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Currently, there are a lot of old SO-specific meta questions laying around on this site, asked back when this site used to accept them, before the MSO-MSE split. While many of these have been closed accordingly, quite a bit are still open, and I'll gladly vote to close one if pointed out to me.

On this site, users are limited to 24 close votes per day. (It was increased to 50 as a result of a big wave of off-topic questions; to be fair, I'm to blame for letting them know a long time later that they forgot to change it back and they did so per my request.)

Our Close Votes queue generally only gets 0-5 questions per day. This leaves people with the ability to vote to close other questions as they please without running into limits, and allows users to deal with things like blatantly off-topic questions, hammering duplicates, etc. There are generally only a few users (~10-20) who do that on a daily basis on this site.

But occasionally, the close votes queue gets filled up with dozens of these old SO-specific questions. Users without enough rep to vote to close can flag questions for closure, and if they have a long history of good flagging, they can add up to 100 questions to the queue per day. On this site, I had raised 400 helpful flags, mostly recommend closure flags, enabling me to cast 50 flags a day, before I gained enough rep to vote to close. On Stack Overflow and Super User, I can cast 100 flags per day despite not having enough rep to vote to close.

As I said, I don't disagree with those flags; I think it's great that the user(s) who is/are flagging those questions is bringing them up to our attention, so that they can be closed. But the daily close vote limit can leave us few users who deal with them daily with very little power, after we've spent some time handling those review tasks. After taking care of the queue yesterday, I came across two blatantly off-topic questions that I was unable to vote to close, and judging from the low amount of close votes after some time (they generally get closed very quickly), I guess many others also had the same problem.

What should be done about this? Should users without closing privileges be limited to casting 24 recommend closure flags per day, limiting them to adding only the same amount of questions that a 3k+ user can add to the Close Votes queue? Should we raise the daily close vote limit to 50 on this site? Some more complicated solutions are to increase the daily close vote limit in case the queue gets filled above a certain threshold on a given day, or to make close votes cast through review not affect the daily close vote allowance. (These seem like generalized solutions to localized problems, since this issue reported here is specific to MSE.)

Also, another thing: if the queue size goes over 150, the daily review limit gets increased to 40. This can happen if 2-3 users with great flagging histories flag a bunch of these old questions. But that doesn't make mathematical sense if I can only vote to close 24 of them, and that can leave my close votes altogether depleted.

To be clear, the issue at hand here is about users who vote or flag many of those old questions that don't have an immediate need to be closed, and are very likely doing so in the name of cleanup, per Nathan's answer below.

For now, I'm going to tap Leave Open on old SO-specific questions that have no close votes and have no recent activity; others please join me in doing the same so that flags get declined and the user(s) who floods the queue will get the message.

  • This could apply to any site. In particular, I'm now wondering if this is affecting Stack Overflow's queue size any. – Laurel Oct 18 '18 at 19:34
  • @Laurel On SO it's a daily, perennial issue. But here, it's rare; it's 0-5 on most days before spiking up. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Oct 18 '18 at 19:36
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The problem arises from users who go on systematic hunts for questions that technically fit criteria to be closed, but aren't actually getting in anyone's way. For clarity, this means questions that

  • haven't been recently bumped by organic activity
  • don't have a tag that needs final burnination right now
  • weren't found by organic links from other questions, but from searches for SO-specific questions, typically tag-based (this could theoretically be hard to verify, but in practice, it's pretty obvious)

There's no doubt that these questions deserve to be closed, strictly speaking. But do they need to be closed? Nobody sees them unless they are so annoyed by the existence of some SO-specific questions somewhere that they go and hunt them down to be bothered by them! This is make-work for /review, and I don't like it.

Mind you, it's not that I mind going through a lot of reviews: I'm the #3 CV reviewer on Meta, after all. And it's not that I'm unsympathetic to a desire for site purity. But come on, get a grip. Unless someone is going to a) answer an obsolete question or perhaps b) rely on extremely site-specific answers for general advice, the questions are doing no harm, and if they aren't easily visible, neither is likely.

There is an exception for tag burnination: if you have a tag that needs to be gotten rid of (because it's polluting auto-completion, say), and it happens to have a few questions that can't be edited to no longer have the tag, but must instead simply be closed and deleted to wipe the tag out for good, then that's what needs to be done. But a tag that's not anywhere near that stage isn't worth trawling for indignant flags. will be with us for a long time, however many questions get closed.

Low-rep users are as difficult to integrate into the question-closing aspect of burnination as the editing aspect, for similar reasons. Burnination of any sizeable tag is a large project where the discovery of what needs to be done is already organized in an easy-to-access, semi-linear format much like /review, and where the demoralizing scope of the work to be done is the main practical obstacle. So it is much more demoralizing than helpful to have users scurrying about calling attention to — but not helping resolve — specific posts that need work only as much as all the other posts in the list.

Therefore, unfortunately, a low-rep user that wants to help clean up some large and easy-to-find set of questions (, for example cough) just doesn't have much that is useful to do, besides roomba-downvoting questions that are closed or close-worthy in hopes of eventually getting them deleted without much human intervention. Flagging blatantly obsolete questions or suggesting tag-removal edits just demand that someone else do the next obvious piece of cleanup: they do not make the job any easier.

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    Add to that the fact that certain users who don't have 3,000+ rep can add up to 100 such questions to the queue, but that dies down as soon as one gets the close voting privilege. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Oct 19 '18 at 5:40
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    For now, I'm going to tap Leave Open on questions that have no close votes and have no recent activity. Please join me in doing the same so that flags get declined and the user(s) who floods the queue will get the message. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Oct 20 '18 at 0:06
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    @SonictheInclusiveWerehog Don't misuse the review queues and close vote system for that. If there's a problem the staff can easily check who's doing the flagging and deal with them directly. – curiousdannii Oct 20 '18 at 6:21
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Based on what I see happening in the close vote review queue (which I check multiple times per day), I don't think anything needs to be done. There seem to be enough people who want to review close votes to keep the queue under control. I'm about to use up my 20 reviews today, and I'm sure the other regular reviewers will use up theirs when they are online, so I don't think it's going to stay at this unusually high # of reviews for very long.

On ServerFault, where I also check the close vote review queue frequently, I've seen the queue get close to a couple hundred, but even the very small # of reviewers there eventually chipped away at it and got it down.

When I started writing this question, there were 40 questions waiting for review. After I'd finished reviewing 20 of them, someone else had also reviewed 20, and there were only 17 (visible to me, I know the # would be different for other people). I could see that many of the questions already had 4 votes, so a bunch were closed by my review and the same must've happened for the other person who reviewed 20. To me, this shows that the # of reviewers is sufficient to keep the # of pending reviews down to a manageable level.

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    The problem here is not the review burden. It's that users who finish reviewing can't vote to close many questions that come up after they do their share of the review queue, and this leads to some languishment. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Oct 19 '18 at 3:22
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    @SonictheInclusiveWerehog given that most of those questions that are now in the CVQ have been here for more then 6 to 8 weeks it is not a problem if handling their close vote review takes 6 to 8 days. It really isn't. Really. And none of us run out of close votes so we can still handle the stuff that needs closure today. You're trying to solve something that is not a problem, at least not in my mind. – rene Oct 19 '18 at 5:30
  • @rene As I said in the post, I ran out of close votes. Additionally, Glorfindel wanted to hammer a post but couldn't because he ran out as well. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Oct 19 '18 at 17:55
  • In the spirit of Nathan's answer below, I'm going to tap Leave Open on questions that have no close votes and no recent activity. Please join me in doing the same so that flags get declined and the user(s) who floods the queue will get the message. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Oct 20 '18 at 0:09
  • @SonictheInclusiveWerehog That probably makes sense. I'm not promising to do it on every question, but certainly some of them. – Ward Oct 20 '18 at 0:19
  • There's no point clicking Leave Open on questions where a close vote has already been issued, as a single close vote will cause the flag to be marked helpful. (I noticed you clicked Leave Open on questions where others had already reviewed Close.) – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Oct 20 '18 at 1:48

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