A problem I've noticed on certain networks is that questions which have potential, need improvement, and could be salvaged are quickly down-voted and closed and even deleted within the first few hours.
This kind of self moderation skips the possibility of training users to ask better questions over time in a constructive way. By instead leaving a comment suggesting how questions could be improved when applicable, instead of being cut down instantly for asking a "bad question", users can instead be educated on how to make their questions better.
I've experienced this myself with great success on many sites where my questions showed effort to meet the scope definitions, but I needed a little help here and there to really get the feel for how to mold my curiosities into good questions on various networks where the scope can be a bit odd. This avoided the negative feelings of a bunch of down-votes being laid on my questions, and I felt like I was in a friendly place where people where willing to help teach me to become a productive member of their community.
But with current mechanics for voting I find the opposite can happen, depending on the behavior of a community's most active members. Even one or two users who like to pull the trigger and kill questions rather than improve them can, over a long period of time, cause a lot of damage instead of the alternate possibility of improving the question output quality of thousands of users. This effect is compounded, when you consider the looming factor of the first positive or negative or close vote greatly increasing the likelihood that the next person will follow suit. Basic human psychology.
Anyway, I've created my case, now I'll suggest a potential solution.
When people view a new question in the question queue, they want to either answer it, close it, vote on it, or a combination of the three. And if they don't do that right away, the question moves down the queue, and more pile up, so leaving a comment suggesting improvement may be forgotten and a poorly worded question gets through. That's probably why some people down-vote and vote to close without suggesting improvement, creating the bad effects described above.
But what if we had (and this is a very open, rough draft beginning to a solution) a mechanic for allowing users to vote to put a question in a temporary "potentially improved" state where the question could be salvaged if the user follows commented suggestions for improvement.
During this state:
- negative votes are not shown until the state ends
- the question is hidden from being displayed in the unanswered question queue
- the question will be put on hold automatically at the end of the period, and the negative votes cast will be shown.
and if users vote that the question has been improved before the state's timer ends, negative votes cast are discarded, never having been revealed to the user, and everyone wins. People can cast the votes when the question gets into the queue, and the negative actions are tallied but withheld temporarily, meanwhile the user gets an opportunity to improve his question with no bad feelings, follow the advise in the comments, and potentially improve his question and have a good experience on the network.
With a mechanic like this, or something similar, maybe a twist, such as including this mechanic as an option when voting to put the question on hold, perhaps would be intuitive and require fewer changes for the UI.
A benefit to this strategy is that it's purely user driven, doesn't require an advanced algorithm for each site on the network to launch as a feature like a related solution in the comments would, and a few users with enough rep can effectively and proactively utilize this tool to protect its newer users from the itchy trigger fingers of other users on their network, creating a more friendly environment while not damaging the effectiveness of self moderation in any way.