I can understand the need to audit editing etc and when I get the first user and first answer privileges the system seemed to work well.

However I just unlocked close votes and now it seems that every third vote I do is an audit. That is just annoying and feels like an enormous waste of my time and doesn't really encourage me to put any effort into trying to clear the enormous backlog of close votes stack overflow has.

So I was already getting a bit annoyed by it, and then I got an audit: How can a Java variable be different from itself?

The answer from OldCurmudgeon came up in the audit to be reviewed and it was indeed an excellent answer. However the process failed because I went and read the question and saw the answer was already there! So I hit flag to report that the answer was a duplicate of an already posted answer...and got told that I should be paying more attention?

So I get told I should pay more attention because I was paying too much attention?

What does the audit failed actually mean? Beyond being a slap in the face for trying to help what does one or two failed audits actually do in real terms?

  • Not sure what one or two audits do in real terms (other than you head to some threshold) but the audits are necessary. Otherwise robo reviewing would probably go nuts and the site would suffer.
    – James
    Dec 18 '13 at 12:20
  • I agree, some form of auditing is definitely needed and as mentioned in my post I was fine with it until I started hitting the sheer number of audits I've seen today combined with the unfair fail.
    – Tim B
    Dec 18 '13 at 12:24
  • If you'd really been paying attention, you should have noticed that you were flagging an answer as a duplicate of the same answer. You should have checked to see which one had come first and which one was the copy (just because it's someone's first post doesn't mean someone else couldn't have plagiarized it). Dec 18 '13 at 12:28
  • Well of course I did. The one in the audit said posted just now (or some recent time anyway). The original post in the answer said Dec 4th.
    – Tim B
    Dec 18 '13 at 12:31

I agree the audit system isn't perfect, but once you know what to look for (most) audits are easy to spot (assuming you're paying attention).

When you click through to the question the answer you are reviewing will already be there - the review doesn't decide whether an answer gets posted, it's already posted the reviews are just to see if it needs further attention.

When viewing an audit - if the post isn't there already its already been deleted so choose flag or similar; if it is there then it's a good post and choose no action needed.

I was tricked initially by exactly the same thing, but you probably won't fall for it again. I think everyone needs to fail a few audits to learn the proper "technique" for handling them, and even once you know what to look for they'll throw you the odd curve ball (particularly for close and reopen votes)

As to what 'Audit Failed' means, if you repeatedly fail audits you will be suspended from reviewing. I've failed several audits now - although probably never back to back - and I haven't seen any consequences so far.

  • Yes, it seems like rather a large flaw in the system though - in that if a new user did come along and start copy-pasting answers we would all assume its an audit test and in that people who "go the extra mile" when reviewing essentially get trained not to bother.
    – Tim B
    Dec 18 '13 at 12:23
  • 7
    The problem with a situation like this is that the audit is testing for knowledge of how audits work, not for knowledge of how reviews work. Dec 18 '13 at 12:26
  • 2
    If audits are supposed to be spotted, there should be an "I think it's an audit" button. Faking own actions and behaving differently just to pass audit means system is bad.
    – Mołot
    Dec 18 '13 at 12:40
  • I like the idea of an "I think it's an audit" button :p Really though the only way for the audits not to cause OP's problem would be if the entire question linked from the audit was faked to show the same answer the audit shows - which would be a good idea IMO but I guess it would be a big change.
    – OGHaza
    Dec 18 '13 at 12:57
  • @OGHaza: I'm going to up and say don't bother. I would quickly learn to use a browser plug-in to smack it.
    – Joshua
    Aug 12 '18 at 21:08

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