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...provided there aren't any close votes already, of course.

It's no secret the close review queue has been pretty large lately (see here, for instance). It's sitting at 110 questions, as I write this (as penance for casting a first vote-to-close recently, I've been reviewing the close queue lately).

But this question made me think. It's pretty clearly not fit for the site, and I downvoted. In the span of a minute or two, it accumulated two more down votes.

And then a close vote. Should someone have been brave enough to cast the first vote-to-close stone?

I personally think it would have been better to spare the queue, and rely on the inherent unfitness of the question. That alone will probably ensure it won't receive an answer anyway. Who's going to sort through all of that to bother to answer?

My question: In general, is it a good idea to just let downvotes do the deleting after 30 days? Is there general agreement about this, at least on Meta?

I don't really care about the linked question in particular (which may have its own reason for closure, being related to Project Euler), it's just the first time I've witnessed a question get downvoted significantly and then have a close vote cast a short while later.

Sidenote: This question was ultimately closed in the time it took me to write this. Obviously, given the size of the close vote queue, not all questions move so quickly through the gears.

Double Sidenote: If it turns out there is agreement, I'm hoping this may serve as a "don't be so quick to vote to close" PSA.

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    $\begingroup$ Is it possible to make a SEDE query to see how fast close-voting actually happens? The answer here really depends on whether the close queue is truly overwhelmed or merely appearing to be. (I'm not well versed with the SEDE, but it seems like the relevant data is all rounded to the day, which isn't helpful) $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Nov 24 '15 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ A terrible unclosed question, no matter how negative the score, seems like an open wound to me. If not stanched it might bleed terrible answers. On the other hand, if you felt like a good answer were possible, you probably wouldn't vote to close before providing the answer. The answer might lead to improvements that rescue the question. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Nov 25 '15 at 4:37
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The first close vote was mine.

I personally think it would have been better to spare the queue, and rely on the inherent unfitness of the question.

I often do exactly that. But only if I'm sure it's not getting an answer. And it's getting more difficult to be sure about that, because of the low standards of many answerers.

Who's going to sort through all of that to bother to answer?

Probably, no one. But that's not really necessary in order to post an answer. "Hint: use induction" will work just fine, no need to read the question in detail.

As it happened, the question did receive an "answer". And of course, of the not-an-answer category. (I wish the user would stop copy-pasting that letter, but this is tangential.)

If a question gets an answer of any sort, the only way to dispose of it is to close it first: a non-closed question with an answer does not get deleted automatically, and 10K users cannot vote to delete it either.


By the way, the size of the queue does not mean that it takes long for items to go through it. A pipe twice as thick carries four times the amount in a given time, with the same velocity.


There is a case when I prefer to vote down and not closevote: it's when the question is completely off the radar, and the downvote makes it eligible for automatic deletion in near future.

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  • $\begingroup$ I did notice that you were the first to vote, and I can definitely see why in this case. This answer is quite helpful, I do have plenty of thoughts floating around that you've addressed, thank you. $\endgroup$ – pjs36 Nov 24 '15 at 2:15

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