The question Why has English become the global language? was recently put on hold. As it is a migrated question, it appears that it cannot be reopened by voting.

According to the Help Center (Privileges),

Closing is a democratic voting process where the community identifies questions that duplicate existing content, are unreasonable to answer in their current state, or do not belong on the site.

That's clear enough, except that what has just happened to this question isn't very democratic.

  • 5 people out of I don't know how many hundreds of active, eligible users voted to close.
  • In the review queue, 2 people (plus me, so 3 in total) voted to leave this question open, 1 voted to close it. This means that four of the votes to close did not use the review queue; there is no such option for those who think a question should remain open.
  • Users can, indirectly, indicate they think a question should remain open by up voting the question. This question has 8 upvotes and 2 downvotes, leaving a balance of + 6 (as against only 5 votes to close).
  • This question has an answer drawing on reputable academic sources which has 12 upvotes at the time of writing.

As @sempaiscuba has pointed out in a comment, there are more potential voters than closers. Nonetheless, both the question and one answer have a decent number of upvotes. Closing this question is a clearly against the majority view, and the majority has no means of doing anything about it (however big that majority is). This seems to me to be serious flaw in the system.

The Help Center clearly says that closing is a democratic process. Can we please find a way to respect the spirit and intent of the site by reopening this question?

  • Mechanically speaking, despite what the help centre says, I think it's clear the system was never set up to be democratic per se. It might be worth proposing a Keep Open vote on Meta.SE
    – Semaphore
    Sep 7, 2019 at 8:18
  • Voting to close is a privilege available to users with 500 rep or more. We have 564 such users. I have no idea how many of those are currently active on the site (never mind how many actively participate in review queues). People can upvote when they have just 15 rep - a very much higher percentage of our users (you can check the exact number on the user stats if you're interested). Sep 7, 2019 at 9:34
  • @sempaiscuba Point taken on the rep, but we still have a tiny minority closing with no reopen button. It is disappointing (to say the least) that 3 of those close votes came after someone (me in this case, but there have been others) went to some effort to provide a sourced answer. Sep 7, 2019 at 10:15
  • @LarsBosteen That's something that applies system-wide to all SE sites, not just History SE. Your choice of title is ... unfortunate. As a general rule, questions about features / problems that impact all SE sites (i.e. those that are not specific to History:SE) are probably better addressed on Meta:SE. Sep 7, 2019 at 10:26
  • @sempaiscuba Point taken on the title, and I've edited. Sep 7, 2019 at 10:42
  • @Semaphore Thanks for the suggestion. If I do propose a Keep Open vote, how exactly would it work? I mean, how many votes would be required? I haven't been able to find any info on Keep Open voting so any advice would be much appreciated. Sep 7, 2019 at 10:46
  • That issue you describe is indeed not well thought out in SE. Per design this Q&A will now be deleted by roomba as 'rejected migration' Dunno if mod-flag action could reverse this close? (Which would be even less 'democratic' now, btw) But this needs really to go to MetaSE.I suggest to ask there, quoting all the details and effects observed, stating a general need for more 'tools'. But perhaps do not mention any specifics for a proposed solution, like votes needed (I suspect that the DVs there use specifics they don't like…) So prepare them to add them quickly upon request. Sep 7, 2019 at 11:00
  • Perhaps you might also mention that this seems to mean that the question travels back as "closed", visible on originating site, and looses all answers from here, were it will be deleted. Meaning no-one can copy the deleted answers here and post them on originating site as well. Now also for H:SE-meta: Perhaps VtC on migrated Qs needs a reminder to these different effects? Sep 7, 2019 at 11:06
  • I do not know all the possible details and options involved in this process, but if you should continue to look into the basic issues and/or decide to go to MetaSE, maybe also look into the unexpected (for me) dynamics that befell this post or others, if anyone finds them (it's not about that post, but as non-mod I can only search for own…). Sep 7, 2019 at 12:16
  • And I share your confusion about voting: elsewhere I was told "I upvoted because I liked it, and VtCed for site hygiene as OT" Me: "Isn't that contradictory behaviour?" "Not at all" / So, I share your interpretation of what votes should express, but I fear your argument that positive net-votes auto-indicate "keep open" isn't shared by many, and perhaps even invalid for SE. Sep 7, 2019 at 12:35
  • @LangLangC Thanks for your comments / thoughts. I checked Meta but only found a question relating to reopening after a question was returned to its original site. Strangely, although there were several answers, there seemed to be little interest in the issue (few views or votes), and no answers (it seems) from SE staff. Sep 7, 2019 at 13:18
  • Ping me if you try it over there. One simple fix I just thought of would be to remind MetaSE that the VtC is 2-step, and thus really broken for our cases here: 1. either offer migrated Qs to not only 'close' but 'reject' explicitly 2. better & simpler: emphasise that 'on hold' is equal to 'closed' but means 'time to fix up pronto' ie 'delay rejected migration until really closed' Sep 7, 2019 at 13:28
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    @LangLangC Will mull it over a bit and let you know if I do post. I'm very much on a learning curve on the workings of SE, though. Sep 7, 2019 at 13:31
  • I just noticed that the SE:History Twitter bot has chosen to tweet a link to that question to our Twitter feed. Given that the question invites subjective answers and shows no evidence of prior research, perhaps that's not the greatest advertisement for our site? Sep 7, 2019 at 16:26
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    As a more general observation, if a migrated question is rejected for being off-topic, and you think that you have a good answer to that question, you can always consider posting a new question in a form that is on-topic for this site, and copy/paste your answer to that question. Sep 7, 2019 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


I've re-opened the question.

I believe this question should never have been migrated. I believe it is subjective and lacks research. I believe the closure process was followed and that I should respect the will of the community. However in this case, I have been persuaded to re-open the question by two facts

1) migration means that the normal re-open process is bypassed. The normal community process permits the community to argue back and forth about whether a question should be closed; in this case that is not available.

2) There is an accepted answer with strong positive votes that includes citations.

If the community chooses to close a second time, I will respect that decision.

I have also unlocked the post (thank you @LangLangC)

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    But now it is "locked"? By Community 10 hrs ago? What a pile of mess this system presents us here? The Q needs improvement, as you said yourself, and I agree. I assume this lock came automatically, but if it's possible, please remove that as well and comment below the Q again to urge for improvement. This still needs to go to MetaSE. We need an improvement cycle as possibility for substandard migrated Qs. We cannot assume that other sites fix up Qs to our standards. Sep 7, 2019 at 12:08
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    @LangLangC The question could indeed be improved but it's not easy to deal with the 'too broad' issue - asking about why English became global is a valid question in itself but, almost by definition, is also broad. It could be narrowed down but would require a lot of research. To some extent, I wouldn't be against closing it if (a) it wouldn't be deleted on this site, and (b) those who disagreed with closing had the opportunity to do so by voting to reopen. I would still argue, though, that as a general principal questions with upvoted, sourced answers shouldn't be closed. Sep 7, 2019 at 13:27
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    @LarsBosteen Paramount would be OP helping us, with an edit, as broadness is indeed unavoidable. The subjective angle is also less of a problem than letting a Q stand as is that lacks any prior research, despite quite some users voicing concerns over quality issues. Of those three reasons I weigh the last one as the most important for the Q and the site. Sep 7, 2019 at 13:35

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