I can remember having seen a closed question with two reasons listed below it. Not sure if it was on GL or some other SE site. I don't even know where to look for that now.
Q: Is this feature available on GL? How can we get it working?

I've just went through the close reviews and voted for close on this question: Leute v Menschen v Völker?.

Now, it turned out that I made the 5th vote that would close the question. While I'm — naturally — totally fine with it being closed for the reason I chose (general reference — and I don't think the current only answer adds anything that couldn't be found in dictionaries), the actual close reason says that the question is unclear.
The first close voters chose that reason as the question was indeed unclear as of writing the initial question. It had been edited a few times since, and I guess the question is very clear as of now.

Now, I can remember having seen quite recently that a closed question had two different close reasons listed below the question. I can't say for sure if this was on GL or another SE site, but I surely considered this a significant improvement.
We certainly do not always agree on the exact close reason. While it most times doesn't really matter (for instance, the reasons "general reference" and "proofreading, translation request" are often both true at the same time), it comes in handy for those cases where we see quite different issues.

In that case now, however, an outdated reason outnumbers the ultimate reason.

I'm not asking how we should properly handle this. Luckily, this doesn't happen that often. What I'm interested is how we can get the second close reason showing up.

3 Answers 3


The displayed close reason (duplicate, off-topic, too broad, unclear or opinion-based) will be chosen by the majority of close votes dropped for one of these reasons. (The system has measures in place to deal with cases such as 2:2:1; I think it is the highest close reason on the list, but my data does not suffice.)

If the close reason selected by this manner is unclear, too broad or opinion-based, the distinction ends there. If, however, the reason is duplicate or off-topic, a second mechanism kicks in.

For duplicates, each duplicate question that received at least one vote will be listed.

For off-topic:

  • If any of the pre-defined off-topic reasons is chose, this is displayed. The names of the close voters who chose this reason are added.
  • If more than one of the pre-defined reasons are chosen all will be displayed, again with the close voters’ names added to the respective reasons.
  • If a hand-written reasons was selected by any or all of the close voters, this is not displayed. Instead, a short generic blurb will be displayed.
  • (If some selected a pre-defined reason and others a hand-written reason, the latter group can be inferred by the names missing on the close reasons.)

Thus, you likely saw a question that, for example, a few users closed as general reference-lacking and a few closed as proofreading. In this case, both canned reasons are displayed. This has been in place for some time already. The corresponding feature for different principal reasons is not supported by the system.

  • Interesting, do you have a stackoverflow reference for this?
    – Em1
    Dec 17, 2017 at 13:45
  • @Em1 Not right now. I have seen both more than one duplicate and off-topic reason previously, though.
    – Jan
    Dec 17, 2017 at 17:13

The case you mention is an unlucky one. It caught an "unclear" close vote in the first place. After an edit it caught another close vote, this time off topic.

Subsequently two more unclear votes summed up to the majority of votes. Sadly the last edits did not lead to a retraction of unclear votes, hence the system deemed them to be still valid.

The final close reason displayed will assume that there should be one single major issue a question suffers from, except dupes. This reason is likely what the majority of users say. This majority of votes will then be displayed under the post.

As the sum of previous close reasons are displayed to us in the close dialog we may wait with casting our final vote if it was for a different reason until a previous issue was resolved, and close reasons for this reason were retracted.

If a question was already closed for a wrong reason we may put it in the reopen queue with an edit, cast a reopen vote with an explanatory comment, or flag the question for moderator attention.


There are two ways out from situations you describe:

  1. Change the logic to re-set all close votes every time the question is edited because they might no longer be valid - This is obviously counter-productive as we would not be able to get rid of questions that get worse and worse after each edit.
  2. Everyone who issued a close vote has the opportunity to retract it as soon as he thinks the issue has been fixed by an edit. That happens rarely, maybe because it also happens rarely that questions with close votes are significantly improved by an edit, but mostly because people don't seem to be bothered to re-visit a question they already have close-voted.

I personally think that the fact that close votes sum up over edits is a good motivation to invest enough effort into a question to get it first-time-right and don't see good reasons to change this. The owner of the question has full transparency through the voting process and can see all the close reasons in case he is interested anyhow (click on "close" of your own question and you can see all votes with reasons).

With regards to your request: I'm not sure that showing a whole bunch of close reasons for every question closed will improve the quality of new questions significantly. The most popular close reasons "Dictionary" and "Proof-reading" won't improve from that. I also see that apart from those two reasons, the GSE community is pretty forgiving with regards to question quality, much more than most other SE communities.

  • 1
    The ability to see the close votes on your questions comes as a privilege at 250 reputation points. Oct 27, 2017 at 7:35
  • @Martin-マーチン Thanks, didn't realize that. Escapes me, however, why this is so. I'd assume people with lower reputation have a way higher necessity to be able to see why their question was closed than people that are already used to "site culture"
    – tofro
    Oct 27, 2017 at 8:02
  • As long as a question is not on hold or closed it should not matter at all. Critique of established users - of course at their own convenience - should be mentioned in additional comments to improve the quality of the question. Once a question is put on hold or closed, then the reason is clearly visible to the OP. The First Post review queue is by far the most efficient tool to guide new users how to properly ask questions. Oct 27, 2017 at 11:15

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