This is just depressing:

95.2K close votes

And I don't mean it's depressing that there are that many questions that might need to be closed. There are nearly 6 million open questions on Stack Overflow - if under 2% of those are crap, we're doing great. Realistically, that number is probably going to get a lot bigger before we're done... But I'm working on another post about that, so enough said for now.

No, that number is depressing because I can't do anything about it. Ok, realistically I could - since I'm immune to the normal voting limits, if I spent the rest of my evening reviewing stuff I might be able to bring it down by... .1 or .2K. That's assuming my wife doesn't kill me first. But for most other folks reviewing stuff, there's literally nothing they can do that will affect that number. They can burn through their entire review limit, and it'll still be exactly the same.

That's depressing. And it's a lie. Those folks are helping, they are accomplishing something useful... The system just doesn't tell them this. And that's wrong.

So here's what I'm proposing: every time the background task that populates the queue adds another bunch of items to it, figure up how many pending review tasks are in there from the past 24 hours... And display that number. Yeah, it'll still be a pretty big number - but now we're talking 2-3 digits at worst rather than a progress-hiding abbreviation. And more importantly, with sufficient effort it'll be possible to watch it go down.

For informational purposes, I would keep the full backlog displayed on the stats page.

This might eventually be useful for other queues (broken links...) but for now it's only really needed for close and only on Stack Overflow.

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So you would still run the user through the entire 95.2K gauntlet of questions, if they were so inclined? –  Robert Harvey Nov 20 '13 at 21:54
    
I would hope so, @Robert. Otherwise, my other feature request is pretty pointless. –  Shog9 Nov 20 '13 at 21:57
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Either I literally saw that question count increase on this page, or I need to get more sleep... –  Jamal Nov 20 '13 at 21:57
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I think I agree with this. Last weekend, a handful of the mods on Stack Overflow went on a massive flag-handling spree. The resulting smaller numbers really do make a difference in how it feels to dive into the queue. –  Andrew's a Unitato Nov 20 '13 at 21:57
    
It still seems so strange to me that people have this overwhelming need for the queue to approach zero, but if those people think this will help it seems like a reasonable approach. –  Tim Stone Nov 20 '13 at 22:03
    
If I understand this correclty, possible duplicate of Show the number of items added today, not the total number. –  Dukeling Nov 20 '13 at 22:04
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@TimStone - When you look at all of the other queues, not really that surprising. People see a crap meter that shows them helping with crap reduction and it makes them happy... If they can't see it is helping, though, you get the close vote queue... –  Oded Nov 20 '13 at 22:05
    
Perhaps showing people the number of reviewed times where the outcome was consistent with their chosen action would be helpful in thy regard too? –  Tim Stone Nov 20 '13 at 22:08
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Not quite, @Dukeling (unless I misunderstood that request) - I'm not interested in how many were added, I want to see how many recent (24-hours) are still not handled. –  Shog9 Nov 20 '13 at 22:08
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Possibly. I just think showing people that their efforts are bearing fruit is the first and foremost thing to get right. Seeing the queue grow larger is depressing - knowing you can't put a dent in that number is demotivating. Showing you that you are making a (possibly bit) dent in what we think is the most important bit of that queue - quite helpful. Not sure that a you-were-right-or-not meter would be beneficial here. –  Oded Nov 20 '13 at 22:10
    
You guys are already working on a broken link queue? –  Bill the Lizard Nov 20 '13 at 22:12
    
@Shog9 - having the number of unhandled / total in last 24 hours shows progress. Might be worth having both numbers (i.e. 123 left out of 1345 ) –  Oded Nov 20 '13 at 22:13
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Unless you're heavily filtering, @Dukeling, it's extremely likely you'll get recent questions. –  Shog9 Nov 20 '13 at 22:18
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If you do that, better change the title from just "Close Votes" to something like "Close Votes recently added", in my opinion. We don't want to lie, do we? :) –  Shadow Wizard Nov 21 '13 at 9:20
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I would say, "questions/day" is reasonably honest and still short enough to go below the number, @Sha - I guess we could put something longer in the title tip. –  Shog9 Nov 22 '13 at 18:14
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2 Answers

Perhaps rather than putting a positive spin on the size of the review queue we could spend a little more time thinking about practical measures to improve the functionality of the queue. Psychological validation is good, but not nearly as good as real improvement to the system.

Would you rather feel good about your contributions or be given better tools to make contributing easier?

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After further thought, some analysis, and some internal discussion... I don't think this is worth implementing.

At the current rate of review, the number would hover between 900 and 1200 throughout the day, higher some days than others. That's not awful, but it's less encouraging than I would want; furthermore, the chances of an individual reviewer seeing the number drop while he was reviewing aren't great.

It's time for more drastic measures.

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