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Similar to this question from two years ago, I've noticed a rapid sequence of close votes over the past little while, many of which I have disagreed with since the questions have a number of up-votes and answers. My questions:

  1. Is somebody doing a systematic purge?
  2. If so, what is your system?
  3. It seems to me that it would be courteous to announce it on meta or at least in chat. Would others agree?

Edited to add the reasons for my concern:

  1. As I am not a moderator, the review software does not tell me who the traffic in the queue is coming from. Also, the review queue presents things one at a time and makes it difficult to go back once you have finished with a review, so it is difficult to consider a set of actions as a batch. I thus cannot readily tell the difference between a batch of curation work by an established user, trolling by a rep 15 user who has gotten annoyed about something, or a mixture of the two.
  2. When there are a lot of items coming through for review, I run out of reviews that the software will allow me to make and cannot review any more items (this happened to me yesterday). Thus, if long-term curation work occurs at too high a rate, it can inhibit the ability of the community to deal with new questions.

I very much appreciate the work being put into curation: it's an extremely important function on this site, and one without a huge amount of reward. My request is simply that people give a heads up (either or meta or in chat, whichever seems most appropriate) when they are about to take a large number of closing or flagging actions, and that they limit such actions to ~10/day, so those of us reviewing can carry out our own portion of the tasks more effectively.

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    A user has raised a large number of close flags, which causes these posts to be pushed into the review queue. A couple of other users almost always vote to close in the review queue, so these posts often accrue one or two close votes even when most users of the site would disagree. I'm not at liberty to say more (i.e. name names) – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 2:04
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    Note that if even one reviewer agrees with the flag (which often happens whether it's warranted or not), the flag is marked helpful. So there's an incentive for users to keep raising these flags. – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 2:09
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    @ff524 So, not a high-rep user or moderator (who would normally be part of curation) but a fairly new user? OK, well, then I guess it's democracy at work and we just judge as appropriate... I would encourage my fellow high-rep users to judge generously though, since the judgement behind these closing nominations is a lot more erratic than I usually see here... – jakebeal Jan 6 '15 at 2:10
  • Newness is not always correlated with reputation. (users with really low rep and few previous flags would be limited to raising 10 flags per day) – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 2:11
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    @ff524 I understand that you may be constrained in what you feel that you can share, as a moderator. I have a guess, though, that there might be a problematic participant at work, who is well-established elsewhere in SE but much less so in this community. – jakebeal Jan 6 '15 at 2:13
  • Also, the user who raised the flags and triggered all this did not necessarily vote to close. The people who voted to close in response to the review tasks are the users who have sufficient rep, and anyone with sufficient rep (10k+) can see the vote history here. – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 2:14
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    Feel free to cast reopen votes for questions that you think are worth keeping. – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 2:15
  • @ff524 You have successfully anticipated my next question... thank you! :-) – jakebeal Jan 6 '15 at 2:16
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    I just reviewed all of the questions that have actually gone on hold so far and so far it looks like the system is working... – jakebeal Jan 6 '15 at 2:29
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    I don't know... I think some of the closed questions have good answers, and could be saved with some judicious editing. I "saved" a few of them that way, but I don't have time to do all of them. And I can't cast reopen votes like a normal user :( – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 2:31
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – jakebeal Jan 6 '15 at 2:36
  • @ff524: Why do questions have to be “saved”, if they have good answers? Closed questions continue to exist as they do not get auto-deleted, if they have good answers. The main difference between a closed question and an open question is that no new answers are allowed. – Wrzlprmft Jan 6 '15 at 23:55
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    @Wrzlprmft I use the word "saved" because closed questions become eligible for deletion by high rep users (and they often are deleted, on this site) – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 23:59
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    @ff524: Then the deletion of these questions is a problem that should be addressed, not the closure. – Wrzlprmft Jan 7 '15 at 0:08
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    @Wrzlprmft this meta question is about the impact on users of having a large number of close votes in a short period of time; the fate of the closed questions is only tangentially relevant. Please open a new meta post if you'd like to discuss deleting closed questions with answers. – ff524 Jan 7 '15 at 0:10
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A user1 has raised a large number of close flags2. Posts on which close flags have been raised are pushed into the review queue.

Some other users tend to vote to close fairly aggressively in the review queue, so these posts typically accrue at least one or two close votes.

Anyone with sufficient rep (10k+) can see the vote history here. Feel free to review the review history and edit/cast reopen votes for questions that are worth saving. (Either because the question itself is good, or because the question itself can be made "good enough" and the answers are good.)

Regarding your point:

It seems to me that it would be courteous to announce it on meta or at least in chat. Would others agree?

Yes, I agree that large and/or systematic curation efforts should be announced on meta first.

These efforts - no matter how well intended - can often have unforseen and undesirable effects on the rest of the community. It's a good idea to get feedback first and make sure your specific efforts are actually helpful and wanted by the community.


1I'm not at liberty to say more (i.e. name names), although the user who raised the flags is welcome to out him/herself here and explain what's behind it.

2 Possibly badge-hunting? Note that if even one reviewer agrees with the flag (which often happens whether it's warranted or not), the flag is marked helpful. Also, declined/unhelpful flags don't have any negative impact on site privileges or badge progress. So there's an incentive built into the platform for users to keep raising these flags, regardless of what the community does in response to them or whether they're actually helpful.

  • As an extension of above, a person that starts off fresh (i.e. new account, 10 flags), will, assuming 70% of his flags are accepted a day, and utilizing all of his daily flags, have a daily allotment of 53 flags after 28 days of site usage. This is obviously by StackExchange's design, but due mostly to the smaller volume of postings here compared to Stack Overflow, flags are processed significantly faster, hence the feedback and additional allotment add up faster. – Compass Jan 7 '15 at 17:57
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In answer to your sub-questions above, I should mention that from about three month ago, I went on the process of reviewing the older posts on the website. My edits include the following activities:

  1. Edit on the title of the questions; some of the questions posted in the past had no clear title to help the user recognize what the content of the question is. As an example, I edit the title of the questions from something like On doing something to How should I do something in somewhere situation? to help the newer users find questions easier.

  2. I Edit the tags of the questions to improve the searchability of the questions. My edits to the tags is systematic: I choose one tag and once in every 12 hours, I only edit 5 or 6 questions to avoid having many questions bumped to the top list. (At this edit level, I also edit the questions titles and content only if they need some edits.)

In the recent days, I have started to review the content of the older posts. By saying the older posts, I have sorted the display of questions from new to old; and I am checking the older questions one by one. On this process I check the following things:

  1. I check whether the questions is on-topic or not.

  2. I edit the question if it really needs it. To avoid bumping questions to the top-list, I only edit the questions on my tag edits, not at this review process.

  3. I control and raise flags for un-useful comments such as +1 or Thank you comments. Also, for the comments which are obsolete, for instance the ones which are now part of answer to the question.

  4. I raise flags for answers which I think they are not helping the questions.

These are the reasons which I think our older posts need curing:

  1. Older posts should be reviewed sometimes. It is good for the website to dynamically check newly posted questions as well as the questions and answers which are posted in the past.

  2. The users can see the older posts too and if they have something new and helping to the question; when they see those old questions, they will post their new points of view to the questions. So the answers will be updated.

  3. Problematic parts of the posts will be reviewed. Off-topic questions will go for another review process and people again, think about the questions.

Based on the introduction above, in the recent days I have reviewed about 100 questions or more; and I raised some flags on the un-useful answers and comments. However, it was just due to making this website's questions in better shape and quality, not for badge-hunting or making trouble for the site. Also, as far as I am an ordinary user on the website and I really do not know whether another user/s have also raised any flags or not.

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    As part of these efforts, you seem to sometimes raise the same (declined) comment flag multiple times, even when nothing has changed. Please don't do that. – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 8:25
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    Also, as you can see from Jake's question, it's considered good etiquette to announce major systematic cleanup efforts on meta first. Please open a new question explaining your efforts to allow user feedback. – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 8:28
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    @ff524 That has a reason. Once I reviewed the questions for their tags, and I have raised some flags. In the recent days when I went for content edit, I again saw such comments and raised flags for such comments I see. When I am on the questions, I can not see that whether I have previously raised a flag for comment or not (also, I can not really remember for which comments I have previously raised flags). So, it happens that I raise a flag for a declined comment again. – Enthusiastic Engineer Jan 6 '15 at 8:29
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    You can look at your own flag history to see if you've raised a flag before. – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 8:31
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    @ff524 It is not practical, how should the user check each comment one by one in the flags history? – Enthusiastic Engineer Jan 6 '15 at 8:33
  • I'm going to continue in Academia Chat – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 8:39
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    Thanks for coming forward and being open about this. Please do take on board the excellent feedback above. – EnergyNumbers Jan 15 '15 at 9:50
  • @EnergyNumbers The feedback I got from the users of the site was that I am a bothering person and they do not want me on the site. Since then, I did not continue my edits on the posts, tags, etc. I am only reading newly posted questions and answers and reviewing some first posts or close votes. If users think that I should not do reviews too, I won't do it any more. – Enthusiastic Engineer Jan 15 '15 at 21:00
  • Note that comments are second-class content by design, and polishing them with flags is essentially wasting mods' time. Unless there's something really wrong with comments (spam, inappropriate or disruptive), I suggest to leave them alone. Several "thank you" comments in a row are disruptive, a single "thank you" comment rarely hurts anyone. – Dmitry Grigoryev Nov 30 '16 at 16:08

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