Nick's call to clear the review queue pointed out a hole in how the system works.
I consider myself a active user. I look at the questions sorted by recent activity, then enter those that seem to be about a topic of interest, where I can help, that don't already have a accepted answer, not a lot of answers, and neither Spehro nor Andy are listed as having made the most recent change (Spehro and Andy consistantly write great answers, so there is likely much less useful or me to add). I also enter those that look like disasters that need to be purged from the system expediently. As a result, I look at a lot of questions.
In reading these questions, I am basically performing a review task most of the time. I would like to be able to tell the system explicitly that I've reviewed the question and taken whatever actions I feel are necessary (which could be none). There should be a "reviewed" button right next to the "share", "edit", "close", and "flag", buttons.
Right now, the system has no way of knowing that I've read a question but didn't feel any action was necessary. I think the system doesn't even consider that I have reviewed a question by voting on it, leaving a comment, or writing a answer. A first vote to close puts it in the review queue, but doesn't seem to count toward being reviewed.
The benefits of a reviewed button would be:
- I wouldn't see the question in any review queue, unless perhaps it is edited afterwards. A smaller review queue makes it more likely I'll do anything about it. When I see the red box with 100 in it, it feels too overwhelming, so I never get around to it. If it was 5, it would feel less like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon, so I might actually do it.
- Others can see that you're doing your share. Like it or not, active users lead by example. If they are shown doing some of the janitorial work, others may be willing to pitch in too. The reverse is also true. "Olin gets away with never doing the grunt work, so why should I bother?"
In the question linked to above, one established user wrote a comment possibly implying that by voting to close questions I actually make the problem worse, since that's how they got into the review queue in the first place. Since voting to close when encountering a question isn't considered a review by the system, I can sortof see how they get this impression. Why should the first review of a question be less valuable than subsequent ones?
- A deliberate review action without a close vote can be counted as a leave-open vote. Perhaps I'm wrong about this, but I thought that reviewing a question in the close queue and voting to leave open counted differently than simply not voting at all. I thought that some number of leave-open votes in the review queue can actually cancel close votes.
If I'm wrong about that, then nevermind. If not, then a click on REVIEWED without a close vote should be the same as a leave-open vote. However, the formula may need to be adjusted because there will likely be a different mix of people that now cast leave-open votes.
- It more fairly would count to the various review-related badges. I personally don't put much stock in badges, but since they exist, they should be handled fairly. There seeem to be some people that go out of their way to do janitorial work. They should be recognized for that.