There is a sudden (I only noticed it today) influx of “close” votes on questions of the site. I opened my browser this morning, and got this:

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I reviewed all of them, and half a day later this:

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Most of the questions are old (or very old), and have stayed open for a long time. Many have only one close vote, some have two. Apart from one or two that I believed to be genuinely off-topic, the others were fine. Not very good questions, but decent enough to stay in my opinion… especially so long after they were asked and answered (all of them had answers).

Of course, the above is only my opinion, and others might find that they should be closed. But, the shear number of votes involved makes me suspect some serial-cleaning activity. If so, I think it should be discussed beforehand on Meta (as for deletions), to allow people to discuss such large-scale closings. Another thing that I find weird is that none of these questions had any recent comment indicating why people voted to close.

Why am I posting this? Because I think the person (persons?) who has entered a close-voting spree should post on Meta to start a discussion about such a large-scale project. Also, so that mods and users are aware of this (possibly destructive) situation.

I hope me doing so isn't overstepping boundaries. If you feel so, please comment and I'll try to word my message better.

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Unfortunately, this is difficult to police while still in Beta, as anyone can vote to close. That being said, I completely agree. –  eykanal Feb 11 '13 at 16:31
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Not quite anybody; 500 rep is required. –  aeismail Feb 11 '13 at 17:02
    
Don't most graduated sites have a lot more 3k-users than Academia has 500rep-users? –  gerrit Feb 11 '13 at 23:05
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That's exactly why I asked this question. I suddenly saw 46 entries for closing a question. I thought that there was some heavy handed moderation activity being underway and I didn't feel very comfortable with it. Thanks for bringing this up. –  walkmanyi Feb 13 '13 at 9:23

1 Answer 1

I believe most of those close votes were mine. I apologize for not responding sooner, but have been traveling and have not had time to formulate a response. I think it is reasonable to describe the situation as serial cleaning. I do not think it is fair to assess my behavior as possibly destructive or heavy handed. As I will describe below, my cleaning approach was principled and I could have discussed my intended behavior on meta or chat before hand, but I chose not to. I think the SX vote-to-close system works well and that not every individual question needs to be discussed before voting to close. My approach to cleaning was as follows:

I sorted the question based on number of votes and started working backwards from the lowest vote total questions. I did not look at any questions less than a month old or with a vote total greater than 1. Given our propensity to up vote and disinclination to down vote, I thought that the number of votes these questions had accumulated over a long period of time made them of questionable quality/fit and worth looking at a little bit. I then read and thought about each question. For question that I thought should be closed, I then looked at existing answers to see if I was missing something. Questions I did not have a strong opinion on I left, others I up voted and many I down voted and voted to close.

I purposefully chose not to post a comment about why I was down voting and voting to close since these questions were very old and I did not think it was useful for them to be bumped to the front page. I figured that bumping them to the reviewer page would be enough for people to make a decision and possibly discuss tricky questions. Some of the question I think can be improved with an edit, and I hope my close votes will bring attention to these and help us improve those questions.

As for being heavy handed or destructive, these questions had little or no support from the community (i.e., down votes, votes to close, and a lack of up votes). I simply added my voice. I was not voting to close question that received strong positive support but that I disagreed with.

So in answer to the question: I think that serial editing and re tagging, where an individual can actually change the content (albeit temporarily), should be discussed on meta/chat. I also think that if someone is targeting a particular class of question (e.g., teaching, software, or big list) for closure, that we should discuss it. I don't think we need to discuss when an individual is voting to close low quality/poor fit questions.

Finally, I don't think F'x is over stepping his bounds and I apologize if my answer seems defensive.

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