We've reset the votes required for the time being while we look at the data, which we should be posting soon. Thanks so much for working with us during this test.
A few months ago one of your mods contacted us because they're concerned about the site and the amount of work required to address the huge percentage of off-topic questions y'all get. I've been watching this site for a few months now and I can see that there's a struggle here. I've been reviewing questions and closing off topic ones off and on since March to get an idea of what you're dealing with.
We've made a couple of adjustments to try and reduce the number of off topic questions asked and ease of finding the appropriate help content in the hopes of improving the content posted.
- overhauled your on topic help center page.
- rearranged the order of pins in the asking section of the help center to make the on topic page more visible.
- changed the target of the Stack Overflow Question Wizard to point directly at the on topic page rather than the front page of the help center.
But this only addresses one side of the problem.
We try to make closing easier on beta sites by reducing the amount of reputation needed for closing but on some sites (even graduated ones) it's not the reputation that's the limiting factor, it's the number of users engaged enough to participate in moderation tasks. Your mods are having to do a ton of the work of closing questions - not because there aren't any users doing that work but because there's generally not five people who can get the votes in quickly enough to be successful.
Right now the majority of questions are closed with 1 vote: by moderators. The remaining questions closed over the past 6 months had between 2 and 4 votes. Yep: moderators are involved in pretty much every single question closed - and in a significant number of cases they're effectively acting as proxies for voters.
Think about that: the moderators here are effectively granting users the ability to single-handedly close questions, converting their ineffective votes into effective ones. That's not only horrifyingly inefficient, it also breaks the system in a subtle but important way: there are no single-vote reopens!
That's almost more worrying than all the time being wasted. Getting a question reopened is pretty difficult at the best of times. When it relies on a tiny minority of three people being constantly vigilant it's almost non-existent. Out of 173 questions closed in the last 90 days, only two have been reopened.
We're worried that the prevalence of unclosed, off-topic questions may be impacting your participation here and we want to empower you to address this problem yourselves.
Starting July 1st (today) we're running a test.
We've reduced the number of votes to close (or reopen) a question to one. This means that a single voter (or reviewer) can close an off topic question. This means that anyone with sufficient reputation to review will be able to reopen their own questions single-handedly - but only once.
There's a small enough group of y'all who are here daily with close privileges that we're not too concerned with close/reopen warring but we will be keeping an eye on things. If you see a question closed and reopened without editing, it may be a good idea to ask about it on meta before closing it again. Discussions about what's on topic are a really great and healthy part of any site.
Tests for success
- more questions are closed by users (no diamond moderators involved)
- more questions are reopened by users (no diamond moderators involved)
- fewer than 1% of closed questions go through more than two close/reopen cycles
In 30 days, we'll look at what's changed during this test.
So, use your close votes and let me know if you have any thoughts or concerns about this change. I really hope it makes a positive difference to your daily participation here. Are there other solutions you think might help? Tell me what you're thinking in an answer.