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From recent community activities we can see that we now have a good and active user base doing a lot of community moderation quite well. This is good for the site.

But recently some highly voted questions having a high traffic were closed for various reasons soon after somebody had entered them in the close review queue. I believe this is bad for the site. We depend on questions that attract people. Questions causing traffic are vital to our still not so well known site.

In addition some not so brilliant questions but questions with upvotes and with good answers got closed as off topic or unclear for less than obscure reasons. This may alienate newcomers to our site. What happens now is that a potential new user does not dare to ask, or ask again because they get the impression their questions are not welcome. Do we really want that?

To avoid a discussion on any specific questions I deliberately do not add examples here. It is a general issue we have here.

Please share your thoughts on how we could refine our close vote policy. What could be done to improve community moderation? Is there an issue at all, or is it only me being worried?

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We should take care to not overdo commnunity moderation and keep being open to a wide range of possible questions, from beginners to professionals:

  • Not all question may be of interest to all of us but this alone should not lead to a close vote. Leave questions that bore you to someone else. Let a beginner answer a beginner's question (and help them to correct their errors).
  • A close vote base on "this question is off topic because I can answer it by Google" is definitely not what we want to see. Almost all questions could be answered this way. It would make us superfluous.
  • Don't be picky on "research effort". If a word can be found in your dictionary it does not necessarily mean it is found in all other dictionaries the poster had consulted.
  • Why not leave a somewhat poor or incomplete question stay open? It may help somebody if it had an answer, and it will probably not do much harm to the site. Improve the question if you can.
  • Use your upvotes or your downvotes to indicate poor questions. Close votes should be reserved to unsalvageable, and obvious poor content. "Almost on topic" is not equal to "off topic".
  • Needless to say, but treat your fellow users with respect. They gave us some of their free time writing questions or answers. This deserves some care from high reputation users whenever they use their community moderation privileges. With power comes responsibility.

Some more points to consider:

  • Two close votes need special attention by the ones who cast them: the first vote that initiates the close review queue, and the last vote which leads to a binding and immediate closure of a question. Please think over the reasons for casting one of these votes again to avoid premature or unjustified closures. "Because I can" should never be a reason to vote.
  • Whenever there is community dispute on a question's close reason it may indicate that leaving it open may be a better option.
  • If in doubt there always is the possibility to skip the review.
  • Do not blindly agree to a predecessor's close reason. Choose a better one or a custom reason instead.
  • Do not automatically vote to also delete a closed question. This should be reserved for plain wrong, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate content.
  • Last not least discussions on disputed posts in chat are always a good idea to sort things out. Join us there more often.
  • So basically you're suggesting: "when in doubt, leave it open"... ? – Emanuel Jun 28 '14 at 23:22
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    Yeah, whenever we as high reputation community moderators are in doubt we should step back with our action and discuss this with other users. Whenever there is disagreement about an action we should not lightly cast our votes. – Takkat Jun 29 '14 at 6:11

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