UPDATE: While the testing period has ended, this change has been well-received by the community so we have opted to not reset the votes needed to close/reopen to 5 while we look at data.

Please let me know if you have any concerns about this change in the planned process or if you feel the number of votes should be changed back at least temporarily. I'll be back in a few weeks with the results of the project.

Part of understanding the impact of three-vote closure is to understand what impact it's having on y'all. I'd like to ask anyone who feels up to it to write an answer to this question and to tell us about your experience over the past few weeks.

The sorts of things I'm interested in knowing (feel free to address all or none or add your own) -

  • Did this help?
  • Did it hurt?
  • Did it make you more interested in close/reopen reviewing? Less?
    • Are there things other than 3-vote close impacting your interest in reviewing?
  • If you can't vote but do flag, did this make you more/less likely to flag?
  • Would you prefer to go back to 5?
  • Should it be permanent?
  • What would you like me to look into when it comes to analyzing the data from the test?
  • Were there any side-effects (good or bad) that you want me to be aware of?

These are merely prompts, so feel free to add anything I'm missing that you think is worth saying. This is focused on how you're feeling about it and what data you want me to look at, so don't feel like you need to analyze the data over the last 30 days - though you're welcome to if that's how you figure out what you feel.

If you have any outstanding questions, also feel welcome to ask them here.

The test will run until about Monday the 21st of June, at which point we'll be resetting the votes to close up to 5 while I review the responses here and dig into the data that we've been collecting.

  • Here’s a high-level take I posted under your original Q on my first impressions: english.meta.stackexchange.com/a/14991/55623 . – Dan Bron Jun 4 at 19:44
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    I appreciate it! :) – Catija Jun 4 at 19:45
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    One thing I think should be considered is if a question was closed by 5 privileged users under the old rules, should it (not) be eligible for re-opening by only 3 privileged users under the new rule? Context for this idea is [this recent meta post] about just such a case; I’m contra re-opening but it’s moot since it already happened, despite 3 people (besides myself) who upvoted my contra answer: english.meta.stackexchange.com/q/15005/55623 . – Dan Bron Jun 4 at 19:45
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    That's an interesting question - my immediate feeling is that the simplest solution is to have all questions require only three either way, regardless of how many votes were needed to close in the first place and that's how it works currently. To make it so that questions closed with five require five to reopen, we'd have to build something special, which is out of scope for this project. – Catija Jun 4 at 19:47
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    Fair enough. Developer time is precious and I myself would vote to apply it to other things first. – Dan Bron Jun 4 at 19:48
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    So far I've been pleasantly impressed. The chaff is getting winnowed out sooner, and that's good. It has motivated me to vote to close more often, but it hasn't changed my reviewing or flagging habits any so far. It does mean I can find interesting questions more easily, and I like that. On the whole, I'd like it to become permanent. – John Lawler Jun 4 at 21:23
  • In the direction of an answer... I only notice what I notice... I've been more active on reopen questions. I don't notice the junky questions that probably -should- be closed and I certainly don't vote to reopen most closed things. But I think that's a good balance, more things closed but then checking a lottle more to reopen things just in case. – Mitch Jun 4 at 21:53
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    My impression (I have not monitored myself quantitatively) is that when I vote to close, the question usually ends up closed. This gives me some confidence in my judgement. Consequently I like the 3 votes system because it gets the job done quicker. – Anton Jun 6 at 22:13
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    The problem with the 3 votes closing system is that there is a herd of eager closevoters out there who will always find a “good” reason to closevote whatever question comes at hand. The same is true for those who will eagerly reopen those questions. The result is an increasing activity in closing and reopening … is that good thing for the site? – user 66974 Jun 9 at 6:51
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    @Xanne The point of closure is to allow the poster to respond to comments, to clarify and improve the question, when it can be reopened (by mods with a flag if necessary, if the reopen review queue doesn't work). If questions are being closed quickly, that part of the system is working. – Andrew Leach Jun 26 at 8:00
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    @AndrewLeach Really? Then it seems there’s a strong obligation to those who close to review, because no one else is going to look at a closed question. I just ignore them. – Xanne Jun 26 at 20:44
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    @xanne If you ignore the review queues, I don't think you can complain that that part of the process isn't working. – Andrew Leach Jun 26 at 21:29
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    If the close votes required are reduced, perhaps a user’s close votes per day should also be reduced, so that a few users cannot dominate the site. – Xanne Jun 26 at 23:03
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    @Xanne If the closed question is edited, it is put into the reopen review queue to be considered for reopening - there, users review the updated question to determine whether it should be reopened or not. This system isn't perfect but there are improvements to it coming in the relatively near future. I recognize your concern but we do actually build in ways to help users get their questions reopened without them needing to know about any secrets. :) – Catija Jun 29 at 19:58
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    We also already pretty severely limit the number of close reviews per user per day to 20 on most sites - I don't see reducing that number is an appropriate option as it risks hampering people from closing questions that actually need to be closed. In many cases, users have asked us to increase that number - that said, the vast bulk of participants on a site, even those who are active reviewers, do not review 20 posts per day. – Catija Jun 29 at 20:00
  1. Did this help?

    Yes, unequivocally. As John Lawler as commented, "the chaff is getting winnowed out sooner, and that's good."

  1. Did it hurt?

    No. It's only done good for the site. It's possible that some new contributors' questions may seem to have been treated harshly, but getting "Not here" or "Not enough information" feedback more quickly might actually be kinder than having a poor question hang around.

  1. Did it make you more interested in close/reopen reviewing? Less?

  2. Are there things other than 3-vote close impacting your interest in reviewing?

  3. If you can't vote but do flag, did this make you more/less likely to flag?

    A diamond makes these rather difficult to answer.

  1. Would you prefer to go back to 5?

    Absolutely not.

  1. Should it be permanent?

    Yes, definitely.

    In fact it should be left at three until your review decides that three is A Bad Thing and the number should change (and I'm confident it won't find that). That would be akin to withdrawing a drug from patients on a clinical trial in order to assess the results, even though the treatment is immediately seen to be massively effective and the patients would die without it. Approving the drug after that will treat the disease, but there will be casualties in the meantime.

  1. What would you like me to look into when it comes to analyzing the data from the test?

    Since only three votes are required to re-open, it's easier to re-open questions which were over-zealously closed. It would be worth investigating the number of three-vote closures which three other people thought were wrong and re-opened.

    It might be worth seeing the number of five-vote closures which got to three but didn't make it to five: these are questions which probably should be closed but five votes was too onerous to accumulate. You could compare that to the number of three-vote questions with aged-away votes.

    Another metric might be the number of closures or re-opens where a moderator voted before the final vote, hastening the process. I suspect that both have happened less often under the three-vote regime.

    It would be interesting to see how many five-vote closures were re-opened with three. I would suggest that this is a contra-indication, and a lot of these means it's too easy to re-open.

    I'm not a statistician, but these strike me as measures which might bear some examination (and probably some tweaking to provide useful figures). And I note that Mitch has commented that his review habits have changed, so the conditions are not the same for direct comparison.

  1. Were there any side-effects (good or bad) that you want me to be aware of?

    One side-effect is that the number of re-open votes needed is also reduced. That could be a bad thing. It might be a good thing. Which it is could be determined by the re-open analysis.

On the whole, subjectively it’s a huge improvement which I’d like to stay.

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    100% enthusiastically endorsed. Thanks for investing the time and effort of posting an answer. I am pleased it carries the additional weight of coming from a fancy, diamond-encrusted moderator. – Dan Bron Jun 4 at 22:44
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    As the update indicates, I discussed this internally and we've opted to not reset the votes needed to 5 while looking at the numbers. :) – Catija Jun 29 at 20:01

I think of the stream of questions posted on English Language & Usage as falling into four categories: uninteresting off-topic questions, uninteresting on-topic questions, interesting off-topic questions, and interesting on-topic questions.

The site benefits tremendously from removing the uninteresting off-topic questions as quickly as it can—and reducing the close votes required to do so from five to three certainly serves that purpose.

The second-largest category of questions posted on EL&U are uninteresting on-topic questions—duplicates and near-duplicates of the same 250 "grammar" issues that question posters have asked about here for the past decade, single-word requests of marginal utility, etc. Review-queue participants will undoubtedly disagree about whether a particular question is interesting or not, but I doubt that many question answerers feel much disappointment at the prospect that an arguably on-topic question of little interest is more likely to be closed today than it would have been in the past.

The number of interesting questions posted on EL&U on a given day is usually quite small, and some of those questions are disqualifyingly off-topic. For example, MrHen, an early stalwart at EL&U, asked the on-topic question, Where did "duck, duck, gray duck" come from? back in 2013, and its suitability for this site has (as far as I know) never been doubted. But the question When did “Duck, Duck, Goose“ migrate from Sweden to America?—although it might be reworked as an on-topic question about the English language (if, say, it asked when the phrase "duck, duck, goose" as the name for a children's game first appeared in North America)—is, as posed, properly a History Stack Exchange question, not an EL&U question.

Interesting on-topic questions may be the rarest category of all—and unfortunately their suitability for EL&U isn't always immediately evident. For example, the interesting on-topic question The phrase "do the lions", asked four days ago, quickly drew two close votes (out of the three needed to close it and prevent further answers from being posted) before the historically proverbial aspect of the expression—which the question poster had addressed in the original post—received any serious attention. This isn't to criticize the two close voters in this case: they had probably never encountered "doing the lions" as a proverbial expression (I never had either; it seems to have died out sometime in the early twentieth century) and so were inclined to see the question as a general-reference query about geography and the verb "do." But the very fact that these well-informed site participants had never heard of a once-commonplace proverbial phrase is evidence in favor of the posted question's worthiness. If Andrew Leach and I had not independently inquired into the history of usage of "doing the lions," the question would almost certainly have been closed as an off-topic irrelevancy.

A larger number of interesting, on-topic questions have this quality than you might suppose. And to the extent that close voters vote on the basis of what they are familiar with, without checking to see whether a particular question asks about a past or present meaning or usage that they are simply ignorant of, they put these questions in jeopardy. Shifting from five-vote closure to three-vote closure significantly narrows the widow of opportunity that an answerer has to research and post an answer to such a question without having to post a question/argument on Meta advocating that site participants reopen it.

I have argued elsewhere that interesting, on-topic questions already tended to be closed too often and too quickly under the five-vote closure system; moving to a three-vote closure system clearly doesn't improve that situation. But just as clearly, the change from five-vote closure to three-vote closure isn't aimed at interesting questions that may or may not be on-topic; instead, it is aimed at the flood of uninteresting, obviously off-topic questions that pour into the site each day. Since I have no quarrel with quickly closing questions that fall into that category, I accept the reality that the three-vote closure system is an efficient and popular way to dispose of such questions. Nevertheless, I reiterate my earlier recommendation that the site also consider ways to make it easier to protect interesting, arguably on-topic questions.

One way to do this (which I've mentioned before) might be to grant site participants who have demonstrated a site-defined threshold level of competence and interest in a particular EL&U topic special privileges to prevent closure of questions on that topic that are open but in danger of being closed or to reopen closed questions on that topic single-handedly. Another, less radical option would be to give such site participants the ability to post answers to closed questions, after which they could post a Meta question arguing that the answer provides evidence that the question is on-topic and should be reopened. The request might be voted down, and the question might remain closed, but at least the answer would be in place and visible to future site visitors.

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    I'm with you in your assessment. However, one thing I've noticed , which is definitely an improvement, is that before, when a good question got closed (often because it included a word that had been used in the title of a wildly different question), by the time the question had got reopened it was effectively dead. In other words it had been so long since the question was asked that it had slipped way down the queue and was no longer being visited by users. Under the new regime a good question is often re-opened within a few hours, thus salvaging the possibility of it getting good answers. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jun 6 at 13:02
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    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. Based on my experience, this seems to be true. The question english.stackexchange.com/questions/568721/… was reopened in a few minutes once an experienced user helped edit the question to make it on-scope. – hb20007 Jun 8 at 15:05
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    Very much this: the stream of rubbish is dealt with better, which is certainly a good thing - but I've seen a few questions that either were, or may have turned out to be, decent questions (with some digging and/or editing possibly required). I'd definitely second the need for users to be able to express a "hang on, not so fast" to those people (very reasonably) reflexively close-voting a superficially poor question. – psmears Jun 14 at 15:11
  • "...to give such site participants the ability to post answers to closed questions...": When a question is closed, the system still accepts answers for 4 hours. – Decapitated Soul Jun 20 at 10:07
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    I think that the avenue I'd rather investigate when it relates to these sorts of issues is to expand the gold badge hammer from being related to duplicates only and turn it into a more graduated weighted system, for example, someone with a silver badge in a tag might be able to cast two-votes worth of a close or reopen vote, meaning that only one additional person would be required to agree, making reopening questions in those tags much easier. This would take some tuning but builds on the system already in place without allowing things we intentionally do not. :) – Catija Jun 29 at 20:09
  • @DecapitatedSoul: I think you are mistaken about the four-hour window for completing an answer to a closed question. I just attempted to answer a question that had been asked one hour before I began answering it and that had one close vote at the time I began my answer. I completed my answer less than an hour later, but noticed that the question now had the following warning at the top of the page: "This question has been closed - no more answers will be accepted." I couldn't post my answer. So whatever the window is, it isn't four hours—and to judge from this case, it's less than one hour. – Sven Yargs Jul 4 at 22:28
  • @Sven: Did you read the Meta answer I linked to? In that answer the answerer says that you have to paste your answer to the answer box of an open question and then change the code/script of that open question from 'console' to the one you want to post an answer to i.e. the closed one (illustrated in the Meta answer) and then press the Post Answer button. I've done that several times. – Decapitated Soul Jul 5 at 7:20
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    @DecapitatedSoul: Thank you for following up on this point. I had already lost my answer (by leaving the page) before checking the Meta answer you mention. Next time I will use the method recommended there before exiting the page containing my original answer. Thanks! – Sven Yargs Jul 5 at 18:14

I'd like to post an answer from the viewpoint of a relative outsider. (For context, I'm on-and-off active in ELU's review queues, with 3 Steward badges here, but I have less than 5k rep and less than 100 posts, almost all answers. On other sites I have two moderator diamonds and 335k network reputation.)

Asking a question on ELU is a daunting prospect. I realise that you all see a lot of poor or undesirable questions, and I've participated in closing hundreds of them myself, but my perception is that jadedness has set in to the extent that it's hard for almost any question to survive without at least one or two close votes. My last three questions here (2016, 2019, 2021) have all entered the Close Votes review queue, although I can't see now how many close votes were cast altogether. I'm a native English speaker with an interest in etymology, linguistics, and advanced language issues - surely an ideal ELU asker. With over 1000 questions across the network, I think I have some knowledge in how to ask a good SE question, but this site is the only one where I'm too put off to post questions and deal with the seemingly inevitable close votes and criticisms.

With all this in mind, I did not welcome the change to 3 votes required for closing. I accept the views of those more invested in this site that the change is a positive one for overall site health, but those very invested users might be the ones furthest removed from the outsider perspective; from a quick skim through this meta thread, it seems Sven Yargs is the only one who raised this point.

My fear is that requiring only 3 votes to close may make this site even more daunting to askers, as it now takes fewer people to quickly close questions, which may then need to be actively defended or edited to get reopened even if they're interesting or on-topic. I know I'm not the only active SE network user who feels that asking on ELU simply isn't worth it, even before the 3-vote change.

I'm not active enough here to have noticed any reception or behaviour changes due to the 3-vote change, so this is just a note of warning, perhaps one that active reviewers and close-voters may heed. An optimistic thought: now that every close-vote is a bigger percentage of a closure (33% rather than just 20%), maybe reviewers will now think more carefully before casting close votes - in the same way that diamond moderators need to be much more careful about their close-votes which are each 100% of a closure. That would be an ideal outcome, but I fear that many people's thought processes are more likely to be "oh good, now we can close stuff faster" rather than "more responsibility, now we must think more before close-voting".

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    Your perspective is valuable—especially as to EL&U's tendency to discourage thoughtful people from asking questions here. Earlier today, I answered a good question about the history of the idiomatic imperative "come on!"—and it struck me that if that question had been posted today it would quickly have been closed for "lack of research" (it was posted in 2012, before that close reason came into force). I think the "show research" requirement is terribly harmful to this site, but its harm is hidden because its most malignant effect is to discourage people like you from posting questions at all. – Sven Yargs Jun 27 at 0:21
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    @SvenYargs, yes, there are many problems with the current menu of the reasons for closing, but they are independent of the 3-vs.-5-votes question. If some bad reasons are built into the menu, chances are that requiring two extra votes does not prevent many closing, but only makes them slower. When the questions get closed for bad reasons, that's regrettable regardless of whether they are closed quickly slowly or quickly. On the other hand, if a question is going to be closed (for good or bad reasons), it is better that it be closed quickly, before anybody answers it. – jsw29 Jun 27 at 15:21
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    @jsw29 I disagree: there may be some people who vote to close even good on-topic questions, but that won't be all reviewers. Therefore, probabilistically, it's more likely for a decent question to get three of those "some", among all people reviewing, than to get five of them. – Rand al'Thor Jun 27 at 17:37
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    I agree that asking a question here is difficult, though I've not struggled to the same degree you have as far as the questions I've asked getting close votes - of my three questions, there's only one vote to close. I think that a big part of that relates to the influx of questions that are off topic, which we do need a way of addressing. I think that there are certainly places for concern when it comes to overzealous closure but I also feel like there needs to be a balance. Fewer votes to close also means fewer votes are needed to reopen. – Catija Jun 29 at 20:19
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    That said, I think that the concern here feels more like a people problem than a system problem - perhaps there's a subset of people that are too hasty to vote to close questions, perhaps there are close reasons that need to be adjusted... but I mean... I think ELU is difficult for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the directness of the participants here. – Catija Jun 29 at 20:22
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    @Catija It is a people problem, yes ... I'm just worried that it may be exacerbated by requiring only 3 votes to close. The balance between close and reopen is a good point, but there's probably a lot fewer people checking closed questions for possible VTROs than checking new questions for possible VTCs. – Rand al'Thor Jun 30 at 4:49
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    @Catija is be interested to hear you expand upon the “directness of the people here” concept. My view is that the underlying issue is that English is the current lingua franca, and the vast majority of people who entered here through common paths (Google) are trying to learn English as a second language for practical purposes. And most regulars here are native (or equivalent) speakers want to focus on the theory of English. Until we find a way to directly channel the former to ELL (better SEO? domain name change?), we’re gonna see immuno-overreactions and babies out with bathwater. – Dan Bron Jun 30 at 13:07
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    Rand, thanks for posting this. The structural hostility of SE to new users that I encountered in 2015 when I began participating was extremely off putting (at all stacks I began to spend time with). The only reason I stuck around is that I am a stubborn old cuss. The attempts starting a couple of years ago to be more welcoming to new users, to remove 'barriers to entry,' has had mixed results. For supporters of this change, if the core aim of SE is still "high signal to noise ratio" then closing questions sooner achieves that while (possibly) alienating Established Users. Progress? Doubtful. – KorvinStarmast Jul 1 at 12:18
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    @DanBron and yet this answer is from a native speaker. This is not someone who's struggling to post ELU questions, they've had their babies chucked out with the bathwater. Is that not a concern? Or are you blaming the the over reactions on the fact that some inappropriate questions are still asked her? You're never going to get 100% success at having good on-topic questions. People learning to be less gung-ho about their close votes seems to be the answers, because we can control for that. Requiring fewer votes to close questions doesn't feel like it works towards that. – Pureferret Jul 1 at 12:29
  • @DanBron Seven years. – Andrew Leach Jul 3 at 12:07
  • @AndrewLeach Yep. In fact, I think that post of yours is where I originally got the idea for a subdomain renaming. But… SE, Inc has, is, and will always be occupied with bigger things than our little old site. So I’ll take any assistance I can get, which is why I’m a big fan of this change to close votes. – Dan Bron Jul 3 at 12:11

My observation is that low-quality questions are now closed more quickly, while questions that have some substance to them tend not to be significantly affected.

With reopen votes also reduced, it's easier to correct any over-enthusiastic closures. I haven't noticed any close/reopen wars, but consider checking the number of questions that have been toggled between closed and reopened within a short interval (say, a week). If there is programmer bandwidth available, it might be useful to increment the number of close/reopen votes required for a given question each time the question gets reopened.

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    Unlike an edit war, a close war requires 3 new people for each close or reopen. They're pretty rare for that reason. – Laurel Jun 7 at 11:38

I have always held reservations about lowering the number of close votes to three. My principle fear being that one or more reviewers would cast their votes in autopilot mode. This would mean questions would be closed far too early, even before the author had any idea their post was at risk of closure.

Well for now that doesn't appear to be happening. I'm relieved to report that there are also reviewers who cast their votes to keep questions open.

But whenever I looked at the reopen queue, I used to see one reviewer who would cast only "leave closed".

recent reopen reviews recent reopen reviews 2021

This voting pattern did not happen after the announced change, it was already like that in 2020 and the year before that

2020 reopen reviews2019 reopen reviews

As far as I can tell, and I searched several pages, each and every vote cast in the reopen queue was leave closed. It makes you wonder whether the user even bothered to look at any of the posts before casting their vote. This wasn't such a problem when to reopen a post you needed five votes, sure the ‘automaton’ made it more difficult for the community but if the post had potential and especially if the OP improved their post because they had listened to the comments and understood the reason for closure, there was some hope.

enter image description here

In light of the reduced number of votes which we see is open to abuse,
and due to the very limited number of reviewers active, should we consider some form of auditing to be sure that users are actually reading posts before casting their votes?

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    You might get more attention for the closure-specific topic in a separate Q&A. It’s kinda buried hereZ – Dan Bron Jun 20 at 10:48
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    @DanBron we'll see what happens and if it gets any (official) response. – Mari-Lou A Jun 20 at 10:59
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    My impression is that one of the advantages of reducing the closing threshold to 3 votes is that it has reduced the percentage of the close-votes that are cast from within the review queue, where there may, perhaps, be a tendency to vote 'in autopilot mode'. In other words it seems that many more closing decisions are now made by those who are just browsing the new posts, and who are more likely to have read the question before voting than those who are rushing to go through the queue. – jsw29 Jun 20 at 16:44
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    It's my impression that the majority of closed questions are churned out by reviewers, which I hasten to add is not a bad thing. However, I would feel more confident about the process if there were more different faces. It's still the same old problem as before, there are too few reviewers. – Mari-Lou A Jun 20 at 17:51
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    Upvoted for both the first paragraph and the rest. I similarly was worried about weird new effects of the lower threshold but (in my small view) haven't seen any. As to one individual knee-jerk voting to 'leave closed' that just seems petty button-pushing - but Im finding it hard to think about what is implementable to encourage/enforce thoughtful review. – Mitch Jun 20 at 20:28
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    I don't think you can see other people's skipped reviews, so just because you're seeing someone with 100% of reviews being closed (or 100% keep open), it doesn't mean they're closing absolutely everything they see in the review queue. Possibly someone like that might prefer to skip decent questions so that they can use all of their queue quota on questions that need closing? (I'm not certain the quota isn't used for skipped questions, I could be wrong.) – curiousdannii Jun 21 at 1:59
  • @curiousdannii you make a good point but this user never cast to reopen a closed question in two years. In all that time they never saw one question, just one, that merited a second chance? – Mari-Lou A Jun 21 at 6:15
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    SE does have review audits on some sites, including SO, SU, SF, but smaller sites can also request them and get them implemented (Puzzling had them for a while when it was in beta). Maybe you should open a formal feature-request inspired by this answer? – Rand al'Thor Jun 26 at 14:48
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    Mods can look at the time a user spends on reviews. If you think someone is just pressing buttons without reading the post, then that might be worth a flag so mods can look into it. That said, I looked at my own reopen review stats, over my past 200 reviews in the reopen queue (not including skipped tasks which I choose sometimes) I only voted to reopen 6 times. In many cases the posts aren't edited to resolve the issue that caused the closing (e.g. lacking basic research). On the other hand, I agree with Rand al'Thor's answer that it makes for a double edged sword. :( – JJJ Jun 28 at 12:08
  • @JJJ 200 reviews compared to the user's over 1,000 reopen reviews, is barely comparable. I suspect that the user focused all their attention on the reopen queue because they wanted that steward badge. Click, click, click and a user gets the meaningless reward for their efforts.... – Mari-Lou A Jun 28 at 12:16
  • @Mari-LouA Yea it's possible. An interesting measure would be to see how many of those 'leave closed' votes were later overturned (i.e. the question ended up being reopened at some point) but then there's added difficulty of whether the question was edited after the user reviewed it. But yeah, a thousand reviews without a single reopen sounds a bit suspect. ;p – JJJ Jun 28 at 12:23
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    If you think someone is “robo-reviewing” you should definitely flag. As JJJ mentioned, mods can see timing and other statistics that allow them to make a better judgement about it and can suspend someone’s ability to review appropriately. – ColleenV Jun 30 at 20:23
  • @ColleenV they know now. Why do they have to wait for me to flag the user? Identifying who the person is, if you have the necessary rep, relatively easy. – Mari-Lou A Jun 30 at 21:17
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    I'm not convinced this is an answer to this question. Robo-reviewing is certainly something mods would be interested in, but should be raised as a flag or invitation to chat (if you create the room yourself then mods can make it mod-only). – Andrew Leach Jul 3 at 12:01
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    That's a legitimate concern, but this answer appears to fixate on one particular user. It may not be wise to generalise from the particular. – Andrew Leach Jul 3 at 12:34

I'm a keen SE reviewer, and I have certainly noticed the difference on EL&U in the elimination of massive close queues. But there's an outcome that seems to have received little attention: fewer bad questions getting answers.

It's an unfortunate fact that a number of users, even some with high rep, will leap to answer a question but ignore its obvious deficiency in (especially) lack of research or lack of basic fluency. The question rightly ends up getting closed, but if either the question or any answer has a net positive score, our lovely site-cleaning roomba can't complete its auto-delete function nine days later, and the question will then sit for ever in our library.

What I've noticed is that the ability to close questions more quickly means there are many more of them that don't get answered at all before they're closed, and if there's no further activity, they quickly shuffle off this mortal coil. As a result, far, far fewer closed questions are now accruing long-term in our library.

Try these three searches (which exclude migrated questions and duplicates) to compare for yourself:

  • current closed answers – I count 34 between June 30 and July 5, which is over 6 per day!
  • still within the above page, use the tab at the bottom to bring up a page showing 9 days earlier, and you'll see what a difference a roomba makes: no questions with zero or negative score and zero answers. Alas, what's left stays in our library for ever (or until some action either reopens it or allows roomba to delete it). Even so, I counted 41 from 4-25 June inclusive.
  • closed answers from June 2019 – I count 62 from the same period 4-25 June two years ago. That's 50% more than the equivalent period under the current 3-VTCs rule.
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    Yes! I think that this benefit of the 3-vote rule outweighs anything that might arguably be wrong with it. The long-term preservation of a large number of closed questions with some answers is a serious problem on this site, because the closing effectively prevents the posted answers from competition; many bad answers thus end up standing forever as the last word on the matter. – jsw29 Jul 8 at 21:01

As noted in my other Meta Q Why is the culture here so broken?, I'm seeing lots of questions being close-voted by high-reputation users who clearly do not understand the question, are intolerantly devoted to their own foibles on these issues, and are unwilling to consider even scholarly evidence against their reasoning. For this reason, I think the number of required close-votes needs to raised.

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