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I have been reviewing close votes suggestions for maybe half an year, already (I am currently at about 700 close votes suggestions examined). Until maybe a month ago there were always less than 80 suggestions to examine (subjective estimate, base on memory). Lately, though, I often find >150 suggestions in the queue and I would like to know why:

  • have the persons having acces to site analytics noticed a sharp increase in the number of questions and accounts in the last month or so?

  • are fewer users getting involved in reviewing activities, so the same burden as before falls on the shoulders of fewer people?

  • have users recently become more involved in curating the site by flagging more questions and answers for closure or deletion?

Have you noticed the same thing? Are there other explanations of it? Strangely, the number of first posts, low quality posts, reopen votes and late answers seems to have stayed constant.

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    $\begingroup$ @MiceElf: Indeed, both suggest the week 15-22 of August was the last "normal" one, and this fits with my impression that the phaenomenon is 1 month old. $\endgroup$ – Alex M. Oct 10 '15 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ There also seem to be unusually many very old (several years) questions in the queue. $\endgroup$ – mrf Oct 10 '15 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ I'm one of those people who have started to add close votes to problems. The reason is I'm starting to be tired of people asking questions not showing any effort at all. I leave comments to the people asking (usually newcomers), asking them to edit the question showing what they have done and where/why they can't go on. If there is a better way than close voting for this behavior, my ears are open. $\endgroup$ – mickep Oct 11 '15 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps there is a correlation with the U.S. academic year, which starts around the end of August or beginning of September at most U.S. institutions. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Oct 14 '15 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ There may even be a self-amplification effect: When I go to reviews I (admittedly irrationally) prefer to walk through the small queues and leave the Close Votes queue alone. Others may think differently and feel the urge to wrap up their sleeves specifically when queues grow. $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen Oct 18 '15 at 18:17
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You can see the "25K" site analytics here. Quantcast also reports record-breaking traffic to the site, with over 1M weekly uniques. The number of posts isn't quite at the record level yet.

To corroborate your observations, here is the chart of Close Queue size: I began tracking it at the end of September 2015.

The fact that Close Queue is the one that tends to get clogged matches the experience of other large sites. The tasks require more reviewers than First Posts, Late Answers or Suggested Edits. And the number of tasks created daily is much larger than in Low Quality or Reopen queues.

I posted some ideas concerning the review situation elsewhere, but here I'll add one more. A lot of Close Queue growth is driven by closure of lazy, problem-statement-only questions. Some of those can still be usefully answered, if they are clear and are not of the incessantly-duplicated types (not "find where tangent line is horizontal", etc). Those don't really need to be closed: a downvote is enough. Downvotes don't clog review queues but still have an impact: they count toward question-rate limits.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see downvotes as a truly useful solution to that type of question. The purpose of closing those question is not only to delete them, but to prevent answers, thus discouraging the user from posting other similar questions. For users with throwaway accounts, downvotes are meaningless, as long as they get the answer to their question. Of course, if the close queue is congested then the point of closing may not be achieved, but there is at least a chance, unlike with downvotes. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Oct 14 '15 at 13:02
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I hate to kick up an old thread, but the number in the queue is now over 270, yesterday it was 250.

I see lots of reviewers stuck on the daily max of 20, but the queue keeps rising, as do the amount of questions coming in from people with 1 reputation and evidently new to the site who don't understand the suitability of questions for Stack Exchange.

I understand that this is probably an issue that swamps all of the largest SE's, but how should we go about fixing this?

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  • $\begingroup$ High rep users have more than 20 votes if use them directly, not from the review room. For instance, I've 50. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Apr 8 '17 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @user26857 use them directly? $\endgroup$ – Cursed Apr 8 '17 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ Directly, meaning at the question itself you can vote to close or reopen or delete (if you have enough points). $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Apr 9 '17 at 0:47

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