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When reviewing close votes, this helper appears above every question to be reviewed:

enter image description here

I'm curious to know if there was any specific rationale for displaying such suggestions, other than to streamline the review process (i.e. aid in faster decision-making).

Because, if not, I think there's room for improvement. I think introspection reveals to many of us that these suggestions do influence the way we read questions. The first voter often sets the "context" of the review for any following voters who don't actively resist bias, which I think can be any of us when we are distracted, go on auto-pilot, are tired, or generally just not introspective.

Furthermore, upon voting to close, the reviewer also sees how many voters voted for what reason, and other details.

I feel that the case of showing referenced duplicates is an exception where the time it saves reviewers justifes any bias it may cause (but if anything, I think it helps reviewers make better decisions, by encouraging them to compare potential duplicates side by side).

However in other cases, for example, when voting to move a question to another site, shouldn't we each form an independent opinion keeping each site's FAQ in mind, instead of being tempted to bandwagon with the other 3 or 4 voters who voted for, say, Super User?

IMHO, if we agree on these premises (which we may not—I'd like to hear others' takes on this), I think there are many ways to reduce bias by making compromises such as:

  1. requiring higher reputation to view new close-vote reviews (letting the veterans set the context), or

  2. showing others' suggestions only after 2 or more have voted in the same direction (but not showing any "counters" like how many people voted to move to Super User).

What are your thoughts? Thanks!

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In general, SO has a policy of trusting people to act responsibly even in the face of potential bias. Regular votes, close votes and delete votes are all immediately visible and it's assumed that people won't be too prone to band-wagoning. I don't see any particular reason that the review queue should be a special case.

Another important factor that makes me hesitant about your suggestions is voting not to close a question. If someone else thinks that a question should be closed, I'd like to know why so that I can see if I think that they're correct. I could assess each question completely independently of others' perspectives, but in practice it's helpful to know why the question ended up in the queue.

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Late acceptance, but thanks! –  Andrew Cheong Dec 20 '12 at 19:33
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If you're worried about bias, you should be more worried about the existence of the /Review system because surely just having a question pop up in the review already biases the reviewer by telling them that someone else thought it should be closed.

I don't see a problem with having the little helper text because the same information is available in the regular close dialogue. If you're motivated to review close votes, then you're probably already clicking the "Close()" link when you see it on a question. If anything, I'd rather see more information, i.e. show the question and its answers and the actual close votes.

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To be frank, I think you're over-generalizing the meaning of "bias". I mean, yes, all relevant information would influence, but I wouldn't call all influence bias. The fact that a question is flagged, IMO, is an influence, e.g. "This needs attention." But why it needs attention can be left as much as possible up to the independent judgment of the reviewer. By your logic, one could say the existence of a judicial system is unfair because information is being exchanged :p (I'm half-kidding). I only mean that less information may produce more independent judgment, that's all. –  Andrew Cheong Oct 5 '12 at 0:31
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