I specifically have (the recently graduated) Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair in mind while writing this, but I'm going to go with the assumption this is applicable to some of the other smaller sites as well. This definitely does not apply to the larger sites. I'm also mostly thinking of the "unclear what you're asking" close reason.
This is feature request for the ability to have a delay between the time the first close vote is cast and the time the question appears in the close review queue, configurable on a per-site basis. Possibly only for certain reasons, like "unclear what you're asking". Order of magnitude is days.
There is often debate on Mechanics about closing questions (example). Some users prefer to put questions on hold quickly, others strongly prefer to wait. I am not sure what is right, but I would rather see consistent solutions based on site mechanics rather than unsustainable things like conscious clean-up efforts (these work, but rely on a lot of community effort, and run the risk of not working any more in the future if the core members responsible for these efforts move on).
I'd like the community to continue to function smoothly in the long run, and I think this must be accomplished through an effective site mechanic rather than through constant relatively difficult and unsustainable effort (especially as users who put consistent effort in inevitably move on in the future), and so I'm making this feature request with that in mind.
So, at least from my interpretation, the general arguments for waiting to put questions on hold there are:
- Putting questions on hold can be viewed as rude.
- Casting a close vote can be a conversation stopper.
- Putting a question on hold can be jarring to new users who aren't familiar with SE.
- It takes users on the Mechanics site longer to respond with details than it does for a question to garner 5 votes in the queue. Once the question ends up in the queue it tends to be closed quickly, especially because the queue is very small.
- Reopening takes too long.
Those are the points that seem to come up the most. I'm not including arguments against because I don't believe that's relevant to this post. Of all of the above, I find #4 to be particularly compelling.
This is based on the observation that once a question makes it into the review queue, it tends to get closed very quickly2.
So to that end, one site mechanic change that I think could be useful is to simply add some wait time before a question shows up in the queue. This way:
- If the question is truly awful, it will still likely be closed quickly (the site has a relatively low volume and most users read most questions1). If the delay only applies to certain close reasons (like "unclear") it will also help a lot here.
- Reviewers won't be notified for some time after that first vote, which gives extra time for the OP to reply and comment discussions to clarify points. If clarification is received, then "Leave Open" will be more likely to be selected in the queue.
- If a user sees a question with a close vote, but personally wishes to give it more time, they can simply not add a close vote and just wait a few days for it to show up in the queue, thus removing the need for maintaining lists of questions to look at offline or in chat rooms -- which inevitably they forget about and the questions just sit around and rot until we make mass cleanup efforts.
One of the issues, I think, is that users are hesitant to cast the first on-hold vote, but once the question ends up in the queue, it becomes closed very quickly. That is, there is a bit of reasonable mob mentality, but that conflicts with the general desire to leave unclear questions open, and so that philosophy, while good, is fragile. I do not know if this is unique to that site or typical of smaller sites, but that is why I'd like to have it be supported by a site mechanic.
I think this idea will help back up the efforts there, and is generally useful on smaller, low throughput sites where similar patterns exist.
1 To be clear, even if most questions do have eyes, the fundamental problem for non-awful questions is basically that folks want to wait a few days before closing, which sounds good in theory, but this is difficult to do without expending a lot of effort maintaining lists offline.
2 Currently, I only have anecdotal evidence from other community members and my observations to back this up; I do not have the power to gather statistics on this.