On Travel.SE, I have 233 rep. I guess I look like a newbie. (I have a lot more rep on another SE site, and know how they work in general.) But it means that I don't have the privileges or reputation here that I do on other sites. I haven't been in the position of having both newbie-level rep and a problem, before, and I don't know how to handle it. What do I, a low-rep user, do?

I feel the need to state explicitly that the 'flag for moderator attention', if that's the mechanism intended to solve this type of problem, does not or has not worked.

I am worried that this will happen to other users as well. Thankfully I am not a newbie to SE sites and I know this is not what's supposed to happen - thus the question. Goodness knows what someone completely new would do... leave the site and never come back, probably.

So: How can I, a normal traveler, powerless on the site, handle an issue like an incorrectly closed question?

General Stack Exchange policy on duplicates is that it's not a terrible thing, even for exact duplicates. A question incorrectly closed as a duplicate hurts the site far more.

(Background: I asked a question recently (deliberately not linked) about getting a visa for country B, when you already have a visa for country A, both in the Schengen zone. This is a complex thing and one I'm worried about. It was closed as a duplicate of a question asking about deliberately illegally overstaying a visa. Not only are none of the answers to that question applicable to what I'd like to know, but the answers are possibly illegal. I'm also not sure how to react to what appears to be a mod's implicit suggestion to follow an illegal path, because even if the question was actually the same as mine, I - and I hope most other people using the site! - would prefer legal avenues.

I flagged it for moderator attention, but nothing appears to have happened.

I haven't asked a question on meta about this specific question, since I think it will be far more beneficial for the community to address the general issue.)

4 Answers 4


I see this is the question you're talking about.

It was flagged as a duplicate by one of our community members, closed by a moderator. Then you flagged it for moderator attention which was looked at by another moderator and marked as a helpful flag.

While the question linked as a duplicate is somewhat similar, I feel it is 'different enough' to warrant a reopening. I have thus reopened the question.

To answer your primary question, you did things exactly the right way: first, flag it for moderator attention. If you don't agree, raise the issue here on meta. There's no need to be coy about what question you're talking about, you can link to the question directly. Close decisions are often taken on a case-by-case basis and it helps in discussing a specific question.

  • Thanks Ankur. Good to know I did things the right way!
    – David
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 15:14

Your first course of action should be to flag for mod attention and explain in your own words your case. If the moderators think your question is indeed different, they would reopen it themselves.

If that doesn't work and you still feel it was closed inappropriately, feel free to voice your concern on meta and state your case so that ordinary users can state their opinion. However, you should provide a link to the question at hand and explain how it differs from the supposedly duplicate one. We've had similar cases in the past, I'm sure you could find a few cases just scanning the latest meta questions, and many of those have been indeed reopened.

And finally, somewhat unrelated: you are indeed correct that visa issues are complex, and you must understand that we are neither lawyers nor experts in immigration laws. We will not be able to provide you more correct and up-to-date information than an officer in the customs and immigration agency or embassy of the country you travel to, and when in doubt, this should be your main course of action.

However, here at Travel-SE we are able to answer your specific questions much more quickly (in a matter of hours, not days weeks) without all the hassle, but you should not take at face value what a random bunch of people tell you on the internet without checking the facts.

  • Thanks! And re your unrelated note: I know I can't take advice here as though it was correct in a lawyer sense. But it is faster, and often (hopefully!) right, and it's a good way to benefit from others' experience, especially in complex areas like navigating visas.
    – David
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 15:13

The intended way for a user who does not have the reopening priviledge to handle incorrectly (in their eyes) closed questions is the following workflow:

  • comment on why you think the question is incorrectly closed
  • edit the question if necessary to improve clarity and focus
  • flag for reopening (this is a flag reason you can choose)
  • bring it to meta and discuss it here
  • if and only if all else fails raise a mod attention flag.

A few points need additional words added:

  • The flag you raise will put the question into the reopen votes queue where it is seen by all users with more than 3000 reputation. This is the quickest and intended way to get an incorrectly closed question reopened.
  • If the question has only been put on hold and is not yet closed (or is a duplicate but only recently has been closed as one), a simple edit is enough to put it into that queue and further flagging is not necessary. If you are unsure, there is no harm in raising a reopen flag nonetheless.
  • While a mod notice flag will definitely be the quickest way to get things done, it is often better to not request the mods to take action where the community can act as well. Thus, a custom mod notice flag should always be the last resort.

Can you be more specific? What question are you talking about?
Moreover, you can always vote to reopen the question, and agitate others to do so. After 5 votes to reopen the question will become open. And if you are right about error closing, the 5 votes are quite easy to achieve.

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