I became active little over a month ago, and seen the close queue grow from approximately 51.2k to over 53k during that time. That means the queue structurally grows faster than it can be emptied, at a rate of over 300 questions per week, or some 40 per day. Each of those 40 questions needs 5 votes to close, or 200 votes total. Giving a relative handful of users 10 extra votes per day, that they will only use "when on a roll" to quote comments and answers in this very topic, just isn't going to cut it, people are just not on a roll frequently enough or the growth wouldn't be this continuous, structural and have such a sustained constant rate.
The only ways to reverse the exponential growth of the queue are to:
- Get more people in, lower the Close Votes requirement from 3k to 2k for example (there are many newly active users in the 2000 to 3000 range)
- Require less votes to close a topic (4 instead of 5 should increase close rate by 20%)
- Require significantly less votes to close old topics (I sometimes see topics from 2009 pop up in the close queue, why bother 5 people with that when the recent questions are stacking up too fast)
Either one of these 3 separately should at least halt the growth, a combination should definitely reverse it.
I also definitely think the psychological element shouldn't be underestimated. I seriously prefer to review other queues first when I have a few minutes to spare, because there's that sense of satisfaction when you see "no more questions to review" popping up at the end, making you feel good about a job well done. Processing the close queue is just endless moronic drone work for the biggest part, that always ends with "You are not allowed to review more today" while you know there are still 53200 questions awaiting attention. Reversing or at least stopping the continous growth should definitely be made a priority, even if only with a temporary measure, since when it's actually empty or controllably small people will be more motivated to keep working on it. Even if it would be visibly shrinking as a result of the work it would be more motivating than knowing you're fighting an uphill battle as it is now.