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Given that I've been reviewing close votes for a while, I can hardly reject the strong tendency to the growing number of questions with pending close votes. As per today, the number of outstanding questions is 79 500, when some time ago it was 50 000. My personal experience suggests that there is quite a big group of questions asked either new users or users with low reputation that are typically closed because of being unclearn or because of lack of minimal understanding / code in question.

Is there some statistical data that shows the structure of the questions that are in the close queue? If yes, we may statistically test the assumption of correlation between user's reputation / presence within the system and the number of close votes cast on their questions, and in case we find positive correlation we may increase the minimal reputation / membership period that's needed to raise a new question to counter the evergrowing number of questions that are to be closed.

What do you think? How can we influence the number of questions that are waiting to be closed? Or do you think that we shall bear with the situation of decrease in average question quality?

closed as off-topic by gnat, Martijn Pieters, Aza, jonsca, animuson Apr 29 '14 at 23:07

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question pertains only to a specific site in the Stack Exchange Network. Questions on Meta Stack Exchange should pertain to our network or software that drives it as a whole, within the guidelines defined in the help center. You should ask this question on the meta site where your concern originated." – gnat, Martijn Pieters, Aza, jonsca, animuson
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    It was ~45k in June, went up to 52k by mid-July and then grew exponentially with the new closing system in place. – hjpotter92 Sep 19 '13 at 10:20
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    Yes it was 'kind of' constant in summer, but still growing. That 50K number was said to be 'by a wave of old to-be-closed' questions. But still, the recent tendency is quite overwhelming! – skuntsel Sep 19 '13 at 10:24
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    Question; if we raise the minimum rep required to answer questions from anything but 1 how are people ever to get started? – Richard Tingle Sep 19 '13 at 10:54
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    The point is that to ask a question a user has to achieve a reputation minimum. But a user can answer any question with 1 reputation point to gain the opportunity to ask a question of his own. – skuntsel Sep 19 '13 at 11:05
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    So only experts can ask questions but anyone off the street can answer them? – Richard Tingle Sep 19 '13 at 12:00
  • 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 22:04
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I don't think that we should create artificial barriers for people to ask or answer questions. One of the reasons Stack Exchange is so successful, is because everyone can participate. If users had to propose X useful edits before being allowed to ask a question, no new users would join the community.

Secondly, the voting system should take care of that eventually: if a new user keeps on submitting low quality content (read downvoted, or closed questions, answers that are declared as low quality, etc.), they will receive a question and/or answer ban.

As a last point, I think the most promising way to reduce the queue of close voted questions is to try promoting the reviewing system a bit more, making users that have enough reputation aware that SO needs their help (if they don't review already). But that's just my two cents on a topic that has been discussed in a thousand related meta questions.

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    You've got a reasonable point of view. Thank you for your answer. My idea was not to criticize what we have so far, but to discuss the room for improvements. Possibly the openness of the system is the reason for such success and there's not much to be done to screen out low-quality content of that 'artificial' flavour. Still, we should think on how can we improve further, and that's why I don't fully understand the motivation behind the downvotes to this proposal. – skuntsel Sep 19 '13 at 11:41
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    @skuntsel Remember that on meta downvotes don't necessarily mean that you are "wrong", but can just indicate disagreement. Furthermore, as anecdotal evidence, I started out on SO when beginning my first job, and all I wanted is to have my questions answered. It was far later that I was able to actually answer a few questions as well. If SO had not allowed me to ask questions, I wouldn't have been interested in the system. – nijansen Sep 19 '13 at 11:44
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There are 2 quotes, one from your question and one from a comment that I think merit a response.

...and in case we find positive correlation we may increase the minimal reputation / membership period that's needed to raise a new question to counter the evergrowing number of questions that are to be closed.

The point is that to ask a question a user has to achieve a reputation minimum. But a user can answer any question with 1 reputation point to gain the opportunity to ask a question of his own. – skuntsel 24 mins ago

Stack Overflow already has a reputation of being unwelcoming to new users and new programmers due to how aggressively we try to weed out poor quality content. While these accusations are generally made by the people you are targeting with this idea, you are going to impact all new users, not just those who will post low quality content. In theory, maybe it sounds like a great idea to improve the quality of the site, but in reality, you are going to do nothing more than enhance this unwelcoming reputation.

Or to put it another way, most users get a start on Stack Overflow by asking questions, many because they do not know enough to provide a quality answer yet (or at least don't think they know enough). So by requiring them to answer questions before they can ask, how can they ever get started? And then one of 2 things will happen:

  • You'll simply send all "new" programmers to other sites, and you'll end up with a declining user base.

Or

  • New users will be so desperate to join, they will start providing poor quality answers or copying and pasting existing answers in an effort to get enough reputation to post. Then you'll end up with a glut of low quality answers, which I think are far worse for the site than low quality questions. You can at least ignore a low quality question, but low quality answers might get mixed in with the good answers and make it harder to find the valuable information.
  • Thank you for another valuable input. I must admit that the marginal value of such a restriction might not be worth the cost. – skuntsel Sep 19 '13 at 12:22
  • @skuntsel there's always value in trying to improve the quality of the site, but I think the efforts are best served by educating new users on what's expected, educating existing users on what moderation tools are available, and improving the moderation tools without throwing a barrier up for good users. – psubsee2003 Sep 19 '13 at 12:26
  • My initial incentive was to stress out that new users tend to post questions of low quality content and that there might be some way to lower the stream of unmature questions. Most of the questions that were proposed to be closed didn't show any effort from the poster as per the classic What have you tried? post, so I thought it could be reasonable to enhance that situation in some way. – skuntsel Sep 19 '13 at 12:32

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