Most likely veterans became bored with Awfully sophisticated proof for simple facts but for newcomers it is such a delight!

My actual question is: what happens with closed questions? Do they become harder to encounter with time?


2 Answers 2


Some information about closed/on-topic questions can be found in the meta.SE closed/on-hold faq.

There are two important points about closed/on-hold questions.

  1. No new answers can be posted. That's pretty much the point of this.
  2. Being closed/on-hold is not the end of the line. Users can vote to reopen such questions, and for questions which are on-hold, simply editing them places them in the "reopen votes" review queue where sufficiently privileged users can vote on whether they should be reopened (or stay closed). Users below this threshold can make their case for the reopening of questions in the Requests for reopen votes thread.

Another side effect of being closed is that such questions may become eligible for deletion, either through delete votes by users with at least 10K reputation, or in quite restrictive cases automatically by the system. (Moderators can vote to delete any post at any time, and post owners can "often" unilaterally delete their posts. There are also very restrictive cases whereby non-closed questions can be deleted. More information about all this can be found in the meta.se deletion faq.) There are some who view being closed as the first step towards a question's eventual (inevitable?) deletion.

Closed questions will still appear in search results and other question lists, so you can still come across them in the wild. (The closed:1 search parameter explicitly requests only questions which are closed/on-hold.) When any post within a closed question is edited, this will bump the question to the front page as usual. But as no new answers will be posted, it is reasonable to expect that they won't appear on the front page as often.

For the particular question linked to, I have nowhere near enough reputation here on MO to vote to close questions, and clearly was not involved in the closing of that question, but I suspect that users felt that the question had run its course and was unlikely to elicit any new, good answers. If this is indeed the case, I almost wonder if that question would be better off being "locked for historical reasons" than closed.

This question is not in danger of being deleted any time soon. It does not meet any criteria for automatic deletion, and it would require 10 delete votes to be deleted.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ At the time it was closed the "historical lock" was not yet available on MO (it became available on MO only with the switch to the network end of June 2013, IIRC). What's more, at some point there was some initiative to use this lock on such questions which caused quite some upset by some in favor of such questions. So, its use never caught on and indeed most of the few use-cases were undone. Sometimes now "protect" is used instead of close (which was also not available at that point in time). $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Aug 30, 2015 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ Well I accepted the answer but I still regret this question most likely will not appear on the front page as often... $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2015 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Thanks. I was never too familiar with the tools available before MO migrated to SE 2.0. And, indeed, there appears to be very few questions which are locked but not migrated, and many of those seem to be rejected migrations. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Aug 30, 2015 at 10:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @მამუკაჯიბლაძე You can always make a case for this question to be reopened in the Requests for reopen votes thread.. which, come to think of it, I should mention above. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Aug 30, 2015 at 10:03
  • $\begingroup$ I do not think it is a good idea to propose this in the "request" threads. There are maybe a dozen similar questions. Do we now open them all? Or one by one as they get pumped to the frontpage? (If somebody wants to propose this, fine, but this is not just a simple "reopen request.") $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Aug 30, 2015 at 10:10
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I agree that this question is unlikely to receive the required reopen votes even if requested. At the same time, an explicit request might yield a better sense of the community's opinion on that question, which might be illustrative to the OP. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Aug 30, 2015 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer actually, chances are it does get reopened at least initially, as the community opinion is quite mixed on these types of questions. Posting it there could wake up sleeping dogs though...better avoided. See in particular the discussion when locks were applied to see what happens. Note in particular that a moderator claims there such questions are "on moderator management." (While there was only 1 closure, it seems really of this type.) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Aug 30, 2015 at 11:52

The technicalities of closure are described in Arthur Fischer's answer. Let me comment a bit on the practice that caused such closures.

Specifically the closure of this questions seems to have been induced by its asker (Mariano), via the following comment on the old meta board:

Sadly, the «Awfully sophisticated proofs» question should probably also be closed...

I really wish people were more selective in what they add to list questions. I enjoyed that thread a lot.

And earlier:

I have just cast the final vote to close on my own question about proofs without words.

Lately, my efforts to keep it... hm... as great as it started have not been enough.

Generally, it is or at least was common to close "big list" questions after some time when they had gotten many answer. A principal reason for this is that empirically there is often a decline of the quality of new answers and especially a proliferation of duplicate answers starts, as some new answerers seem not to bother to read the existing answers before adding their own.

Furthermore, some are of the opinion that such questions are off-topic in the first place and to control the number of open questions of this form was some kind of compromise solution.

Finally, questions of this form are not at all hard to find: browse the list of all questions by votes and you'll find some, or browse the big-list tag.

  • $\begingroup$ I see. Is there a form of historical lock that would somehow make the question naturally reappear for others to see or something like that? $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2015 at 10:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For all I know there is no such thing. (Indeed, the existing historical lock makes the question a lot less visible.) However, the fact that such questions do not reappear that frequently is only in part due to them being closed. There is also the question which questions should even reappear. Some will not want to see this type of question at all. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Aug 30, 2015 at 11:05

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