Martha's flabbergastery over the onomatopoeia question's closure raises a question in my own mind:

What is the review queue actually for, anyway? The only reason I voted to close that question was that it appeared in the review queue, it looked poorly formed and, based on my impression at the time, I felt it was misleading and not worth the trouble. Obviously people felt different about that, and good for them. The question is reopened.

But seriously, why have these review queues at all if all they do is set us up to review questions on an assembly-line basis, with all that that entails?

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    I'm voting to close, as this is GR, NARQ, and/or not a proper onomatopoeia. Dec 17, 2012 at 20:11
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    – Robusto
    Dec 17, 2012 at 20:12
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    @Cerberus: That is way too meta, even for this site.
    – Robusto
    Dec 17, 2012 at 20:24
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    This is an excellent question. (No really, it is, not just because I've been disagreeing with @Cerberus all day.) It used to be that I would fix/retag/close/reopen stuff the second I saw it, and with all the context available to me. Since the review queues got introduced, I often find myself waiting for said stuff to come up in the queues first. ("This late answer has a typo? Let me wait till it hits the Late Answer queue, then I can still fix the typo and get a review point. Gold badge, here I come! My precioussss!") In short: the queues encourage behavior I'd rather not have encouraged.
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 17, 2012 at 21:02
  • "Not worth the trouble" is the trouble here: if it's not worth the trouble to you, then you should be taking no action on it, but the review queues either don't let you do that at all, or don't give you credit for the review.
    – Marthaª
    Dec 17, 2012 at 22:36
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    Who is asking you to review them? Why do you take it upon yourself to review questions you've admitted you had no real strong view on? You reviewed it simply because it was in the queue? How rediculous, and encapsulates everything that is wrong with this Stack. Dec 18, 2012 at 12:24
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    @spicey: High-rep users are encouraged to police the site. That's true of all SE sites.
    – Robusto
    Dec 18, 2012 at 12:58
  • @Robusto And policing includes voting to close questions you have no strong view on merely because it happens to be in a review queue? Is that your definition of policing? Dec 18, 2012 at 13:02
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    @spice: Whoa, jump back. What are you, my mom? For the record, my idea of policing is making judgments based on the information I have at the time. I make no apologies for the decisions I've made. If a borderline question gets flushed and people vote to reopen it, so be it.
    – Robusto
    Dec 18, 2012 at 13:14
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    @spicey if you think that reviewing an item just because it's in the queue "encapsulates everything that is wrong with this Stack", then you have officially jumped the shark. People will review things simply because they are in the queue on all sites. In fact it's the whole point of the review queue, by design: "review these things here just because they are in the queue". What's worse, on some other sites people will only pretend to review, actively harming the site, as a matter of habit. You will be hard pressed to see that on ELU.
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 18, 2012 at 13:22
  • @Robusto No-one's asking you to make that judgement, so why are you taking it on yourself to make it? Whatever happened to 'benefit of the doubt'? If you're not sure of the right thing to do, why not to leave it to others to decide? That's my point. Dec 18, 2012 at 13:53
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    @RegDwighт There is a skip button, why don't people use it? Dec 18, 2012 at 13:53
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    @spicey: yes, indeed, why? People keep wondering that on MSO, other sites' metas, and even the official podcast. Do you expect Robusto to answer a question literally tens of thousands of people, from casual users to the developers of the engine, have been pondering for months? Heck, that's what his question right here is all about. "What is the review queue actually for, [...] why have these review queues at all if all they do is set us up to review questions on an assembly-line basis, with all that that entails?" You expect the person who asks that to be the one to answer it.
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 18, 2012 at 14:08
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    @RegDwighт I've clicked skip plenty of times when I wasn't sure, I must be in the minority. Dec 18, 2012 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


Since the question's tagged 'discussion', here's my two pennyworth. As usual, anyone who disagrees is invited to downvote and/or post a competing answer, rather than comment that they disagree.

The review queue was brought in because, across the SE network, not enough people were reviewing (in the opinion of TPTB). It is certainly true that this site is more liable than most to posters thinking 'I've studied English for a month now, I'm sure I can answer that/I can post a question here rather than ask my teacher.' Encouraging high-rep users to take control of the basic site management looks like a classic 'nudge' strategem.

It is not, however, obvious that the cure is better than the disease. Almost any post is the better for being reviewed by somebody interested and expert in the area; but (as I've said elsewhere), nobody is expert in all areas, so a review from somebody who knows nothing about, for example, American English, but has gained rep in other areas, may merely exasperate the OP who does know something about that area (which is why he thought of the question). And why the blazes should the fact that one person has voted to close a question you didn't think worth looking at mean you should suddenly have an opinion on it? But if you do vote (either to close or not), you get a step towards another badge. Looks to me like this encourages precisely the wrong behaviour.

For the record, I don't think the reviewing here is worse than other sites; considering the volume of poor material and the inevitable subjectivity, it's better if anything. But there's no denying that it is perceived as arbitrary and oligarchical, and that the queue system worsens that.

So might we suggest to SE that the review queue could do with a new review? Recognize that 'Skip' is a helpful response (whether that means deciding not to review counts towards a badge, or removing the reward for changing something just for the hell of it); put in your review queue only questions where you have a badge for the relevant tag (obviously you could still choose to look at others); whatever you yourself think would be an improvement. Rather than 'upvote or downvote' the review queue, I'd like to suggest some edits, and the more we can agree on the likelier we are to be listened to.

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    This. "Recognize that 'Skip' is a helpful response." Some people will game that system, but better that a meta-system be gamed than actual damage be done to the site. I had the same idea earlier, and mentioned it in ELU chat.
    – Robusto
    Dec 20, 2012 at 16:13

I upvoted this question because I think it is worth asking what purpose the review queue serves.

I'm posting this answer because I don't actually endorse Robusto's implied position (i.e. - the review queue is at best pointless, and at worst it encourages hasty and ill-considered closevotes). But it's not necessarily obvious what my question upvote means, and others may face the same problem, so If you approve of the review queue, upvote this answer to indicate that approval.

I could give reasons why I like the review queue - but since any or all of them could become the target(s) of up/downvotes on this answer, I think I'll just expand in comments later.

  • But weren't you confused by the title?
    – Robusto
    Dec 17, 2012 at 22:28
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    @Robusto: The general consensus on that Python question seemed to be that I was slow-witted, humourless, and literal-minded. I can't do anything about the first, but I can at least try to guard against laying myself open to the other charges. Lucky for me, I've been following the onomatopoeia furore, so this time your quirky title caused a laff rather than a raised eyebrow! Dec 17, 2012 at 22:46

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