Stack Exchange is testing a three-vote close threshold on 13 sites across the network. Writing.SE was not included on that list. However the mod team feel that it might be a good thing here, so we're asking the community for their opinion.

Currently we have a fairly small number of high reputation users who regularly complete moderation tasks. This leads to off-topic or unclear questions taking a long time to close. Many blatantly off-topic questions receive answers before they are closed, or require mods to step in a closed them single handedly.

Reducing the number of requiring votes to close/reopen questions would speed up moderation activities, reduce the workload on the mod team and potentially improve the overall quality over the site. It could also however lead to close/reopen cycles occurring more often as fewer users are required to make that happen. Therefore we should agree if this is a good thing for our community or not.

Should Writing.SE reduced the close vote requirement from 5 to 3?

  • 1
    Even though I have access to close questions, there is never a que when I come to the Writing SE. I'm puzzled by that, since there's always a que on worldbuilding. So either there aren't that many close votes to give, or there are plenty of people actively voting so that the questions are cleared quickly.
    – DWKraus
    May 13, 2021 at 2:26

5 Answers 5



It is my opinion that creative SE's are better served with a broader tolerance for creativity. Sometimes, questions (especially those asked by new contributors) are not always phrased in the most perfect terms. People are free to edit questions, give helpful comments, and yes, vote to close.

On many SE sites, there is a culture of downvoting and shutting down questions quickly. That's with the 5 votes. As much as I like the subject matter on those sites, I don't use them. Sometimes that's okay, especially with very technical matters where there is a clear right and wrong answer, and sloppy questions make answers problematic.

But people who are being creative need a little flexibility to express what it is they are trying to say. Voting to close is rather unpleasant, but a needed fix for bad questions. However, silencing people's questions has a chilling effect on their willingness to come to our site. A small number of relatively rule minded voters can quickly shut down many questions, and figuring out after the fact why your question was closed is challenging at best. Although people are encouraged to give feedback about WHY the questions are closed, most people just vote and are done with it.

You can argue that reopening questions is easier, but from my observations, most people either DON'T, or they come up with a new, better question and ask that. Shutting down questions faster and more easily will just push people to ask questions on other sites. They have options; let's not make them use them.

  • 2
    Absolutely. Being a fast kill site results in an unpleasant experience for users and gives them a strong bad taste in the mouth. So long as large volumes of bad and actual off-topic/inappropriate questions don't start flooding then rapid fire closing isn't going to help the community and will do more to hurt the community (and even then until actually proven otherwise 5 votes is still perfectly adequate for closing bad questions). Jun 28, 2022 at 21:58

I think yes. You have good reasons. I agree with them. I'd put more but then it's just me rephrasing what you already said in the question.


I was on the fence about this, but I'm not sure that lowering the close votes will make much of a difference.

Writing is an unhealthy site in a number of ways. With regards to closing, it's not so bad, especially not compared to some of the sites that fully embraced 3 vote closing.

The reasons given to offer 3 vote closing in the linked question don't seem applicable here: "When reviews don't happen" (they do, in time), "When moderators do most of the closing/reopening" (they don't). And there's only been a maximum of 5 posts with pending close votes that I've seen at once. That's nothing. (ELU had 100+ before it switched to 3 vote closing.)

Sure, posts will get closed faster, but will that prevent the early answers from being posted? Unlikely. The answers seem to be faster than the first three close votes.

For some more data, I wrote a query (two, really) to determine how long things take to close in the review queues. I looked at every post from this year that entered the review queue and got closed:

(The first number is the creation date of the post. The second is the number of hours since the most recent close vote review item was created until the question was closed. This query contains posts where a mod participated in closing, but not when they were the only ones; something else must have triggered the review.)

I ran the same query on ELU and saw a much different picture. Most questions there (before the change to 3 votes) took the better part of a week to close (remember, the queue was always at 100+ items).

Admittedly, this doesn't show the reviews that got lost because nobody was voting, such as Can I write a protagonist that speaks broken English without annoying the reader?. It remained open, even though 3 people voted to close it vs 2 who said to leave it open. It was only closed months later due to someone completely different and the OP.

Note: The above looks only at public data (and is admittedly flawed). With my diamond comes increased insight into the inner workings of the site, so I can get a better idea of what's really happening with close votes. I'll have to see if that changes my perspective on this.

  • I've noticed that the sillier and less useful questions are getting closed or moved much faster in ELU now that we've gone to 3 close votes. But I'm only an occasional visitor here and have no idea what this group's needs are. They're bound to be different from ELU's.
    – jlawler
    Oct 13, 2022 at 22:25


While 800 rep points hardly allows me to be included in the group of "a fairly small number of high reputation users who regularly complete moderation tasks", I do try to check the review queues every few days, and I've cast 281 VTCs (and 8 reopen votes) to date.

Nonetheless, I agree that there are far too many blatantly off-topic questions and they're taking far too long to close. As a result, eager low-rep users are posting answers, and inevitably some of those are accepted, forever trapping the question in our library.

The best solution would be for more users with 500+ rep to become active on the review queues (and also peruse new questions for the last few days, for those that need sending to the queue). Unfortunately, this uptick in community moderation seems unlikely: the fact there's been so few responses to this question speaks volumes about the level of engagement of users on this site.

On that basis, I would – reluctantly – agree that we should move to three close votes, at least for a trial period of (say) six months.


I have no opinion on this question for Writing SE; I'm a newcomer and really haven't experienced the culture. Plus, any writing I do is strictly non-fiction, though I read lots of fiction.

However, I do participate in English Language and Usage SE, which has adopted the 3-vote close, and this response is to report on my experiences with it there. Many of these are due to peculiar circumstances of English teaching and learning worldwide, and don't necessarily apply here. But it's had a noticeable effect there.

In ELU.SE, there is no mechanism for distinguishing native English speakers from English learners, and no mechanism for distinguishing students from non-students.

Hence our biggest constituency is English learners worldwide, who usually just copy the questions from their workbooks and expect us to answer them. As often as not, those workbooks and questions are full of errors and very odd grammatical rules, which is of course the reason why the questioners can't understand them. These are a perennial pain in the ass, and we're generally happy to have them removed (or moved to English Learners SE) as fast as possible.

However, while poor English teaching and learning is a deep source of questions worldwide, in Anglophone countries (UK, US, NZ, Australia, S.Africa) the standard of English grammatical education is different, but no better. English-speaking students in English-speaking classrooms do not typically learn anything about English grammar -- rather, they learn a catechism of shibboleths, of things they may not say and ways they may not say them, all enforced by the idea that Writing is the basis of language, and pronunciation is irrelevant -- only spelling is important. Consequently, their questions are often pretty silly, too, and the sillier ones are getting swept from the table sooner by the 3-vote rule.

From my position as somebody interested in answering questions, that's all to the good. I'm not fond of repeating myself, though every teacher knows you have to.

I haven't seen any really bad effects yet (though of course I miss a lot), but our unending piles of dumb questions in ELU.SE may not have an analog here in Writing. I have noticed that it's much harder to close a dumb question in Linguistics.SE, which still needs 5, than ELU. That doesn't seem to harm things, though.

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