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Why was this question re-opened?

As you can see from the history, I voted to close it, then one moderator closed it, then another moderator re-opened it. The side effect of the re-opening is that I can no longer vote to close it; a mod re-open overrides my vote.

This seems like a case of an unadorned problem dump where the poster didn't give any indication of specifically part has been giving them trouble; our policy has often been to close such questions. See also this meta post and this discussion and this discussion. Was there a reason to re-open this question? Shouldn't it be closed again until it is edited to meet our criteria?

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  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, 771 is at least partly obsolete; my answer no longer represents the status quo (we/I only close literal copies on sight). 740 may still apply; in particular, Gilles answer is still mostly what we do. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 8 '15 at 11:33
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I reopened the question because I didn't see a compelling reason to close it.

Our applicable policies are:

When a problem dump should be closed isn't something we have a policy for; we've discussed it a few times, but with the usual level of participation on this meta site, no position has raised to the level of representing anything like community consensus. We certainly don't have a policy that anything that looks like a problem dump should be closed — that would be problematic since there's no consensual definition of “problem dump”.

When is it useful to close a problem dump?

  • When answering would require too much effort, because the exercise requires a long solution.
  • When the problem is made up in such a way that showing a solution won't help anyone other than if they have to hand in this exact homework assignment.
  • When the problem is not particularly interesting and answers can be found readily so it isn't worth making the effort of writing one here.

For this question, too broad doesn't apply, the solution is fairly concise. The second reason doesn't apply either, it combines basic notions in a non-trivial but non-contorted way. (In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the question was a duplicate, but if it is I didn't find it. I wish someone would invent a semantic search engine!) Finally, when a question has already been answered satisfactorily, the third reason becomes moot.

Is there a compelling reason to close this question? Not that I can see. Is the web better off with or without complete_idiot's answer? I thought with, hence the question should remain open.

If we're to define a new policy regarding homework-type questions (do you want to ban undergraduate-level questions like Physics?), we need to get a discussion on meta with more than a handful of votes.

I'll re-close the question if you give me a good reason.

Apologies for not editing earlier, I didn't have time.

On an unrelated note, the reason you can't vote to close is because you've already voted to close once, not because the question was reopened by a moderator. You're now the only user on this site who can't vote to close this question. Since the question has received four votes from other users, I cast the fifth on your behalf.

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    $\begingroup$ You say that "Problem dumps can be closed as unclear if the asker doesn't specify which part is giving them trouble", and that seems to apply here; the asker didn't specify which part is giving them trouble, or ask a specific question about their approach -- they just copy-pasted the problem statement, with no further information. As such, it's not clear what the asker's real issue is or how to help the asker, so voting to close as unclear seemed suitable to me. Others posted multiple comments requesting elaboration, but they got no response. (cont.) $\endgroup$ – D.W. Jul 7 '15 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ (cont.) It felt appropriate to me to put this on hold until the asker can edit their question to provide the additional information needed to make it clear what their specific confusion is. Does that count as giving a good enough reason? $\endgroup$ – D.W. Jul 7 '15 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, I do agree with you that we don't have a clear community consensus on exactly which questions should be closed: at least, not one that's apparent from meta. There's a certain amount of arguably-useful ambiguity in exactly where the line should be drawn, leaving it open to individual judgement. That said, a small piece of feedback: the "re-open because I didn't see a clear reason to close it" (as opposed to "re-open because I did see a clear reason it should not be closed") can make it harder for the community to drive process of deciding whether to close or not, in some situations. $\endgroup$ – D.W. Jul 7 '15 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @D.W. I wasn't undoing a community closure, I was undoing a moderator closure plus a single community vote. Granted, you're maybe 20% of our closing community, but still, I didn't break a community-driver process. I don't see why the question should be closed until the asker edits: why would they edit it? There's already an answer that provides a solution to the full question, with a clear explanation. I'd have left the question closed if it hadn't been answered, but since it has a useful answer, why let it go to waste? Editing the question to fit the answer is preferable to closing. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 7 '15 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ I understand, and I respect that and appreciate your thoughtful response. The reason I voted to close is that I think it sends a useful signal to both the asker and to others about what is expected, and a useful signal to potential answerers to help them prioritize. The existence of an answer doesn't really change that reason. But obviously stakes are low for this particular case. $\endgroup$ – D.W. Jul 7 '15 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ (To comment on a few secondary points you raised: Closing the question would not make the existing useful answer go to waste; closing a question doesn't cause it to be deleted -- I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new. The re-open has a small impact on a community-driven process, because I can't add it to the close-votes review queue for other 2K users to review. But these are secondary or tertiary points, and they're not your fault. The core issue for me is that this is a problem dump with no explanation of what the asker's specific issue is, which doesn't meet our standards.) $\endgroup$ – D.W. Jul 7 '15 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with DW. Your fourth bullet applies spot-on, which is why I closed. (Good write-up, by the way.) "I'd have left the question closed if it hadn't been answered" -- that's a bad reason, imho. Quick trigger fingers should not allow bad questions to be around uncontested. The answerer should be introduced to our policy. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 8 '15 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ ad duplicate: maybe this (via search). ad reclosing: DW is right that he can't send the post to the review queue now, so how would the voting be initiated? $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 8 '15 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael What do you mean by “go uncontested”? If you want to punish lazy askers by preventing them from gettting answers, you need to close the question before it gets an answer, or delete the answer before the asker sees it. Once a lazy asker gets an answer, they don't care if the question gets closed. Closing a question with a good, on-topic answer only punishes us. Also, once again, the answerer did not violate any policy. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 8 '15 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles It creates bad precedent. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 9 '15 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael So does closing a question which, if you abstract away your opinion of the asker (which you should, closing is about the question, not about the asker), is perfectly on-topic and answerable. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 9 '15 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Gilles Well, I do assume our current practice of closing dumps. You wrote yourself that the question itself was close-worthy. By leaving answered dumps open, we make it harder to justify dumps we catch in time. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 9 '15 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael Having good answers benefits the site more than blocking questions. The only advantage to closing questions like this one is to not bother answer them. Closing answered dumps doesn't help anything: if you mean it as a signpost that dumps aren't welcome, it's counter-productive, because what matters is that the lazy asker has had his answer. You need to delete them, but that means losing good answers. I'd rather keep the answers. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 9 '15 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Gilles, it sounds like we're just going to have to disagree on this. I think your viewpoint is too narrow. I can think of 3 different audiences who matter: (i) the original poster (OP), (ii) other people who might ask questions in the future, (iii) others who are looking for questions to answer. For (i), closing probably won't do any good as the OP already has an answer, but it won't do any harm -- and for a few people it might help by giving them guidance about what is expected in the future. For (ii), closing might help by giving signposts that indicate what our standards are, $\endgroup$ – D.W. Jul 17 '15 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ (cont.) which might influence their future posts, and it won't harm. For (iii), closing might help some people looking for questions to answer by saving their time. One can see at a glance (e.g., from the home page) that the question is not ready to be answered in its current form; some people might use this to deduce that they don't need to read that particular question. In no case will closing (without deleting) do any harm. You are saying it probably won't help (i) but you seem to have overlooked (ii) and (iii). In each case, there is a possibility of some small benefit and no harm. $\endgroup$ – D.W. Jul 17 '15 at 1:15

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