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Currently, Diamond Moderators have the ability to close a question with a single vote. There are 16 moderators on Stack Overflow. There are currently over 100k questions with a either a close vote or flagged for closure.

Actual depiction of CV queue size.

We could set diamond mods to the task of closing all those questions as their primary responsibility, but that would be boring.

Here's an alternate solution:

If a user has become well known to the "community" (in this context, meaning "diamond moderators") and has a good track record of fair and consistent close-voting, allow the moderators to grant that user the privilege to close questions with a single vote, essentially "delegating" that responsibility. The user would not gain any other priveleges associated with moderator-hood - just the ability to close with a single vote. If diamond moderators are like sheriffs, then this new class of user would be their deputies.

If each diamond mod could find just a couple users, each with a good track record, we could quickly assembly a team of 30-40 users with the ability to blaze through obviously bad questions (very clear duplicates, very low quality questions, spam, etc). Even for less obvious questions, users with expert domain knowledge and sufficient experience on the site would be able to recognize a duplicate and close it quickly (rather than the question floating around for days or weeks waiting for 5 such experts to coalesce).

http://www.funnypictures.net.au/userimages/user1680_1168575698.jpg

Users selected for this privelege could sign a digital agreement on how to use their privilege (much as diamond mods do) and a diamond mod should have the ability to overrule a decision if it's made in error (and remove the user, if a history of abuse is forming).

If our real-life elected officials can delegate responsibility to others to get things done, I think our virtual elected overlords should have that ability as well. Fair is fair, afterall.

Pros:

  • No automation. Users are selected individually, severely limiting the ability for a user to game the system.
  • Relieves some of the pressue on diamond moderators (mostly the pressue from answering the increasing flood of "Oh my gosh! Has anyone seen how huge the CV queue is? What if we used trained koalas?"-type questions on Meta)

Cons:

  • Requires some initial work from diamond mods (not to mention development time)
  • Some users complaining about not being selected (because the diamond mods are Nazis)
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    Among other problems, this would drive away many (most) people who would otherwise want to contribute. – Aza Dec 3 '13 at 22:16
  • @Emracool - Interesting thought. Can you elaborate? How would this drive people away? – JDB Dec 3 '13 at 22:17
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    "Why didn't I get picked? I close votes and I try to help! C'mon, I'm pulling my weight here!" - From several thousand active close vote reviewers – Makoto Dec 3 '13 at 22:18
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    I prefer seeing at least several users involved in the closure of a question. We've already had complaints about single-handed moderator closure here on Meta. And to a point I can understand it. I don't think we should extend such a privilege to regular users. And even in the case of a binding moderator vote, I prefer situations where at least one user came before them. – Bart Dec 3 '13 at 22:20
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    People also make mistakes. Even real quality reviewers mess up every now and then; giving them binding votes makes those occasional mis-clicks or mis-reads have much bigger consequences. – Servy Dec 3 '13 at 22:23
  • Ah dang... I was hoping it wouldn't be another trained koala post. Oh well... – JDB Dec 4 '13 at 0:53
  • If we instead just elect them following a similar process by which we elect moderators, would that really make them all that different from moderators? (Thus the 1-vote close would make perfect sense) Or, you know, just elect more moderators (some primarily for this purpose) (temporarily or permanently). – Dukeling Dec 4 '13 at 1:23
  • @Dukeling - That's too much democracy. Too much to vote on leads to low turnout. I prefer a more representative system - let the elected moderators appoint 1-vote-closers. – JDB Dec 4 '13 at 1:31
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Stack Overflow currently has roughly 16,000 active users that have close vote privileges. If a mere 10% of them spent a few minutes each day reviewing 20 posts, it would take about twelve and a half days to clear the queue.

While you were all cogitating about my answer, I went to Programmers and used up my 20 votes. It took me about six minutes; four of the reviews were completed on my vote, one question was closed, and I passed a review audit.

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    You're a mean one.. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Dec 3 '13 at 22:38
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    Now, for bonus points, can you tell us how many of these users are complaining about the close vote queue size on Meta? – Frédéric Hamidi Dec 3 '13 at 22:38
  • And it would take 3 years of therapy to negate the effect of spending that time in that queue. The CV queue is hard, it sucks your will to live. Maybe if you guys made it 28.62% more fun then it would start to go down? – slugster Dec 3 '13 at 22:38
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    I regularly expend my 20 review votes in the close queue on Programmers. It takes me about 10 minutes. Trust me, that is a lot less soul-sucking than going through the Stack Overflow mod queue when it is approaching four figures. It is immensely satisfying when you're the last review vote. – Robert Harvey Dec 3 '13 at 22:40
  • How many of those 18k users are active on the site? I don't mean actively reviewing, I mean just active in general, not old accounts, rare visitors, etc. – Geobits Dec 3 '13 at 22:42
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    @Geobits: That's why I picked the 10% figure. If you think that's too high, cut it in half, and double the amount of time required (with a pad for new close vote entries). Say, a month? – Robert Harvey Dec 3 '13 at 22:43
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    @Geobits: you can estimate this – Shog9 Dec 3 '13 at 22:46
  • To be honest, I was just honestly curious, and hoping you had the numbers accessible. I wasn't trying to imply that it would change the reality or reasoning of the answer much (unless it was a drastically low amount). – Geobits Dec 3 '13 at 22:47
  • @Shog9 Thanks for that. I tend to forget about the data explorer. – Geobits Dec 3 '13 at 22:48
  • But they don't. I think that's the point. – JDB Dec 4 '13 at 0:50
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    Yes, simply more active users reviewing would be good (on the rather significant (possibly naive) assumption that they actually know what should and shouldn't be closed), but that doesn't provide any argument against giving select users higher privileges. – Dukeling Dec 4 '13 at 1:18
  • @Dukeling: I think the real question is, would giving some users more privileges actually motivate them enough to clear the review queue? – Robert Harvey Dec 4 '13 at 2:43
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    The privileges should be awarded to users who are already motivated to clear the review queue (i.e. users should probably nominate themselves). Just giving some random users who are good at reviewing the privileges isn't going to help all that much. – Dukeling Dec 4 '13 at 2:46
  • "I went to Programmers and used up my 20 votes" Thanks! – yannis Dec 4 '13 at 10:27

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