I know this is by design! I don't need a moderator telling me that. I clearly labeled this as a bug - something that needs to be fixed, not a discussion. It's a bad audit, and that needs to be fixed!

Look at Close Vote #1981832. There is no code provided in the question. How is this a failed audit for wanting to close it? For reference, here is a screenshot:


(As for the votes, I took this screenshot after visiting the question and downvoting it)

  • 38
    Because for some reason 5 people upvoted it and the selection criteria for review audits on Close and Reopen Votes just suck.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 3:04
  • 9
    The whole auditing system needs to be changed. It really should be as simple as changing the body of the post to "this is an audit, are you awake"? Or something like that. Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 3:17
  • 6
    I think the algorithm tag is much more forgiving towards these kinds of question. (Usually, algorithm question asks for something better than brute force approach, and it is not always possible to show effort).
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 3:19
  • 6
    @RichardJ.RossIII Audits are intended to not only make sure you're not a bot, but also make sure you know what you're doing. To that effect, these aren't very effective, but that wouldn't be much more effective either.
    – user206222
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 3:51
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/168777/… Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 5:57
  • 4
    Wasn't aware that there was a close-votes audit too! Must stop pressing close button continuously
    – hjpotter92
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 6:10
  • 1
    There is very little motivation to review close votes already. I'm afraid bad audits will only help the queue explode even faster (by unfair bans AND by lost motivation). Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 7:39
  • 5
    This being tagged status-bydesign is not my intention. I know it's by design, I would like it fixed!
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:46
  • Review bans are pretty easy to avoid right now, @Jan - and none too harsh when they do happen. Indeed, some folks think they should be stronger. I don't care all that much about the size of the queue; there's a lot of stuff in the Close queue that doesn't actually need to be closed - if we sacrifice accuracy just to get a number down, that'll just end up hurting in the long run.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:47
  • @Shog9 I will typically spend 20-30 seconds on a question. If its a question that I have to read hard to understand, I close it as "Not a real question"
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:54
  • 1
    @ColeJohnson: Algorithm question are applicable on SO, unless it is too heavy on math. I doubt it is a heavy math question in this case, though.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 15:00
  • @nhahtdh There should at least still be some code showing effort...
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 19:17
  • 2
    @Cole: there should still be some effort shown - that doesn't necessarily mean code. FWIW, that question very likely came out of someone's homework, and does show rather a lack of effort - but at the same time, I've seen much, much worse. At least he managed to state the problem in the title.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 20:31

2 Answers 2


I just ran a query and want to be clear - until 3:05 UTC today, the question had a positive score of 5 with no down votes, no moderator flags, no close votes and had been marked as a favorite. The question is also well over a week old, has an up voted accepted answer and hasn't moved prior to today. Everything negative associated with that question happened after this discussion was posted.

Five people found the question to be useful, and someone understood it to the point of providing a subsequently up-voted and accepted answer. I even double checked to make sure nobody 'helped' that question through sock puppets or a voting ring. It was in fact, at least objectively, a good sampling for an audit. It's not a bug.

Regarding the question.

If you felt that the question should be closed due to not showing any code, that's up to you - our opinions differ. I tend to think that the question is easily understandable and most likely asked by someone who had no idea what to even search for in order to figure out the problem. I did not read the question as someone asking for others to do their work for them, I read it as a beginner that was terminally stuck, and I'm glad they got a good answer. Closing can sometimes be a subjective business - that's part of using the site.

Once in a while you're bound to find yourself at odds with actions that the community did or did not take as you use the site, that's not really anything new. The audit of course exacerbated your reaction to this, but it's just one audit - nothing bad is going to happen to you due to the action you felt was appropriate being at odds with what the system was expecting. While audits are generally very good at helping folks hone their moderation skills, they're primarily in place to catch people repeatedly not paying attention.

Even though we disagree on whether the question should remain open or not, you didn't really do anything wrong. What's left is perhaps for you to take another look at the question and see if you feel differently. If you don't - great - you earned your close votes and we're happy to see you use them.

But, I really don't think this is a failure of the audit selection criteria.

  • 2
    It's probably the wording of failing an audit that gets people annoyed, irritated, or upset. It will tell you to slow down when you may have done nothing wrong. Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:33
  • 3
    Slowing down is generally good advice in these cases, @0A0D. There are certainly edge-cases, but by far the biggest contributor to failed audits is simply blowing through them too quickly to actually comprehend the text presented to you. I've seen very few complaints about audits that, upon closer examination, weren't also coupled with review times that would imply the reviewer was in training for the World Speed-Reading Championships...
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:42
  • The problem is that I am not told how many times I can fail before being banned! Plus, IIRC, mods can't unban you!
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:44
  • @Cole: yes, mods can unban you. As for how many times you can fail... That depends on how often you're failing, how quickly you're failing, and (if you're failing on particularly blatant examples) if a moderator notices and decides you need a manual ban. Don't get hung up on the ban; think about what you're reviewing instead.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:49
  • 2
    @Shog9: Generally I would agree. I try not to get to worked up over failing an audit every once and a while. Though when I do fail an audit, it usually is one of those situations where you could go either way on the question. Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 15:05

As Tim notes, this was not a bad question.

It was a short question. But you still spent less than three seconds reviewing it; if your only criteria for whether or not a question should be closed is "does this question have a code block in it" that makes sense - but if so, you should realize that you've transformed yourself into a very simple pattern-matching machine, and may not have the best accuracy rate.

The point of review audits is to encourage folks to pay attention, to read and think about the questions they're reviewing. It's clear you didn't do that here, so I consider this a successful audit.

FWIW: close review audits are hard - I failed the first one I encountered after they went live yesterday. That's expected; there are many reasons why things should be closed, and often they are somewhat subjective. If you're failing a few of these, that's understandable; if you're failing a lot of them, you might want to re-think your criteria for closing.

  • Don't you mean "close review audits are hard"? :) Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:56
  • 1
    Yes, I did mean that. Although I also find duplicate close reviews fairly challenging as well.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:57
  • 1
    Just don't get yourself review banned! :-D Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:59

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