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First, I want to thank all the site regulars; the community wouldn't exist without you.

I was appointed pro-tem moderator about 2.5 years ago now. At the time, I wanted to "lead the charge" on closing what I had felt were low-quality questions. I think most people reading this will know what I'm talking about: open-ended design questions, homework questions, questions without diagrams or supporting information, questions that could be solved by looking up the error messages, etc.

Fairly soon after, there was a Meta post here asking if we should be so quick to close questions. Hauptmech brought up some great points about some poorly asked questions that had received some great answers in the past and had then stated

I'm asking if it might be better for the moderators to let the community self regulate a bit more before they step in. To let questions that look a bit unclear or too much like opinion or shopping questions, have a chance to improve before they get put on hold.

I took the advice to heart and have been trying to hold back on anything I thought could be ambiguous. I try now to leave messages to the OP asking for clarification, etc., and then leave the feedback for a few days before coming back to close the question.

Lately, my personal work schedule has been busy enough that I can't be around as much as I'd like. I still check the page daily, but I don't have time to comb through all the questions.

This is where I need you.

I've noticed, lately especially, that questions seem to be getting downvoted. Everyone's doing a great job leaving the OP feedback, but sometimes close votes aren't being cast with (or instead of) the down votes.

If I pop in for a few minutes, I have a moderator queue that will show me a list of the questions that have received downvotes. This helps me tremendously by paring the entire site down to just the problem questions - then I can go through that short list and help moderate.

As it stands, with just downvotes, it's hard to see which questions are in need of moderation. I worry that this makes it easier for me to fail to spot problem questions, which can lead to broken windows, encouraging more users to ask poor questions.

Additionally, when I do find a question that needs to be closed, it looks like I'm the only person closing the question if nobody else has cast a vote. While this is true, I would appreciate "community backup" by demonstrating that we as a community feel a particular question is off-topic.

Again, everyone's doing a great job now leaving reasons why a question may be closed, or how it could be improved, etc., but please remember to also cast a close vote if you can. This gets the question in the moderator queue and helps us, as a community, present a united front when a question is closed.

Thanks!

~Chuck

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We currently only have around 70 users who can have the 500 reputation to cast close votes, but anyone with at least 15 reputation can flag questions to close.

As Chuck♦ says we can easily see questions which have at least one close vote, and close flags are even more prominent, but down votes and comments on their own aren't as useful.

The sooner we can fix broken windows, the less of a problem they can become.

So, here's what you can do to help:

  • If you have close-questions privilege (500 rep in beta)

    • Keep an eye out for questions which aren't on-topic, and vote to close them.
    • Suggest ways that an off-topic post could be edited to become on-topic. I use a variety of templates to help with this task, but as always you should be careful to adhere to our code of conduct.
    • Keep an eye out for closed questions which have been edited to become on-topic, and vote to re-open them.
    • Take a look at the review queues and vote to close or re-open as appropriate.
  • If you have comment everywhere privilege (50 rep in beta)

    • Keep an eye out for questions which aren't on-topic, and flag them as "should be closed...".
    • Suggest ways that an off-topic post could be improved so that it is on-topic. I use a variety of templates to help with this task, but as always you should be careful to adhere to our code of conduct.
  • If you have flag-posts privilege (15 rep in beta)

    • Keep an eye out for questions which aren't on-topic, and flag them as "should be closed...".

All of these will help keep Robotics ticking along nicely, encourage good questions, and reduce the burden of off-topic questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ Great points, Mark. I hadn't considered that reputation to close could be an issue. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Nov 2 '18 at 18:18

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