There are people who can mark a thread as "duplicate" by single click. On the other hand, there are people who can only "vote" about it. Moreover, there are people who can do nothing about such decision. And at the last, there are people who are totally unable to see such marked threads because redirection is done automatically.

My wish is determined to the first sort of people: do your decision very honestly and thoughtfully. In order to avoid such situations. This is not isolated example here, I have seen more similar situations, where OP was searching simple solution and it was linked to very complex answers and to a thread where such simple solution is incompatible as an answer.

Somebody can be preparing an answer at the time of your click (about "duplicate decision"), he invested much time to do this and your single click can baffle to realize his anwer on this site.

This site distorts human relations. Somebody says: my true is absolute because I can do single click, but you must to "vote". And he is unable to accept that his decision is bad using simple arguments. He insist only on "voting" mechanism. This is uncommon in normal human environment.

  • 4
    I have only two golden hammer badges yet and used it rarely yet on clear duplicates where I knew exactly that they were duplicates, e.g. because I have answered basically the same question already. But I agree that using the gold hammer too quickly is annoying
    – user31729
    Mar 17, 2018 at 7:27
  • 3
    I think only 3 votes are needed to reopen (I did, so now are 2). In general, if you vote for reopening explaing why, people reopen the question quite quickly.
    – CarLaTeX
    Mar 17, 2018 at 8:15
  • 2
    Indeed, the answer is open now (only 10 minutes after).
    – CarLaTeX
    Mar 17, 2018 at 8:26
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    Today, I see very similar problem here: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/420618 But a tiny difference is here, of course: disabling of this thread was not single-man decision.
    – wipet
    Mar 17, 2018 at 14:58
  • 3
    I wish that the system would warn in these cases. It is too easy to inadvertently close because you think you are just voting. Not that voting doesn't require thought, but the impact is much less substantial. I don't like the 'gold hammer' at all, to be honest: it strikes me as arbitrary and sledge-hammerish in theory, and something of a menace in practice.
    – cfr
    Mar 17, 2018 at 19:29
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    To be honest, I never understood the criteria for the identification as a duplicate. Of course, there are questions which are literal copies of previous questions. However, I've seen users being dragged to answers which almost certainly won't allow them to solve their problem. Therefore, I wonder if it would be possible to change the rules in such a way that the OP has to agree that her or his question is closed by a single person. Of course, closure by votes should always be possible.
    – user121799
    Mar 18, 2018 at 19:08
  • I don't understand what you mean by "This is uncommon in normal human environment." Voting is part of society, period. Or do you mean that in normal human environments discussions are typically resolved with the introduction of fisty cuffs?
    – Werner Mod
    Mar 20, 2018 at 0:58
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    If somebody has a permission to decide about "duplicate" by single click, then it would be more agreeable when he/she only write a comment: "Similar solution is here... Is it sufficient?".
    – wipet
    Mar 20, 2018 at 8:16
  • @wipet: The (possibly) duplicate question is indicated on top of the question (the yellow box)
    – user31729
    Mar 21, 2018 at 12:43
  • I like the idea proposed by @wipet ask the OP whether the proposed duplicate answer solves the problem for them before closing by a single vote.
    – A Feldman
    Mar 25, 2018 at 0:57
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    @marmot Wouldn't it be better to just abolish the golden sledge-hammer privilege altogether? The thing is an enormous pain, whether you suffer from having the damn thing or somebody else's having it or, in many cases, both. At least make the damn thing optional. Why do I have to be stuck with it?
    – cfr
    Mar 25, 2018 at 1:09

4 Answers 4


The problem of questions being closed too fast is a perennial one, and you're right that the people who have a Gold tag badge for one of the question's tags can close unilaterally. So this is definitely something that should be used very carefully, and usually is. But it's never a problem to have a reminder like this meta question.

And I think you draw a very important distinction between 'voting to close' which allows for others to weigh in on the decision and 'deciding to close', which the 'gold hammer' unfortunately allows. And as others with gold tag badges have pointed out, they don't always remember that they have that power. So I agree that gold tag badge holders should be extremely careful with their use of it, perhaps by first leaving a comment rather than simply applying the hammer.

However, the system does have a fairly reactive way to undo such close votes: people can vote to reopen a closed question, and provided they leave a comment explaining why, such reopening usually happens.

It's also possible to drop into the chat and suggest reopening a question. One of our mods, Joseph Wright is there a lot, and is extremely responsive to mod requests. And even if he's not around, the usual chat room people are happy to add reopen votes themselves.

Looking at the comment thread on the question you linked to, you seem to be saying that you don't want to participate in the reopening voting procedure, because you don't like the voting system altogether. This is of course your right, but then I think your complaint about the system doesn't quite ring true. It's really not hard to reopen a question, if you agree to participate in the methods described above.

Some related discussion on closing more generally:


I'm not a fan of the 'golden hammer', to be honest. It is too easily abused or inadvertently misused, and its effect is determined rather arbitrarily in practice, since questions are often not even tagged appropriately in the first instance. Incorrect tagging further exacerbates the problem of inadvertent misuse, by which I mean intending to vote, but actually closing unilaterally. Furthermore, I'm not convinced that a golden badge for even an appropriate tag guarantees any particular expertise in identifying duplicate questions, especially since people often seem to erroneously think of duplication in terms of duplicate answers.

Fortunately, however, actions of this kind - inadvertent or otherwise - are, as Alan Munn points out, easily reversed. Moreover, refusing to participate in this system on the grounds that it is unlike 'normal' human environments is, I think, wrong-headed. I can think of various more-or-less persuasive reasons for refusing to participate, including a judgement that the system is unfair, arbitrary, anti-democratic, non-consensual, objectionably hierarchical and supportive of anti-social, tyrannical and community-destroying behaviour. But the claim that it should be rejected because it fails to reflect 'normal' human environments is, in my opinion, untenable.

First, SE is not a 'normal' human environment in any sense. No online environment is normal, but SE is doubly abnormal, if not triply so. It is downright weird in so many other ways that the voting system is surely a mere trifling detail. The only adequate way to reject its abnormality is to never visit. I'm not at all suggesting you do that: I'm just saying that this is the logical implication of your position. Indeed, I would prefer to view this as an reductio ad absurdum of that position.

Second, 'normal' is a fraught word and it isn't clear what is meant here. Statistically normal? That's no objection: if SE were friendlier and more helpful than statistically normal human environments, that would be a point in its favour and certainly no reason against. Presumably, there is rather a notion of what a human environment ought to be like. And the objection is that the system is unfair, unjust etc. and that human environments ought not to be this way. I think this is arguably correct. Whether or not it justifies participating in the site but not participating in this particular aspect of the system, I'm not sure.

If the objection is that the voting/hammer system is anti-egalitarian, that's true, but the entire site is designed to promote anti-egalitarian aims, so it isn't clear why this particular feature should be picked out for rejection.

If the objection is that the voting/hammer system is not effectively meritocratic, although this is (presumably) the intention, that is not implausible in the sense that the system in practice provides rather arbitrary powers which typically bear a somewhat tenuous relationship to pertinent expertise. However, this is equally true of many, if not most, other aspects of SE's design, so it is not clear why this feature should be singled out for rejection.

It is, of course, true that paradigmatic cases of 'voting' are one-person-one-vote. However, this is not an essential feature of voting systems and is, in fact, an extremely recent innovation which is still far from perfectly realised even by the best of democratic systems. Moreover, outside of special contexts, one-person-one-vote is the exception rather than the rule. (Statistically) normal human environments are ones in which the power of individuals varies hugely. Most of these don't use voting at all, of course, but many do: when shareholders in companies vote, the rule is not one-person-one-vote and many of those most affected by their decisions may have no votes at all. And there is probably less reason to think shareholders enjoy votes in proportion to their expertise than there is to think that SE users do. This is not to say that such systems are just, but they are certainly 'normal' human environments at this point in time.

I would say that the SE environment generally, including its voting system, is, like all human environments, messy, flawed and imperfect. Parts of it reflect design purposes I don't endorse; other parts imperfectly realise purposes I do. As with all human systems, SE's users introduce additional flaws into the environment. They further frustrate the ends of the designers - both those I agree with and those I don't - and they find ways to use features for purposes which were never intended. In this sense, SE is absolutely typical of human environments - 'absolute' because true in the strongest possible sense. There are simply no exceptions because no human environment is perfectly designed, no human designer pursues entirely ideal ends and no human beings fail to frustrate both the best and worst of other humans' purposes.


I think it's worth noting that the idea of marking things as a duplicate is supposed to be positive, along the lines of

your question is similar to previous ones, this answer should solve your problems..."

That said, the fact that the site mechanics for marking duplicates is so similar to the mechanics of marking off topic or unclear questions, means that there are undeniably negative connotations so people should take care when closing with new users. (To be honest I'm less worried about closing affecting site regulars who may have potential answers). For example by dropping a specific solution hint in a comment in addition to the stock duplicate link comment that is generated by the site.

As others have commented, the gold tag close privilege is a pain, it is easy to forget which tags you have the badge for, or not notice which tag the question has. I usually don't vote to cast a close vote unless there are several other votes already if I notice I have the relevant tag badges.

However if you have an answer ready and the question gets closed (it happens to us all:-) it is not really a problem as you have several options:

  • If the duplicate does cover the new question, just forget it and move on, the OP has an answer.

  • Add your answer in the duplicate question if it is a near duplicate but the existing answers don't cover everything. (This is rather rarely done on this site but is I think the intended way that duplicates work on the network)

  • Vote to open the new question. It takes fewer votes to re-open than it does to close so this normally doesn't take long to get the question re-opened, and if you @ ping the people who closed or just drop in to chat and say "I have an answer for question ..., could someone vote to re-open" then I have never seen it take more than a few minutes to re-open a question.

So the site mechanics and the voting system are imperfect and have some strange artifacts in the way particular postings are handled but overall it works well enough so I don't think there are major problems and certainly the whole thing is sufficiently arbitrary and artificial that I think your attempt to infer human motivations and failings from the actions of users on site are not really valid.

  • Probably a stupid question but why not just mark the duplicate question along the lines you did above?
    – schremmer
    Mar 22, 2018 at 23:30
  • @schremmer sometimes i do (especially if I have the gold badge) but that is fighting against the site's design. The idea is that by voting as dup you not only alert the OP to the old question, you alert others to confirm or deny the assessment by voting and finally if it is closed as duplicate it isn't deleted it essentially helps improve the site search to the old question as searches that would otherwise land on the new one are automatically redirected, so questions that are in fact faqs get lots of closed duplicates pointing at them which means they are easier to find Mar 22, 2018 at 23:47
  • Which goes to show that I know nothing about the sociology and the logic of this kind of sites. Oh well, it is a good site with all its warts and it has bailed me out many more than once.
    – schremmer
    Mar 23, 2018 at 22:53

Voting - and the associated reputation - separates Stack Exchange from other networks. It forms part of the core philosophy for the network, so that will not change. It is by far the simplest and most effective way to add value (positive or negative) to other's work. It's used throughout Internet forums and other Q&A's to rank the value of contributions. And that's why voting adds value elsewhere, but also here.

The theory behind moderation by the community is another fundamental design principal that contributes to the network's foundation and ties in well with the idea of voting.

If you're not into voting (maybe 1 vote every week, stemming from 171 votes over 46 months compared to other voting contributors) because it is flawed, you shouldn't be so hard-up about the decisions others make when voting. Just contribute in the way you're comfortable. For you this is predominantly through answers.

Further to the two posts in question; they have the same goal:

and that's why I voted to close; that's the careful thinking I used to make my decision. There is no declaration requesting a solution that didn't use specific packages, and using a comprehensive packages like in the other solutions doesn't warrant proposals that are not simple (one could argue the OP requested "simple arithmetic" and therefore a "simple", "elementary" or "non-package" solution). It could be argued that you are using a non-simple technique as well since the calculations are obscured using dimensions to perform simple floating point arithmetic, since the OP is not interested in lengths.

If the question remained closed (for whatever reason) and you still felt that the OP needed a solution that only you can provide, you are more than welcome to contribute with only the necessary amount of artillery needed by using a comment, just like I did, even if that means code is hosted off-site. This has been used often, with some code still available since the start of this site (around 2010) - example comment.

  • 4
    You say: "and that's why I voted to close" but it is not true, you decided to close. This is fundamental difference. We can discuss about voting philosophy, but this is out of this particular problem. Your decision was relied on the particular reading of OP (you are citing only a part of whole OP here) and when the OP explained more about non-profitability of the linked thread in the comments, you still insisted on your decision. I hope that here should be difference between this result using this site and normal human communication face to face.
    – wipet
    Mar 20, 2018 at 7:56

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