Pending close votes are not visible to users on their own questions when they do not have the VtC privilege*

I believe it's quite common for us (VtC privileged users) to come into a question, see it is close worthy and:

  1. Cast the necessary VtC
  2. Possibly downvote the question
  3. Leave

Note the lack of feedback to the post-owner; no comments, no information. They see their post attract downvotes (usually) and they don't receive the answers they sought.

And whilst it can only be 5-10 minutes until the question is closed, I've also seen cases where questions go hours (days) in this dormant state before getting the 5 close votes needed.

And this is potentially/ probably/ possibly the user's first 5-10 minutes on the website, it is a horrible new-user experience, and we should do everything we can to fix that.

I propose some form of UI which lets the user know in advance of their question being closed, such as re-using the existing close messages (alternatives very welcome!):

this question may not be constructive and is likely to be closed

This question may not be a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. You may wish to reformat your question to make it suitable for our site, and you can see the FAQ for guidance.

Potential benefits I see:

  1. Users can see what they've done wrong ahead of time and can possibly fix their mistakes before the question gets closed (less "please re-open this post" on meta/ flags)

  2. Users aren't kept left-in-the-dark about why their post is attracting downvotes (less "why am I being downvoted").

  3. A better new-user-experience.

* excluding duplicate votes, but correct me if I'm wrong...

  • 2
    Not sure about this; the view own close votes privilege is fairly low (150 I think?) and I kind of like that certain more complicated functions are hidden from new users to keep things simple until you learn more, like a video game. Rather than freak people out upon getting one close vote (like they do with downvotes sometimes) it seems better to encourage action once the post actually is closed.
    – Zelda
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 15:42
  • 1
    @BenBrocka: Ahh, it seems the privilege is 250; but the problem is that it's these users we're missing (<250) which most need this UI to explain what's going on. Users > 250 are less likely to ask close-worthy-questions because they know the system. I was aware of scaring-new-users which was why I tried to hide all the "close vote" terminology in the pending-close example I suggested.
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 15:45
  • 5
    I think the hope is that some people will leave comments at least before the 4th or 5th close vote. I'm not sure an automatic message can be of that much help, new users often need specific directions. Dupes I agree they should be told ASAP, but they usually are (it auto-makes a comment saying "possible dupe of...")
    – Zelda
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 16:09
  • 5
    +1 While I usually try to leave a comment on anything I VtC that doesn't have one already, I've seen many questions closed with no feedback at all - and I agree that for new users, this is discouraging. I would suggest your text include something like At least one user has indicated this question should be closed for not meeting our quality standards (Or even show the count).
    – Basic
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 16:16
  • 1
    It can be shown to the user him/herself only, and probably can be shown from the 2-3rd close vote for all users that doesn't have view close vote privilege.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 16:37
  • @BenBrocka: Whilst that's all well and good, I just haven't seen it happen in practise. I understand the vagueness isn't as helpful as a targeted comment can be, but, I think it's better than nothing (which is what happens in a lot of cases now).
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


As someone with >25K reputation on Stack Overflow, it's been a long time since you've been in that "new user" category. If you've posted a question recently, you most likely got to do so without hitting any of the roadblocks that you would hit as a new user.

All of us see suggested questions while composing our question, to help avoid duplicates. Furthermore, the right sidebar, next to the question box, already tells the user what's expected:

How to Ask Is your question about programming? We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed. Provide details. Share your research. If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead. read the faq » asking help »

Additionally, once a user under a certain rep clicks "Post Your Question", he/she is then redirected to a Welcome/How to Ask page. The page advises the user to search first and even gives them a convenient search bar to use. Next, the page lists and describes some tips for writing a good question. At the end, there is a checkbox that the user must click to indicate that he/she read and understood the tips.

Any users who still post low quality content after this have sort of put their head into the lion's mouth so to speak. It's like when a company puts all those warning labels and directions on their products outer packaging, inner packaging, the owners manual, and the attached safety card, and the user still cuts his hand off because he didn't make sure the safety guard was installed on his new power saw.

Showing these users more information that these people just aren't going to read isn't going to change their behavior. Thus, if a user gets to this point and his/her question has downvotes, well, some users may leave guiding comments. In fact, I encourage guiding comments, but showing them close votes won't matter. The people that get to this point clearly didn't read. Maybe some community guidance combined with some polite, constructive comments may help. Sometimes it does...

  • 5
    People don't learn before they are bitten. When registering for forum/service/some websites, there is always FAQs and terms, and people expect them to be more or less the same for all web sites. SO and SE sites in general has some different rules in that regards, and people don't notice it until they got bitten. All the nets along the way are more or less obstruction to their asking question (until they learn, that is).
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 17:56
  • Why should we be duplicating information already provided by the close votes? If they're not going to bother reading the close reason, that's entirely their own problem and I'm incapable of sympathising with that or understanding why they'd read a comment instead. The only problem here IMO is that the close reason is 'hidden' from users (with and without the VTC privilege) until the question's actually closed. Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 11:31

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