What are the commonest checkmating moves in the Lichess (or similar) database? has been closed by 2 people.

How is it that 2 people are sufficient to close a question, while 5 are required to reopen it? We have 2 people who have voted to reopen it. Not to mention the 6 people who upvoted the question and 6 people who upvoted the answer (an excellent one by a relative newcomer). Counting the question and the answer itself, the total of 1+1+2+6+6=16 positive opinions expressed are insufficient to outweigh the 2 unexplained votes that closed this.

Also the reopen button only appears after the post has been closed. So the 5 people required to reopen can only begin to vote by coming back later.

Note also that there is no suggestion given by the two casual closers how it might be refocused. They merely click a button to invalidate all the hard work by questioner and answerer. In my opinion this is a naturally multi-faceted question, with a single scope (focus). It's really fine.

Stackexchange has, accurately in my opinion, a reputation for toxic behaviour, and I will continue to hold to account those who in my opinion are behaving badly.

So what to do?

Firstly, let this question be immediately re-opened, and kept open until 5+ people have voted for its closure.

Secondly, let's make sure that all questions can only be closed if 5+ people vote for it. If 5 people vote for closure, that is more likely to be an appropriate decision.

If these mechanisms don't work, then something more radical may be required. For example, re-open votes can directly count against close votes, and if the number drops to a low enough threshold, the question will be reopened automatically.

Thanks for your time.

EDIT: I see that that, rather than engage here in Meta on the general principle and fixing the broader problem, one of the closers has chosen unilaterally to edit the question to reduce the scope, and apparently reopened it. No consultation with OP, no explanation and no apology.

I'm glad the question has been reopened, although in my opinion, the original scope (essentially examining extreme frequencies of final moves) was fine, as it requires the same kind of analysis.

The broader question remains: how to correct (or avoid altogether) inappropriate closures by very small numbers of votes?

  • 2
    As the author of the closed question, yeah, it's a bit frustrating. Especially with no explanation - did the voters object to me asking about both most common and rarest moves? The alternative would be to have separate questions, but considering that the bulk of the work in answering would be the same in both cases, it just seems a bit annoying to do so. Commented Mar 24 at 21:44
  • 1
    I am very glad to see this question reopened. Will post an answer when I get time. I hope to see @SteveBennett ask the other question too. Commented Mar 25 at 12:08
  • @secretagentman If you felt that this should be split into two questions, then you could have simply made a comment to this effect. I believe you were one of the two persons who together unilaterally closed this question. That’s really not very constructive behaviour. If you were unhappy about the response to your comment, you always had voting for closure available as a later sanction
    – Laska
    Commented Mar 25 at 13:25
  • Possibly relevant: system appeared to work on this question but that is anecdotal. I was not involved. Would need a SEDE query to gather enough data to assess. Commented Apr 15 at 11:34
  • @Laska I think my answer addresses your concern. At least I hope so. Thanks for initiating this good discussion. Commented Apr 22 at 12:01
  • 1
    @SecretAgentMan yes and thanks for your response. See my comment. I wish the main moderator involved had deigned to respond.
    – Laska
    Commented Apr 22 at 12:37

3 Answers 3


Questions are closed when they get 5 "ordinary" close votes or 1 moderator. Reopening uses the same standard. As it happens, both the close and the reopen on this one were done by a moderator before the count got to 5.

I personally feel like this is fine the way it is. IMO it would be ridiculous for a moderator to not be able to close questions, especially with the rash of incomprehensible posts by a certain person we've had lately.

  • Hi D M, thanks for your thoughtful explanation. I suspected this was what was going on. Moderators need the ability to close & delete spam posts. However in most cases of closure, as here, it’s much more a matter of judgement and there’s no reason why a moderator’s vote should count more than the vote of any other member in good standing. In my opinion, moderators need the ability to cast “ordinary” close votes, 5 of which would be required to close a question. What do you think?
    – Laska
    Commented Mar 26 at 0:33
  • 1
    And as mentioned in my comment to secret agent man, even an ordinary close vote is excessive and uninformative as an initial response in most non-spam cases. The first response should be a comment expressing one’s concern, and exactly what needs to change. There is always the sanction of making a close vote available later. Posting an unexplained close vote is absolutely toxic behaviour - the default text is insufficient
    – Laska
    Commented Mar 26 at 0:41
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    I believe the point in closing it is so people don't answer the question if it's about to be significantly modified (which may invalidate the answers.) I think it's fine so long as we do, in fact, promptly reopen it once the edits are made. It's not meant as a punishment for a bad question or something.
    – D M
    Commented Mar 27 at 0:53
  • 1
    The unexplained pre-emptive closure as usual disrupted the happy answering and it never recovered. Most people just moved on. There is a permanent cloud created by a closure and a lot of time wasted trying to resolve it as the reopening is so difficult. The sanction should be used as a last resort. It also presumes that the moderator has perfect judgment in content matters. He or she may be experienced but in these subjective areas they should have the humility to just cast a single vote out of 5 needed rather than destroying the question with a single undocumented click.
    – Laska
    Commented Mar 27 at 19:38

I apologize to the OP and to @SteveBennett for the delayed response.

TL;DR: I immediately upvoted the question when I first saw it. I also cast a close vote initially because of the dual request for both "commonest" and "rarest." This was a mistake as (1) the question is good (I upvoted it) and (2) the two ideas are very strongly linked. Any good answer to one subquestion could easily respond to the other subquestion as well.

I didn't comment out of habit from SO where comments to help tend to attract revenge downvotes in my experiences. In this case, and in this smaller Chess.SE community, that was probably a mistake in judgement on my part. I am glad to see the Chess.SE community corrected my mistake and reopened this very good question.

Q: "How is it that 2 people are sufficient to close a question, while 5 are required to reopen it?"
Comment: "I believe you were one of the two persons who together unilaterally closed this question."

My misguided close vote did not close the post. Simply put, one of the close voters was a moderator (post timeline). As @AntonMenshov points out, a mod close vote is sufficient to close the post; see Add a way for moderators to cast a normal, non binding close/open vote from the UberMeta.

With respect to

  • "I will continue to hold to account those who in my opinion are behaving badly."
  • "Posting an unexplained close vote is absolutely toxic behaviour - the default text is insufficient" (comment).

In retrospect, I think the original question is fine since the two subquestions ("commonest" and "rarest") are so strongly linked that any good answer could easily respond to both subquestions quite well. However, I am not sure words like "toxic" and "behaving badly" apply here. I acted in good faith and I admit a mistake here, but there was no malice.

  • 2
    There was no malice. There was no toxic behaviour. The question was first closed and then justifiably reopened. End of story. Commented Apr 6 at 3:40
  • 1
    Thanks for the detailed response. I think the problem is that moderators are denied a way of voting that does not terminate the vote immediately. It’s really not fair to them. However in the mean time I think they should not vote to close except for obvious spam cases (which should be directly deleted). Instead moderators should explain the situation and rely on other members voting one by one to close
    – Laska
    Commented Apr 22 at 12:34

Just an idea - spam/abusive/copy/... question (anything that can't be healed) can still be closed by 1 mod vote, whereas for unfocused/subjective/... (better edit than close) questions a mod vote counts the same as a "normal".

  • No question spam should simply be deleted by 1 vote not even closed. Would be grateful if moderators can do this expeditiously. But for more nuanced questions yes the current moderator 1 vote to close is too heavy-fisted. Would be good if the main moderator involved in the question under examination right now could respond here rather than being silent
    – Laska
    Commented Apr 4 at 11:08
  • 3
    @Laska relevant. Unfortunately, there is no way for a moderator to cast a non-binding close vote. Between many non-ideal solutions, the status-quo with moderator binding vote and occasional post on meta to re-open with justifications -> is the common denominator most communities use. Commented Apr 4 at 18:33
  • 1
    Thanks Anton. If the technology can’t be fixed then it falls to the moderators not to use their vote except when it’s very obviously ok (e.g. duplicate question). Otherwise they are just throwing their weight around as it’s such a hassle to reopen a question and in the meantime the discussion has been disrupted. Obviously spam is a different matter where immediate delete rather than close is the right answer
    – Laska
    Commented Apr 4 at 22:19

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