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This question has 2 downvotes at present, but no close votes. There is a comment suggesting that the question is unclear, which is a valid close reason, but I don't know whether both the downvotes are for this reason.

Perhaps it would be useful to have a discussion about downvotes and close votes and the purpose of each. I see both as an important part of curating the site.

Aside from the differences in their purpose, a significant difference that may affect motivation is that downvotes are completely anonymous, whereas close votes are openly visible (at least once a question has been put on hold).

As the lack of anonymity could potentially make some people wary of close voting, I'd like to see close votes emphasised as something essential to the running of the site. I want people who vote to close to be commended for it, whether we agree with the close reason or not. The close/reopen cycle will take care of that. Downvotes are also important, but they do not have the effect of putting a question on hold to ensure it can be improved before answers come in.

How does the community feel about the difference between downvotes and close votes? Is there any specific guidance we should be giving?

I ask in particular because our Stack Exchange site has a significant proportion of members who are not familiar with the Stack Exchange model, so that both downvotes and close votes will be new to them.

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Yes, I agree that this question should be closed as unclear. However, I can't currently vote to close.

Don't forget that many users lost a bunch of privileges when we went from private to public beta. If I haven't miscounted we currently have only 17 users who can close vote, but 74 who can downvote.

In general, I think there is a difference between downvoting and close voting though. The tooltip of the downvote button lists three criteria for a downvote:

  • The post doesn't show any research effort.
  • The post is unclear.
  • The post is not useful.

While being unclear warrants a close vote, the other two not necessarily do (depending on the situation).

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    $\begingroup$ I'd like to add that for us, who lost the vote to close privilege, there still is the possibility to flag for all the same available VTC reasons and bring a particular post up to the review queues. However, our flag does not count against the 5 required actual votes. $\endgroup$ – Nero Sep 25 '15 at 9:08

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