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Edit: I completely missed the Shouldn’t we lower the close/reopen vote threshold? post of which this could be considered a duplicate. Things have changed since then, since three-vote-close is now implemented on additional sites, but that post should probably be brushed off instead. Flagging mine as a duplicate.


Stack Overflow moved to require only three close-votes a little over two years ago after the results of a 30 day experiment showed that it (to over-summarize Shog9's very long post) led to an approximately 53% improvement in questions successfully exiting the Close Vote review queue (with either "Closed" or "Leave Open" results).

Hardware Recommendations and Web Applications also made the switch around the same time.

About eight months ago, another 13 sites were selected for the same experiment. In most cases, I believe these changes were made permanent.

Should we ask for three-vote-close to be implemented here on AU, and if so, what needs to happen?

According to the posts by @Catija:

If your site thinks this might help because, have a discussion on your meta - this isn't a one-time event.

From the comments (also by @Catija):

... mods to draw attention to things that need our help - using the tag.

Supporting data

We seem to have a fairly low rate of completion for Close Vote Reviews. In December of 2021 (SEDE link):

  • 68.5% of close vote reviews were Invalidated between 4 and 7 days or 14 and 17 days after creation. These periods were chosen because they indicate that the Close votes likely expired.
  • 10.63% of Close Votes Review "Completed" (either exited with 5 "Close" or 3 "Leave Open").
  • Another 20.87% of Close Vote Reviews were invalidated in other time periods. These could have been for a number of reasons. Perhaps the post was deleted (by the user, the community, or a mod) or perhaps the votes expired in such a way as to not fall into the 4-7/14-17 day window.

Regardless, with (presumably) around 68.5% of close vote reviews being invalidated due to not receiving enough votes, we have a lot of room for improvement. The stats for January so far are roughly the same.

On most other sites with similar stats, moving to 3-vote-close improved the community closure rate and reduced the workload on mods.

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    My worry is that (I feel) we already are too eager to close posts here. Sometimes it seems people go out of their way to find a reason why something is off topic. I worry that this would make things worse in that respect.
    – terdon
    Jan 24 at 9:26
  • Agree with @terdon. There are those questions, which are clearly off-topic or dupes - I believe those are mostly closed within reasonable time. Also, how does the data take into account close votes cast outside the review queue? Jan 24 at 12:37
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    @terdon But are those truly off-topic posts being closed by the Community or by Mods? I honestly don't know since I'm still a few points shy of being able to cast (and see) close votes here. As for over-eagerness to close, that's one of the data points that the "time limited" period will study -- Does it increase or decrease the number of Mod actions needed? Mods can always override a community close (or force a close) -- Do they need to do that more or less after three-vote-close? For other sites, it's typically (but not always) been less. Jan 24 at 13:12
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    @ArturMeinild A close vote cast outside the review queue, in my understanding, is pretty much the same as one case within. If the question isn't currently in the queue, the close vote would move the question to the CVR queue. After 4 or 14 days (depending on view count) all close votes begin to expire, regardless of where they were cast. Jan 24 at 13:14
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    @terdon I know in the case of one that I flagged recently, even though the OP agreed in the comments that it was off-topic, it failed to muster 5 CVs and ended up needing a Mod action to close. Jan 24 at 13:19
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    Yes, absolutely there are many cases of perfectly on topic posts being closed. For example, there is a large collection of users who seem to think that scripting questions are off topic. I honestly don't know if the bigger problem is posts that are off topic ar enot being closed or if the bigger issue is posts that are on topic being closed. Obviously, the latter is a worse problem (better to leave off topic posts open than to incorrectly close on topic ones) but I don't have numbers for each. Just my personal experience which suggests that our problem is too many closures, not too few.
    – terdon
    Jan 24 at 14:03
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    @terdon I think you misunderstood. I completely understand and agree that some on-topic posts are overzealously closed. My qualifier was in regards to "truly off-topic", not wrongfully closed. Often, it seems, there are posts that should be closed by the community that are failing to muster enough votes. Jan 24 at 14:23
  • @terdon And yes, the two problems have to be weighed against each other -- Reviews that aren't completing at all vs. those that are competing with the wrong result. Jan 24 at 14:27
  • Questions truly off-topic are often closed very quickly: Example (this was closed within 5 minutes of being asked). Jan 24 at 14:37
  • Also, what do they mods actually think themselves - are too many questions in need of manual closure? Right now, the problem is theoretical until we hear a consensual voice from the actual mods that this is a real problem. Jan 24 at 14:39
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    PS: There is a nice meta-irony over that you should close this question as a duplicate .. 😁🤔 Jan 24 at 14:44
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    For what it's worth, @ArturMeinild, back when I was a mod here, over-zealous closing was far more of an issue than lack of closure.
    – terdon
    Jan 24 at 14:47
  • I think sometimes, the line between when a question is about "scripting" or when it diverges to "general programming" (and thus better suited for SE), can be a little blurry. And in these cases I think it's good with 5 reviews rather than 3. Jan 24 at 14:49
  • @ArturMeinild precisely, yes. That's one of the main subjects that worries me: it is part of this site's core competence and scope and yet there are many of our users who seem to think it is off topic. See Are bash/shell scripting questions on topic?
    – terdon
    Jan 24 at 15:05
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    @ArturMeinild I wish I had more time to look into whether posts are getting closed when they should (and I wish that the Downboat was more active in discussion of close and reopen votes). I do know that that correct close votes are aging away. I also feel that too many questions are wrongly closed. We have both problems! Maybe it's time to try reducing the vote threshold to see what happens. I feel we'd need some mechanism to scrutinise and reopen wrongly closed posts, and some work on educating folks.
    – Zanna Mod
    Jan 25 at 11:07

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