Do questions from new users get held back until they are reviewed and how many must review them? How is it that some reasonably good questions get left without any upvote by the reviewer, and on the other hand, some absolutely awful questions remain unedited by the reviewer and get upvoted?

For an example of the latter, see Configuring Identify Feature Tool in Geomoose which has been included as a screenshot below to preserve its state after the review queue but before later editing.

(I agree the problems are purely stylistic but if I knew anything about GeoMOOSE I'd still have a hard time answering the mess of a question.)

enter image description here


2 Answers 2


Questions appear immediately when asked. In fact, it can be some bit of lag before they hit the review queue. I can't answer the how many part definitively or with any citation (there are a LOT of meta questions on review queues). From looking at my First Post review history (as compares to some other review queues), it appears only one reviewer is needed. That may vary depending on reviewers and queue - I see suggested edits in my history that were reviewed by two people and also just me. It may also depend on who is doing the reviewing and their rep level.

I personally don't always (often don't) upvote a question I review, particularly if it's on a subject I'm not familiar with. I look at the question in terms of formatting, tags, provided information, readability, etc. I make any edits, comments, flags, or close votes as applicable, or if there's a clear case for me to vote I will, and then move on. If it's not good, or I don't know if it is, and there's absolutely nothing I can do to improve it, I just hit skip. If it looks like a well-formatted question and I can't improve it, but I don't know the subject matter enough to vote up or down, I just go with no action needed.

The upvotes may or may not be by a reviewer. Yes, some people may just upvote a bad question, but that's regardless of whether they're doing so in a review queue or not. There is some concern about 'robo-reviewing' and poor voting when chasing badges, but in theory the system has checks in place to help prevent that. I too have noticed an increase in low quality questions with upvotes, and I mentioned it in chat and PolyGeo and I had a little back and forth, but the conversation didn't really seem to take off.

In your specific example I'd have voted close unclear, but likely wouldn't vote up or down on the question for a couple of reasons. First, it appears to me language is something of a barrier and I try to give broad latitude with that. Second, since we don't get notified when questions we've voted on change, I hate to downvote something that could be fixed and me miss coming back to reverse or remove my vote. I tend to only vote on a question when it's clear and I can determine that yes, it's good and useful, or no, it shows no effort/doesn't belong/whatever and that there's pretty much no amount of editing short of replacing the question entirely that would be likely to change my mind.

  • 1
    +1 The only bit I would not endorse is "since we don't get notified when questions we've voted on change, I hate to downvote something that could be fixed and me miss coming back to reverse or remove my vote". I tend to think that receiving an early downvote that may "no longer apply" after editing is the risk associated with asking hastily penned questions.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 0:27
  • Appreciate the input. After reading your answer, and some of the many Meta discussions, and after occasionally taking part in the review process, i'm still no wiser on who it works. It still seems to me to be a huge waste of time; the Q appears whether or not it gets reviewed, and we can all view, edit, flag, vote on it anyway.
    – Martin F
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 2:08
  • Regarding voting philosophy, i think i have the same approach as you; i'll vote up if it seems like a good question or if i took the trouble to answer it, and i don't vote down unless/until the OP has had a chance to, but didn't, act on my suggestions/questions.
    – Martin F
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 2:11
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    @MartinF I think that what makes the review queues be not a waste of time is that it gets the Qs&/orAs that are most likely to need early "intervention" in front of higher rep users sooner than if they were just left to be encountered.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 5:15
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    @PolyGeo I don't disagree that it's a risk, but 'hastily penned' is a bit of a generalization. Some people just don't know how to ask (and I mean terminology, not SE formatting 'good question'). Immediate downvotes like that can be very discouraging to new users compared to a hold. And even with established users - given the lack of notification there's little incentive to edit/improve your post if it's unlikely the downvotes will ever be reversed. I've seen this lead to great answers with low score and flat out wrong answers with high scores. But yes, all part and peril of the voting system.
    – Chris W
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 0:12
  • @MartinF As PolyGeo's answer mentions, it's mostly for the benefit of the new asker so that someone experienced can help them get feedback early on (somebody has to look at it) and less about evaluating the question. This is the distinction between that review queue and general voting to me. And yes, I too will often not cast a vote (including close/unclear) immediately unless they aren't responding to comments. I don't think holds are as off-putting as downvotes, but some do. As you note bad questions appear to get through that review, so maybe that queue's rep threshold is a bit low.
    – Chris W
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 0:19
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    @ChrisW "Hastily penned" are the one liners, or code dumps - it is only these that I would downvote on first (more likely second) pass. For others I try to give more leeway.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 0:29

How the review queues work is described in this answer to What are the review queues, and how do they work? with the high level view being:

Each user has their own copy of the queue — if you review a post in a queue, it is not necessarily removed from that queue for other users. It gets removed for all users after a few more reviews by other users (the exact amount depends upon the queue and review action done).

I see the value of the First Posts queue being to help new users get off to a flying start with getting their questions answered while at the same time educating them on the way GIS SE (and SE sites generally) works because they do not always take and understand the Tour or visit our Help.

Doing that in a way that balances "you are doing great" with "you could do this better" is challenging so I generally try to only address 2-3 issues each time - and few questions from new users have less than that because they are almost invariably new to our focussed Q&A format. I try to upvote any new post that looks like its asker has tried to tell us what they have tried and where they are stuck.

If questions show no indication of their asker having taken the Tour and/or poked around the site a bit to see how other questions are asked then I think down and on hold (i.e. close) votes do need to be exercised early, so that those recent questions are not thought by other new users to have met the minimum standard of clarity that we seek. It is for that reason that I quickly edited your example question and placed it On Hold.

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