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This post is part of a larger effort to create Help Center pages for each of the Review queues. You can learn more about this project in the overview post. These posts will be locked so that everyone has a chance to review each original draft and provide feedback in the answers. We will continue to collect feedback until November 9th, 2020.

We are looking for your feedback on this draft for the Close votes queue. When reviewing this draft please consider the following:

  1. What is essential to know about using this queue?

  2. Is there any information that’s missing or should be removed?

How do I use the Close votes queue?

Access earned at $PrivilegeCloseQuestions reputation

The Close votes queue includes questions that other users have flagged as needing to be closed. Before reviewing in this queue, you should be familiar with what sorts of questions should and should not be closed. To find that information, see the following two pages:

  • Closed question help article is a network-wide guide for the primary reasons questions should be closed. This generally happens when a question:

    • is a duplicate of an existing question on the site

    • needs additional details or clarity to be answered

    • needs to be more focused, as the existing question is too broad

    • is an opinion-based question that doesn’t have an objectively correct answer

  • On topic article is a site-specific guide to what types of questions are on and off topic on this site. This page will differ on each site on the Network.

Basic workflow

At the top of the review task page, you’ll find the reasons others flagged or voted the question to be closed, but if you disagree, you may choose a different option. The close reason that gets the most votes will be indicated on the post if it is closed. Review the question content completely and then make a decision from one of the options:

  • Close the question if it is a duplicate, lacks sufficient detail, needs to be narrowed in scope, is opinion based, is off topic, or if it meets one of the other community-specific reasons to close. Choose the applicable close reason based on your assessment. You also have the option to enter a custom reason if none of the existing ones apply.

  • Leave open if none of the above is the case.

  • Edit should be reserved for when the question is close-worthy as written but when you believe you can rescue the question to make it fit the scope. This may mean adding in details the asker left in comments or making slight adjustments to an opinion-based question so that it's objective. Don’t make minor edits if the question would be closed even with these changes, as it will remove the question from review.

  • Skip any time you’re not certain - don’t be afraid to use the skip button! Focus on reviewing posts you’re certain of rather than ones you need to guess how to handle.

Tip: You may want to restrict which questions you are shown to subjects you are familiar with by filtering reviews by tags you have experience in. You can do this by clicking “Filter” in the top section of a review task. When in doubt, choose Skip.

Close votes filters

Filtering by tags allows you to choose a group of tags, it doesn't allow you to restrict to multiple tags. So choosing two tags will find all reviews with one or both tags, not both tags only.

Some of the content of this page is adapted from information in our Meta Stack Exchange FAQ, which also contains more in-depth guidance if you are interested in reading more about this queue.

Other drafts

To review other drafts in part of this project, please see below:

Stack Overflow only:

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    Is $PrivilegeCloseQuestions supposed to be an actual value in that quote, btw? – TylerH Nov 2 '20 at 22:45
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    @TylerH probably a variable on the template, since at different phases of graduation you have different requirements for closing questions. – Braiam Nov 2 '20 at 22:46
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    When we use that on a Help Center page, it matches the site's value into the doc, so on Full sites it'll say 3,000 and on beta sites it'll say 500. :) – Catija Nov 2 '20 at 22:46

11 Answers 11

17

Not sure we should be in the business of blanket advising the editing of opinion based questions into objective questions. We'd be in danger of subverting the authors intent in ways they didn't envisage. Quite often the most appropriate thing to do is to close such questions.

The current text does not indicate the thought that the commenters have indicated is necessary to apply as to when an edit is OK and when it isn't and it seems the norms of when to edit and when not to edit vary by site.

I'm all for adding information from the author's comments though if that can rescue the question.

We may want to add something about not translating questions that are written in other languages too.

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    Some questions in the queue that are interpreted as being opinion based by some could be salvaged by someone else clarifying what is being asked. This might be rare on some of the more technical sites, but on the language sites like English Language & Usage or English Language Learners it happened more often than you might think it would. – ColleenV Nov 2 '20 at 22:03
  • Except this is the generic text for all sites, isn't it? Can't sites that wish to tweak it or provide additional advice somehow? In which case omitting that sentence altogether from the generic text may be best. – Robert Longson Nov 2 '20 at 22:05
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    I think that a lot of people close things as "opinion based" when the question can be valuable to the site if it is nudged toward less subjective. Not all subjective questions are bad. I think it is valuable to encourage people to think about how they can salvage a question, regardless of the site. Maybe the sentence needs more elaboration or a different focus though. Maybe "clarifying" instead of "rewriting". I do think "rewriting" sends the wrong message. – ColleenV Nov 2 '20 at 22:08
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    We definitely shouldn't be encouraging the making of large substantial edits. The OP needs to do that. – curiousdannii Nov 3 '20 at 14:41
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    If someone asks "What's the best way to do ____?" , which would tend to be closed as opinion-based... I think it's perfectly acceptable to remove the "best way" part and focus on "This is the problem I have, what will fix this?"... The question doesn't need to ask for the "best" way, it just needs a way... and the votes will help surface which is best. – Catija Nov 3 '20 at 16:04
  • Also relevant: the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective blog post. In particular, the "objective question" part of the draft is misleading, because not every site is limited to objective questions - on some, subjective questions may even be the majority. – V2Blast Nov 3 '20 at 21:59
  • I have helped many new user first questions stay alive and receive good answers by adjusting "can this work?" to "what are the challenges?" or similar. There's nothing wrong with helping new users find their way and receive that critical positive first experience. SE's "opinion based" is a hard concept for some and just asking someone to edit without them knowing what it is they're supposed to change can be frustrating to them, while a demonstration edit along with a comment "I've edited... feel free to edit further" comment has always been welcomed in my experience. – uhoh Nov 6 '20 at 0:56
  • cf. ...every review is not a close or not close decision. Editing is an acceptable behavior... but which goes on to point out that it needs to be done judiciously. – uhoh Nov 6 '20 at 0:59
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    I think the edit reason is valid for many sites, but I've attempted to de-emphasize it in an edit by making it the second example and focusing on it being a minor change to the question. – Catija Nov 10 '20 at 17:26
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It might be worth explaining the filter section after you display the screenshot of the filter menu. For example, users may think if you write in two tags, such as html, css, that it will filter down to only questions that have both tags (oh how I wish this were the case), because that's how filtering on the site Search works (even if you include a comma in the site Search field).

However, the queue filtering actually considers each tag separately. So despite how much you may want to get questions only tagged with and , you'll still get served with questions that likely have just one or the other.

Hopefully this is a stopgap measure, because the review queue overhauls I think are supposed to bring more in-depth filtering, including joining tags as filters as well as tags to ignore. If not, here's your sign...

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    This seems like a good note to add and, yes, my understanding is that the new UI will allow for better filtering, so we'll be updating that section of the article once that change ships. :) – Catija Nov 3 '20 at 16:02
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    Let me know if the addition after the screenshot conveys what you wanted. – Catija Nov 10 '20 at 17:26
  • @Catija I'd replace the first comma with a semicolon, but otherwise that's great! – TylerH Nov 10 '20 at 23:41
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I would mention that the custom reason leaves a comment under the question if you use that instead of one of the standard reasons. Some people may not want the attention that brings, and others may need to be reminded to soften their language because it will look like a direct message to the author of the question.

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  • This exists in the close UI already. If you use a custom reason it says "add a comment" and there's a tooltip that explains that the note will be converted into a comment. – Catija Nov 10 '20 at 17:53
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What is essential to know about using this queue?

That every review is not a close or not close decision. Editing is an acceptable behavior if you have the expertise to do fix the issues with the question. The problem with this path is that it unilaterally boots the question out of the queue and therefore prone to be misused to fix non-critical issues. I don't have a good way to make that subsequent reviewers notice the potential fixes but maybe inform the user trying to do the edit to make sure they are actually fixing critical issues with the question, or close it immediately and drop it in the reopen queue?

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    Well the text already says Don’t make minor edits if the question would be closed even with these changes. – Robert Longson Nov 2 '20 at 22:50
  • @RobertLongson no, that's not enough. We should foment edits, even if that means invalidating answers and other "non desired behavior" (altering the meaning, and other flavors). – Braiam Nov 2 '20 at 23:33
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    Arguably, the "Edit" button should probably be removed...unilaterally preventing further review of a question seems bad. If the edits fixed the issues, then it should get Skips or Leave Open votes afterward. – Ryan M Nov 3 '20 at 0:29
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    At the very least, it should be extremely clear that an "Edit" result is a binding "Leave open" vote that immediately removes that post from review. I reviewed close votes for quite a while before realizing this subtlety. – Ryan M Nov 3 '20 at 0:48
  • @RyanM that's why the warning should be before you try to submit your edit, not before you click edit. Some JIT help. ;) – Braiam Nov 3 '20 at 2:37
  • I think this answer should explicitly say that you think the existing text is insufficient. I can remove my previous comment then. – Robert Longson Nov 3 '20 at 7:54
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    @RobertLongson the problem isn't the text, is that I don't have a good idea of what else can be done that isn't more text (which btw, doesn't work since if it worked, it wouldn't be happening). The last sentence is spitballing some workaround these. – Braiam Nov 3 '20 at 11:14
  • @Braiam Editing that makes existing answers invalid is widely considered to be bad form. There are some specific cases where the only option is to edit and invalidate a premature answer, but implying that editing is always appropriate if it will invalidate answers is not correct. I think that editing removing it from the queue is something we should be questioning whether the behavior is correct, rather than discouraging edits. – Catija Nov 10 '20 at 17:32
  • @Catija Your argument steams that invalidating answers is something sacrilegious, which is ridiculous. Those answers which would be invalidated shouldn't have existed in the first place because they are answering a question that shouldn't be asked. If to save a question from being off topic I have to invalidate one or all answers, then so be it. Those answerers instead of flagging for closure decided to answer the question, and should get no pity at all from the system. Answering non-suitable question is a bad form and should be discouraged at any cost. – Braiam Nov 10 '20 at 18:18
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    That's your position. As far as I'm aware, it's not the general consensus and your position doesn't allow for all cases, being too absolute and assuming all answers to close-worthy questions were created in bad faith.... also, that assumes people agree when a question should be closed, which is often debated on its own. – Catija Nov 10 '20 at 18:19
  • Lets see if you get the logical conclusion of all those statements @Catija: you can't edit a question for reopening since invalidates existing answers, but can't delete it because there are upvoted answers, so people sees these questions and continue asking them, because they are being answered, and so forth and so long. Where's quality on that relationship? Why isn't quality paramount writing those? Why are you mentioning intentions (which the hell is full of) instead of objective quality measures? Why should you heed "consensus" when SE has ignored them with more dubious reasons? – Braiam Nov 10 '20 at 20:48
  • @Catija put quality first, and ignore everything else. These sites are successful because of quality which is enforced by curation. If curation can not happen, quality will never be achieved. And I bet you want a fan of successful sites, right? Remember, "the fastest way to kill any Q&A; site is to flood it with low-quality questions" – Braiam Nov 10 '20 at 20:49
  • Of course, for a close-worthy question with major formatting and/or grammatical issues, there is nothing to prevent the reviewer from voting to close and then, outside the review, making those edits (to prevent another user so doing after closure, and popping it into the reopen queue). And similar stuff could be done for an edit that does sufficiently improve the question - Edit elsewhere then vote to leave open. Either way, the "Edit" button in the queue is best gone, IMHO. – Adrian Mole Nov 11 '20 at 22:36
  • @AdrianMole that irrelevant. Nobody should close questions just because they are badly formatted unless it's in a way that makes it unclear. And even then, editing it such that it makes it not unclear anymore is an acceptable behavior either outside or inside the queue, which would invalidate the need of close votes. – Braiam Nov 12 '20 at 0:45
  • @Braiam I think you misunderstood me. A question can be closable for many reasons (say, opinion-based) and have formatting issues. Editing to fix those issues (only) will not make it less close-worthy and is not acceptable as a queue action. – Adrian Mole Nov 12 '20 at 3:10
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It may be good to include a reference to the binding vote of the gold badge holders, that is, their hammer for duplicate votes.

In the case the modal can be adapted to check the user seeing it, something on the form of:

Note that you voting as a duplicate will have immediate effect since you have a golden badge on at least one of the tags of the question.

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  • While I think this would be a valuable change, the modal isn't related to this topic. We're adding help center pages, not changing the modals. I'm also not sure how much a gold badge user would be using this page, so writing it for them. even part, seems out of scope of the goals for this project, to focus on the overarching concepts and not the details. – Catija Nov 10 '20 at 17:31
  • OK, @Catija, since I saw suggestions popping up about the topic and becoming more generic, I thought this would be worth commenting. Then, it would be good that in the future these things are also brought to debate. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Nov 10 '20 at 19:23
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I think there needs to be a little more explanation of what makes a question a duplicate of another question. I think that people across sites have different ideas of what the "best practices" are in voting for duplicates and there should be some guidance to get everyone on the same page (ignoring entirely how we should go about identifying duplicates for the purpose of this discussion on review queues).

I think a quick summary about what to look for in a good duplicate target would make sense, or at least a quick explanation of the goal of closing something as a duplicate.

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    "Most people new to the system assume it means the question is an exact duplicate" that's not true. Most people presume that only because there is one answer in the target that could arguably help, that's enough to be a duplicate, ignoring that every other answer can't be used. That's not how it works! Duplicated questions are for questions that asks the same thing: they are semantically equivalent. Different words, same meaning. The rule of thumb with the answer got way too off hand, where even unclear questions are closed as duplicate! – Braiam Nov 2 '20 at 22:41
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    @Braiam you'd be surprised by the number of new users who think a question is not a duplicate because it is phrased differently, or the OP (especially where language sites are concerned) asks about different examples but the grammar is (practically) identical to hundreds of other similar posts. – Mari-Lou A Nov 3 '20 at 11:55
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    @Mari-LouA that's not what we are talking here. Phrasing differently, yeah, that's what semantically equivalent means. Having two questions being duplicate because an answer that says "reboot your system" which also solves countless of other issues because no system is perfect, makes no sense. The onus of identifying duplicates should not be whenever an answer is the same in two questions. That may give some clues, but it's not definitive. – Braiam Nov 3 '20 at 11:59
  • @Braiam I think that this discussion in comments is exactly why the help text needs more explanation of what makes a good duplicate. I gave one example of why I think we need more explanation, but that's not the only thing that someone should consider when voting something as a duplicate. The quality of the answers is one I would definitely put on my list. I've seen questions get closed as dupes that shouldn't have because people assume the person that chose the target question picked an appropriate one. – ColleenV Nov 3 '20 at 12:15
  • @Braiam //“The onus of identifying duplicates should not be whenever an answer is the same in two questions. That may give some clues, but it's not definitive.”// Then shouldn't the onus lie with the author to explain why "rebooting" is insufficient? – Mari-Lou A Nov 3 '20 at 12:24
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    Answers are entirely irrelevant to closing questions as duplicates and should not even be considered by reviewers. What matters is the questions, whether they ask the same thing, or a complete subset of smother question. – curiousdannii Nov 3 '20 at 14:43
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    @Mari-LouA why? Why can't you, the one flagging/voting as duplicate, give an explanation that doesn't rely on the content of the answers? Lets put it this way, if both questions had no answers, would you still flag as duplicate? In my view, if they are semantically equivalent, I would, in your argument you wouldn't. – Braiam Nov 3 '20 at 15:02
  • @curiousdannii If you have two questions, and one has high quality answers and the other has poor quality answers, which one should be marked as the duplicate of the other? – ColleenV Nov 3 '20 at 15:18
  • @ColleenV are they asking the same question? – Braiam Nov 3 '20 at 15:24
  • @Braiam No. Obviously in this discussion about duplicate questions I'm talking about two completely unrelated questions. – ColleenV Nov 3 '20 at 15:28
  • @Braiam || "Why can't you, the one flagging/voting as duplicate, give an explanation that doesn't rely on the content of the answers?"|| Because closing a question as a duplicate, should mean the answer helps the newcomer or actually resolves their problem. It's up to the newcomer to explain why the solution/answer in the older question is lacking. In technical questions, experts see whether the answer is outdated or incomplete, in which case they don't vote to close. Instead, they leave a comment asking the OP which solutions they tried. The clarificatory note makes the Q no longer a dupe. – Mari-Lou A Nov 3 '20 at 15:45
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    @ColleenV Yes answers could matter when determining which duplicate should be closed and which stays open. I only meant that in the matter of determining whether questions are duplicates answers should be ignored. – curiousdannii Nov 3 '20 at 16:08
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    @uhoh they are equivalent. When you phrase differently you use different words to convey the same meaning. Semantically equivalent means that they "mean the same thing". I'm not sure if your system has problems, but if it has, just turn it off and on. :D – Braiam Nov 6 '20 at 2:22
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    @curiousdannii I think there's a slightly different focus when we're talking about finding a good duplicate target, and evaluating a duplicate target someone has put into the review queue. A lot of people focus on closing the newer question instead of the older question, even though sometimes the newer question is more in-line with current community standards. It would be nice if the review queue would let people vote to reverse the which question is being closed of the duplicate pair, but there are bigger fish to fry. – ColleenV Nov 6 '20 at 17:04
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    I've added a link to the help center page. – Catija Nov 10 '20 at 17:44
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Is the page editable for each site's needs?

It is almost impossible for a question on Code Review to be a duplicate, need more focus, or be opinion-based. Code Review has 189 FizzBuzz questions! I have seen users post questions with an admission of potentially breaking the rules. Something like:

I know there are other posts about foo, but I'd like a review of my solution.

Not having the ability to remove rules that aren't enforced on the site can lead to confusion and scare off potential askers.

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  • At this point we're not planning to make them site-specific, particularly as they may change in the future as we continue to work on the close review project. Once this has stabilized, we can discuss making them site specific, though if we do this, we'll likely do it with the caveat that we may occasionally need to do a network-wide override, so y'all should keep a copy of your current version somewhere so that you can re-adjust if that happens. – Catija Nov 10 '20 at 17:46
  • @Catija Thank you for the response. Not allowing this immediately is understandable and your suggestion for discussion sounds great to me. If moderators could edit the page then we, hopefully, won't need to pester SE. :D – Peilonrayz Nov 21 '20 at 2:51
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Minor proofreading/grammar nitpicks:

Skip any time you’re not certain - don’t be afraid to use the skip button

This should be an em dash: "...you’re not certain—don’t be afraid...", as it joins two independent clauses.


is duplicate of an existing question on the site

This (also appears in Reopen) is missing a word: it should probably say "is a duplicate."


needs to be focused as the existing question is too broad

Should have a comma after "focused" (and maybe would be better phrased as "more focused" to match the close reason)

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It is a minor thing, but I would give the Skip option slightly more prominence, by putting it first in the list of actions you can take.

That sends a clearer message that it is not a binary Close vs Leave Open choice.

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    It won't dissuade the recreational closers but I think it will help others remember that an occasional "I don't know" never hurt anybody. – uhoh Nov 6 '20 at 1:08
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Suggested changes

(Use Edit History to easily view the diffs between the original post and the suggested changes)

How do I use the Close votes queue?

Access earned at $PrivilegeCloseQuestions reputation

The Close votes queue includes questions that other users have flagged as needing to be closed. Before reviewing in this queue, you should be familiar with what sorts of questions should and should not be closed. To find that information, see the following two pages:

  • Closed question help article is a network-wide guide for the primary reasons questions should be closed. This generally happens when a question either:

    • is a duplicate of an existing question on the site or

    • needs additional details or clarity to be answered or

    • needs to be more focused, as the existing question is too broad or

    • is an opinion-based question that doesn’t have an objectively correct answer

  • On topic article is a site-specific guide to what types of questions are on and off topic on this site. This page will differ on each site on the network.

Basic workflow

At the top of the review task page, you’ll find the reasons others flagged or voted the question to be closed, but if you disagree, you may choose a different option. The close reason that gets the most votes will be indicated on the post if it is closed. Review the question content completely and then make a decision from one of the options:

  • Close the question if it is either a duplicate, or lacks sufficient detail, or needs to be narrowed in scope, or is opinion based, or is off topic, or if it meets one of the other community-specific reasons to close. Choose the applicable close reason based on your assessment. You also have the option to enter a custom reason if none of the existing ones apply.

  • Leave open if none of the above is the case.

  • Edit should be reserved for when the question is close-worthy as written but when you believe you can rescue the question to make it fit the scope. This may mean rewriting an opinion-based question into an objective question or adding in details the asker left in comments. Don’t make minor edits if the question would be closed even with these changes.

  • Skip any time you’re not certain - don’t be afraid to use the skip button! Focus on reviewing posts you’re certain of, rather than ones you need to guess how to handle.

Tip: You may want to restrict which questions you are shown to subjects you are familiar with by filtering reviews by tags you have experience in. You can do this by clicking “Filter” in the top section of a review task. When in doubt, choose Skip.

Close votes filters

Some of the content of this page is adapted from information in our Meta Stack Exchange FAQ, which also contains more in-depth guidance if you are interested in reading more about this queue.

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Explain why the Edit button isn't visible sometimes on sites with reduced privilege thresholds

On full, designed sites, the privilege to vote to close/reopen is awarded after the privilege to edit, and so everyone who has closing privileges also has editing privileges by definition. However, on beta sites and launched sites without designs, the privilege to vote to close is awarded before the privilege to edit, meaning that there are users who can vote to close but can't make direct edits.

This leads to an interesting consequence in the close review queue: such users aren't shown the option to Edit. The only options visible to them are to leave open or vote to close.

The above linked post is a feature request to change this behavior and make it align with the Edit and Reopen button in the reopen queue, which does show that button to all users, and submits the edit as a suggested edit. However, if that request is not to be implemented, can we please add an explanation to the help center page as to when it's visible and why it isn't visible?

I suggest adding the below sub-bullet on sites with reduced reputation thresholds only:

  • Edit should be reserved for when the question is close-worthy as written but when you believe you can rescue the question to make it fit the scope. This may mean adding in details the asker left in comments or making slight adjustments to an opinion-based question so that it's objective. Don’t make minor edits if the question would be closed even with these changes, as it will remove the question from review.
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  • We have no functional way to do this. – Catija Nov 11 '20 at 3:18
  • @Catija I guess the better option is to implement the feature request, which will make this moot. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Nov 11 '20 at 3:19

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