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A number of sites on SE have since a while reduced the number of votes needed to close/reopen a question to 3. As far as I can tell, this has been generally received well on those sites, as it allows to react more quickly, in particular on sites with a relatively small number of active members with sufficient reputation.

Since the number of active people here with that privilege is relatively small (and moreover Mods can't vote), I was wondering whether we should consider reducing the number of required votes to close/reopen to 3?


EDIT 18/07/2024: Given the clear vote tallies we've decided to go ahead and implement this proposal. CMs were notified and will implement it "shortly".

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    $\begingroup$ To put things into context, for the close votes I see this would likely not lead to a sudden peak in closures, since there are not that many questions with even 2 or 3 close votes. But the relatively few questions with close votes often get stuck around 3 close votes, in which case this would make a difference. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9 at 11:25
  • $\begingroup$ Your comment supports the requirement of having 5 close votes: For questions that are appropriate to close, they are already being closed, and for the "relatively few" questions that only get 3 close votes, they are remaining open because only 3 people are voting for them to be closed. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ Not at all: It is your view that the ones which are appropriate for closing are the ones with 5 votes but not those with 3. Note that we simply don't have many closed questions at all, and my feeling is that this is part because this requires 5 votes. -- Also, rather than claiming that 3 is "only 3", I on the opposite feel that given the amount of active members here, 5 is a quite large number. (Not every active member can judge every post well enough to judge whether it should be closed.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ I'm against this idea. I often find close votes in the queue with 2 or 3 votes to close for a reason that I disagree with, and I suspect it's due to brigading effects. e.g. I just saw a crystal clear question ("Can we break any quantum 2 qubit gate as a product of Rx Ry and Rz gates") with 3 close votes for "needs detail or clarity". This is a pattern, and so I suspect close votes are (i) correlated and (ii) sometimes used to express a vague dislike towards low quality questions that don't actually meet conditions to be closed. Both effects are suppressed by requiring a larger number of votes. $\endgroup$
    – forky40
    Commented Jun 13 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @forky40 Note that also 3 votes are enough to re-open, so if at least 3 people sufficiently strongly feel that a question should be open, it will be open again (and stay open, unless another three people want to close). So depending on the setup, it might be easier to close with 5 votes ;) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ We all know that network-wide, re-opening doesn't quite work as well as closing, so it's better not to get in a situation in which we need to re-open a question. Also, your last sentence in your most recent comment, doesn't make sense to me, in multiple ways. What might be easier? Easier than what? Why would it be easier to close with 5 votes than with 3 or something else, and what does that have to do with the number of re-open votes required? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 14 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ That's not my impression from physics with its 3-vote policy -- reopening goes pretty fast there. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ "Reopening goes pretty fast there" could mean all closed questions get re-opened immediately, or it could mean 1 closed question gets re-opened per year (after waiting for months), depending on what you mean by "pretty fast". Since network-wide the situation is much closer to the latter than the former, we should not change the number of votes required to close a question, as questions that are wrongly closed by only 3 votes, will likely not get re-opened (more often than not). $\endgroup$ Commented 19 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @TristanNemoz by adding the "status-review" tag, does it mean that you are reviewing the proposal to make a decision, or does it mean that you have asked the CMs to review the proposal to make a decision? In my opinion, it would be absolutely inappropriate to switch the number of votes from 5 to 3. One person in this entire community of 24,000+ people has advocated for the policy, one person has basically said "sure but I don't think it will make much of an impact", and two people have given strong reasons against it. Most of the community hasn't weighed in, the question was never "featured" $\endgroup$ Commented 19 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ to get wider community feedback, and while it's inappropriate to make decisions based only "votes" rather than actual "consensus", perhaps the disparity in votes between the two answers makes you think that one answer is more favored by the community than the other. If you do think that way, let me try to explain why that's incorrect. First of all both answers have 6 upvotes, and while mine has 3 downvotes, whoever downvoted didn't care enough to explain why, and if you look at my answers on Meta, you'll see that $\endgroup$ Commented 19 hours ago
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    $\begingroup$ @user1271772Nomorefreetime The latter. This question is one of the most viewed of Meta, indicating that a fair part of the community had the occasion to weigh in. A consensus seemed to have been reached according to the votes (once again, relatively with the other questions on Meta) and we've let another two weeks go after we evaluated so for good measure. After discussion with the two other mods, we've judged that it was enough evidence to at least try. An announcement will be made at the time of the change, and we'll also ask for feedback after some time to see how it went. $\endgroup$
    – Tristan Nemoz Mod
    Commented 19 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @TristanNemoz No, it doesn't indicate that a fair part of the community had the occasion to weigh in. It doesn't tell us anything about how many members of the community had the occasion to weigh in. The same people (very likely Norbert and I) have visited the page far more than the average community member. $\endgroup$ Commented 19 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @TristanNemoz "Asking for feedback to see how it went" is not enough. What will determine whether or not we should go back to the 5-vote policy? That needs to be made clear before changing the whole fabric of our close voting system. $\endgroup$ Commented 19 hours ago
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    $\begingroup$ @user1271772Nomorefreetime When we took the decision, the votes were 6-0 (and are still 5-0 currently, a downvote has been issued today, and I see yours at +3/-3), which does indicate a strong tendency, especially on Meta where the participation is usually quite low. $\endgroup$
    – Tristan Nemoz Mod
    Commented 18 hours ago
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    $\begingroup$ @user1271772Nomorefreetime That will be the point of the feedback, expressing complaints about the change and whether or not it was a positive one. Something along the lines of this post for instance $\endgroup$
    – Tristan Nemoz Mod
    Commented 18 hours ago

2 Answers 2

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I personally agree it would be a positive change. It'd make the process of closing/reopening questions smoother and quicker (though I have to say: I don't think this would make that much of an impact on this site; the volume isn't that high).

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  • $\begingroup$ "I don't think this would make that much of an impact on this site" -- Independent of the volume, it might help to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, which IMO makes a difference independent of the volume (as this determines the mix one gets to see on the front page). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch maybe.. I'm not excluding it, but it's hard to say, really. I guess we'll see if this happens $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Commented Jun 12 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, it is hard to predict -- but I'd say it might improve the signal-to-noise ratio, or leave it as it is, but I don't see that it would have negative consequences, which makes me say we should give it a try. (AFAIK the sites which tried this were all happy with the outcome, or at least did not want to switch back.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch yes that is also my thought. It might not make a big difference now, but I also don't see it doing any significant harm. Hard data to decide one way or the other would be great, but I'm not sure what could be used for the purpose tbh. At this point the precedent of the other sites that did it might be the best we have (albeit it's true that what works for one site doesn't necessarily work for another) $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Commented Jun 12 at 13:23
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No.

The switch from requiring 5 close votes to 3 close votes was originally made for StackOverflow (not QCSE) when they had 1000s of questions in the close-vote review queue.

This is not even nearly the case on QCSE, and we have very active close-vote reviewers here.

The vast majority of SE sites still require 5 votes to close a question, and for all other SE sites it was that way for almost 15 years, until the close-vote review queue at SO became extremely un-manageable (but keep in mind, that they get 1000s of questions per day, whereas QCSE currently has 6.6 questions per day.

It is also not true that diamond moderators "can't vote" to close questions. They can vote to close questions, but they choose not to do so because their vote serves as a "hammer" that automatically closes the question and doesn't allow further voting except for re-open voting, which falls under a different process.

A compromise would be for diamond moderators to start using their vote after 2 other votes, rather than waiting for 4 other votes, and then one of your reasons for pursuing this proposal is removed. The other reason that you gave was that we have a "relatively small" number of close-vote reviewers, but I completely disagree with that: We have a relatively large number of close-vote reviewers compared to other sites that have adopted the 3-vote policy. This means that both premises of your proposal are incorrect.

Also, no matter how good or relevant a closed question is, the question can sometimes be deleted by the Roomba within just a few days, which is unfair to the question's asker (and if the question is closed just because it needs some more detail, not because of being off-topic, the asker won't get the chance to edit their question because it will have been deleted). The other consequence of closing a question is that it will not appear in the "unanswered" queue.

Finally, even the author of this proposal says in his first comment on the question, that for the close votes that he sees, the questions are usually getting 5 votes (meaning that we don't need to reduce this requirement to 3, for the majority of the questions), and that only a relatively few questions get stuck at having only 2 or 3 close votes. Keep in mind that not every question with a close vote needs to be closed, and the fact that there's this small number of questions for which there's only 2 or 3 close votes, indicates to me that it's a good thing that we require 5 votes for a question to be closed.

If we do switch to requiring only 3 close votes, I would like the community to first decide on (and agree to) how we would assess whether it was necessary, and to immediately switch back to requiring 5 close votes if it is not found to be necessary.

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  • $\begingroup$ "It is also not true that diamond moderators "can't vote" to close questions. They can vote to close questions, but they choose not to do so because their vote serves as a "hammer"" -- True, which effectively means that they don't vote on closures, except in very exceptional cases. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ "We have a relatively large number of close-vote reviewers compared to other sites that have adopted the 3-vote policy." -- Compared with Physics.SE, which has the 3-vote policy, I don't see how I could support that claim. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12 at 11:50

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