"Many hands make light work."
Based on the belief that incentivizing moderation (e.g. close-votes reviews) via competition can undermine the integrity and quality of said moderation, this is a proposal for a non-competitive, camaraderie-focused community event, designed to chip away effectively at the review queue, without sacrificing quality.
Please scroll further down for more background. Otherwise:
How about we hold a community event—call it a "Closing Party!" (or whatever*)—where
- we announce a date—this "party" goes on for 24 hours,
- we allow more than the standard 40 daily close votes during the party—
- we can do away with the limit entirely,
- or we can raise the limit to a higher number, e.g. 200,
- or (admittedly, my preferred idea), we can restock more frequently, i.e. 40 votes per hour—which does away with any notion that this is a race, as all participants are limited to a set pace.
- and we announce a chat room specially made for the party—with a bot that announces,
- "At this rate, the queue will empty out on: July 13th, 2016!" (Mostly for fun.)
- "7,635 reviews completed so far by 524 participants! Amazing!"†
- "Pekka 웃 just completed 40 reviews! Hold tight, Pekka 웃, your votes will restock in: 23m."
I don't want to overcomplicate this idea, but these do seem to be the minimum needs. The chat room and its bot, in particular, would glue the participants together.
I think this way it'll really feel like a team effort, with no pressure of competition (whether against other users or time), instilling a feeling of community instead. I think participants might even be driven to ask about and discuss how to appropriately handle such and such ambiguous cases (e.g. closing a wildly popular list question)—if only to have something to say in chat! It might also be an opportunity for others (including <3k rep users who can't yet review close votes) to read good (and bad) arguments, chime in, and maybe even earn some of those chat-related badges :-)
Promotion & Misc.
To promote this event, I imagined we'd post an announcement on the community bulletin(s); and, unless it goes against our own guidelines, perhaps advertise in our profiles:
Come to Stack Overflow's "Closing Party!" on Friday, November 29th! [link] Grab your favorite (soft-)drink, join the chat [link], and let's do some damage to that review queue. By the way, we're giving out the coveted Stack Exchange coffee mug [link] to 10 lucky participants!‡ Copy this into your profile to spread the word.
* I'm not at all attached to "Closing Party!" being the name of this event. I'm also aware that "Closing Party!" might sound like Stack Overflow is shutting down (though, maybe that'll grab their attention ;-), which is in part why I keep stylizing "Closing Party!" with an exclamation point—to take away the seriousness. In any case, alternative suggestions are welcome.
† A "participant" would be a user who has logged into this chat room (joined the "party") and has reviewed at least one close-vote.
‡ I think prizes are acceptable if and only if they are awarded by lottery—otherwise, awarding by competition, again, might detract from the purpose.
Background (only for those interested in further discussion)
I actually didn't see @RobertHarvey's Proposed contest for close review queue posse until I logged in to write this post. I didn't mean to knock any part of his idea—I agree a contest can be great fun (and productive!)—and I agree we need a community effort—but, again, I felt a competition might not be appropriate for this particular purpose, namely, incentivizing an activity of moderation—an activity in which, IMHO, we should not trade integrity (e.g. tempt toward haste) for sake of, say, bringing the queue counter down.
The image of hundreds (if not thousands) of users, filters set and ready to click, competing against one another (and/or against time) to review as many items as possible for a chance to win something from a finite pool of rewards—doesn't gel with my idea of prudent moderation.
Even relieving competitive pressures by making rewards infinite (goal-based), I still feel that prizes, badges, and other such extrinsic motivators may only serve to inject a "rush" of enthusiasm that'll quickly die out, replaced by the usual fatigue associated with reviewing the close-votes queue. (From the threads I've read, including one where @Mooseman proposed a similar idea as this, I've seen reviewing close-votes described as "hopeless," "futile," and "demotivating," in scattered comments.) Given such sentiment, offering more reward to do the same, unappealing work, might only lead to more tunnel-vision (a narrow focus on the reward) and less attention to integrity and efforts like editing to improve questions, thinking critically and voting against the crowd (e.g. taking the time to comment that a proposed duplicate is not actually a duplicate because of such and such a reason), and consulting Meta for appropriate actions in ambiguous situations.
If integrity weren't a concern, and only bringing down the queue counter was, then why not just implement one of the many robots / expiration schemes suggested in numerous past discussions? (See aforementioned links.) The tricky part, I think, is incentivizing without sacrificing integrity and quality.