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The Problem

There is not much information available when making split-second decisions whether to close or reopen a post. Specialist fields can limit the ability for a Close Voting User to accurately close a post.

For example, meet Bob. Bob is near retirement age and has 40 years of experience in software development. He likes the idea of StackOverflow and is thinking about becoming a major contributor when he retires. He spends 10 minutes crafting a clear precise question after not finding an answer on StackOverflow. He posts it and it is practically immediately closed as duplicate. Bob knows it's not, and with very little understanding of the culture and rules, he decides to quit StackOverflow, and pursue a leisurely life of live art performances underwater with blooms jellyfish. Such a loss.

Incorrectly closed posts have an adverse impact on novice (and experienced) users who humbly reach out, but don't know the rules, or are simply misunderstood.

Other ideas

There are probably a few ways to improve these "information famine" and "impaired experience" problems. Any feature that can measure these problems, or word toward reducing the impact are great advancements to the community culture.

Solution

The collection and display of more data points on a post provide Close Voters with more context to make more informed decisions quickly.

Bob's life could have been more enriched with StackOverflow. Instead of closing the question, a Close Voter might have instead decided to add a comment. "Welcome to SO, it looks like your question is similar to X, I can see you spent 30 minutes searching for answers, and 10 minutes writing the post, please help me understand how your question is different so I don't vote to close it"

If we implement this, we can rescue Bob from the ocean.

Possible design

  • it could be the total amount of time that the user has the tab active.
  • it could involve the most amount of seconds that the user was typing for.
  • it could also model the typing speed (I type up to ~100 wpm).
  • it could also factor in time of a user over multiple edits and report the total time.
  • it could factor in time on the site before the user was "searching" before posting
  • it could indicate if the user scrolled through close matches while typing the title
  • it could include search terms used while searching, where they match content in the post, to show how the user searched for duplicate items
  • it could include URLs the user visited when they were searching that have matching terms
  • 3
    This kind of already exists: users who take less than 5 seconds to make their post are prompted for a CAPTCHA before being allowed to post it. – Sonic the Masked Werehog Jul 6 at 20:22
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    Note that here on Meta Stack Exchange, on questions requesting new features, voting is used to signify agreement or disagreement with a given proposal, so if your question gets downvoted, it may just mean that people disagree with your proposal, not necessarily that your question is bad for the site. – Sonic the Masked Werehog Jul 6 at 20:53
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    @Todd Just for your saviour: Before writing the next FR you should thoroughly read this. – πάντα ῥεῖ Jul 6 at 21:05
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    User carefully researches, writes, updated, redrafts good question in an editor and then copy/pastes into SO UI...... – Martin James Jul 7 at 0:43
  • @rene Thanks for the heads up - if not a "moderator" what are close-vote users called? – Todd Jul 7 at 3:09
  • @SonictheMaskedWerehog Thanks for finding a similar question. I am not suggesting a CAPTCHA mechanism though, so my question is significantly different. I am talking about reporting the total time spent by the poster in writing and editing their post, as one additional data-point. – Todd Jul 7 at 3:10
  • @πάνταῥεῖ Thanks for the heads up. I'll try to read through that an improve my future posts. – Todd Jul 7 at 3:10
  • @MartinJames see my comment to Jenayah's answer below – Todd Jul 7 at 3:11
  • I have updated question to be more "Startup Pitch" as suggested meta.stackexchange.com/a/259196/197184 – Todd Jul 7 at 3:30
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    @Todd from the Glossary: Closer Community member with 3,000 or more reputation. Has the ability to vote to close questions based on criteria set forth in the FAQ. but you can also say: user with the close vote privilege if you don't want your readers to know the Glossary by heart. – rene Jul 7 at 6:14
  • Just a matter of curiousity, why are all the OP's questions massively down voted ? – TheMadHatter Jul 7 at 9:56
  • @TheMadHatter because he managed to agitate a great number of people by posting his questions as an answer to several questions. Also once a question has attracted a great number of downvotes it is usually the case that drive-by downvoters pile on. – Luuklag Jul 7 at 9:58
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    Why exactly is the presumption the question was closed incorrectly? Why can’t Bob be mistaken in this example? – Ramhound Jul 7 at 12:12
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Original answer (which still stands):

I write all my questions as drafts in Notepad++ and then copy/paste them, so the average amount of time I spend in the Ask Question page must be around 10 seconds. I do so because drafting a good question takes time (several days, sometimes), can be done offline, I don't always trust Stack Exchange's "draft saving" feature, etc.

I strongly doubt I'm the only one doing this. This would raise way too many false positives, IMO. (on top of the other quality-related issues raised by the other answers)


Answer in light of the latest edit:

This proposal is not fixing anything, and instead adds to the frustration and friction that comes with closures and curation in general.

This feature focuses on the aftermath, when the "damage" is already done, the poor question posted and on its way to closure. One doesn't improve the system by sugar-coating its curation, one makes sure the system is efficient by reducing the amount of curation needed in the first place - that is, by teaching users what is expected, how to research and show your research, etc. Features like the Ask Question wizard do that (imperfectly, but it's the stated goal); post-facto stuff like this proposal focus on the wrong thing.

Displaying your proposed measure of "previous research" is flawed. As the other answers already explain, it doesn't tell you about the actual quality of the question. It would also add friction because you'd have some questioners arguing that "look, my research time was 15 minutes which is more than enough" and some curators strongly convinced that anything under 4 hours of research will be utter crap.

If you want a more breakdown-style explanation of the flaws:

it could be the total amount of time that the user has the tab active

What counts as active? Actively typing in it, or does the counter run if the tab is open while I'm eating a pizza in my kitchen?

it could involve the most amount of seconds that the user was typing for.

"Amount of time spent typing" is as useless a measure of quality than judging the value of an app by its amount of lines of code. It doesn't tell you anything about the actual content.

it could also model the typing speed (I type up to ~100 wpm).

What for?? People type at different speeds, how​ can we judge what's good or not depending on factors we can't and shouldn't know?? (Age, handicap, cat broke a jar, etc)

it could factor in time on the site before the user was "searching" before posting

Apart from the fact that this kind of tracking is creepy (and possibly illegal under GDPR), it still doesn't give you any useful data. How do you know the search was done for the purpose of the current question and not for general curiosity? Or another question? How do you know it wasn't a user investigating a spam ring, or trying to find stuff to curate?

it could indicate if the user scrolled through close matches while typing the title

The least flawed idea in these bullet points so far, but the "close matches" provided by the title box are often irrelevant. This is up to SE to fix.

it could include search terms used while searching, where they match content in the post, to show how the user searched for duplicate items

No, this is already covered by the "show your research" part of any Stack's asking policy. Fixing people's laziness is done by educating them, or curating their posts, not by auto-filling them.

it could include URLs the user visited when they were searching that have matching terms

Yeah, right. If I wanted a website I use to fetch and use what I browse outside it like this, I'd be on Facebook, thank you very much.

And I'm not even talking about the technical aspects (storing more data and using it efficiently = added complexity, etc), nor the dev time ones.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks Jenayah. For the purpose of improving the first-poster experience, I assume that most would write the question directly into the browser. I assume it would be those experienced in the community who may draft in notepad++. – Todd Jul 7 at 3:04
  • @Todd code sections, error-messages, inputs and outputs, I would expect to be copied in. – Martin James Jul 7 at 4:05
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This should have no bearing on the objective quality of a post.

If I spend two minutes on an excellent post, it should be upvoted. If I spend two hours on a terrible post, it should be downvoted; if it's a question, it should be closed.

Not only is this kind of metric impossible to generate in a meaningful way, but it doesn't serve a good purpose. Being sympathetic toward somebody is not a good reason to keep a bad question open. In fact, it could be argued that keeping a bad question open out of sympathy is actually a bad thing.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks Jason. I agree. But I am not referring to an algorithm. Rather, it's additional information that means much more to humans and their ability to empathize. Just like upvotes from others are social proof providing more information to a user, so too could "editing time" be. – Todd Jul 7 at 3:06
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It is not just about the amount of time spent, it matters if it is a good post. It matters about the content. The moderators and users will gain empathy for the poster by looking at their post, and seeing that they took the time to write a good post. And they will upvote it if they think it's a good one, or downvote it if the content is of poor quality, or another problem.

In response to your Possible Design list, sorry, I do not fancy being tracked in this way, well-meaning or not.

Sometimes I will write a question in Word, then copy/paste into the question, so the time I spend in the Ask Question page is minimal. So no, I don't think this is something we need.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks Ollie. I agree. I wasn't suggesting that the amount of time spent is what makes a good post. It's simply more information to help with human empathy, just like upvotes are a signal of social proof. – Todd Jul 7 at 3:07

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