Philipp cast a cast "2x-power" close vote on a recent controversial question on Trump's tax returns, meaning there were already 3 such votes. This was a minor exercise of mod extra powers. I'm not at all suggesting that question would not have been closed otherwise as the closing votes rolled in fast, and to a lesser extent so have the reopen ones... (3 as of right now.)

Frankly that question unfortunately is probably going to end up on what I call the P.SE close-reopen roller coaster. It's not the only such question I've seen recently. Another one on white supremacy was closed-reopened-closed not long ago.

So, what guidelines (if any) should we adopt to avoid this kind of roller coaster?

I can see that a view could be to do nothing as the roller coaster is just an extended, multi-round close-voting system, e.g. one could read the latter example as a 10-5 vote-to-close.

On the other hand, it also seems to me that questions with a lot of (expressed or unexpressed) assumptions are more likely to end up like that... although some argue there's nothing wrong with opening one's question with counter-arguments. I would argue there is some tension between providing context for one's question and pre-refuting answers. I'm not sure what (in any) general advice can be given in that regard though. Does it just come down to "I know it when I see it" applied to loaded or slanted questions?

Addendum: there's also a delete-undelete roller coaster on top of that. The first question I mentioned was deleted with 3 non-OP votes, but there are two undelete votes already cast on it.


2 Answers 2


I haven't read the question, but FWIW -9 downvotes (and counting), and zero upvotes, is a sign that the question isn't controversial at all.

Only troll types of questions get that type of verdict. And just the very first line of the question is such a huge troll that it warrants a downvote and close vote then and there.

Controversial questions get positive votes to offset the negative ones.

Edit: Having vaguely scanned through the question, I'd add this: one could ask almost the same question without being argumentative like the OP was, and it would likely have garnered good answers and showed up on the network hotlist.

< aside >

In fact, if @Michael_B is reading this, allow me to suggest an edit. Delete the entire thing and write this instead:

Why are Democrats in Congress trying to force President Trump to release his tax returns?

Optionally add something to the effect of:

What arguments are they putting forward?

And leave it at that.

If you do that, upvotes and good answers will be plenty, it might get picked up on the HNQ, and many of the answers will rebuff what you argue in the current question.

< /aside >

As to the roller coaster it's basically by design insofar as I'm aware.

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    Yeah, I'm baffled by the 3 reopen votes but no upvotes on that question... I guess the reopen votes were along the lines "let's not stifle discussion". I for one thought it was just simpler to ask the core question separately than bother to reopen that... Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 18:30
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    Yeah. My initial thought was could it be they didn't have enough reputation but it then occurred to me that, no, the rep needed to upvote is trivial and the rep to close/reopen definitely isn't. So even the reopen voters hated the question. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 18:32
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    For the lower-rep users reading this: that Trump question has been deleted now by 3 non-OP delete votes (one vote from was Denis....) I guess that's one way to stop the reopen votes, but I'm not sure. It looks like one can still vote to reopen even deleted questions! Anyway, my CW version of the same question is still around politics.stackexchange.com/questions/40608/… Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 20:13
  • @Fizz: that question you referenced was good but too narrow to cover the topic and doesn't quite capture the Zeitgeist IMHO. The fact that Cmd+F "corrup" or "crony" or "famil" or "nepot" or "evasion" or "fraud" or "lobby" or "conflict" or "interes" or [out of time to edit in more examples] doesn't yield anything on the page speaks mountains of how narrow it was. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:11
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    Also, almost comically, there's an undelete vote on that question, in spite of it having a whopping 11 downvotes and 0 upvotes. Make that truly built-in rather than "basically by design". Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:19
  • I think you can't upvote while it's deleted. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:22
  • @Fizz one reason to vote to reopen but not up vote the question is if you think the question is okay but lacks research. Indeed, there's some room between keeping a question open (or voting to reopen) and voting up. If you don't agree, consider this, do you ever look at a question and think no action's needed? That basically means it's fine as it is, okay to remain open but not good / interesting / whatever enough to be voted up.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:35
  • @JJJ: My first comment under this answer was along those lines. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:36
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    @JJJ: Still... there are a few users on this site who have turned trolling masquerading as asking questions into an art, and get plenty of upvotes. Heck, I upvote them too sometimes, thinking "ok you got me there, this is an obvious troll but it's still interesting". There is no need to put an explicit agenda on it like the OP did to get their point across. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:48
  • @DenisdeBernardy I don't think the asker in question is a troll though, I tried to explain my concerns and they put in effort to take care of them but not in the way that I think is most appropriate. There is this razor in philosophy that says we shouldn't attribute to malice what can be explain by incompetence, asking questions isn't always easy, especially if you have a vested interest your judgement easily gets clouded.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:53
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    @JJJ: unless you've been living under a rock in the past couple of years you should know full well that OP was trolling. There's just no way someone would ask about Trump tax returns and putting a litany of straw men as counterarguments in their question, unless they're here to promote something, and we've a close vote reason for that. Also, the razor you mention is likely about science, rather than philosophy. If that's not the one you meant, the social science version is much less gentle. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:59
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    @DenisdeBernardy I was referring to Occam's razor, which on the 'simple' Wikipedia is explained as a principle from philosophy. ;p Regardless of that, I agree that the straw men shouldn't be there, but I can't read his mind. I only know him from the one other question (also deleted, there may be more which I don't know about), so to immediately say that he's trolling is bit too far for me. And if he actually was, it's a bit pointless as it gets deleted in a few hours anyway.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 22:08
  • Two undelete votes now. One more and the roller coaster moves down to a lower level (more rep is needed to undelete than to reopen.) Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 5:48
  • @DenisdeBernardy Being a zealot is not the same as being a troll :)
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 5:31

I'd just let the 'roller coaster' do its thing because that seems to be entirely by design. There are certain time limits to the close votes so the roller coaster won't go on infinitely (at least not in the short term).

All in all, it's not ideal that questions get closed and reopened repeatedly, but it's not the end of the world either.

Fewer close votes

As we're still in beta, many people have the closing and reopening privileges. Once the site gets the normal reputation requirements, this 'roller coaster' effect should be less of a problem as fewer people have close and reopen votes. Of course there are still enough high-rep people to close, reopen and close again, but a second or even a third loop is probably less likely.

Regular voting works

In addition to that, I'd stress that people can also vote on the question to as they normally would, that is an important quality control tool as well. If a question is voted down often enough, I think it won't show up in the question overview anymore (not entirely sure what the requirements for that are) and even one down vote without extraordinary answers are enough to prevent questions from reaching the the Hot Network Question list.

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    To back up your first point: using this SE data explorer query on Politics, there are currently 518 users with the 500 rep needed to cast close/reopen votes, and that would drop down to 96 if Politics had the 3,000 rep requirement of a non-beta site. An 80% drop in potential voters would definitely make a difference.
    – Giter
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 15:22

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