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I noticed within the last few weeks that more often when I come to the site the review queue icon is marked with the red dot. That usually happens if there are queues which have an unusually high number of items in it. For the close votes this number appears to be 20.
Some time ago I have adopted the habit of letting most (almost all) closing be done by the community as such a democratic process is exactly what the system was designed for. As a consequence I only checked whether the queues are drained and helped out occasionally if the numbers were getting too high. That worked very well for quite some time.
However, recently I have used my hammer more often than I wanted, simply because it appears to me we don't have enough active close-voters anymore.

This is a very subjective observation and I have not checked any numbers or statistics about that. I simply wanted to share this with you and get a read on how things are within the community. Please share your own thoughts and observations with me; if you think we (the moderators) should do something differently please let us know.

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  • $\begingroup$ I definitely have an opinion on this, but I would like to see how the community feels first. Thank you for bringing this up! $\endgroup$ – jonsca Dec 2 '18 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ i.stack.imgur.com/fhCG2.png maybe related. First time the site has got less questions as compared to the previous year. $\endgroup$ – Avnish Kabaj Dec 3 '18 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if it is simply a symptom of a general decline in the number of active users with ≥3k rep. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Dec 8 '18 at 15:17
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My observation/opinion:

I think so, yes. I am the top-ranked reviewer for close, low quality, and reopen queues; second on first posts; third on late answers; and fourth on suggested edits. Other users occupy similar top rankings, indicating to me that a small portion of us is doing the voting-to-do-something, which defeats in part the democratization we desire.

I don't know what the solution is: I am a person inclined to keep behaving as I have, and I can do more "cleanup" with my VTC button press than elaborating on an answer to a question (my preferred way to contribute, but alas, with other pressures in life right now, not the easiest to do time-wise); I suspect some of the other folks are in a similar situation as me.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your effort, as you can see it is very necessary, and this kind of moderation is equally as important as writing comments, etc.. I have looked back through the history (last month) and found about 15 regular reviewers and fewer irregulars. Which is not a lot, but to be expected for our small community. Unfortunately the influx of lower quality questions is due to the general popularity of the site (and unfortunately closing is key to keeping the quality high). $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 3 '18 at 14:38
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Around a year ago, I was one of those people who regularly had all close votes used up in a day. But then, after last year’s Winterbash was over, I decided to concentrate more on my real lab chemistry and hardly visited the site. So there goes one supplier of a lot of close votes.

I’ll be back for Winterbash at least ;)

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    $\begingroup$ Omg, it's alive! $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 5 '18 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン Did you think I poisoned myself in the lab? Although, I shouldn’t joke about some chemical form of karoshi … $\endgroup$ – Jan Dec 5 '18 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ Actually more like Fugu, or alcohol poisoning... $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 5 '18 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン Aber ich trinke die Kollegen doch unter den Tisch … And I have too much respect towards fugu to even try it. Heck, I don’t even eat mushrooms aside from Saccharomyces and various Penicillium $\endgroup$ – Jan Dec 5 '18 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ We should do that in chat... But I'm currently going out; I'll see you there later ;) $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 5 '18 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ Hat [seeker]!!! $\endgroup$ – jonsca Dec 6 '18 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ @jonsca Damn, what gave me away D= $\endgroup$ – Jan Dec 6 '18 at 15:24
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Many users are likely approaching final exams and have reduced their time on the site (as have I). If this persists in a month, it would be more interesting to see. I have noticed though that the queue has gotten longer recently. I agree that democratic closing is more prudent than unilateral action, but perhaps closing the more blatten copy and paste homework problems and/or questions with 3 close votes if you see them would help reduce the queue (and apathy for reviewers) while retaining the democratic nature.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I will be monitoring the queue more frequently to take some strain off of it. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 3 '18 at 17:51

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