If you watch the frequency of close votes, I presume you would find that close votes cause close votes. That is to say, a question might receive its first close vote on its third day of existence, only to receive 4 more close votes within the ensuing hours. This tells us that one user is far more likely to vote to close a question simply because another use did, which means that the motivation for each close vote cast on a given question is less likely to be based on original thought. It also means that a proper, unbiased consensus cannot be had.

This is conjecture, based solely on my own observation. It's not a bad idea, however. Imagine how presidential elections would go, if votes were tallied on the wall outside voting booths, in real-time? Why should we think that the motivation to close questions on a Q&A site is driven by an entirely different psychology? Mob mentality is ubiquitous in human nature.

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  • I can see how this question would be considered off-topic :) – orokusaki Dec 27 '12 at 15:39
  • It's off topic because its a general Stack Exchange functionality issue, not something specific to Server Fault. You need to look at meta.stackoverflow.com to see if anything like this has been suggested for the family of sites we're a member of, and if not it might be worth posting there. – Rob Moir Dec 27 '12 at 17:19
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    @RobM The reason he posted this (and the since-deleted) follow up is because he's actually banned from asking questions on meta stackoverflow. In that light, it seems like he was just trying to ruffle some feathers rather than be productive :) – MDMarra Dec 27 '12 at 17:48
  • How can this meta discussion , on the meta site, be closed? What the heck is going on with closing threads on the meta site? – Jonesome Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '13 at 16:18
  • @samsmith It could not be migrated because the person was question banned from mSO. Thus it shows as off-topic. – Michael Hampton Oct 16 '13 at 16:38
  • @MichaelHampton OK. It just seems odd that a pure meta thread that is clearly useful (look at all the engagement) is closed at all. – Jonesome Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '13 at 16:43

Seeing how close votes are cast can influence behavior in a positive way as well. For example, if I see something that is a terrible question, but it has three or more votes for migration SU, instead of casting the fifth vote, I'll flag it instead so that a mod can close it and halt the migration.

There is also an entire review queue where users can vote whether to cast a close vote or a "keep open" vote on questions that have accumulated close votes. We want to keep our community clean, so of course we want to see any question that someone deemed worthy of closing. This is by design. However, if enough "keep open" votes are cast, it is removed from the review queue and the close votes are wiped away. It works both ways, but there's no signal or upset user when it goes in their favor, so it's much less visible.

Finally, this really belongs on meta.stackoverflow.com and not here, since it would be a network-wide change and not Server Fault specific.

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  • I'm not saying that I need to see that there are 3 votes to know it needs to be migrated. I'm saying the opposite. If a question has three votes to migrate somewhere and it's bad, then the other two close votes don't matter. They can be for any other closure reason and the question will still be migrated 3/5 is all it takes. Seeing that 3 people have voted to migrate a bad question that doesn't deserve migration, I can flag for a mod to unilaterally close it, negating the migration, instead of casting a 5th close vote myself that would send trash to another site. – MDMarra Dec 27 '12 at 15:09
  • 1) Your argument is predicated on a context in which there are copious close votes, which is primarily due to problem I've outlined in my OP. 2) You're literally saying that you base your votes on others' votes, while saying you don't need to.... Regardless of whether your motivations are with or against the grain, if they're influenced by others' votes in any way, they're no longer objective. This isn't a hard concept to grasp, and the symptoms of the problem I've outlined give a pretty ominous look into the future of the community, if you look at all the "why closed" questions. – orokusaki Dec 27 '12 at 15:22
  • @orokusaki Why is objectivity important? I thought the point of a community was to influence, and be influenced, by others - to share and learn. – Chris S Dec 27 '12 at 15:26
  • @ChrisS - how does objectivity preclude influence? And, how does mob mentality provide meaningful influence? Those are two real questions... – orokusaki Dec 27 '12 at 15:27
  • I'm not sure that you're understanding what I'm saying. There has been a concerted effort from all SE sites to cut down on bad migrations. Being able to see migration votes and use a flag to help avoid an erroneous migration is a good thing. Also, Stack Exchange clearly wants a lot of eyes on anything with a close vote, a delete vote, or that's extremely upvoted or downvoted. That's why there are 10k tools that show all of these things to high rep users. There is also a review queue that shows questions of low quality, first posts, close votes, etc. – MDMarra Dec 27 '12 at 15:27
  • There are not a lot of active users with close/delete privs in relation to the number of overall users. Bringing anything controversial or potentially off-topic to those people is a good thing. No vote is binding. If you feel that something was closed in error, just flag it with a short description of why you think it was an error. Mistakes happen, but if you saw the average quality of question that gets closed on a given day, I think you might have a different opinion :) – MDMarra Dec 27 '12 at 15:29
  • @orokusaki Those questions can be asked on Philosophy. We only deal with "practical questions based in empirical fact"... at least we try to stick to that. – Chris S Dec 27 '12 at 15:31
  • Actually, simply asserting that something is a "good thing" over and over is pretty much the opposite of objectivity (see argumentum ad infinitum), doesn't prove a point, and closes the discussion to meaningful debate. – orokusaki Dec 27 '12 at 15:32
  • @orokusaki Like I said in my answer. This really doesn't even belong on this meta. Ask on meta.stackoverflow. Employees and Community Managers will see it there. This meta is only for issues specific to Server Fault. What you're talking about is a change that would be made across the entire SE network. Even if a large number of people agreed with you here, there's nothing we can do about it. – MDMarra Dec 27 '12 at 15:34
  • @ChrisS - I'm pretty sure you just lectured me about how being objective isn't necessary, and then subsequently lectured me about being practical and empirical... which is based purely on objectivity, ironically. Unless you're paying homage to Rene Descartes, et al (subjective nature of experience). In other words, if you're going to try to insult somebody, it's good to educate yourself on the pulpit whence you're intending to insult them. – orokusaki Dec 27 '12 at 15:35
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    Stack Exchange has made it very clear that they like a lot of eyes on anything potentially controversial. This includes things that accumulate close votes. That's why anything edited is automatically bumped to the top, for example. That way, people will look at it and see if the edit was malicious or incorrect. It's how they built such a large self-governing network. If you have a philosophical disagreement with it, you'll have to post about it somewhere that they will see it, which isn't here. – MDMarra Dec 27 '12 at 15:35
  • So, let me see if I understand. If a question is worthy of answering, it can simultaneously be worthy of closing, by the same person? – orokusaki Dec 27 '12 at 15:41
  • I'm not sure how you got that from what I said, but sometimes I will answer an off-topic question if it's easy to throw the OP a bone while also closing it so that future visitors don't use it as an example of an acceptable question (and yes, this happens all the time) – MDMarra Dec 27 '12 at 15:47
  • @orokusaki Yeah. It can also be worthy of answering, but devolve into something worthy of closing instead, 12 comments later... – HopelessN00b Dec 27 '12 at 15:48
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    Oh, I see you're talking specifically about this question. I voted to close it and flagged it to be moved to mSO where it can be properly addressed (Like I mentioned at least three other times). My answer would move with it when it was migrated. Turns out Chris didn't think it deserved to be migrated. Really though, if this bothers you that much, ask it there. This is like having an issue with a federal tax law and bringing it up at a school board meeting. People can discuss it with you, but there's no one in attendance that can actually resolve your issue. – MDMarra Dec 27 '12 at 15:50

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