On a question with votes to close or a question or answer with votes to delete, the diamond moderators should be able to see who these users are. This information becomes public record if the post changes state, so there's no reason to hide it from diamond moderators. This is particularly useful to identify users who are (or have a history of) closing valid questions on a site.

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    What benefit comes from that? Wouldn't you read the question in case such a user casts a close vote? I hope not – juergen d Jan 7 '13 at 17:33
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    @juergend The idea would be to see who is voting to close valid questions and determine patterns. Voting to close questions or delete answers that are valid is an abuse of the system. Moderators shouldn't have to wait until a question is closed to see who is doing the actions. If I was able to see a trend in that the same people were voting to close good questions, that would warrant at least an account annotation, if not a mod message. – Thomas Owens Jan 7 '13 at 17:34
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    @ThomasOwens you will never know it was me!!! (oops). – Naftali aka Neal Jan 7 '13 at 17:35
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    @juergend: Also, we can close and then reopen if really want to have a peek, though the close counter is reset after that. – Manishearth Jan 7 '13 at 17:41
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    I really want to know who has the one close vote on this question atm. – Servy Jan 7 '13 at 17:42
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    @Manishearth I'd possibly consider that diamond abuse that circumvents how community moderation is supposed to work. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. – Adam Lear Jan 7 '13 at 17:48
  • @AnnaLear: True... I'm just saying that the information is readily available for a mod in case they really need it (for legit reasons, if any exist). – Manishearth Jan 7 '13 at 17:51
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    @ThomasOwens Perhaps a better proposal for determining patterns of close voters would be Let SEDE users get hold of data on unsuccessful close votes for stats. Data.SE is updated weekly now, and it would be much easier to determine and prove patterns through Data.SE instead of only via what you've personally noticed. (Also related, Include successful Close and Reopen votes in the Votes table of Data.SE?) – Rachel Jan 7 '13 at 17:54
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    @Rachel I'm not opposed to adding any more data to SEDE. More data means more interesting queries, which gives me more things to plot in R. – Thomas Owens Jan 7 '13 at 17:56
  • new users can see who votes to close after the question has been closed – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Jan 7 '13 at 18:15
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    First, do you have examples of the "abuse" you're concerned about? Second, there's a problem with your definition of it: the validity of questions is partially determined by what the members of the site want to allow. One of the ways that members express their opinion is close and delete votes. – jscs Jan 7 '13 at 19:27
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    I think this better be consistent with visibility of those who flagged to close (<3K). If you, as a diamond mod, can see (can you?) who flagged to close (<3k), then I would see no compelling reason to hide those who voted (>=3K). – gnat Jan 7 '13 at 19:31
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    "This is particularly useful to identify users who are (or have a history of) closing valid questions on a site." Now all we need is an absolutely foolproof way of deciding whether or not each individual question is valid in a way that everyone on a site accepts, with no exceptions. Let me know how you get on with that. If someone is voting their honest opinion in good faith then they might be mistaken but they're not abusive. – Rob Moir Jan 7 '13 at 19:49
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    As a moderator on a smaller site (where reaching five votes isn't straightforward), I would find it helpful to know if the two or three votes a post has are from our top, trusted users. That would sometimes be enough for me to cast the mod-vote, particularly if the issues around the question involve their expertise. Remember, mod != expert in all tags. – Monica Cellio Jan 7 '13 at 22:28
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    @MonicaCellio I'm not unfamiliar with the difficulties smaller sites run into, but I still think having those trusted users flag, or better yet comment on, the question and explain why it needs to be closed would be a better approach. If they're able to edit it to make it better, that's better still. The goal being to make sure everyone votes consciously and not just because someone else did. – Adam Lear Jan 7 '13 at 23:14

I strongly question the whole idea of 'abusive' close votes. The reason these things are 'votes' is that people's opinions may differ. We tell people, over and over, that their votes are their own, to cast as they see fit. If Zorgon from Jupiter is sending them radio signals telling them how to vote, that's OK. I think that close votes should be viewed the same way as post quality votes.

For close votes to become abusive, then, I think that it requires sock-puppetry or conspiracy.

If mods want to ask for tools to help detect 'closing rings' or some such thing, I have no objection.

As for delete votes, I'm more conflicted; I think that we try much harder to achieve some consensus on what gets deleted and what does not, and orders from Jupiter are not so good.

  • "Closing rings" are an interesting beast. We know they exist, but the jury's still out on whether or not they're inherently malicious or how we'd go about investigating them. I think it'd come down a lot to judging intent and both machines and humans are kind of bad at that (though to different degrees :)). – Adam Lear Jan 7 '13 at 17:59
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    @AnnaLear Would a closing ring be valid with the review queues? I believe what is happening is that a user sees a question and votes to close. It then goes into the review queues. There tends to be a group that is more active than others in the review queues. It just takes one person to push it into the review queue and gain a ton of visibility. – Thomas Owens Jan 7 '13 at 18:01
  • @ThomasOwens It's certainly possible (and one some sites very likely) that the same group of people will be hanging in /review, looking at closed question. That likely creates a closing ring, and I can't say whether that's necessarily good or bad. Ideally folks are actually evaluating questions and not assuming that everything that makes it into the queue has to be closed, and the same holds true for questions linked in chat ("cv-pls", anyone?), on Twitter, discovered through natural use of the site, etc. – Adam Lear Jan 7 '13 at 18:05
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    Under my tinfoil hat, a 'close ring' would need to have, as Anna says, bad intent. A bunch of people who coordinate to close bad questions is not what I had in mind, but rather some asinine scheme to harass. – Rosinante Jan 7 '13 at 23:02

While I don't think that information is particularly private, I disagree that this is necessary or that your motivation makes for a good argument for implementing this.

You can identify potentially problematic closers by looking at the closed questions, not by policing close votes that might not even lead to a closure.

Further, account annotations and mod messages shouldn't be your first steps here.

If you see good questions that are getting close votes, leave helpful and educational comments that explain why they should remain open instead of trying to hunt the specific users. If you see a pattern of questions on particular topics getting closed, open a meta discussion and link to it from the comments.

That way everyone benefits from the experience and can learn to either reopen wrongly closed good questions or vote to "leave open" from /review and help prevent closures in the first place.

  • It's technically not private at all at the moment, which is probably less than desirable...hmm. makes a note – Tim Stone Jan 7 '13 at 17:50
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    @TimStone I don't have a strong opinion on that. I could be persuaded to just show pending close votes to everyone. The issue I have with this particular request is that we'd be creating a "ceiling moderator is watching you cast close votes" kind of environment, which is no good. – Adam Lear Jan 7 '13 at 17:51
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    @AnnaLear That would also work to improve transparency. However, there's absolutely no reason to hide the information from diamond moderators (who already have a workaround, even though it's a pretty bad one). I wouldn't be opposed to making it visible to anyone with close vote rights, though. – Thomas Owens Jan 7 '13 at 17:52
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    @ThomasOwens IMO, it's less of a workaround and more of a side-effect of how mod privileges work. I wouldn't call "erase close votes on a question" a suitable substitute for "I'm just curious who's voting to close". As I said in a comment on the question, I'd consider doing that diamond abuse. – Adam Lear Jan 7 '13 at 17:54
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    Yeah, I agree. I personally don't think this information should be made available, since it has the ability to impact people's decision of whether or not to vote to close (which is why I made a note of the loophole I was thinking of). – Tim Stone Jan 7 '13 at 17:56
  • @Tim, I agree with you on principle of least disclosure, but I'm still not sure about that whole impact people's decision of whether or not to vote to close thing. Can you provide a concrete example of why one would be refrained to vote to close because, say, Anna or Bolt or Casper might disagree with that? – Frédéric Hamidi Jan 7 '13 at 22:44
  • @FrédéricHamidi I was thinking more in the opposite direction, where someone who would otherwise be non-committal would vote to close simply because some other user had already voted. I wouldn't expect this to be a significant issue, mind you, but it doesn't really help me believe there's much benefit in showing this information. – Tim Stone Jan 7 '13 at 22:49
  • @Tim, only moderators would see the close-voters under the premises of this feature request, if I understand it correctly. So disclosure would be limited and trusted, not public :) – Frédéric Hamidi Jan 7 '13 at 22:52
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    @FrédéricHamidi Under the premises of the question, yeah. I was (perhaps unclearly) speaking to Anna's comment about opening up the information to the general public though :) – Tim Stone Jan 7 '13 at 22:54
  • @FrédéricHamidi See Monica Cellio's comment to the question. Even taking into account the dynamics of the smaller sites, this feature request would have the side effect of bypassing the 'minimum 5 votes to close' requirement and converting it into an ad-hoc requirement of, well, how many votes are enough? 2? 3? Those same two or three "trusted" users could effectively become the de-facto editors for a site. Now, it may be that for some sites fewer close votes are desirable, but it should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. – RivieraKid Jan 7 '13 at 23:06

I'm not really opposed to letting moderators see that information. Like you said its not really secret anyway. The problem I have with this idea is that I can't envision a way that this extra data would be actionable by a moderator. A close vote is only 1/5 of actually closing the question so even if a user is voting to close good questions others have to agree with them for anything potentially negative to happen. When that question becomes closed it's not not necessarily a bad thing as it was the community's will being done and the community still has the power to change its mind. If a question is closed by the community it is by definition not acceptable in its current form, if there is in fact a group of users attempting to subvert the will of the community there would be evidence of the community fighting back by re-opening (or attempting to) good questions which would be the data you should be taking action on.

I don't really want to get into this debate, but part of the problem with a community driven site is that the community (or a large enough portion) will disagree with "the powers that be" on what is acceptable, for example if tomorrow SO decide bedazzling your mouse is on topic, then problems are going to occur. As a moderator you aren't supposed to be an arbiter of what is acceptable on a site, but you are given some power to act as one because reality dictates that necessity, and asking to be able to review this information really seems like an attempt to become a judge of what is correct behavior with respect to closing.

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