There's been a lot of discussion about the review queue in the top bar. Yes, a lot of it focuses on the icon - that's not what this is. I want to talk about getting eyeballs in review and doing that is all about when the icon's indicator is illuminated and when it is not.
Is it broken?
There are a couple of related feature requests on the "New top bar is live" post.
- This one is requesting that users be notified when there are grey dots in the review queues. +7 as of writing
- This one is more of a bug report saying the same thing. +12 as of writing
Both of these have a reasonable number of upvotes, so clearly we want some functionality out of this indicator that we're not getting, so I'd say that, yes, there's room for improvement. I'm pulling it out of the top bar post because I think it's worth discussing.
How it works:
Right now the red indicator only illuminates when a specific situation is met (based on this post by Jon Ericson):
- if any review queue has a red dot (explained below) and
- if it’s been at least an hour since you clicked on the review icon.
Each queue may be in one of three states:
- No dot (empty queue)
- Grey dot (at least one but fewer than N review tasks)
- Red dot (N or more review tasks)
Each review queue has its own threshold (N). [see linked post for numbers]
There is no indicator at in the top bar (only in the drop down) for any number of grey dot review items. Grey dots appear with as few as a single review item up to the quantity that causes the red dot.
My concern is that this is causing fewer users to go to the review queues unless there is a greater-than-average number of items to review because there is no obvious signal that there is anything to do without clicking on the top bar icon to check. Some data on this would be interesting.
Potential talking points
Here are some of the options I've thought of in relation to this. You can ignore or use them as you like.
- Should a grey dot (or some number of grey dots - 2 or 3) illuminate the indicator?
- If so, should it be grey or red? If grey, should some number of grey dots escalate this from grey to red?
- Should the grey dot indicator also rest for some amount of time? An hour? Two?
- How should the grey/red threshold be determined?
- Should the dot be illuminated based on total review items rather than per-queue review count?
- Should this continue to be on a per-site, average queue size basis? Change it to three levels where any site is either level 1, 2, or 3? What would that entail?
- How can we let users know what this threshold is? Should we even?
- Should we be concerned about this (potentially) being different for every site?
So, what solutions are there to this? How can we encourage users to check the queues without (especially on SO) causing dot fatigue? How can we make this simple to explain and track, like reputation levels?