I've started a VTC project based on abandoned questions about EOL Ubuntu versions. Tonight I VTC'd only one so far: Boot failure after shutdown during upgrade from 11.10 to 12.04.

However over the last few nights I've probably VTC'd 20 or 30. I'm wondering what the etiquette is for how many per night to VTC using the same old same old "not reproducible" reason?

Because the VTC candidates are derived from SQL I could go nuts and VTC my max 50 flags per day. I haven't written a query to count how candidates there are but it could be many thousand.

So what would be an appropriate number to VTC each day without annoying you? 5, 10, 20?

Here is the query:

SELECT p.Title, p.Id, p.Score, p.ViewCount, p.CreationDate, p.ClosedDate, p.AnswerCount, u.DisplayName
FROM Posts p
JOIN Users u ON p.OwnerUserId = u.Id
WHERE p.PostTypeId = 1
AND p.AnswerCount = 0
and p.ClosedDate is null
order by p.CreationDate ASC

In total there are 43,981 unanswered questions.

  • Would you mind sharing a link to your query?
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 5:13
  • @Zanna I don't know how to save the query yet, but I put the code into the answer. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 5:19
  • I wrote a query for you - it returns 3693. Feel welcome to visit
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 7:05
  • Also, while I agree with Kaz's answer, in practice the questions in the CVQ stop getting closed due to ageing away of close votes when the queue gets full and there are not enough reviewers. So, my practical advice is to consider pacing your close-voting to the queue movement rate, unless you can recruit extra reviewers.
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 7:39
  • I'm not entirely sure I get this. That only shows you questions asked before a certain date, how can you know they should be closed as EOL?
    – terdon
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 13:12
  • @terdon There are some that are not EOL and I have to ping the OP to ask if the problem has been solved or went away on it's own. But an LTS lasts for five years. So any question over 5 years old is with an EOL version. The other criteria is "unanswered" meaning it can't be answered unless someone installs an unsupported version to duplicate the problem. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 14:45
  • @Zanna Thank you for the query! It looks much nicer than mine. One point though you are selecting scores > 0? I agree on the limiting queue quantities. yesterday was an anomaly for me of 50+ as I'm on holidays for a week and got rained in. Generally I think 5 to 10 a day is a good number. Still with 3,000 at EOL it will take 400 days to VTC them. There is also 12.10, 13.04 and 13.10 to consider. This might make it a two year project and by then 14.04 will be EOL. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 14:54
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix yes, any question older than 5 years is likelyt o have been asked about a version that is currently EOL. However, many (most?) questions are version agnostic and the version the OP happened to have been running at the time is completely irrelevant. Those could possibly still be answered if the right expert stumbles across them and I just don't see any benefit to closing them, personally.
    – terdon
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 15:04
  • @terdon Some were actually answered in comments and I've pinged the OP or another to answer the question like this one: askubuntu.com/questions/154658/… This project started because I wanted to tackle answering unanswered questions only to discover many are with EOL versions and therefore the problem can't be duplicated. Also doesn't it look bad to have so many unanswered questions from 5 years ago? It looks like no one cares when really the problem can't be duplicated. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 15:13
  • My query finds questions that have no accepted or upvoted answer (score is for answer) - according to the system it's unanswered in that case. I disagree that most questions are not version specific, but I agree that in many cases closing does not provide much benefit - it doesn't actually help people as they will still find unanswered questions (dead ends) in search if the questions aren't deleted, and now they can't answer them if they do figure it out... But it's great to give some attention to these posts imho and finding answers in the comments and possible dupes is excellent
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 15:25
  • @Zanna I think the "Score" in your query is the question score > 0 which means it has at least one up vote. When PostTypeID = 1 it deals with the question, When PostTypeID =2 it deals with an answer. Can you try it without the score line and see a difference? Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 15:29
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix try reading it again, or better yet, have a look at some of the posts it finds
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 15:36
  • @Zanna I did reread it. Indeed all the questions have up-votes. It is better to close the ones with no up-votes, ie no interest by others, in the first place. So removing Score > 0 would give you more than 3,693 results. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 16:00
  • How can a.Score refer to the question and NOT EXISTS refer to something that exists? They mostly have upvotes (but not all) because of this
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 16:37
  • To prove it, I ordered the results by q.Score instead of creation date - see the ones at the top now
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 6:41

2 Answers 2


Vote to close as many questions as you legitimately think need closing - no more, no less.

If you're going organically, it's fine to use no close votes a day. Similarly, it's fine to use all fifty in a single day, as long as they're all warranted.

The reasoning for this is discussed here by Jeff Atwood himself (well, for specifically the suggested edit queue):

We really want vote diversity here, so that's the point of the limits -- if the same 2 folks are vetting all the edits, that's not a sufficient set of eyeballs on those edits.

The same principle applies. This limit is in place to ensure that others have a chance to look at the questions in question and make sure they actually deserve things.

You could also consider the limit to be there to prevent abuse by a rogue user, though this seems to be less and less common now.

TL;DR: Nobody cares how many you make, as long as you're still legitimately helping the site in the end.

  • I feel woefully ignorant not knowing who "Jeff Atwood himself" is. But +1 for reputable citation. These VTC's are all questions > 5 years old so there is not burning desire to get it all done overnight. I just don't want to inundate the review queue and stress people out. Remember the "Oh no there are more than 100+ reviews in the queue" at the end of 2016 and the jubilation when it hit zero on New Years Day 2017. (or something like that). Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 0:14
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix The review queues are supposed to have items in it. You should never feel uncomfortable flagging things because they'll go to the review queue.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 0:17
  • It makes me uncomfortable making people uncomfortable. Hence the reason for this question. Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 0:22
  • 1
    Well +1 and thanks a lot for this answer! If only I'd thought of asking the question myself months ago and been able to pull out your answer every time someone had a go at me for voting to close too many old questions
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 4:18
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix (4 comments up) In case it helps, Jeff Atwood is one of the founders of Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange network (of which this site is a part). The other founder is Joel Spolsky. Neither of them are involved in the day-to-day operations of the network anymore.
    – David Z
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 16:30
  • @DavidZ Thanks for the update. I guess some day these two gentlemen will be nominated to the Computer Hall of Fame. Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 16:47

Update July 31, 2017

In meta Stack Exchange I've been directed to a link where we can request auto-deletion of abandoned questions on EOL Ubuntu versions that have no answers:

Automatically deleting the questions will save close voting on thousands of questions, clogging up the review queue and taking years to do what could be done overnight.

I have already made a here in Ask Ubuntu on this question:

but it was embedded within a larger request to merge duplicates together. Since then I've discovered more "abandoned questions" threads I'll need to research.

At the time of posting the question I had only Voted To Close (VTC) one abandoned question from EOL Ubuntu 12.04 with no answers or questions. A few days later I had VTC'd about 100 unanswered Ubuntu 12.04 questions and the Close Review Queue grew to 200 or so.

As such I think the appropriate numbers depends on the review queue size. When Close Votes Queue is sitting ~100 limit number of initiated close votes on EOL unanswered questions / abandoned questions to about 10.

More importantly when you initiate 10 close votes make sure you go in and vote 20 times on existing close votes in the review queue. Of course we should all do this each day anyways but this doubles the reason.

I've self sentenced myself to purgatory and am now VTC'ing in review queue only and not initiating anymore close votes until I've met the goal.

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