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Aside from the moderators, user with enough reputation* can cast votes to close and/or reopen questions. This is not a right, this is a privilege that you are being given as an active user of the community.

There is already some information about it in help, but it might be interesting to read the network-wide's Theory of Moderation. However, I feel that there are some rules that people should keep in mind when using the review queues. Some tend to be forgotten, so it's probably worth repeating them.

I'll call those the

Rules of peer reviewing on WB.

Rule 0: Be nice.

This is a general rule for the Network, but remember that the provilege you have does not make you better (or worse) than the other users and that you should try to always keep civil. And in no case, a closing vote should be used as a petty revenge.

Rule 1: Please read the post you are reviewing.

Sometimes people judge a question only by its title. The OP might have written an unfortunate title, but the question might be on-topic, not too broad, answerable, etc. Go beyond a glimpse, and really read the whole post.

Rule 2: Decide for yourself.

Do not follow trend. If a question appear in the close-review queue, it is because either someone flagged it, or someone voted to close it. But that does not mean that the question has to be closed. You are given a vote, use it fully. Do not follow the others, even if those are high-reputation users.

Rule 3: Make sure you are familiar with the scope of the site and general agreements.

I know you've probably read too much about it these days, but before voting, you should make sure that you are familiar with what is on- or off-topic on WB. As there may be some inconsistancies, seeing a similar question open isn't enough to say that the current question you are reviewing should stay open. It might be that the other should be closed as well.

One place to get started on that could be the Scope clarification discussions.

Rule 4: Don't wait until someone else starts.

Especially with lower reputation, it might be intimidating to flag a question or vote to close it if no one else did it before you. But it might simplly be that others missed that particular question. By flagging and voting on it, you'll bring it to the attention of the community. And it's ok, if people do not agree with you.

Rule 5: If you are going to vote to close and there's no comment about it on the question, take your time to write one, or refrain from voting to close.

When 5 voters agree that a question has serious problem, that question is put on-hold. Apart from closing blatantly wrong questions, one of the aim is to improve the overall quality of the questions. But that can only be done if the voters express their views. So if you are reviewing a question, make sure that there is a comment on the question that reflect your idea. If there aren't, do write one yourself.

If you can't be bothered to write a comment, don't bother voting to close, click on the "skip" button.

Rule 6: Make sure you are up to date with the discussion.

This is related to the rules 2 and 5. When the first votes to close appear and correctly commented on, it is likely that the OP will ask some details, or edit their question. So maybe that too broad vote isn't valid for the current version of the post. In any case, make sure that appart from the post, you have gone through all the comments to see what is the current standings.

Follow up on that rule, if the OP, e.g., provide a set of constraints for a broad question, make sure those are edited in the question. Either by the OP, or yourself.

Rule 7: Vote on the post, not the user.

You might have had a disagreement with the OP, or the OP is a well respected member of the community. But none of those should affect your vote.

Rule 8: Don't answer a question that you voted to close.

Seeing answers on a question, pretty much validate the question in the eyes of most. So if you vote to close a question, don't answer it, otherwise you send mixed signals.

Rule 9: If you don't like a question, but it is answerable and on-topic, downvote it, don't vote to close it.

The vote to close isn't your only tool to indicate that you are unhappy with a question. Use all your possibilities.

Thanks for reading those rules.

Note that other queues are also subjected to those rules, in particular the low-quality posts.


*: For the time being, with the beta scale still there, that would be any users with at least 500 reputation. Once the graduation process finishes, that will limit it to 3000 reputation.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with 5 and 6 (6 only because it's so closely related to 5). It takes 2 clicks, in 1 second to VTC a question, but 1-3 minutes to write a comment. I can skim and judge 3 other questions in that short timeframe. Since I usually only come on to the site in short intervals of 3-5 minute timeframes (unless i find a really interesting question that I want to answer/have something to ask), it's much more efficient (in terms of affecting the communities question quality) to just VTC and move on. Someone else may leave a comment, closed questions show a reason, and can be reopened later. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 25 '16 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ Not surprisingly, I disagree with you. Nevertheless, I'd encourage you to write it out as an answer and not as a comment, so that we can get an idea of how does the community view it. To answer your points, 1) you don't have any obligation to review the posts if you don't have the time 2) it's not about efficiency, it's about improving the question 3) until the question is on-hold, the user may not know that something is wrong and thus can't correct it 4) the next users may have to think much to find your rationale. Everyone loses for you to save 2 minutes. $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Mar 25 '16 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think it's about "improving the question" (As a single question) so much as it is "improving question quality" (overall - all open questions), so for me, yes, it is all about efficiency. For your point 3: Questions that are put on hold are "on hold" can always be reopened when fixed/edited. And on your point 4: Those who are able to VTC are already able to see my reason for CV. Whether or not they think the question is also [insert CV reason] is their own opinion, and my rationale should not affect that in any way. The site wins more overall if I can close 3 q's, instead of 1. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 25 '16 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ As was discussed many times on network meta, comments on close votes are not obligatory, this was decision staff made on purpose, and will not be obligatory in foreseeable future. And I agree with their decision and arguments. I don't think you should try to overrule staff on this. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 4 '17 at 18:51
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On rules 3, 4, 5:

Since scope is a moving target, I think we shouldn't be too afraid of putting a question on hold. Especially if we follow the other seven rules, this doesn't have to be a painful experience for the querent. A nice "hi, I'm not quite sure what problem you're trying to solve here. What are you trying to do with this world..." comment along with the first VtC can go a long way.

Some of them will generate "why was this question closed" meta posts. That's a good thing for the site! (Even if it's frustrating for any individual user.) In those posts we can be hashing out specific cases that will help define scope which, in my opinion, will take us further than general discussions.*

So I think 3, 4, and 5 create a powerful synergy. If you think something is suspect then VtC and comment. If you see close votes and disagree, drop a comment. If you see a closure that you disagree with, go ahead and bring it to meta. You don't have to be the post author to do so!


* I sincerely appreciate all of the work that's been put into the general on-/off-topic discussions in meta, the case studies, the risk factors, &c. I do think that real, live disputed closures--especially when they're bringing new voices into the conversation--bring something really useful to the table that the more-theoretical discussions don't.

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Overall I'd have to say I agree with your rules. They make sense to me, and I think pretty well cover how to judge questions. Below is what I think of all of the rules.


0) There is a reason this is rule zero.

  1. If you don't read the question, how are you supposed to know anything about it? You can only fit so many words into a title, and they may not reflect the entire question. In any case, you should read the question before doing something about it.
  2. You're not a mindless drone. Seriously, develop an opinion.
  3. Again, this should be a no brainer. If you don't know our sites requirements, limitations, and rules, you have no business trying to police this site. Or really doing very much of anything on it.
  4. Don't be timid about what you think. It is important that you share your opinions, regardless of whether or not others agree. As Mark Twain once said, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
  5. I think is one is important, and the most often ignored. How do you expect people to like and want to join the site, or for the site to improve without first stating what is wrong? Some people might not even understand what is wrong with the question in your eyes, which might lead to confusion and future bitterness in potentially great users.
  6. Again, this should not need to be said aloud. If you don't read about the question, then you are missing out. A few small but important details might be adressed, that change the question from obviously off topic to a respectable question.
  7. Back to rule zero. Judge the questions based on their value, not your feelings about others.
  8. Obviously. If you feel like a question doesn't belong on the site, then doen't encourage it to grow and develop by answering. Just let it be. I'm speaking words of wisdom here. Let it be.
  9. This is what downvoted are for. When you don't approve of something, or just plain don't like it, even though it is technically viable for the site.
  10. Because everything should have ten rules. Support questions you like! Click that little upvote button, or just contribute. It improves the site just as much, if not more than anything else you could do. If you feel a question is on topic and well thought out, then you know what to do. 😊
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    $\begingroup$ "You're not a mindless drone." And if you ARE a mindless drone who has nonetheless racked up enough rep to VTC, I really want to have a look at your source code. Call me, please! $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Mar 4 '17 at 16:38
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I used to violate Rule 8, answering a question while voting to close. I thought I was being helpful... trying to guess what the question was about while signaling that I wasn't sure. That got confusing to the OPs, so I stopped. Now, if the question is unclear, I vote to close as "unclear". Fewer questions get answers, but those that do are clear to all concerned. I have found it to be a better balance. I like Rule 8.

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Stack Exchange and my history:

I have used Stack Exchange since its doors opened and no I can not remember when that was anymore than I can remember when what the heck of the “ …. Experts ….” (Expert-Exchange?) went pay to ask. Yes I shut them off the second they did that. Knowledge should be free and those that Know should offer their answer freely, if we, in a Real Life view want our Real Life Community to grow and become better.

Qualifier:

I understand, or at least think I do, that Reviewers are Volunteers. In one sense I am volunteering my time now to add to the narrative of moderation. I do not see that as setting me apart or empowering me to just blow things off, take sides, have friends, have enemies etc.

Topic Vote To Close

Well I just deleted 3 pages of explanation as that seems to be more what people like than simple statements, but that just is not me.

Vote to Close should NOT be a task, duty that needs to be performed. It should be a responsibility to apply the rules, with compassion and understanding. Help where you can, else DO NOT HARM without documented reasons and No you guys stop this insistence of writing books as explanations.

Reviews:

I think the process is one or more people flag a post as whatever that throws it in the Review Queue for review. Right here is the very first point. Anyone that does that should cite the rules that are being broken OR if you want it easier document the why that must list the offending whatever and why they feel it is deserving whatever the flag they use.

Anyone that wants to review and Vote to Close or Vote to Open should be required to document why they think that and if applicable cite the rules that support their opinion. If they do NOT have the time or knowledge of that which is being reviewed they sure as heck do not have the knowledge to vote on it.

I am not campaigning for being a Reviewer or Moderator

I have moderated Forums for both Free to Play Games and Pay to Play Games. I have GM’d in said games. How this relates is it gives me experience in dealing with people and their desire to see the world through their own personal reality.

What I see here is a mixed bag of moderation. What I see is that brings (my opinion) a mine field/quicksand for posters. As some egregious posts are seemingly ok and some that are benign are immediately put [On Hold]/Deleted. I trust you do not really think that breeds confidence and/or consistency on the part of the posters.

Rules:

Rules are to convey consistency, build confidence etc in how one can behave in a community. You have rules, they are as good as any I have seen. NO they are NOT the ones I would choose but the results would be the same so why say mine are better, they would just be different.

BUT if Rules are just words on the screen, interpreted by those with the required reputation to interpret them, then … They are not Rules at all. They are justifications and excuses for “people” (aka NOT posters) to do whatever it is they think is right/want.

You have the Rules and you have the People:

IF you want the Rules to be “The Rules” then the Volunteers need to be held accountable for how they use “The Rules”.

The simple means but by no means the best way, would be to allow Voters to be on a separate point list. You have the Reputation System with levels. Fine have a level that qualifies one to vote but that is NOT where it ends. Have an additional qualifier that can be used to enable or disable regardless of Reputation, the ability to Vote.

IF you choose this simple version, then any time someone votes to close, then a two tier action is enabled. First if their vote, for simplicity, is the losing vote, then they lose a point (intentionally left ambiguous to what that means, but could be Positive to the poster be 0.1, Negative to the Poster be 0.5).

IF the vote goes to put the post [On Hold] OR Deleted, then the poster is automatically given the choice to contest it to a “Higher Review”.

This should encourage the One Flagging the Post to carefully consider there may be consequences to their action (can not flag for a while, as in the negative is worked off/timed out), the Initial Reviewers to carefully consider the consequences of their actions (can not vote for a while, as in the negative is worked off/timed out). Meaning everyone has documented their choices, as in can not flag or vote unless there is a documented reason.

If the Higher Review is in agreement with the judgment all things stand as is. If the Higher Review is NOT in agreement with the judgment, they can recommend corrective action or simply overturn it, leading to a more significant penalty being assessed.

Yes they are Volunteer’s, Yes indeed, but they are much more than that, they are the Communities Interface to the “Common Poster” and as such they can attract new people or they can alienate people.

Yes they are Volunteer’s but that should not mean they should not be held accountable.

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