decide whether it should be closed or not.

We vote to reopen a question which was unduly closed (by misunderstanding or mistake) or after it is edited with more context and explanation after being closed. We also need consensus (five votes unless a moderator is involved) to decide whether it is reopenable or not.

This linked question seems to be 100% exact duplicate of this question and four users agreed with me to close this question. However, it was reopened by a moderator's single vote.

Now, I don't understand why. What kind of additional or extra answer can we expect for this question? The rule on whether to use "which" or "that" as a relative pronoun is very simple. How can one vote override five votes which agreed to close this question as duplicate?

Does it mean five voters' opinions are not important and could be ignored by one single vote?

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    Just for fun, I ran a SEDE query to see how many questions were reopened by mods on ELU since you joined. There have been 48 of them, which is only slightly fewer than the 56 mod reopens on ELL in the same timeframe. May 7, 2016 at 1:11
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  • @NathanTuggy You didn't check how many questions were single-hammered by a moderator and reopened by the same moderator on ELU. Maybe I was not that specific. I have never seen a question closed by five voters and reopened by one single hammer. That's not the right thing to do especially when the question is closed as duplicate.
    – user24743
    May 8, 2016 at 16:31
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    Out of the first five on ELU, three were closed by normal voting first and none were reopened by any other votes. Out of the first five on ELL, all were closed by normal voting and two had other reopen votes (in one case, 4 reopen votes) before being modhammered. Qualitatively, mods and community seem to have a broadly similar mix of involvement on both sites. May 8, 2016 at 21:05
  • @Rathony - Look harder. ELU Question 286469 was reopened by a single moderator vote, as was Question 38293. Question 241994 was reopened by a mod after just one other reopen vote. Even if your assertion had been true, however, what you observe on ELU does not define what is right or wrong on ELL.
    – J.R. Mod
    May 9, 2016 at 2:07
  • @NathanTuggy Find me one where a question was closed as duplicate by five voters and reopened by one single hammer. I have read through your link, but I don't think your comment represents what has been going on on ELU. I don't understand why my comment on ELU Meta post was deleted, but go there and find it yourself.
    – user24743
    May 9, 2016 at 18:51
  • @Rathony: #6 probably counts. #16 certainly does. Clearly you did not check very far into my links, because that did not take even 10 minutes. May 9, 2016 at 19:02
  • @NathanTuggy Well, #6 was wrongly closed/reopened/closed again and # 16 seems weird, but happened 4 years after it was closed. There must have been something in between. I can't tell. Now, do you think the question is not a duplicate?
    – user24743
    May 9, 2016 at 19:12
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    @Rathony: My point is that ELU mods do qualitatively the same things ELL mods do. And, seemingly, you complain about their actions the same once they're brought to your attention. So it's not site-specific and it's not mod-specific … the common thread is complaining. And this complaining is not well-supported by community sentiment. I don't think I need to tell you what that looks like. May 9, 2016 at 19:45
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    If the question can be closed with a single hammer, it can be opened as well! :)
    – Maulik V
    May 10, 2016 at 8:16

2 Answers 2


The question was edited after I voted to close it, so our close votes weren't ignored; they prompted improvement of the question, which is what the goal should be. Closure is not supposed to be permanent; posters should be able to edit their question to bring it on-topic or to distinguish it from a duplicate.

In light of the edit, I would have voted to re-open, and there is nothing wrong with our elected moderators using their judgement to reopen a question (or close a question) unilaterally. There's nothing that prevents a future vote to close on that question if the community feels strongly about it.

I do realize that folks that have voted to close a question can't keep voting to close the same question over and over. I think it's obvious why that's a good idea. I understand it's frustrating when you feel strongly about something and the rest of the community doesn't see it the same way, but I don't think 5 people out of more than 120 active voters should get to keep a question closed after it's been edited and re-opened. If it's really a question that should be closed, there should be 5 people other than the original 5 that will vote to close it.

The goal here is not to enforce the rules. The goal is to make a resource that is useful to learners. The duplicate did not help because the learner believes they are asking about a special case, and we all know that English is full of special cases and exceptions to the rules. As long as the questions are linked and the learner looked over the duplicate and explained why they felt like it didn't answer their question with more detail than 'No, it's not the same', I think it makes sense to re-open the question and allow folks to answer the question in a way that addresses the reason the asker feels their question is not a duplicate.

  • RE: If it's really a question that should be closed, there should be 5 people other than the original 5 who will vote to close it. Heck, if it's really a question that should be closed, I would think there would have been at least ONE close vote by now, particularly after the question had received extra attention thanks to this meta post. Yet 48 hours have elapsed, and the question still sits unscathed, save for a helpful comment, and an answer that has collected 4 upvotes in that time span.
    – J.R. Mod
    May 9, 2016 at 15:13
  • @J.R. You are the one who knows how many users are active in closing/reopening and voting. Don't judge it by that. The question is duplicate no matter what you say or how you judge it. How come it didn't receive any reopen vote before you unilaterally decide to reopen it? Can you explain that? Don't do that. Let the community decide it if you believe your action is justified because there was no close-vote again after it was reopened. It is wrong to edit the post as if the OP had read the link. You were the one who read it, not the OP.
    – user24743
    May 9, 2016 at 18:41
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    @J.R. And let me ask you one thing. How come other two moderators are not involved in closing and reopening questions? Do you think they don't feel it necessary to do that? I firmly believe they do. But they don't do that because it is a community. Now, why are you doing this? Do you think this community will not work if you don't do that? Just sit back and relax for a while and see what happens. Nothing will change no matter how much you are involved.
    – user24743
    May 9, 2016 at 18:56
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    @Rathony If you are going to talk directly to J.R. y'all should get a chat room. I personally think J.R. being very active is a good thing.
    – ColleenV
    May 9, 2016 at 19:13
  • @ColleenV I agree and I personally think J.R. being very active is a good thing. But he should be active in different manners. Do you know how many duplicates were closed after I came back? You can check them in my close-vote records. Did you see this edit? ell.stackexchange.com/questions/89351/…. I would never tolerate this kind of edit if I were a moderator and give a strong warning to the editor.
    – user24743
    May 9, 2016 at 19:21
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    @Rathony You weren't elected a moderator, so what you would or would not tolerate or do if you were a moderator doesn't really mean much. Judging from the votes on your discussion post here, you views aren't exactly in line with the majority of the folks active on meta. I don't agree with you, and I don't particularly like your approach to these issues - you're too hostile and obdurate. What is it that you hope to accomplish with this post and these sorts of comments?
    – ColleenV
    May 9, 2016 at 19:57
  • Well, I didn't vote to elect a moderator. Did you? Do you know there is a serial downvoter on ELL who is discouraging other users from posting an answer? Well, I think that downvoter is doing a disservice to this community. Am I too hostile? You have not been here that long.
    – user24743
    May 9, 2016 at 20:01
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    @Rathony Lol. Thank you for illustrating so succinctly what it is that I don't like about your approach to community discussions. If you look at the upvote to downvote ratio of users on ELL, I'm not the most likely candidate for a serial downvoter.
    – ColleenV
    May 9, 2016 at 20:28
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    @Rathony - Moderators are not expected to examine every edit. If you think an edit is in need of moderator attention, flag it; that's what flags are for. As for you not voting to elect a moderator, it's not our problem if you only joined after the election where the current moderation team was elected fair and square.
    – J.R. Mod
    May 9, 2016 at 22:20
  • @ColleenV: Wow, I'm gonna need to go some to get to the top of that list! :P May 9, 2016 at 22:42
  • @NathanTuggy Did you see jimsug with his perfectly neutral 1:1 ratio? Very zen. I think it's great that almost all of us are close to 1:1 or better.
    – ColleenV
    May 12, 2016 at 18:22

Sometimes, it's time to cool your jets1, take a chill pill2, and perhaps eat some crow3 along with a side of humble pie4. As Elsa sang in Frozen: Let it go5.

This is an awful lot of fuss over one moderator decision. Your vote was overturned, and you felt it was your duty to bring a perceived injustice to the attention of the community. But you've had the floor6, you've made your case, and the community has made its judgment.

After several comments in the past week or so, I'm afraid you're starting to sound like a faulty car alarm in the parking lot. You're making a lot of noise for no reason and it's starting to irritate people as they walk by.

In a previous comment, you tried to lecture me. You said, "I think you have misunderstood what SE model is." Sorry to say this, Rathony, but I don't think you understand the SE model quite as well as you think you do.

There have been over 600 meta questions posted on ELL in the past 3-plus years. I sorted them by votes. Only 14 of them have a net total of 30 votes or more. And five of those were written by me.

On the other hand, only 14 of them have ever had a net total of -7 or less, and four of those were authored by you.

It's time to wake up and smell the coffee7, it's time to get real8. The Stack Exchange is not looking for self-appointed barrack-room lawyers9 to enforce rigid rules, particularly in a community of learners.

Funny thing is, when I look at your activity, I agree with most of it. You could be a pillar10 of this community, if, when you found yourself in the midst of a disagreement, you would just learn to be a little more tolerant, and to speak a bit less abrasively to others – if, when things didn't go your way, you would learn to be a bit less bellicose, belligerent, and belittling, and be more encouraging, accommodating, and uplifting instead.

In short, learn to disengage – that's part of the Stack Exchange model.

All this hullabaloo11 is becoming a waste of time. I wanted to stay above the fray12. Still, I thought that if I packed enough cliches and idiomatic expressions into this answer, it might still be of use to the learner.

Learners, enjoy the footnotes.

1 The OED says the phrase "cool your jets" means to calm down or become less agitated
2 TFD says that "take a chill pill" is an idiom meaning: to calm down; relax
3 Wikipedia says "eating crow" means to admit wrongness after taking a strong position
4 Cambridge that "eating humble pie" means to admit you were wrong
5 TFD says that "let it go" means to stop worrying about something
6 Macmillan says "have the floor" = be speaking in a discussion or debate
7 "Wake up & smell the coffee" means become aware of a reality, however unpleasant
8 Cambridge: "get real" means someone should try to understand the true facts of a situation
9 From Oxford: a person who likes to give authoritative-sounding opinions on subjects in which they are not qualified, especially legal matters
10 WordNet 3.0 says that a "pillar of sth" is a prominent supporter
11 A "hullabaloo" is a commotion or fuss
12 TFD indicates "above the fray" means uninvolved in a particular argument


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