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I propose a broad discussion on a possible replacement to the current "close-reopen" (C-R) procedure, a quite detailed, not official, description of which can be found in this discussion.

As the C-R is used across SE sites, I propose we start discussing its potential replacement by the Space Exploration community, to kick-start a kind of bottom-up opinion-building.

The procedure described below aims at fulfilling the same objective as that of the C-R : a gateway to ensure that Questions meet the quality defined by the Community.

Procedure description

(numbers in [] are examples)

  1. All new questions (except spams and « duplicates »), shall go through a vetting process during which no answer is accepted. Spams and duplicates can be removed, either by a Bot or by an Elected Moderator, without going through this process.

  2. Request-for-Comments period: The process begins with a period of [24 hours], during which no editing to the question is allowed. Those who believe the question doesn’t meet the required quality MUST submit at least one argumented comment during this period. They are called Reviewers. Reviewers are allowed to state « not rescuable» to signal the opinion that the question is too bad to be rescued. These are called Close Reviewers, otherwise they are Open Reviewers. Reviewers shall not be anonymous.

  3. If no comment is expressed, the vetting process ends, the question is Approved and is opened to Answers. If all Reviewers are Close Reviewers, the vetting process ends, the question is Discarded.

  4. Consolidation period: If there is at least one Open Reviewer, a Consolidation period of [24 hours] begins. During this period, the OP has the option between : (i) submit a revised question ; (ii) request and name an Open Reviewer as an Editor to assist in submitting a revised question on his behalf. All Open Reviewers can make suggestions to the Editor (or the OP). [6 hours] before Consolidation ends, no more edit is allowed. All Reviewers and the OP must agree between themselves which is the edited version submitted, [6 hours] before Consolidation ends. Any Reviewer can sustain an objection. Option (ii) must be exercized [18 hours] before the Consolidation ends.

  5. At the end of the Consolidation period, if there is no disagreement between the OP and the Reviewers, and neither between Reviewers, the vetting process ends, the (revised) question is Approved and is opened to Answers.

  6. Voting period (optional): If there is a lasting disagreement, within [6 hours] after the end of Consolidation, the OP has the option to ask for a vote. For this, the OP submits one final version of the question. Failing to do so results in the question being automatically discarded. The vote is between either Approve or Discard. Decision is by simple majority and is definitive. Any member can cast a vote, anonymously. The voting lasts [48 hours]. No intermediate statistics are published during the voting.

  7. Elected Moderators play no special role in this process, but can make comment, perform edit and cast votes as any other members.


You are invited to express your opinions in the form of pseudo-"answers" to this pseudo-"question".

I am particularly looking for opinions that go in the direction that the proposal has drawbacks, with a demonstration why.

On the other hand, if you support the idea that the C-R process needs replacing, and can be replaced, I am interested in real experiences, possible use-cases, that can show (in your opinion of course) that the C-R is not fit to the purpose it is supposed to serve.

You are welcome to propose different procedures and/or to comment on any related matters you may see. The more comprehensive we cover the subject, the better.

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    $\begingroup$ Changes to fundamental StackExchange functioning belong on Meta and solely on Meta. Period. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 2 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Jon Custer, sure. But this is not a request for change. I know it would be a lengthy process. I was hoping that some would make a critical analysis and point out the possible obvious defects. Unfortunately, I have only one answer, which found only one drawback: slowing the process from Q to A. And it missed the fact that the Comments, Consolidation & Voting steps are already in the current close-reopen. The key difference is that I propose to do them orderly, instead of all at the same time (including allowing answers immediately). $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Feb 2 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ The obvious defect is that it will never be implemented by SE. It will be a very quick process to accumulate more downvotes than you can imagine on Meta. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 2 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Jon Custer, please note that if inversely I got silent upvotes, I wouldn't count them as "approvals" neither. Sad to know that this is a community of "clickers". $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Feb 3 at 11:03
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    $\begingroup$ Anything technically is on topic within the scope of a site on meta. This particular change would only happen after much consideration, and is highly unlikely, so... $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto Mod
    Feb 3 at 18:57

3 Answers 3

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The proposed request for comment period slows the process from question to answer which is the core functionality of stack exchange:

stack exchange tour page

This potentially long process seems like a distraction. If users cannot get quick, good answers then they will go elsewhere.

Additionally, this process seems confusing for new users, again making them less likely to stay and contribute. New users already tend to jump in with questions in answer posts (among other things), how can they be expected to understand and follow this 6 step bureaucracy? Every step in the process could filter potential users out (lack of patience, lack of understanding, etc.) and inhibit growth of the user base; who are the source of high quality questions and answers.

Re:

All new questions (except spams and « duplicates »), shall go through a vetting process

How do you vet a question as spam or duplicate before the vetting process?

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your opinion. Bullets 1,3, and 5 are rules, not steps. My assumption is that Spams and Duplicates stand out clearly from other Questions. They are flagged and removed during the first [hours], w/o creating controversies, as it is currently done in fact. Elected Moderators could do that (I remeber that it is written somewhere). If new users post good questions, it wouldn't take more than [24 hours] to get the first answers. The process can be longer than the C-R, when there is disagreement. And that's on purpose. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jan 31 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ The term bureaucracy should be used with care. It can mean excessive complicated paperwork. People who often silently vote to close, will feel that way for sure. The Consolidation is designed with the spirit "if you care to comment, you care to improve". Bureaucracy can mean that decisions are made by officials, not by the People. Bullet 7 prevents such bureaucratic deviations. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jan 31 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ For your demonstration, you took new users as a main test case. This is good. You used the term distraction to mean that new users may be frustrated. There are many reasons for frustrations, but I don't think waiting [24H] for comments is a major one. OTOH, new users can be frustrated when they get down votes w/o comments, when they don't get assistance to pinpoint the drawbacks in their questions, when they get an unsatisfactory answer then the question is closed, when they don't know how long they have to wait for the "reopening", or even a definitive decision. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Feb 1 at 9:39
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I have been advised to bring this subject to SE Meta and not SX Meta (ironically with the goal for it to be downvoted quicker, not to be analyzed more deeply. This shows the seriousness and the constructiveness of the commenter).

I have contemplated of course this approach (bringing it to SE Meta directly). This would be a top-down one: decision at the top first, discussions at lower echelons later. I don't think it's a good approach, for an eventual change of this proportion. Different sites may experience different things. I am roughly familiar with SX, so I brought it to SX Meta for a first screening.

A 3-STEP ORDERLY PROCESS OF VETTING

Those who have made (hopefully) a careful reading of my proposed procedure may recognize that it has the 3 basic steps (not 6) followed by most technical committees, such as various open standards committees: Comment, Edit (correct if necessay), Commit (vote if necessary). But contrarily to what is practiced in SE, these are performed orderly, following the common-sense guidelines:

  • don't use it while we debate it (don't post Answers).
  • don't edit while we collect comments
  • don't vote while a stable text is not ready

Each step has a clearly defined deadline (no endless talking). It's time-efficient for everybody as you do not need to revisit the site frequently to see how things evolve.

HASTE CREATES WASTE

This will be my last contribution here. I leave the conversation. My ideas are of no use to a community with so many users elevating Haste into a doctrine, a community with so many users hating discussions, especially with new users. They see this as a "distraction" (!?).

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I see good in it that it makes the closure/reopen much more fair. More clearly, eliminates the problem of the question closures before they could be fixed.

What I dislike in it: we have various timeouts. The main problem of the site, and of all sites of the world, to increase contributions. If someone wants to answer a question, he should be able to do it any time and easily. Forbidding users to write content is shooting ourself on the foot. Contributing should be always welcomed and so easy as possible. This is our fundamental interest. Expecting answerers to wait for various timings will most likely result that the answers won't be posted.

In generally I don't see the Space SE over-moderated or unfair. Other SE sites are not so friendly, particularly the SO is quite infamous on this sense.

I see also a huge advantage of your post, that it suggests something, it wants to improve things by changing them. This is absolutely not a strong side of the current system. Unfortunately, changing the system is practically impossible - nothing essential has changed here since a decade, except some superficial (and, imho, very bad) UI changes or some constants. I see very unlikely, that the company would change here anything essentially in the foreseeable future; but I still do not think that your idea would be a wasted effort. Already thinking on improvement possibilities is already a good start.

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  • $\begingroup$ (1) Thanks for this encouraging post. I am back, since you gave a constructive and balanced criticism. Yes, one of the motivations is to re-establish fairness, but that’s not essential. The key rationale is doing things orderly. After all, we accept to stop and wait at red lights. In many situations, discipline is not easy to accept, but has its virtue. Even though, admittedly, you can argue « not here, everybody is driving responsibly». $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Feb 5 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ (2) Are we going to 'shoot ourself in the foot' by introducing discipline? This is easy to check out. Just look at actual statistics: how many questions are still unanswered, how many has had an answer as least after a day, how many still got answers coming in after months or years, how many got immediately an answer but are trivial questions, how many got corrected after premature answers. Once the statistics are established, it is easy to set the optimum timer of a possible trafic light. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Feb 5 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ (3) Changing the system is quasi impossible. Resisting change is common in many societies. But, the Universe is governed by change. Darwin taught ‘adapt or die’. And change can be introduced bit by bit. I am reassured to find one person who recognized that talking about change is not a waste of time, but a good start (kudos to you). Any journey begins with a first step. Thanks again and hope we have other opportunities to debate. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Feb 5 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ @NgPh (1) Key thing is the growth, both in quality and quantity. Regulation can not catalyze new content, all the regulations are about the removal of content on various rules. (2) Yes, anything what discourages answerers is suicidal. You can create stats on the data.stackexchange.com . (3) This is why the survival of the SO is imho limited. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Feb 7 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ @NgPh Ext to (2): I am playing with the SEDE since a lot of time. It needs SQL skill, but it is very good. If you have concern about the site quality, then attracting attention to that specific problem would be likely very useful on the meta site (assuming that the meta community is friendly, I think here it is). I regularly measure the sites and I think it goes well. What I see the largest problem, that is this. The site simply does not grow. And the last half of 2021 was particularly bad. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Feb 7 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ @NgPh Btw, I think 30% is not very good. That it is one of the bests among the SE sites, shows only that this is max what is available in the SE model. But I know a lot of SE sites and I think the Space SE is one of the bests. If I check the last 50 questions on the site, I see that most of them have a good quality, but can only well answered by a professional. Space Exploration has obviously much lesser amount of available professionals, like, for example, software development. So there are hard questions answered by mostly well-educated amateurs, like we. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Feb 11 at 12:07

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