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On a per-site Meta I have been asked in a comment:

The key assumption here is that putting questions on hold motivates people to improve them in a way that friendlier measures like comments and requests for clarification can not. Is there any evidence for this?

As soon as I think a question needs improvement to meet our quality standards and that its asker might not respond to those "friendlier measures" quickly I try to Always vote to close immediately. I usually perform those "friendlier measures" at the same time in case I have misjudged.

Consequently, answers like these resonate with me:

However, I cannot recall seeing any data to confirm or refute what I think is common sense above.

Is there any data, perhaps from SEDE, that shows whether questions that end up being placed On Hold at some point, are more likely to receive highly upvoted ( = high quality) answers by being placed On Hold sooner rather than later?

Defining "highly upvoted" may be difficult so perhaps any such analysis should use at least three values to counter any claim that it has placed the bar too high.

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    It keeps people from answering questions they shouldn't, until they reach a state they should. To me, that's totally the reason I rather close quickly, to get rid of broken windows until they are fixed... – Journeyman Geek Sep 13 '17 at 3:17
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    Just speculation (and thus not an answer), but consider placing a question on hold within minutes instead of hours: You're more likely to actually reach the OP, and they're more likely to be in a place to fix the question (rather than forget about it). Does that actually happen, and how often? Don't know. – Undo - Reinstate Monica Sep 13 '17 at 4:43
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    What Journeyman Geek said. It isn't about encouraging higher-quality answers; it's about preventing low-quality answers that will be irrelevant once the question is edited and improved. The data you're seeking here is irrelevant. – Cody Gray Sep 13 '17 at 5:12
  • @CodyGray I get what you and JourneymanGeek are saying - it's a better way of explaining my gut feeling that voting On Hold sooner rather than later is the way to go - I would be happy to accept an answer along those lines. – PolyGeo Sep 13 '17 at 5:39
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    That's not something for a SEDE-query but for an AI analysis since you'd need to consider the quality of the editing, the time of closing and re-opening, possibly the editor and certainly the general quality of the question after re-opening as well as the general quality of the answers of the answerer who gives the high-quality answer, and of course you'd need to qualify good answers and all those things deviate between sites, possibly topics on sites and probably a dozen factors I didn't think of. – Helmar Sep 13 '17 at 8:46
  • @Helmar an answer outlining the difficulty of providing an answer is itself a valuable answer. – PolyGeo Sep 13 '17 at 11:36
  • I think line @Helmar for the analysis, as its complex, as like the time you took to close the question, an user migh find time to write a good answer on another question because he didnt did moderation task before. – yagmoth555 Sep 14 '17 at 14:54
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I don't know if it does.

That said, the primary reason a poor question should be put on hold immediately, is simply because there's no value in keeping it in its current form, and some people might chose to answer it, either speculatively, or because they don't know better.

If a question can be fixed, it ought to be. I try to leave a comment to let a user know why a question is put on hold, but in many cases, the aim is education for the next time.

As such - if a closed question has fundamental quality issues, its unlikely to have highly upvotable answers unless the fixes made are excellent, or you have the rare case of there being well recieved answers on their own merit. Neither of these would, to me, have anything to do with time to close.

  • If the idea is to encourage the question to be improved, editing would be better than putting on hold. – user370230 Sep 13 '17 at 16:10
  • @ゼーロ that would improve the question rather than encourage the question to be improved. A large part of SE's scalability is that editing is performed by as many users as possible but most of all by its question askers. I was alerted to the need to learn how to edit the first time a question of mine went On Hold and I realized that only by editing to improve it would it get any answers. – PolyGeo Sep 13 '17 at 22:16
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    I'm just trying to make the site less hostile to new users. Guidance rather than sanction. It seems that a lot of users affected by this don't know what they need to do to fix it. – user370230 Sep 13 '17 at 22:44
  • @ゼーロ A moderator assisted me to understand the SE philosophy not long after I started using SE sites when he said that it is "carrot and stick". Just giving guidance does not always result in question improvement when the asker is receiving answers anyway. Sometimes it is only when access to answers without improvement that questions improve (and improve quickly). – PolyGeo Sep 19 '17 at 0:48
  • @PolyGeo seems like he meant he was hitting people with the stick... Carrot and stick would be leading the user to a better question, not trying to place it on hold as quickly as possible. – user370230 Sep 19 '17 at 10:34
  • @ゼーロ He used a lot of carrot and not much stick, and I think burned out as a result i.e. helped some users fantastically for a few years and nowadays seems to rarely answer. – PolyGeo Sep 19 '17 at 10:57
  • @PolyGeo hah, Also, don't forget various day jobs. Being a mod dosen't pay the bills. If I have less time and energy to answer stuff, its as much real life as anything. If I'm hitting a bunch of answers at once, it means I have time on my hands more than anything else. Not really burnt out - just that the tooling makes hands on commenting less needed, when there's already comments off the review queue and such. – Journeyman Geek Sep 19 '17 at 11:17

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