We are a language site, and there's always a lot of off-topic "proofreading" questions incoming, and to those, poor answers from relatively new users, and this taxes our reviewers, and wastes our time.

What if senior users (with certain badges and reputation) could single-handedly put on hold proofreading questions?

Currently, users with gold tag badge can close certain questions as duplicates, and other than that there is no existing setup to give regular users such power, and therefore if this was a feature-request it'd be difficult to implement, and such proofreading questions are probably a problem only to the language sites.

But what if this was possible though? Would it be beneficial? Or what?

It's a snack for thought, not a feature request.

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    This is something that a triage queue could possibly deal with. – Andrew Leach Jul 15 '17 at 10:22
  • @AndrewLeach Didn't get you. You mean the existing queues are enough? – NVZ Jul 15 '17 at 10:41
  • SO has a Triage review queue, first proposed by Shog9 on MSE. I guess that means it's not an SO-only thing, so it may help ELU. It is probably not a single-handed thing, though, which is why the suggestion here is only a comment. – Andrew Leach Jul 15 '17 at 10:47
  • @AndrewLeach Nice suggestion. And what's your opinion about my suggestion for a powerful close vote for proofreading? Assuming senior users don't misuse the ability. – NVZ Jul 15 '17 at 10:51
  • Personally I have no issue with single-user-closing, but there needs to be some objective measure of who can do that, and I think any suggestion needs to have at least some concrete proposal for that. So while I won't be downvoting as a terrible idea, I can't upvote either. – Andrew Leach Jul 15 '17 at 11:49
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    We already have six or seven users who can close questions singlehandedly, they're called mods. I don't see closing proofreading questions as a problem. They get closed pretty quickly compared to off topic SWRs or questions asking about meanings. As long as nobody answers these requests, there isn't an issue. The real issue lies elsewhere. – Mari-Lou A Jul 15 '17 at 11:51
  • Why do visitors believe that EL&U provides this type of service? Where, where does it it even suggest that? Where are the questions that slip the net where a visitor might argue: "Oh, but somebody fixed his essay/ email, so maybe someone will fix mine, too!" I don't see any evidence that suggests this is true. Maybe we should have a page reserved for dead proofreading questions visible to all. If visitors SEE that no one will proofread their essay or email, maybe fewer requests will be posted. – Mari-Lou A Jul 15 '17 at 11:54
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    @Mari-LouA I assume it comes from the site's name. A user has something they want proofread, knowing they have issues with English language usage; one very quick Google later, here they are. What do they see? If they happen to be on the desktop site, "Anybody can ask a question" If they're on the mobile site, virtually all they see are the headings "Questions Tags Users Badges Ask" plus the list of recently active questions, showing about 5 examples in my largish screen. Either way, Great! I have a question, and this looks like the place to ask it! "Can you proofread this for me?" – 1006a Jul 15 '17 at 18:36
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    @1006a I agree that the mobile site is horrible, you didn't say that, but I will. It looks tacky, compared to the refined and elegant desktop version. The mobile app does give the impression that EL&U is similar to Yahoo! So, I suppose "ask any question" includes the "Can you correct my essay" type of requests. Bugger... "but correcting someone's essay is not a question about the English language!" she protests... – Mari-Lou A Jul 15 '17 at 18:39
  • @Mari-LouA And wouldn't it be fun if we could nip the proofreading questions in the bud? – NVZ Jul 15 '17 at 18:42
  • @NVZ how many proofreading questions do you know that survived longer than one day? Please provide links :) They get shut down quickly enough, there is no "grey" area where proofreading emails or essays are concerned. No one has ever asked on meta to reopen a proofreading question, not that I can remember. If you mean stop them from even entering the arena...well, yeah. But how? And that is something members could discuss about. – Mari-Lou A Jul 15 '17 at 18:46
  • @Mari-LouA I don't have links to add here. It will take forever to dig through the thousands of posts I've reviewed over the years. New users tend to answer any and all kinds of questions, and if we could stop them from answering (for one) proofreading questions, that would save time for everyone. Hence, sudden death to such questions is what I'm wondering about. – NVZ Jul 15 '17 at 18:49
  • And how would you stop them? You can't stop spammers from posting, but they do get dealt with very swiftly by the system. (Users downvoting and flagging) And very efficiently too, I may add. Is that the solution? Downvoting proofreading essays, so when they reach -6 the questions are automatically deleted. – Mari-Lou A Jul 15 '17 at 18:55
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    @Mari-LouA Deletion is not what I'm asking for. That's cruel to new users. Let's just put those on hold, until they narrow it down to something specific about a particular sentence or word that is confusing them. You know, the usual thing our help center says about proofreading. If it stays on hold, it will end up closed and eventually deleted. So there's that anyway. – NVZ Jul 15 '17 at 19:01
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    "...until they narrow it down to something specific about a particular sentence or word that is confusing them...." But they NEVER do. On numerous occasions I've indicated where they could pick a sentence and ask a specific question that would be on topic for this site. They never do. Never. Because they don't even come back to check. Or if they do, they think their post is closed because they forgot to add a graph, or the original essay question. No, these type of users are beyond help. I have had two users, two, who returned and thanked me for giving them TIPS about the IELTS exam. – Mari-Lou A Jul 15 '17 at 19:10

I've often thought that a "weak" close would be useful - a way for folks with some knowledge in a given area to quickly take a new question off the table so that it could be discussed, edited, etc.

One way to prevent abuse would be to make the question re-open instantly if it was edited. Another would be to simply allow anyone with similar experience in the question's topic area to unilaterally re-open - I've pondered that idea a bit more over on MSE.

All that said... You can actually get a lot of the benefits of such a feature now, without requiring major changes to the system: just downvote. A single downvote on a new question is a pretty strong signal all by itself - it instantly marks the question as problematic when it appears in question lists, on the homepage, etc. If the downvote isn't countered, if no one ever bothers to try fixing it, the system will eventually delete it automatically.

Even better, it only takes 4 downvotes to knock a question off the homepage - even five close votes won't do that. The fewer people who see a question, the less chance anyone's gonna bother answering it, which - after all - is the whole point of closing.

So in a sense, downvoting can already be considered a "weak close", albeit without the automatic guidance and enforcement that comes along with closing.

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    Thanks for popping by to our little corner and weighing in. It's appreciated. I can tell you that the lived experience is that we get too many inappropriate questions, and the consequent desire is to somehow prevent them in the first place. Downvoting feels so ... retroactive. And then you have other misguided users posting answers to inappropriate questions, making the situation worse. Has SE ever considered a visible indication, on the front page, that a question already has 1 or more closevotes, as downvotes are visible? Is it possible to get a triage queue here on EL&U? – Dan Bron Jul 16 '17 at 1:57
  • Triage would take some work (it relies on a set of heuristics that are tuned to Stack Overflow), but isn't completely impossible. Showing close votes on question lists is not likely. Note though that you can close vote and downvote for a similar effect. – Shog9 Jul 16 '17 at 2:00
  • That's my current workflow. Because closevotes aren't visible, I also downvote, as a quick signal to others. But it feels ... not low, maybe, but ignoble anyway. I've wanted a UI element highlighting (maybe to only other 3K+ users?) that a question has a closevote. That we don't and therefore are forced to downvote only contributes to our (misplaced, but completely understandable) perception as hostile to new users. – Dan Bron Jul 16 '17 at 2:05
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    Like this question some unsuspecting new user just asked. I had to CV and DV, and if he ever comes back, the DV is going to sting him a little. That's a real effect on someone's real emotions in the real world. And it's an undesirable side-effect of the way things are set up now. It's the best workflow I've got right now, but it isn't pleasant. – Dan Bron Jul 16 '17 at 2:12
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    @DanBron that question was closed within an hour of posting. It is such a rubbishy and lazy question, devoid of anything, that it is fairly uncommon on this site. If I had seen it earlier, I would have cast a DV too. When it comes to proofreading essay requests; however, I normally don't DV, I immediately vote to close. Why don't I DV? Because the visitor wants to improve their English and they have shown effort, and sometimes, (sometimes) the essays are OKish. I can't DV something that has been written half-decently, its mean to the newcomer who doesn't know the system. – Mari-Lou A Jul 16 '17 at 7:22
  • @Mari-LouA "[Downvoting] is mean to the newcomer who doesn't know the system" you say, and I second and third that. That is why I stress on putting such questions "on hold" rather than "sting" these newcomers, like Dan Bron mentioned. – NVZ Jul 16 '17 at 11:06
  • @Shog9 +1 Thank you for your answer. I agree that your suggestion to downvote is currently a good alternative to implementing a new feature. But I feel sorry for these new users who'd feel a "sting" like Dan Bron mentioned, on seeing downvotes. It simply would be better, imho, to put their question on hold until they edit to make it on topic. And putting it on hold immediately will prevent poor answers from other newbies. – NVZ Jul 16 '17 at 11:10
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    As a low-rep user I prefer holding off downvoting users with 1 reputation, because the only one that loses out is...me. (and when privileges are at stake, this is significant!) Since I can't cast close votes yet, and don't have a dupe hammer, I don't know how useful it is to be able to kill/hold questions, but it definitely should be high-rep only (higher than 3k close votes). In the meantime, comments to explain nicely that proofreading isn't kosher go much further than a -1 imo (@Mari-LouA you already do that!) and are more likely to get a response. – marcellothearcane Jul 16 '17 at 20:12
  • @DanBron would letting the newcomer know that their question is fairly crappy help? – marcellothearcane Jul 16 '17 at 20:26
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    Fwiw, downvotes on questions are always free to the voter, @marcello – Shog9 Jul 16 '17 at 21:34
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    @marcello - Sure, a helpful comment could provide some useful guidance. But I think Shog is saying that the community shouldn't be timid about summarily downvoting questions that are expressly off-topic, and that there would be some tangible benefits in doing so. (That little bit about four downvotes knocking a question off the homepage is something I didn't know about. Interesting.) – J.R. Jul 17 '17 at 18:40

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