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Scenario: I come across a question that is poorly written, but is very new (like a few minutes old). If the question were older (as in an hour or so), I would submit a close-vote. However, since the question is very new, I like to give the OP a chance to improve the question, so I don't close-vote immediately. Instead, I comment on the question. In my comment I try to point out the issues with the question (e.g. "What do you mean by... ?"). Then, I keep the question open in a background tab and return to it later (like in 5 minutes or so).

However, sometimes I just don't feel like investing in a question like that, so I just abandon it. Which is why I had this idea. Imagine if you could set a reminder for a particular question. You would set the time (e.g. 30 minutes), and an optional message (e.g. "close-vote if question hasn't been improved").

Of course, if OP responds to my comment, I don't need the reminder. But from my experience, new users tend to ignore constructive comments, and just focus on getting a solution without having to invest any more time in explaining the issue.

So, with this feature, I could:

  1. comment on the question (pointing out how the question should be improved),
  2. set a reminder (30 minutes),
  3. if the OP responds to my comment, I get the notification; otherwise I get the reminder after the specified time.

Btw, this feature is trivial to implement in JavaScript using localStorage.

So, what do you think?

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If it's really easy, why don't you implement it, post it on You'll become hugely famous if it's popular :) – Mat Oct 25 '12 at 18:28
I like this idea. Jeff made a strong philosophical counter-argument once to the effect that a post should be evaluated as seen at that second, no matter how old it is. It was in response to a very similar suggestion that I made (I'll dig up the link in a second). However, that suggestion was related to downvotes. I didn't think of applying the idea to closevotes back then - it makes much more sense that way. – Pëkka Oct 25 '12 at 18:30
This will complicate the system I personally don't like it. You'd be adding elements to the UI which may become confusing. – JonH Oct 25 '12 at 18:32
@JonH yeah - it would definitely be something that should be shown to power users only, or by choice. – Pëkka Oct 25 '12 at 18:33
This was my suggestion from back in the day (NOT a dupe): Introduce timed downvotes actually, Jeff's argument wasn't in that suggestion. It must have been somewhere else – Pëkka Oct 25 '12 at 18:33
@Pekka But I think it will still complicate the UI even if it's a power user. If Jeff mentioned that I can see why. – JonH Oct 25 '12 at 18:33
@Mat Yes, I could do that. :) I'd have to familiarize myself with the SO JS API, I guess, and right now is really bad for me, since I'm working on my first video. I'll put it on my TODO list. – Šime Vidas Oct 25 '12 at 18:37
@Jon I think I've come around to seeing it your way. :) Šime - I'd still be very interested in seeing this as an add-on! Who knows, maybe using the tool works out totally different than we think it will. – Pëkka Oct 25 '12 at 19:02
@Pekka I'd definitively use such a feature, so much is sure :) We'll see... – Šime Vidas Oct 25 '12 at 19:37

I initially liked the idea, but on further thinking, it suffers from the same problem as did my similar suggestion to introduce timed downvotes: it would add a huge amount of complexity for relatively little gain.

I, too, want to be gentle to newbies, and I'm still hesitant to welcome them with negative voting. However, these days, I closevote straight away anyway, and sometimes even downvote.

This is for three reasons:

  • There's simply too many bad questions.

  • Most OP's simply aren't worth delaying or second-guessing your negative vote, because they aren't going to fix their question anyway because they don't care or don't know what's expected of them.

  • For those OP's who are actively interested in improving their question, there is usually enough time for them to do so before the required five close votes trickle in that seal the question's fate. The five vote threshold is most often already enough of a delay.

I guess I largely buy into Jeff Atwood's philosophy now: that a question should be evaluated as it is in the moment you look at it, and not based on some theoretical improvement in the future. (I can't find where he said this right now.)

If anything, I'd favour an approach that puts the onus of acting completely on the asker: if my question gets closed or downvoted, give me one shot - just one - to ping @downvoters and @closevoters when I've edited it, and appeal to them to reconsider their vote. This requires the OP's active interest in getting their question revived.

But then, there is a solution already that doesn't require a feature at all. When closevoting, we could leave comments to the effect of:

I voted to close because I think the following is wrong with this question: ....... ping me when you fix this problem so I can vote to reopen.

this would have almost the same effect, but not require a new feature at all.

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