I asked a question after checking it hadn't been asked already. I'm an experienced stack exchange user so I made the question pretty unambiguous, explaining terms, giving examples and background, showing prior research, etc.

A user Gnat posted a 'possible duplicate' comment and I immediately responded clarifying the difference between the questions:

enter image description here

Gnat then posted a link to a very long meta thread, with no explanation, but the top voted answer was saying that people who were receiving incorrect "close as duplicates" votes should edit an explanation of the difference into the question. So I did exactly this.

It still got closed as a duplicate anyway:

enter image description here

There's really no similarity between the questions at all except that both involve dealing with (very different) behaviours that can make meetings less productive. It's not just me who thinks so:

enter image description here

I flagged the incorrect closing, with no response.

Dealing with these spurious close votes has eaten up time and caused an already-long question to get even longer, and the question took around an hour and half to be re-opened.

I'm unlikely to use this site again, but I thought I should flag that people might be closing questions without reading them.

  • FWIW as of now there are 4 reopen votes on this question
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 14:47
  • speaking of duplicates, have you seen this question at Programmers: How do I get people to stop bikeshedding? - or its recently advertized copy at Ars Technika: How can I get colleagues to stop bickering about trivialities?
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 15:31
  • Yes that was already linked to in a comment on the main question and I already replied. It's interesting, and there's some overlap, but the answers and comments rely on one of three differences (the asker was the project lead, the problem can be avoided by changing the task, plus programming-specific details like the presence of flaws in the language in question) Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 15:39
  • 2
    FWIW: I didn't vote to close as duplicate.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


I am sorry your first experience with this site was not more positive. I hope you won't write us off over one post.

Sometimes questions are erroneously closed. Fortunately, the same process that leads to closure also leads to reopening, as happened here. Sometimes a question really does need to be edited; other times well-intentioned voters misunderstand (or something isn't clear) and think it's about something other than what the author intended. In a large, worldwide community with a wide mix of user backgrounds, misunderstandings are unfortunately inevitable. It's what we do about them that matters.

Here is the sequence of events that I can see on the question:

  • The question was asked, obviously with a fair bit of care. This wasn't one of the unclear dry-by one-liners we sometimes get.

  • Three hours later it was closed by community vote. During this time a comment about the possible duplicate was made and the OP responded, with a comment and then edits, to explain why it's not a duplicate. Nobody commented further during this time.

  • An hour after that the question was reopened, with supporting comments and another edit. The edit comment suggests that OP was mightily frustrated by that point (but I don't know if anybody saw that at the time). Also during that hour, this meta question was posted.

  • More comments appeared. I saw a flag and cleaned up the thread, removing obsolete comments.

It would have helped if people involved had left more-helpful, or sometimes any, comments earlier. Not everybody is able to leave helpful comments and there's no requirement that you accompany a vote with a comment, but this is just a gentle reminder to all that if you can, constructive comments can help improve posts and alleviate frustration. And let's all remember that the earliest comments set the tone for what follows.

On the other side, this was 3-4 hours of disagreement, with the question being closed for one hour, and then the question was improved and reopened. All of this was done by the community (not the moderators), both the closure and the reopening. It's always frustrating when people disagree about a post, but the process here worked, and pretty quickly. I encourage all to try to be patient.

  • 3
    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. My main hope now is that it gets an answer that is worth the 8 revisions (!), numerous comments, and hours of feeling like a performing seal being made to jump through hoops it took to get to this point. It's frustrating that none of the 8 edits involved any real change to the content of the question, just cosmetic re-arranging to satisfy people who were seemingly never interested in the topic anyway (certainly not enough to read the question properly). Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 18:58
  • 3
    Hi @user568458, one of the things I encourage reopen voters to do is look at what might be confusing the close voters and then use their insight to make cosmetic edits that fix those perceived problems. As a post author, sometimes it's not always clear what's confusing, since a post author is more intimately familiar with the subject matter because he/she wrote it. While it may seem silly, many of these close/edit/reopen cycles result in some of the best, most polished content on our site. Many of these Q&A threads still attract future visitors with the same problem. Hope this helps!
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 1:22
  • @user568458: It's frustrating that none of the 8 edits involved any real change to the content of the question, just cosmetic re-arranging to satisfy people who were seemingly never interested in the topic anyway (certainly not enough to read the question properly). You're 100% correct.
    – Jim G.
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 4:34

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