I came across the close vote history page today and saw that we now have access to a list of close votes, exactly when and by whom they were cast before the question was closed.

To the best of my knowledge, until recently, this information has been anonymous until the final "binding" vote is cast either by the fifth user or by a diamond moderator. All we could see is what reason people were voting to close (and how many).

After the question is closed we can see which users were involved but we only see when the question was closed.

Looking at the first page of the close votes review history, we can see this information for both new and older questions.

Should votes to close a question remain anonymous until the question is closed?


I believe that the behavior of close votes should be consistent across both the regular VTC's ("vote to close") from within a question and VTC's from the review tools.

As with up/down votes, when you VTC from within a question, your vote remains anonymous until the binding vote. The reason the mechanism (normally) requires 5 votes is because less than that (by the systems standards) is not enough to make a decision.

Shog ♦ gives an explanation on this post explaining that the transparency of the review history is there just as your activity tag is publicly visible. Most actions you perform on the site are publicly attributed to your account and for good reason.

...both to show it off (I would hope it is a source of pride for you) and as a means of keeping moderation a community process - like asking, answering, and editing, your /review actions are subject to the scrutiny of your peers.

Making the voting process "public" as it is in the review history opens a possibility for people to vote not according to their (objective?) opinion but rather according to others. To take it to the extreme - one might see a trusted user cast a vote and simply because of his status and reputation stockpile, lean towards agreeing with the trusted user and cast the same vote thinking - "They must know what they're doing... I'll help... VTC."

Peoples decisions to cast close votes should be subject to the "scrutiny of your peers", but only once the question has been closed. Lets not let this transparency affect the voting process.


On balance, making close votes more public doesn't seem like a problem.

First, note the answer Anna linked to about the limitations of how public these votes are: You can only trace the votes going from user to question (i.e., you can see what questions a given user voted to close, but not which users voted to close a given question), and you only see close votes cast through the review system.

Was the previous temporary anonymity even a feature or mere happenstance?
I haven't seen anything suggesting that the previous anonymity was an intended feature, so I'm assuming that it wasn't a design criterion. (Though I'm happy for someone to point me towards any material on the matter.)

The benefit of anonymity:
Anonymous close votes prevent angering users before a clear consensus is reached. If I'm the only one who ever votes to close a particular question, my close vote eventually expires and no one's the wiser, saving me from facing anyone's wrath. If I vote to close and others do too, the questioner can see that it was a group decision and not just a lone person acting out. Group decisions are easier for people to accept as valid.

The benefit of public votes:
Closure is not meant to be about the relative merits of a question like voting is, it's supposed to be janitorial. Whether a question is a duplicate, off topic, not constructive, or too localized should be an objective assessment based on the site's rules that most people can agree with. In practice there are differences of opinion, but more public voting can only help bring those differences to light sooner allowing the community to discuss and determine the correct grounds for closure. Closure is an action that people are accountable for, and greater transparency fosters that accountability.

Temporary anonymity also just seems plain weird. When someone casts a close vote, they know that the vote will be public once the question's closed, why should it make such a difference if it's public somewhat sooner? Other actions are very clearly divided into completely public or completely private, why should there also be a third quasi-private category? A clear division public and private actions is simpler and easier to justify.

Finally, there's significant support for making close votes completely public. Way back in '09 there was a proposal to make close votes appear in recent activity. It's currently at 31 points, with no votes or even arguments against it. Obviously it wasn't implemented, and the status quo has ossified somewhat since then, but this tempoarary anonymity is clearly not some longheld and cherished principle of the community.

Given all that, this slight increase in close vote transparency seems unproblematic.

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