What does it mean for a question to be closed?
When a question is closed, no additional answers may be posted to it, although the question and existing answers can still be edited (by users with edit privileges) and voted upon, and will continue to count for badges. The asker of a closed question may still accept an answer. Questions that are particularly bad should be flagged for moderator attention so they can be closed quickly.
Closed questions can be re-opened by users who have sufficient reputation.
Who can close a question?
- Users with at least 250 rep may vote to close their own questions
- Users with at least 500 may vote to close any questions.
- Moderators may close any question (regardless of their reputation)
- The same users who can vote to close questions can also vote to reopen them
What are the limits for 500+ rep users?
- 24 votes to close per day
- 5 votes are required to close or reopen
- Votes will expire after 4 days if the question does not reach 5 votes
- Questions containing a bounty cannot be closed
- You can only vote to close once per question
- You can only vote to reopen once per question
What are the reasons for closing a question?
When closing a question, a reason must be provided for the action. If none of the reasons for closing the question apply, you should strongly reconsider voting to close.
Questions in these categories may be closed:
Exact duplicate: Questions that cover exactly the same ground as earlier questions on this topic should be closed. See How to handle duplicate questions?
Off-topic: Questions are generally expected to be on-topic for the site, in accordance with the site faq.
- Belongs on [another site]: Questions that are unrelated to the site topic, and would fit better on another site in the Stack Exchange network.
Not constructive: "This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion."
For more about what makes a question Not Constructive, see QA is Hard, Let's Go Shopping, Gorilla vs. Shark., and We Hate Fun Here.
Not a real question: "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form."
For more information, see What is a Real Question and What Have You Tried.
Too localized: "This question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet."
For more information, see What questions should be closed with reason “too localized”.
What if multiple close reasons are used on a question?
If a moderator participates in the closure, the reason the moderator selects is displayed. Otherwise, the question gets closed with the most frequently given reason. If there is a tie, the latest reason is used. However, if multiple potential duplicates were suggested, all of them will be displayed in the automatically generated "possible duplicates" box.
For more information on the etiquette around closing questions:
Is closure the end of the road for a question?
Definitely not. Closed questions can and should be edited to improve them and address the reasons why they were closed in the first place. Once this is done you might need to either flag the question for moderator attention or raise a meta question to bring it to everyone's attention so it can get the necessary views that might translate into reopen votes.
It's only when a question can't be salvaged that it should move onto the next state - deletion.
When are closed questions eligible for deletion?
Closed questions become eligible for deletion by the community after 48 hours, but users with 2K reputation or more are not subject to this restriction. See here for the rules governing question deletion. See also Do closed questions ever get deleted?