I just failed a close-vote audit by voting to close this question.

I genuinely believe there is a good case for closing it, as the question has a number of issues. Yes, it has five upvotes, an accepted answer, and 400+ views, but I don't believe the popularity of a question is a necessary indicator of its quality.

  • It's a duplicate of this earlier question, which was downvoted to -2 and closed as "too broad." It could also be considered a duplicate of this question.
  • The user doesn't state what they've tried so far. There's no clear effort put into solving the problem.
  • It's only marginally on-topic for SO -- I've seen people go both ways on "hardware or software primarily used for programming" depending on how they're feeling that day. I'd consider it a more appropriate question for Apple Support. I might not agree with an off-topic close vote, but could see the case.
  • Little context is given and the grammar is poor.

The best case for keeping it that I can see, and (as best I can tell) the reason it garnered the upvotes and views that it did, is that a number of people all had the same problem at the same time and found this post had an answer. But that doesn't mean it's a good SO question.

So is it an obvious guaranteed close? No. But I can certainly see the case for it, and that to me is why close votes are votes. Coming across it in the new-questions queue, with no upvotes and no answers, I'd have flagged/voted to close it.

I wish the suggestion here were implemented, and concur with jball's statement in their answer:

[...F]ailed audits are very invalidating. Fundamentally I can not click "I understand" on a completely incorrect warning.

To which I'd add: especially when these tests are being generated by algorithm.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on this.

  • 2
    Question is absolutely in a gray area for many of the reasons you mentioned. I don't think it needs to be closed, but I couldn't argue against it. But that it makes a bad audit question. Unless the criteria changed (and there is something that was in progress a few weeks ago), it was the upvotes without a single downvote and no close votes that got it selected. Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 16:31
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    Related, helpful answer posted by @psubsee2003 to this question of mine. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/197870/… Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 16:36
  • Voting to close. It's not about writing software. I mean of course the audit question, not this :) Commented Nov 29, 2013 at 7:49

2 Answers 2


The way that you've evaluated the audit question can only be done by a human. There's no practical way to program a computer so that it can understand and evaluate semantics. Consequently, there are always going to be people who fail audits for reasons having to do with human factors.

I'm a moderator, and I still fail the occasional audit; in fact, I probably fail about 20 percent of them, for reasons that have partly to do with my particular workflow. Example: sometimes I will click vote to close to see how other community members have voted. That is a failing action on some audits.

As long as we have a non-sentient computer program choosing these audits, well-meaning folks will fail some of them. Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about it. The people we're trying to stop are the robo-voters, not the folks who fail the occasional audit for reasons that a computer cannot understand.

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    Are moderators exempt from review-suspension? (just wondering) Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 16:39
  • I don't think they are. SE has made it very clear that we don't get special treatment just because we're moderators.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 16:41
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    It's definitely reassuring to know that moderators fail audits too. Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 16:42
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    @AmalMurali No. But, as with account suspensions, we can unsuspend ourselves.
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 16:43
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    As a general rule, we would defer to other mods for unsuspension. That said, I've never actually been asked by the system to take a break from auditing, even where I'm not a mod (Programmers is where I get most of my review failures). Moderators generally work in the flag queue more than the review queues.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 16:46
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    @RobertHarvey would it be bad if I wrote and published a userscript to reveal whether or not each task is an audit automatically? It seems weird, but the bots are much better suited to passing audits than humans are. Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 17:05
  • @JanDvorak: Why? I've already more or less made the case that failing the occasional audit doesn't matter. SE's goal is to increase awareness, not thwart people who are genuinely trying to make good reviews.
    – user102937
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 17:12
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    @Jan: just FYI, I've "caught" a few people using scripts or similar to avoid audits - if I think someone is doing this to enable destructive behavior, that's an automatic 30-day review block. (Destructive in the context of /review/close or /review/reopen would be, for example, wanting to click "leave closed" or "leave open" as fast as humanly possible with no regard for the actual contents of the posts). While trivial to write, I'd prefer you didn't make this any easier for folks who haven't already had the idea.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 17:53
  • @RobertHarvey Thanks for your response and helpful comments. I have some possible responses, but they're probably best contained in a different post. Cheers! Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 18:06
  • @Shog9 So ... you audit audit audits? This could get interesting :P Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 23:25
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    My previous job as a bee watcher watcher watcher prepared me well for this.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 23:30
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    "As long as we have a non-sentient computer program choosing these audits, well-meaning folks will fail some of them." - maybe the audit failure text should be edited with that in mind then. Strongly worded admonishments are not justified for well-meaning folks who operate effectively.
    – jball
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 16:05

FWIW, I disagree that it is a duplicate of the first question you linked - while possibly related (or caused by the same issue), the earlier question was exceedingly unclear and ultimately just requested speculation / psychic debugging from readers ("sometimes it works" problems are often really hard to nail down unless information is provided on what's special about some of those times).

The second question you linked to probably is a duplicate. Since it went unanswered, I closed it as a duplicate of the later question - closing in the other direction would just waste the time of future readers with the same problem.

Not stating what he's tried isn't ideal, but... I don't think it's a show-stopper here. The asker is doing something fairly straightforward that should just work - in a sense, "what he's tried" is summed up by the problem statement itself: "when I connect with mac mini, iPad doesn't show in Xcode".

The grammar could use some work. I've edited it - you could've done the same.

But I can certainly see the case for it, and that to me is why close votes are votes.

No, close votes are votes because different people have different criteria for closing things and closing is supposed to reflect a consensus. If you don't feel strongly about whether or not something should be closed, then by voting you're implicitly giving additional weight to the opinions of others, voluntarily throwing away your privilege as a voting-eligible member of the community. Vote to close when you believe something should be closed, not when you're undecided as to whether it should stay open. If the question is useful and on-topic, then leave it open; if you can't picture yourself defending your decision (either way) before a critical audience, then you should probably be hitting "skip".

Coming across it in the new-questions queue, with no upvotes and no answers, I'd have flagged/voted to close it.

But you didn't come across it as a new question with no votes or answers. We already have automated systems in place to detect poor-quality questions without regard for context - as a human reviewer with the ability to identify relevant context and the intelligence to interpret it, you should be able to go beyond simple checks and evaluate questions on their usefulness - this is why the existence of answers, their score and accepted state are exposed in the review system!

The primary purpose of audits is to help reviewers become better at what they're doing. If you fail an audit, try to identify ways in which you can review differently in the future: in this case, a few seconds fixing grammar and integrating the context from answers and comments would've made the question much more useful to others and passed the audit.

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    To be clear: I wanted to vote to close it, which is how I failed the audit. I think it should be closed (and since asking this question, it has been). "If you can't picture yourself defending your decision (either way) before a critical audience" -- I think that's what I just did :) Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 18:44
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    The question I'd like answered: it so obviously a quality post that wanting to close it indicates the reviewer wasn't paying attention? If not, why is the SE system confident enough to pop up an assertion that I wasn't paying attention? Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 18:47
  • Yeah... It got closed as a duplicate of that "too broad" question (which I've found is itself actually a duplicate of a much older question). Given that the accepted answer indicates a different solution (one not involving the use of Xcode 4.6), I can't in good conscience say they're duplicates.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 18:54
  • Beyond that, yes - you are defending your decision to close (and I'm disagreeing with your defense ;-)) - I just had to take issue with the "this is why we vote" statement, since I have heard folks talk about close-voting as though it were an excuse for weak reasoning (even some moderators feel this way). IMHO, this is a very dangerous way of thinking, and I try to discourage it whenever possible.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 18:56
  • I really appreciate your perspective and your comprehensive answer. Thank you! Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 19:11

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