I have noticed that the close queue is now over 1000 in length. Is this simply caused by the lack of reviewers or is it caused by something else?

BTW, I have seen the automatic increase in the number of close votes allowed. I presume this is an effort to reduce the close queue length. But I'd suggest raising the ceiling when the queue is over 500 instead of 1000 entries.

  • 7
    More crap found, old crap injected, take your mayo
    – random Mod
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 3:51
  • 1
    Yup. They keep topping it up
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 4:55
  • 1
    I find myself using up all 50 close votes well before the day is over. We need even more than that. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/158833/… meta.stackexchange.com/questions/83080/…
    – bwDraco
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 17:25
  • 7
    We need more people doing the reviews. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:13
  • 6
    Heh, the stackoverflow close queue is around 11-12k...
    – Kenster
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 22:15
  • 2
    @Kenster Well, then Stackoverflow needs more reviewers. Pointing to a worse case and saying "Eh. We're not that bad." doesn't mean that there isn't a problem.
    – killermist
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 4:04
  • 1
    More related meta discussion: meta.superuser.com/q/8003/76571 Specifically, see Shog9's answer.
    – Excellll
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:37
  • I don't know whether your question had some positive impact or it is just a coincidence, but the amount of questions in close queue went down significantly. It is <200 today )) Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 9:08

6 Answers 6


I belive the primary reason can be found here:

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I'm not saying users with lower reputation should be allowed to review close votes, but there are not that many 3000+ rep users, who are actively doing reviews, compared to the amount of low quality questions and answers posted/flagged every hour.

  • 2
    It's also a lot harder to earn rep on SU compared to other sites. Other sites have less frequent activity, which leaves your question/answer on the home page longer, which leads to more eyeballs and (hopefully) more votes.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 2:40
  • I remember that I used to have the ability to review "low quality" questions and answers. I remember being passively insulted when that review queue was taken away from me. As a bit of a passive-aggressive, that's kinda stuck in my craw. I understand that directives from the holy SO must be followed, but it did kind of taint the direction of the community-group. I remember dropping off the radar for quite a while because I didn't have reason to care. I have periodically come back since then, but some acts are fairly negative watersheds. If I'm gone for several days, I don't feel missed.
    – killermist
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 4:13
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    The 3k limit is perhaps a little high, I wonder if perhaps moderation privileges should be SE wide at 3k with perhaps a 1k per-site minimum to ensure a reasonable amount of domain knowledge
    – Jon Story
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 17:07
  • @JonStory - I think 3k is a good measure of someone's level of understanding of a particular site, but perhaps if your total SE rep reaches, say, 10k, then the required rep for moderation tools on all sites drops?
    – Robotnik
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 5:17
  • That would be roughly the same concept, yeah - someone with 10k rep surely understands how the site works, eg they know only to tidy things up and not to meddle with domain-specific moderation they don't understand.
    – Jon Story
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 9:30

The amount of reviewers does not seem to change. The amount of new unexperienced users posting low quality question increases exponentially. But don't worry - it only means that the site is getting more popular.

  • 3
    To play the naysayer, which I'm pretty darned good at, this isn't an answer. It points out some of the weaknesses, but doesn't propose a real answer.
    – killermist
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 3:58
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    @killermist - Well, it answers the title: "Why is the closed queue so large?"
    – Robotnik
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 5:31
  • @Robotnik I suppose you're technically right. However, implicit in most "Why is?" questions is the follow-up of "And how do I/we fix it?" This answer does deal with the first part but bypasses the automatically implied second part.
    – killermist
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 19:24

Diamond moderators usually do not participate in the close queue. They have the ability to cast an unlimited amount of votes per day, but they seem unwilling to use very many.

This may be because they are too busy doing other moderation work besides closing questions.

I also suspect that they are careful to only vote when they are very sure a question must be closed, because their vote is final, meaning that normally five votes are required to close a question, but a diamond moderator's vote closes the question right away. This means that they must not vote inappropriately or all the blame lands on that one person.

Whatever the reasons are, I find it interesting that they could quickly cut down the size of the queue, but they do not do it.

  • 1
    Main reasons include: avoid burnout, busy with RL, busy with site moderation, avoid being flamed about taking unilateral results and let the community deal with it instead.
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 3:54

I'm open to being granted a special dispensation to browse and review the queues that I'm "not qualified for" because of "low reputation". I'm sure that a fair number of others that are equally qualified to look at close votes but are disqualified due to reputation would be willing to assist in helping to process the queue.

Maybe some formula involving [time on site] and [reputation] could come to some reasonable but lower threshold for users that "are probably qualified" to look at close votes.

It's apparent that whatever the criteria is now (reputation entirely) is not a good benchmark for this task. If the buffer is continuously overrun, then it means you don't have enough processors processing.

I'm willing to be a processor. Let me have at.


More specifically, "Is this simply caused by the lack of reviewers or ...?"

Yes. For the quantity of input, there exists a shortage of processors for said input. The solutions are simple. More processors or less input. Less input seems to not be an option since input is a public-facing device. This obviously means that more processors are necessary. Tempting or taunting current processors with even more stuff to do, does not a solution make. You need more processors, an entire pool of unused ones is available. Put them to use. Make each vote only count for half a vote if that is what is necessary to mitigate the unqualified that make the cutoff. The current state of things points to things getting worse before getting better.

  • 1
    There is a good number of users who have been here a long time and active in various ways so they clearly understand the site. For the purposes of the close queue, that may be more relevant than having accumulated 3K rep. It would be worth exploring alternative formulas (time + specific activities + rep + mod flag performance + ???). A key question: is this something that could be readily implemented on just SU, or is it part of the SE infrastructure?
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 7:45

Priority Rules Contribute to the Backlog

One factor contributing to the huge backlog in the close queue may be the priority rules used for presenting the questions for review. It appears that recently-flagged questions dominate what is presented. Questions are entering the queue at about the same rate as they are being cleared. However, the queue has built up over a long period.

Reviews Don't Reach Completion

One side-effect of this process is that the review starts for a question, it receives some number of votes, but is then buried in the queue by newer questions and the review is never finished. In a sense, the voting has been wasted because despite the reviews, the question becomes just another item in a stagnant collection that is in varying states of completion. The queue contains questions that are a few votes short of disposition (close or don't close), but they never make it back to being presented.

Reviews Are Not Used Efficiently

There is another aspect that affects how quickly the queue is cleared. There are "X" reviews performed per day, and that is what is available for clearing the queue. How those reviews are used can make a big difference in how far they go.

On some questions, the close issues are clear-cut and opinions unanimous. On others, opinions are mixed. On clear-cut questions, five reviews produces a disposition. On questions with mixed opinions, it can take close to ten reviews. The available reviews go twice as far in clearing the queue when they are focused on clear-cut questions. Beyond just efficiency, the disposition of clear-cut questions is more important than for ones lacking agreement.


These two factors suggest two things that can be done to more quickly clear the queue.

  1. When selecting questions to present for review, mix in a certain percentage of older questions that are just a couple of votes short of a disposition.

  2. The second strategy applies to both new and old questions. Questions would get prioritized based on the expected number of additional votes needed to reach a disposition. This is based on the question's ratio of close votes to keep-open votes to date. Clear-cut questions that can be resolved with the fewest expected additional votes get the highest priority.

  • I don't know the details of how the queue is ordered, but based on what I've observed, the sorting criteria give priority not just to new questions but also to questions that are one or two votes away from being resolved. So as an item is reviewed, its priority increases, as best I can tell.
    – Excellll
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 17:09

There also might be a wee bug somewhere distorting the statistics. For example:

https://superuser.com/questions/853276/ was closed a month ago, and deleted just under a fortnight afterwards. https://superuser.com/review/close/333318 showed it to me just now, claiming that it was still open with 2 close votes.

For another example:

https://superuser.com/questions/863208/ has no close votes at all. https://superuser.com/review/close/329125 just showed it to me claiming that it had been marked as "unclear what you're asking".

  • 1
    First was an audit. Second was flagged (there's no count for flags) and now it do have close votes.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 1:24

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