It's been hovering around 50k for months now. I'll give the benefit of the doubt and assume these questions are well-prioritized so that the totally irrelevant-to-close questions according to some business logic. (Note: I'm not sure if this is true.)

Anyway, here's why I think this is an active problem: Reviewing closes is an extraordinarily thankless task at the moment. I put in my 1k for the gold badge a while ago - mostly on the very quick "off topic" votes - and thanks to my work the queue has gone from 50.8k to 50.6k. For me to continue working on this problem, there is no rep, no badge, and no impact on queue size. That last one is literal - 50 a day leads to 10 questions closed on close votes, and that isn't a significant digit in the number "50.6k".

So the goliath queue means people like me, who like getting s*** done and seeing empty lists of things to do and such, are rather actively deterred. I suspect this queue would move much faster if at any given time it were limited to 1000 and some offline task sneakily added more work to a few hours after it reaches bottom.

No concrete proposal yet. Everything I can think of is kind of "eh," and I'd rather this question over some chance for momentum than amass downvotes based on my poor solution set thus far.

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    What would happen if we simply reset the queue, simply dropping every task that is there (older than x)? – John Dvorak Mar 31 '13 at 5:32
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    @JanDvorak: What does that accomplish? It gives you on-paper satisfaction, but that's it. – Manishearth Mar 31 '13 at 6:47
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    @Manishearth I am more likely to participate in a queue that has a decent chance of getting empty than in a queue that is hopelessly growing. – John Dvorak Mar 31 '13 at 6:50
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    Amusingly, I ran across your question in the Close Review Queue here on meta. Coincidence? I think not. – Caleb Mar 31 '13 at 6:50
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    I agree this is a big problem. I have very little motivation to go through that queue because it a time-sink with no feeling of reward. I don't even think additional badges would motivate me. Maybe being awarded a small amount of rep? Your suggestion of only putting in a thousand at a time to allow to empty periodically is psychologically tricky but I think it would actually work on me. – Ben Lee Mar 31 '13 at 8:24
  • What if we just made it possible to get more than one reviewer badge per review task? We couldn't well give much else. – ɥʇǝS Jul 5 '13 at 4:31
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    @Seth, what about mugs? – Ben Lee Oct 4 '13 at 1:31
  • @BenLee Mugs would be cool, although that would be a lot of mugs ;P – ɥʇǝS Oct 4 '13 at 3:01
  • 84K close reviews; it hasn't gotten any less thankless. – Jonathan Leffler Oct 15 '13 at 23:21
  • related: Close Votes review: I'm going on a strike! – gnat Nov 20 '13 at 20:44
  • the problem has been (at last) acknowledged and addresed by SE team: Enough fuzzying: let's let everything into the close queue and age out questions that don't reach a threshold – gnat Apr 29 '14 at 22:01

The close queue is not only thankless, it is also time consuming. It takes far longer to process a 'Close' review (for me, on average) than, say, a 'Suggested Edit' review. I seldom reach 40 'close' reviews in a day because it is too depressing an exercise.

There was a period, maybe a month or so ago, when the number was down under 50k.

Basically, we'll have to keep plugging away at it.

I do get the impression that today's 'close' votes get processed before older ones — I seem to get questions asked today before older ones. I also find them easier to leave open; the questioner hasn't yet had a chance to go and fix the question up, so leaving it open gives them a bit more time, reducing the 'premature close' problem.

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    Well, fwiw, the off topic ones tend to be quite quick. – djechlin Mar 31 '13 at 5:22
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    Given the filters I use, I don't see many off-topic questions; partly, perhaps, because they aren't on the highest traffic sections of the site. – Jonathan Leffler Mar 31 '13 at 5:23
  • Would a “right of appeal” against a close vote, make you more likely to vote to close a newer questions? – Ian Ringrose Feb 3 '14 at 15:42
  • @IanRingrose: probably not, no. – Jonathan Leffler Feb 3 '14 at 16:09

It might be helpful if you could see how many questions there are in the queue that fit your filtering options.

That way a reviewer might focus on a seldomly used tag with a chance of completely empting the queue for that tag.

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