- New users aren't notified of close votes, and probably wouldn't know how to check for them
- When a question is closed:
- New users don't know what this means (it's valuable feedback!)
- Limited guidance is provided about how to improve a question
- New users should be given guidance (such as an on-boarding or tour) as soon as a close vote is cast on their question (and consider providing this same guidance to all users when a question is closed)
Recently a new user asked an opinion-based question on Sustainability.SE, and promptly received two close votes and a downvote. As a moderator there, I agree that this opinion-based question, as written, should be closed. However -- there's a nugget of a good question in there. This user has been back to the site since those votes were cast (based on "last seen" in their profile), but unless they are paying close attention, they wouldn't see those close votes. I provided some feedback, but only because I noticed the question.
With help from @tinkeringbell and @terdon, I did a bit of a science experiment. First, what does a user see when their question gets a close vote? The answer is nothing, unless they're looking for it:
A user can click the "Close (1)" indicator on their own question to see which close reasons were provided, but this is not intuitive, and new users wouldn't have access to cast close votes anywhere else, so they might not know that this is even for. The resulting screen is also inscrutable for a new user -- you'd have to know that the boxed number indicates votes per close reason, or mouse over the number to see the tooltip -- otherwise it just looks like a way to close your own question:
Even if a new user got this far, as others have pointed out, Close reasons are a poor way to give advice on how to improve a post.
Once the question is closed, there is some (succinct) guidance:
However, even this doesn't do much to explain what it means for a question to be closed, why it might be happening, and what the user can do.
Upon receiving a close vote, new users should be provided with some information about what this means, and what they can do.
First, provide some context about what it means for a question to be closed, a unique feature of Stack Exchange that new users may not be familiar with. This could possibly just be a link to the help center page What does it mean if a question is "closed"?. The topics page or the "don't ask" page could also be linked.
The format could be a notification on screen, similar to the review queue on-boarding -- this would be a one-time feature for new users (though the closed question banner might also benefit from some of this additional detail).
Similar to the tour, there could also be value in each site providing an example of a question that was closed, edited, and then re-opened.
Why not wait until the question is actually closed?
- Many sites struggle to actually close questions (hence the switch to three-vote closure being tested on some sites), but a close vote is still valuable feedback.
- By the time a question has five (or three) close votes, there are likely to be many downvotes. Providing guidance to a new user gives them the opportunity to improve their question before others see it and downvote it. This helps to make new users feel more welcome.
Some related questions: