I often see recent questions in the review queue that on first reading should be closed mainly as not a question as they are missing a lot but they are so new that the OP has not had time to review and edit. This would also mean we appear friendlier to new users as in other meta questions there have been several questions pointing out that closing a question is often seen as unfriendly and offputting.

Could the queue be changed so that for "Not a question" at least (and possibly "non constructive" and "too localized") the queue skips them for a day or two, We have > 50k other questions to review so this would not stop people who want to review.

Off topic and duplicates generally can't be fixed and so should be closed as soon as possible.

In respons to the answers and comments.

From other Meta SO questions it seems that new people especially see close as closing (which in normal English implies that there is no further access e.g. from Merriam- Webster

to terminate access to (a computer file or program)

) Whilst experienced SO users realise they can edit and reopen. So really boils down are we trying to help new users here.

I have no issue with the first close vote being put there hopefully with a comment so that the OP has to look but the issue I have is when one flag is there and the it is in the close queue and the 4 other flags come in quickly before the OP can respond to the comment. The issue is not the process but the time taken over it.

Comments have been made that I can edit, but in the cases I look at this is not possible as often there is a comment asking the OP to expand on an issue and only when they give some sort of response do we have enough information to edit

  • 1
    indeed, a "delay response" option would be very useful, in solving my same concerns.
    – hayd
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 14:09
  • 3
    We close posts in no small part to mark them "this needs improvement". Requests to delay closing have been declined before
    – Zelda
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 14:11
  • However to new users close implies terminate/close down not a request for improvement.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 0:06

3 Answers 3


You bring up an excellent point about new questions not necessarily having time for a robust discussion about whether they're salvageable or if they're total crap and should be deleted on sight.

But you know what? It's okay that they're showing up in the close review queue because you can help improve the question.

Note that in addition to the "Close", "Do Not Close", and "Not Sure" buttons, there's also an "Edit" button. Use it if you think you can improve the question based on your own knowledge of the subject.

Alternatively, if you think the question isn't up to snuff but are hesitant to close it now, add a comment requesting more details or warning that the question needs to be cleaned up if the OP doesn't want it to be closed. In my experience, a lot of "not constructive", "not a real question", or "too localized" questions can usually be fixed with an edit based on community feedback. Once you leave your comment, click "Not Sure" to skip it.

While Ben Brocka is right that closing questions is meant to convey that the questions are not appropriate in their current state, many people don't realize that closures can be reversed and so won't revise their posts. (This is a problem we're aware of and we'll be working on fixing.) Using the review queue to start a conversation about how to improve the question and help educate new users about our standards is a fantastic use of the tool. I think that your suggestion is a perfectly fine one, but it's not necessary to achieve what I think you're looking for.

EDIT (in response to OP's edit):

You are correct; our current system of closing appears unfriendly to new users. We don't have a specific fix for this yet, but we are looking at ways we can better educate new users about what "closed" means, as well as make it easy for experienced users to help us teach new users our ways. I can't promise you anything, but your suggestion isn't bad. Delaying when questions with close votes show up in the queue is one option; that will be considered along with other solutions that can hopefully get to the heart of the problem, which is that our system isn't the most friendly toward new community members.

  • "This [won't revise issue] is a problem we're aware of and we'll be working on fixing" I would give big fat +1 for this statement alone (although the rest of the answer isn't bad, either:)
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 21:10
  • +1: "There's also an 'Edit' button"
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 23:44
  • However often I can't edit as the OP needs to clarify something and someone else has commented asking for info and this is the case I am looking at - If it is clear then I do edit.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 0:04

It takes a little while for people to understand the nature of the site, and to understand that closing a question is not a permanent state, or something to fear. While we know that we can reopen, the OP often (usually for low rep users) does not, and sees their time wasted and their contribution discarded, resulting in a lost user as they regularly give up on the site.

Yes, I know that anyone can edit the question into shape, but over on AskDifferent we have had a number of cases recently where for example the edit was largely guesswork because it was not made by the OP, or the questions were just closed (occasionally whilst edits were actively being made). We get a lot of posts where an edit is clearly required, but only the OP can really do it (particularly for users who are not native English speakers), and our Mod team are so on the ball with the review queue that these often get closed within minutes, resulting in no time to respond to any comments requesting improvements, and often no time to leave a comment requesting improvement.

A simple possible solution might be to add a deferred close option for inexperienced users (say less than 101 rep). It can be fully automated, and essentially operate as a close would now, only with a 24 hour timer, giving the OP time to respond to request for more information or clarity. It could automatically add a comment to the question that reads:

Welcome to the site. I see you are new here, unfortunately it's not clear what is being asked in your question or it has been automatically flagged as low quality, and is at risk of being closed unless it is improved. Please could you edit your question to prevent this? Reading How to Ask might give you some additional ideas on how to improve the question. Remember though, even if your question is closed, it can be reopened at any time if you or someone on your behalf suitably amends it.

Any subsequent edit made within the 24 hours would cancel the timer. Perhaps, rather than complicate the Mods choice of close options, this could just be automated to add the delay for low rep users, so they just close regardless, but the low rep OP gets a little window of opportunity to respond to the comment and critically also be made aware that closure isn't final and thet they can go back even after it's closed and fix it later.

Simple, elegant, and a safety net for fresh users who feel intimidated by criticism of their input rather than helped to improve.

I don't think the queue should skip them for a day or so, I think that having them in the queue means that they get the comments for improvement early, just delaying the review merely pushes the same problem simply back by a day, it will do nothing unless manually flagged by a user, and then get commented on a closed far too quickly for OP response.

  • Also stop the close if the OP makes a comment - possible also if an answer is made as that can also clarify what is asked as someone else has understood it
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 11:02
  • Potentially - the actual level of activity that is monitored for prior to closing can be tweaked, but the process of requesting change, and then allowing a slot for it to happen seems a subtle and easy solution
    – stuffe
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 11:18
  • 2
    To prevent users from trying to answer badly-written questions (resulting in equally badly written answers), questions in probation shouldn't allow answers until the flag is cleared. Otherwise we will have to weed out the answers as well once the intention of the asker becomes clear.
    – nohillside
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 14:10
  • I disagree. I think the question should be closed promptly, but it should be made clear, ideally through the notice users receive, but if not, through comments, that closing is a temporary measure taken so the question can be improved and does not accumulate answers guessing what the question might be asking while we're in the process of figuring out what the OP really wants to know. But don't delay closing; unclear questions should be closed, and closed quickly, so they don't attract useless answers.
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 14:21
  • @patrix hits the nail on the head — but there's a process for preventing answers until things are cleared up — it's called closing the question.
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 14:22
  • Which gets us back to the point that we should (especially for new users) point out in the comment that closing isn't final but just a review state. Or we could introduce a new "Review" state for these kind of questions.
    – nohillside
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 14:28
  • Which re-introduces the same issue that the comments are currently just a courtesy and entirely optional as well as wildly varying in quality and content, and a closed question reduces the number of people that can subsequently see and therefore edit, or comment further on that question, thus increasing the chances of it just staying closed with an alienated OP. Hey, no-one said it was easy to fix ;) My method still closes the question if the improvement isn't made, it just does it in a more user centric/friendly manner that puts the OP first, not the site and it's guidelines.
    – stuffe
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 14:54
  • Also, a closed Question isn't going to be re-opened just by having the OP make the edit. It needs to be voted for reopening by several high ranking users, or moderators, most of which will not ever be notified or see the changes, because the question remains closed. Usually the only way a question is ever reopened in reality is because the edit was made by said high ranking users or moderators, who then kick it about in chat - something a low rank OP will not frankly do. A closed question is almost always a dead question. Great for the site short term, bad for the OP & site long term
    – stuffe
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 15:00
  • Reopen requests are put into the review queue so they don't just get lost. We could also advise users to raise a custom flag for reopen to make sure that a moderator looks at it again.
    – nohillside
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 16:32
  • Only after someone has requested a re-open, and the only person who will ever do this is the OP practically speaking, which is yet more assumption on our part that they even know how to do this and don't just make an edit and leave it hanging.
    – stuffe
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 16:34

I believe that questions that aren't answerable in their current form do need to be closed promptly to avoid accumulating a series of answers that guess at what the question is trying to ask and answer a series of related (or unrelated) questions that aren't, in fact what the OP is looking for. I agree with stuffe that new users in particular often see closing as permanent and are scared off by it.

My suggestion, therefore, is that questions closed as NARQ show up to the user as "on hold" or something to that effect rather than "closed." The purpose of this would be to invite the OP to edit to improve the question. While this is functionally no different than closing the question, it sends a message to the OP that is more clearly "please fix this" and not "go away." Perhaps edits to a question "on hold" should automatically generate a flag to attract review whether the question is ready to be reopened.

Prompt closing is the right tool for unclear questions. I don't think we should stop doing that at all. I do think we could explain ourselves more gently to the OP so prompt closing can be taken as an invitation to dialog and not a stern "go away" message.

  • Another way to achieve the same goal - not scare the users away with our rigid adherence to SE doctrine! The site(s) are the userbase, as much as the content, so let's bring the new guys that need help on (or at least point the way formally) rather than expect immediate understanding of the secret handshakes as they may see it.
    – stuffe
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 15:11
  • I disagree with the closing - we need to signal the OP that the question needs to be improved - leaving it open allows more people to see it and help, but your suggestion is better than the current way
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 20:41

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