The first posts queue is a very helpful tool to guide new users. It should be expanded, not removed.
First posts (or early posts, not necessarily just the very first post) warrant more attention for:
- guidance in comments, regarding how to improve a question which isn't suitable as posted, what extra information should be provided, what could improve the quality of an answer, etc.
- spam triage
- edits, as the user probably often hasn't mastered formatting — this is especially important on sites with MathJax
- making extra sure that helpful first posts are rewarded by an upvote (as rofl notes, it's especially important to get new contributors to the stage where they can upvote)
The first posts queue is all about guiding new users. If it's misused 50% of the time, this means that 50% of users are getting this extra chance of guidance. Removing the queue just because it isn't as effective as it should be would be silly.
So yeah, this review queue is terrible and useless
Wrong. Dead wrong.
I'm thinking we could probably make this work if we narrowed the focus considerably; less "help new users in some mostly-unspecified way" more "help filter the wheat from the chaff"
This seems completely backwards. Helping new users in some mostly-unspecified way is very much what the first posts queue is about! Yes, triage is also involved — there are users (especially spammers) that we don't want to help. But primarily this is about guidance, about helping.
Before the first posts queue in its present form, I used to pay special attention to posts on the front page marked “modified X time ago username 1”. I deliberately went to these posts to provide triage and guidance. This is obviously very approximate: it doesn't catch cases when someone else modifed another post on that page afterwards, sometimes brings me to already-deleted posts, etc. Essentially, what I wanted a list of first (or early) posts requiring special attention, preferably with some system so as to distribute said attention evenly. Which is the exactly what the first posts queue does.
Ideally, a new user's posts should go into the first posts queue as long as the user hasn't been determined to be good or bad. I'd like to see something like this (I haven't thought about the numbers much):
- A new account with 1 rep is considered new until further notice. All posts by a new account go through the first posts queue.
- When a new account reaches 2 posts with a positive score, it is presumed good; posts no longer enter a queue based on the poster.
- When a new account reaches 2 posts with a negative score, it is presumed bad; posts enter the low quality queue instead of the first posts queue.
Posts from new users should enter the first posts queue as soon as technically possible. We want to do triage and guidance as early as possible, ideally while the user hasn't closed their browser yet.
Each post should be seen by multiple pairs of eyes. I agree with the general idea that posts should exit the queue based on actions taken, though it's not as simple as having had a vote up or down. Some posts are just middling. I think the rules for number of reviews should be relatively complex, perhaps a sort of point system (actions grant points whether taken from the review queue or not):
- the first upvote or downvote gives 3 points
- subsequent votes give 1 point, but the second vote gives 0 point if it contradicts the first one
- a close vote or any flag gives 1 point
- an edit gives 2 points
- a comment gives 2 points
- a “no action needed” review gives 1 point
- a post stays in review until it's acquired at least 4 points, with always 1 mandatory review
I haven't thought much about all possible combinations of actions, this is just an idea of what I think the system should be. The idea is to ensure that feedback is provided to the user.
I don't see the point in separating questions and answers. This queue is about providing tailored guidance: you never know whether the next post will be good or bad, so why would it matter whether it's a question or an answer?
To combat the serial reviewer problem, we need to combat serial reviewing in itself. This isn't a problem of the first posts queue specifically. Making “no action needed” not count towards badges and rankings might help, though I don't like it much — it penalizes conscientious reviewers because of some bad apples. I had proposed minimum quotas of each action to get badges. The objection was that serial reviewers would turn to acting randomly and undoing their damage would become harder — but I'm not convinced: are we really undoing the damage of serial reviewers now? Alternatively, we can punish serial reviewers: there are now tools to suspend users from reviewing, and we should reset offenders' progress towards badges.
Audits aren't doing a good job of revealing serial reviewers because too many of them are litigious and the ones that aren't are trivial to avoid without really engaging one's brain. However, patterns of behavior can be used to good effect — a user who spends 5s on average and always selects the same action clearly isn't doing a good job. A minimum time per review (with some averaging going on because there is the occasional short review) could be enforced or verified (“you cannot submit more than 10 reviews in 5 minutes, come back in 1 hour”); there are ways to make reviewing more annoying for serial reviewers while not impacting conscientious reviewers, and we aren't doing that at all at the moment.