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I've cast well over 1000 close votes (in review tasks and just seeing bad questions), only to see the queue continually grow. That's rather disheartening.

But now I wonder why it was so important to clear the entire queue?

I suspect the vast majority of these questions are old and inactive (without knowing for sure, I bet an overwhelming part are months or years old). So while I can see the benefit of closing active questions to stop their threads from growing, I wonder:

  • is there any benefit to closing "inactive" questions?

  • if not, should these questions be counted as part of the queue?


Note: I realize that calculating "inactivity" can be complicated. But I'm sure we can agree on a time-frame (1 month, 2 month, red fish, blue fish) by which can count such questions out.

11

is there any benefit to closing "inactive" questions?

Yes. If anything it clearly indicates that such questions are no longer considered to be acceptable. It shows that the site has moved away from them. And hopefully this prevents some of the "But hey, she asked this and it's still open" arguments. And therefore I'd keep them in the queue.

But then again, I'm not particularly worried about its size. I don't entirely follow the obsessive need to completely empty it. Yes it's a big number, but there's no real drama here.

I'd love to see more active participants get their hands dirty and vote to close or leave open. (And leaving open might indeed be a valid action as well. It's not a "this needs to be closed" queue) But let's keep in mind that it's just a number. The sky is not falling down.

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    I agree. But the size gives the impression "What am I wasting my time for". A smaller, more manageable queue, would make me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile with my time. – Dave Alperovich Dec 6 '13 at 23:16
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    @DaveA you might want to look at Shog's answer in Easy close review queue filtering interface and the related Stack Overflow needz moar ads - both of which emphasize the smaller size of the queue for a tag. – user213963 Dec 6 '13 at 23:18
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    @DaveA sure, there is a perfectly human response to an increasing queue size. The real solution however is to get more people interested in getting their hands dirty. We have more than enough manpower to get the thing empty. That is what I would focus on instead of artificially removing items from it to make it seem better. In that light Shog9 had an interesting proposal recently. – Bart Dec 6 '13 at 23:18
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    @DaveA another way to look at the queue is that they tend to be sorted by date reverse. If you set up a tag filter that is appropriate for you (for example, try just looking at json questions), and note when the question was asked. Over time, if you're making headway you will note that you are looking at older and older questions even if you don't see the overall queue size going down, you are making progress in that piece of the queue. – user213963 Dec 6 '13 at 23:20
  • @MichaelT, Bart, good suggestions, thanks – Dave Alperovich Dec 6 '13 at 23:23
  • +1 for mentioning that the close queue is not a this needs to be closed queue. – Dilaton Dec 7 '13 at 0:14
  • "I don't entirely follow the obsessive need to completely empty it." - you don't see the problem with questions staying open for months after getting a close vote, close votes expiring on questions that should be closed, and the inability to (consistently) quickly close questions as soon as they are asked to stop them from getting answers in the first place (as demotivation from just asking them anyway, since you may get answers even if it's closed eventually)? – Dukeling Dec 9 '13 at 22:42
  • @Dukeling as I say, the solution to that is getting people to get their hands dirty. As simple as that. Not any of the many artificial solutions that have been proposed to remove items from the queue by changing various criteria or not caring about the old ones. My point being, the focus is too much on the number, and getting the number down. Not on actually performing decent reviews. – Bart Dec 9 '13 at 22:49
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Part of the problem is that there is not, in fact, a Close Votes Review Queue. There is a Close Votes Review Stack. Many of the old questions which have entered the review process will never be seen by anyone until that number gets brought down to where they are the newest questions available.

And every time that number grows by one without coming back down, it means another question has entered in which won't be seen by anyone until the number starts dropping again.

  • Close, but not entirely correct. (Though I guess that's more or less how it will work out in practice) meta.stackexchange.com/questions/194515/… – Bart Dec 6 '13 at 23:04
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    However missing one or two every so often is better than every item having a 2 week delay; closing long after the event is still useful, but much less useful than a swift close – Richard Tingle Dec 6 '13 at 23:04
  • Oh, yeah, I totally agree that this is far better than constant delays. It just isn't perfect. – Billy Mailman Dec 6 '13 at 23:08
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A question that has no answer is easier to fix (make on topic, narrow the scope, fix the XY problem, remove polling nature) than one that has several answers.

A question that is closed quickly means that the author gets faster feedback on what is on topic and what is not on topic, preventing possibly a series of poor questions and a question ban.

A question that is a dup allows the asker to find their answer in a prompt manner or fix t the question so that it asks something that isn't a dup.

A question that is migrated quickly allows the asker to get an answer on the target site in a reasonable time. Prompt migrations means that questions don't get reposted on multiple sites when there is no answer on the first (because its being migrated).

Closed questions feed into the question ban system. When someone doesn't clean up their questions, closed questions will help the community by preventing someone from draining the resources of the community.

Closed questions can be automatically deleted by the 'roomba' - a series of scripts that will delete questions with low scores. (yes, there are criteria for non-closed questions too)

Closed questions can be deleted by 10k users. Those questions that are just embarrassingly bad but have some criteria that prevents the roomba from deleting it (upvoted answers, accepted answers). These can't be deleted until they are closed.

All too often, open questions are used as justification for asking another question in a similar vein. The Asker searches for something, finds an open question (that should be closed) similar and asks another question (that should be closed), and now there are two broken windows on the site rather than one. If the asker's question is then closed they see an inconsistency in how things are dealt with and this can result in a negative experience relating to Stack Overflow.

While it is not critical that things be closed, closing questions helps maintain the average quality on the site:

  • Deleting poor questions
  • Educating users about how to ask a question
  • Keeping poor answers from answering poor questions
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    In a way this is the best explanation why it's worth continuing. I still feel the system could be tweaked. I don't like the badge incentive and don't feel it fosters ideal behavior when it does add motivation. – Dave Alperovich Dec 9 '13 at 9:02

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