In several of the discussions about closed questions, and also in the blog, there's claims that questions can get re-opened.

It certainly doesn’t mean “You are an illiterate cretin. Go away” — although some people take it that way.

Closed means “Closed for repairs”.

How often does this happen?

Ideally, this could be measured by the proportion of questions that are edited after being closed getting re-opened, but I guess a statistic on how many questions that have been re-opened after being closed, versus how many questions have ever been closed (including deleted ones), would be useful.

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After looking into this for about an hour, I am not sure SEDE allows for this; and if it does, my SEDE-fu is not strong enough. So far I've only compiled some very basic stats (number of questions closed, reopened, deleted, etc. per month), but even those don't seem quite accurate in places; they don't quite match the stats I am seeing in the mod tools (which do not include reopens). At this point I am only comfortable with saying that looking at 2012, the number of new questions per month has stayed the same, and so has the number of reopens, while the number of closures has gone up by 50%. –  RegDwigнt Dec 20 '12 at 22:18
    
@RegDwighт thanks for trying. –  Andrew Grimm Dec 20 '12 at 22:20
    
I see What's the meaning of “dummy up”? has got two "reopen" votes, several months after being asked and closed. I closevoted because Googling define "dummy up" shows several clear definitions for the relevant sense even without leaving the Google homepage... –  FumbleFingers Dec 20 '12 at 23:20
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...I now find I'm interested because I'd like to know how many people would immediately think of "dummy up" as meaning "say nothing". But that's got nothing to do with the original question, so is it justification for voting to reopen? –  FumbleFingers Dec 20 '12 at 23:22

1 Answer 1

I don't know of any way to get long-term data. However, I searched this meta site for the word "reopen", and found several requests to reopen questions. This is what I found:

  1. Do Lunch vs. Have Lunch : Reopened
  2. Literal Meaning of 'Gosh' : Still Closed
  3. “Why Steven Sinofsky is out at Microsoft” : Reopened
  4. Is 'Deuce' a Corruption... : Reopened
  5. HTML for Dummies – Offensive? : Reopened
  6. “Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” Origin : Reopened
  7. What is bigger: a Squillion or a Kadgillion? : Deleted
  8. Is corrosion an onomatopoeia? : Reopened
  9. A more positive word for 'challenging' : Deleted
  10. Is 'These sort of things' grammatical? : Still Closed
  11. Career vs. Carrier : Still Closed
  12. “Sick and tied” & “sick and tired” : Reopened
  13. Is "heinz sight" an eggcorn? : Reopened
  14. The world's oldest profession : Still Closed
  15. 'Than' vs 'to' vs 'over'? : Reopened

In summary, out of the 15 questions I examined, 9 were reopened, 2 were deleted, and 4 remain closed. According to that preliminary data, it looks like a reopen request on meta has about a 60% success rate. (Granted, this does not account for questions that may or may not get reopened without intervention on meta, but I still thought it was relevant to the discussion.)

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: I did not cherry-pick; I simply scrolled through the search results, looking for requests to reopen questions, and located 15 such requests. (15 was a predetermined number, based on how much time I had available, and how much effort I was willing to put into pasting these links.)

FOR FURTHER RESEARCH: I made no attempt to analyze the quality of the questions, to examine the questions’ edit histories, or to read through the ensuing meta discussions about the request to reopen. It might be interesting to see if there is a correlation between:

  • whether or not the original question was edited/improved, and the reopening rate
  • the reason the question was closed, and the reopening rate
  • the upvote/downvote totals on the original question, and the reopening rate
  • the number of upvotes/downvotes on the meta request, and the reopening rate
  • the quantity and tone of discussion on the meta request, and the reopening rate
  • the rep of the user requesting the reopen, and the reopening rate
  • whether or not the request was made by the O.P. (vs. another user), and the reopening rate
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I realize that within the stated framework cherry-picking apparently did not occur. However, for a reopen request to be made on meta is so rare that the stated result does little to answer “How often does this happen?” I imagine one closed question in a few thousand is mentioned on meta, and that reopened free-standing closed questions are one in a few hundred, vs the 9-in-15 ratio reported above. –  jwpat7 Dec 29 '12 at 0:16
    
@jwpat7: I realize it's a bigger puzzle than I've painted here, but there are plenty of courses of action besides meta. (If my question got closed, I'd probably repost an improved one.) And even if meta requests represent a small fraction of closed questions, they might represent a sizable portion of those where (a) the original question had considerable merit, and (b) the O.P. really wanted it reopened. (Still, you're right, my answer does not tell the complete story by any stretch.) –  J.R. Dec 29 '12 at 2:25

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