Moderator aeismail cast one of two reopen votes for the following question:

Is it reasonable to request an exemption from certain degree requirements?

In my view, this question has several problems:

  1. It deals with an undergraduate problem which cannot be generalized to graduate students,
  2. Any answers related to increasing OP's likelihood of success strongly depends on institutional policies, and
  3. A really interesting take suggested by RoboKaren here: the question is a "boat-programming" question.

It is interesting that moderator aeismail cast one of only two reopen votes, when he clearly explains his view on such matters here. In the linked meta question, aeismail states:

Stack Exchange sites are community-driven. Therefore, as much as possible, the moderators try to leave decisions to the general community. We will act unilaterally in clear-cut cases (abusive or spam posts, duplicates, completely off-topic questions such as programming questions, and so on). Otherwise, we prefer to wait until there's a consensus.

In this particular instance, the close votes were entirely from regular users; the moderators played no role in closing the question. Personally, I agree that the question you've cited should be reopened, and would support a reopening "campaign"; I've indicated this in the comments section. However, as I also pointed out above, the moderators here prefer to work from a consensus standpoint, so I'd rather if several users voted to reopen instead of acting unilaterally.

I agree with what aeismail wrote in his answer above. But, unfortunately, that is clearly not what happened in the case of the "undergraduate-trying-to-get-out-of-a-humanities-requirement" question.

I like to assume that there are good reasons for things which happen on Academia SE, and that I've probably missed something.

Can someone explain why aesimail's actions on this question are good for this community-driven site?

Edited to add:

It seems that I've misjudged the value that the community places on the "undergraduate" question that started this thread. As of this writing, there have been only 3 close votes recast (not to mention several additional upvotes). I'm not going to stand in the way of this question: I have retracted my close vote.

Hats off to aeismail for seeing the value in the question that I did not.

  • Note that close votes cannot be "recast"; as far as I know, you can only vote once to close a question, and once to reopen it. So it's actually quite difficult to get enough votes to re-close a question.
    – ff524
    Aug 19, 2015 at 3:25
  • @ff524 Ahh, I did not know that. Thanks!
    – Mad Jack
    Aug 19, 2015 at 3:27

2 Answers 2


I reviewed the question based on it being flagged for moderator attention.

The main reason citing it being closed was that it was "undergraduate focused." However, the fundamental question relates to requesting the exemption in the context of applying to graduate schools, which makes it relevant for this board. (Again, I will also note that I have said on multiple occasions that the undergraduate flag is overused.)

In that spirit, I viewed that the original basis for closing the question was no longer valid, and cast a reopen vote. I do not feel that this is an "abuse" of moderator power, as it came out of a direct request for intervention, not as a "drive by" reopening. .

  • Thanks for the explanation. I'm still not sure I agree that the question is a good fit for the site, but that's life.
    – Mad Jack
    Aug 16, 2015 at 18:38
  • 3
    I would still argue that "applying to graduate school" is the boat programming analogy to our "undergraduate focus" problem. If we (as a community) think that we should include undergrad questions, then we should definite a clear policy that defines what is and what isn't allowed, rather than allowing ".. if I'm going to grad school..." to the be magic words that allow them.
    – RoboKaren
    Aug 16, 2015 at 18:51
  • @RoboKaren: I agree we have to be careful about this, but I think here the issue was actually germane to the question as a whole.
    – aeismail
    Aug 16, 2015 at 18:56

Can someone explain why aesimail's actions on this question are good for this community-driven site?

I think the simple answer is, because aeismail does an excellent job of moderating the site. Based on the responses, he probably jumped the gun a little on his reopen vote. Note that he wasn't obviously wrong in his actions since the question has still not be reclosed. In fact, had I seen the edit and not had a mod vote, I would not have hesitated on voting to reopen. Overall, I like how aeismail moderates, and it seems a little harsh to ask him to justify himself for such a minor issue.

As a mod, I think there is a difference between mod hammering a question to close it versus to reopen it. Further, we tend to have a high bar for reopening questions and a few users are very against under graduate questions. The cost of reopening it, means a few people need to vote to close it again, the benefit is a new user.

Finally, I think this is where comments about closing can help. Had we been clearer about what needed to be fixed, I would have been less ikely to vote to open, and hopefully we would have gotten a better answer.

  • 1
    I think the simple answer is, because aeismail does an excellent job of moderating the site. — I don't think this answers the quoted question. Moving on: from a user perspective, the best moderators are the ones you don't really notice, and I think aesmail scores excellently in that regard. In this particular instance, though, I think his actions were a little on the heavy-handed side. Just my $0.02.
    – Mad Jack
    Aug 17, 2015 at 3:00
  • Thanks for offering your take on this issue. Now that a few days have passed, I see that I am in the ultra minority on this particular question.
    – Mad Jack
    Aug 19, 2015 at 3:22

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