Updated: As the preferences expressed seem to endorse the change, I have asked the Community Managers (CMs) to carry out a one month test of reducing the number of close/re-open votes to 3 to see how this works. We don't yet know when this will happen as the CMs have an embarrassment of work on hand, but -- if we get prior warning -- we will let you know when the experiment starts.

Recently Stack Overflow reduced the number of votes needed to close/reopen questions from 5 to 3 after a successful experiment to see if it was worth it.

The results were that it did improve the rate at which bad questions were closed but didn't result in good questions being incorrectly closed.


Do we want to go down the same route here on Genealogy & Family History?

As background, 2019: a year in moderation reveals that of 96 questions closed last year, 95 required moderator intervention to close them! A change to the number of close votes needed would make it easier for the community to close questions that need closing quickly, and also to re-open questions that have been improved.

Please vote on the two answers provided (or add your own answer.)


4 Answers 4


Yes, we should lower the threshold -- it will improve the speed of closing and re-opening questions and better allow the community (rather than the moderators) to indicate which questions are acceptable and which aren't.

For the avoidance of doubt this is my preferred solution but I can't vote for my own answer.


The results at Threshold experiment results: closing, editing and reopening all become more effective indicate "that [lowering from 5 to 3] did improve the rate at which bad questions were closed but didn't result in good questions being incorrectly closed", even for our largest site, so I am keen to see it implemented here too. However, even though it looks like 3-vote closing/re-opening may be spreading to other sites (see Testing three-vote close and reopen on 12 network sites) it looks like we are not amongst the sites to be trialled.

To me this is independent of who (moderator/community) cast the last close vote on questions last year being 95/1. That ratio is interesting, but I do not find it concerning. I only get concerned when questions are open that should be closed, or questions are closed that should be open. That only 2 questions were re-opened last year, both by moderators casting the last re-open vote, suggests that question closures here were rarely contentious. Even those 2 questions may have been edited before re-opening so they may not have represented a close/re-open "dispute" but questions closed correctly, fixed and then re-opened correctly.

@Shog9's advice to moderators is what I try to follow when deciding whether to close/re-open vote:

When you see a post you think should be closed, close it. When you see a post you think should be re-opened, re-open it. If you're not sure, don't do either.


It's been quite a while since this request was escalated to the Community Team — sorry for the long wait!

You now officially only need 3 close votes to close a question on Genealogy & Family History SE!

After looking at the data, I think it's clear that there's no reason for y'all to have this threshold set at 5. Thank you so much for bearing with us while we got to this request.

We'll check back in with you all in a few months to see how things are going in this regard — if things are going great, we may not post an update, but please feel free to leave a comment here if you want us to post something.

Here are some basic stats on how things looked before this change:

It's worth noting that, over the course of a month, you don't get a lot of close-worthy questions - at least, you don't close a lot of them. Of those, all of them were closed by the site moderators, either alone or with votes from other users.

This is visible in the chart below - fewer than 10 questions get closed in the average month, with the exception of February 2021 (when 16 questions were closed). Historically, it looks like there was more community participation in question closure; however, starting in September 2021, the Moderators_Closed line is identical to the All_Closed line, because the only posts that ended up being closed were closed by mods. (The lines for reopened questions are all near the bottom – not very many closed questions get reopened on this site, which is not particularly uncommon.)

Graph showing questions closed and reopened per month over the last two years, as described in the prior paragraph.

As such, this change may help out here.

Hopefully, it will also help with getting the percentage of questions that are nominated for closure handled – while it's often in the 100% range, there are times when it's much lower (in the 70-85% range, and recently dipping to 50%). However, this doesn't mean that there are a ton of posts with close votes going unhandled; since so few posts get closed here, that really only corresponds to a couple of posts per month when it's low.

Graph showing percentage of questions nominated for closure being handled over the course of two years, as described in the prior paragraph.

It's worth noting that there are not that many people around who can cast close/reopen votes. Only users with at least 500 rep can cast close/reopen votes on the Genealogy & Family History site. There are actually a total of 114 users who have enough reputation to have this privilege, but only 17 have been active on the site in the past week (only 30 in the past month) – and that's including the site mods.

Hopefully, having the close vote threshold lowered to 3 will help ensure that the community is able to handle posts with close votes and ease the load on the site moderators – but you'll still need to keep an eye on the review queues to catch those posts while they have active close votes. Our hope is that lowering the close vote threshold to 3 for Genealogy & Family History SE can ease the load on the mods at least a little, but more regular users with the privilege need to participate in closures for that to happen.


No, we should leave the threshold as it is -- it shouldn't be easier to close and re-open questions.

You must log in to answer this question.