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Preamble: In a comment discussion previously attached to this answer, which I copy below, it is proposed that we have a "Review Queue FAQ" to describe how to deal with some of the frequently occurring items that end up in the review queues. I am making this post to get the discussion and writing started. For better organization, I propose dividing the questions into several large categories, and have a CW answer addressing each of the categories.

Please feel free to edit and reorganize!

The Comment Discussion:

OK. So I am a reviewer in LQ queue and I see something bad: one sentence posed as an answer, which claims that the question is from an ongoing contest. My options are: Looks OK, Edit, Delete, and Skip. (No "flag" in that review.) What do I do? // As for there being fewer such answers -- I don't think so, since they are left by total outsiders, unregistered 1-rep users who can't flag and definitely do not read meta. – Thursday 18 hours ago edit

@Thursday: Vote to delete (option: should be a comment on the original post), or skip. If you feel like it flag the original question. If you want this guideline in FAQ form, I suggest that we can begin to compile a "Review Queue FAQ", where it would be more relevant (in my opinion). – Willie Wong♦ 18 hours ago

Good idea. We have something toward that in What is “very low quality”? and Answers of the form “I don't have enough reputation to comment, but”. In my answer to the second of these questions I disagree with the suggestion you just made: I think leaving the templated comment "this does not answer the question..." (which comes automatically with that option) is not appropriate in such cases. – Thursday 18 hours ago


General Questions

  • What is the review queue? Who gets to do reviews?
  • What review queues are there? What are they for?
  • What are review audits? What happens if I fail them?
  • What happens to people who abuse the review queues?

What to do if I...

  • ... see an answer of the form "I don have enough reputation to comment, but..."?
  • ... see an answer of the form "This question is from the on-going contest X"?
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This post explains some lesser known aspects of reviewing.

Limitations of reviews

Not all actions are available on the review screen. The following are some scenarios where you may want to open the question page instead of review screen:

  1. The post should be flagged as Spam or Offensive. These actions are not available in Close and Low Quality reviews.

  2. A non-answer posted as an answer contains information that should be preserved as a comment (e.g., the question is from an ongoing contest). Reviewers cannot convert an answer into a comment, but one can repost its content as a comment under the question, with attribution. This situation may also call for a moderator attention flag on the question.

  3. The OP left comments that should be edited in the question body to provide necessary context or clarification. Since clicking Edit on review screen shows the question without its comments, it may be better to edit from the question page.

Side effects of review actions

Edit implies that after your edit is done, the post will be of sufficient quality to be preserved. This button carries an implicit Looks OK action in Low Quality queue and Leave Open in Close Vote queue. Consider this before fixing the formatting of a post if you think it should be closed or deleted anyway.

Templated comments are optional

When recommending deletion in Low Quality queue, one has an option of adding one of templated comments. Unlike Close Reasons, which are mandatory, these comments are entirely optional (votes to delete are not classified by reason). The canned comments should be used only when you believe they fit the situation. Otherwise, the No comment needed option is the one to choose. You can also add a free-form comment from the review screen, before recommending deletion.

Review audits

The audits are items inserted into review queues to make sure the reviewers pay attention. In Suggested Edit queue they are gibberish edits, generated automatically. In other queues they are real posts which were automatically classified to be "known good" and "known bad". Generally, the system will consider a post as "known good" if it has several upvotes and no downvotes. It is "known bad" if it has been closed or deleted for some period of time.

If you choose positive action on a "known good" item, or negative action on "known bad", you get congratulated for passing the test. Otherwise, you get a sternly worded "you did not pass" message. (Skip neither passes nor fails the audit, it's simply skipped.) Users who frequently fail audits may be temporarily banned from reviewing. However, even careful reviewers fail the audits occasionally for reasons stated below.

Common reasons for failed audits

  1. Peeking behind the curtain. You go to the question page, find out that the post was already deleted, and decide that no action is needed. However, choosing "no action needed" will fail the audit, since this is a "known bad" audit and the system expects you to choose a negative review action. It's easy enough to play along and pick "Close/Delete" in such a case.

  2. Disagreements within community. A reviewer may honestly believe that a "known good" question should have been closed, or vice versa. This will fail an audit, but such occurrences are rare enough that they are not likely to lead to review ban.

To summarize: if you are reviewing carefully, an occasional failed audit is of no real consequence and should not discourage you from reviewing.

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