# Learning from previous review decisions

As a new review queue user, I'm slightly intimidated by the possibility of misjudging a new post's quality. I would find it comforting to see how other, more experienced, users have reviewed in the past in order to judge my response. I know that it is possible to go to a specific user's profile and see their review history, and individually look to see any edits that were made to actions tagged as review, but is there a more intuitive way to judge what the general response is to posts? A kind of history of reviews, with their outcomes?

As an addendum; how have other users gotten the feel for review queues? Trial and error? Would love to hear thoughts.

• I asked a very similar question a year ago: meta.stats.stackexchange.com/questions/2147. It became clear in the comments discussion that one needs 10k reputation to see the review queue history. Too bad. – amoeba Apr 13 '15 at 22:40
• Thanks, @amoeba, that's really helpful. I didn't find your question when I was looking and the links / discussion made for good reading. That is indeed too bad, because that's exactly what I was looking for. I believe that would make mine a duplicate, unless others are inclined to answer the second part pertaining to how they personally got to grips with the system. Thanks for the thoughts! – Chris C Apr 13 '15 at 23:30
• Just my opinion, but it doesn't seem to me that this Q needs to be closed. I would think we can be more liberal w/ discussion Q's on meta.CV. – gung - Reinstate Monica Apr 14 '15 at 2:29

I have a lot of sympathy. I still find it hard to judge reviews a lot of the time.

The system gives much less feedback/information than it would be useful to know, especially when you're just starting out.

1) skip what you're quite unsure of. Someone else will deal with it.

2) on the other hand, don't be afraid of making the occasional mistake -- we all do. Fortunately, things aren't only relying on you.

3) The two review queues you can access are ones that are often fine. Your task is mostly to notice the problem posts. One way is to look at it as having layers like an onion:

• is there some very bad problem that needs to be addressed? (spam, something really offensive, a user under 13 giving personal information, or something else that clearly contravenes the user agreement)

For the big problems, most of the time, you just flag it, and move on. It's a moderator's problem now. If you can vote to close or whatever, feel free to do that. But the flag's the important one.

• new users' first posts often need an edit. You can suggest edits. Don't worry about it if it's just one or two spelling mistakes in unimportant words. Make at least some substantive changes, rather than only cosmetic ones - though titles tend to be more important, so lean toward fixing those. Often posts need a lot of work -- suggest good tags, fix obvious formatting problems, try to make the post clear. If you do decide there's enough of a problem there to edit something, then fix everything you can (so once you're editing, then fix minor spelling errors too).

• with first posts, you're also serving an educational function. New users often don't understand how things work. If it doesn't seem like anything you should flag or vote on (if you can vote to close, say), maybe you can post a comment to suggest something to the user. New users may not know where the help is, for example (even though they need it), or that you can't post questions in answers, or how community norms for homework go or any of a vast number of other issues. You have a chance to give the site a friendly face and the new user a nudge in the right direction.

• don't pass up the opportunity to upvote a first question or first answer that's pretty good. If the poster has put effort in to make a decent question or answer, encourage them. If you suggest some fix to them (or someone else does) and they fix it ... vote it up then. Encouraging people when they're doing well is at least as important as the guidance we offer on posts with problems.

I don't think that you can vote to close yet, so you may not have that option (you'll see what you can do when you use the queue).

One thing you can do to see how posts were handled (whether you did anything or not) is to paste the URL somewhere (right click the title when you review it and you should have an option to either copy the address or open it in a new tab, or possibly both), and then come back a while later (or the next day if need be), and load that location to take a look at the post. Was it deleted? Put on hold by community vote? Held by a moderator? Edited? Commented on?

For example, while I was typing my answer, this question was in the first post review queue. Take a look at it now to see how it was dealt with. Two users voted to close as too broad (five users with enough privilege to do so can close a post that way), and a moderator agreed (so the post closed right away). There were other problems with the post of course, but the most important thing is dealt with.

You'll sometimes see things happen you don't agree with (it happens to me every day). If it's a really big deal you can either respond to a comment with polite comment in response (but the main aim with comments should be to do things to improve the post), or if there was an action you really think is mistaken to the extent that it's a problem, you could bring it up on meta.

• This is fantastic advice, and I will remember it. Thank you Glen_b, it's very kind of you to spend time helping less experiences users such as myself. – Chris C Apr 14 '15 at 13:39
• Good answer! Perhaps you want to include this link in the second bullet under the advice #3. It has an answer guiding towards writing and editing better titles. Tks. – Andre Silva Apr 14 '15 at 15:18
• Great link, @AndreSilva, very useful. – Chris C Apr 14 '15 at 16:01

@Glen_b has provided a nice answer. I agree with most everything (except—being very opinionated by nature—that it's hard to judge a lot of reviews). Here's my 2¢:

Just go ahead and do something. Do whatever seems like the right thing to you, but do something. There isn't necessarily any such thing as the 'right' action really anyway. For the most part, what turns out to be 'right' emerges from the collective actions of the community. For that to be the case, you need to throw your actions into the mix.

Even if your opinion goes against the consensus, it is difficult to do much harm. If you leave a comment that someone else disagrees with, they can leave another comment. Edits can be rolled back. A flag can be declined by the moderators. It would take four additional close votes to actually close a question, but it can be re-opened without much difficulty. Etc.

Just give it your best shot and do something. In my opinion, most new posts need some editing, so edit. Many new questions need some kind of additional information or clarification that the OP doesn't recognize, so leave them a comment. If there is nothing worth editing and no comments are necessary, that suggests (to my mind) that an upvote is in order. Or you could just leave a friendly comment (e.g., "Welcome to CV.") as @kjetilbhalvorsen often does. Just do something and you'll be fine.

• This is great advice, and very reassuring to know that it's okay to take some risks as a newbie. Do the mods and high rep users such as yourself often look to see if a newer reviewer such as myself is making good decisions? I imagine that might be time consuming. – Chris C Apr 14 '15 at 17:59
• I mostly don't. I don't know about others. – gung - Reinstate Monica Apr 14 '15 at 18:00
• +1 This is good. The middle section is largely what I was trying to get at in my point 2), but far better expressed. – Glen_b Apr 14 '15 at 22:53
• ChrisC -- I haven't really investigated someone else's reviews in that way. It's possible one might occasionally notice if someone is regularly voting in what seem to be odd ways -- but it's typically not obvious from the usual interaction with the system. That's not to say I've never looked at someone's recent reviews, since I have done so once or twice, but not in order to judge their overall performance. If there was a reason to (if something seemed off or the person asked me to, or perhaps some kind of script flagged a potential problem) I would take more of a look. ... (ctd) – Glen_b Apr 14 '15 at 23:06
• (ctd) But there are some checks built in to make sure people are actually looking at the reviews. For example, at some point later it's possible you might strike a 'fake' review once in a rare while, which the review system might throw at you. These tend to have an obvious decision (such as being obvious spam or vandalism or just nonsense), and if you happen to skip one it's not a problem (you're allowed to be unsure) -- but if you skip them every time, or make a number of pretty obviously wrong choices, it suggests you're not paying attention to the review process. (ctd) – Glen_b Apr 14 '15 at 23:13
• (ctd) I don't think they happen in all queues though, so you might not strike one of those for a good while. – Glen_b Apr 14 '15 at 23:14
• @Glen_b, sorry I just noticed your reply! I've been following your advice and keeping questions open in a new tab to see what the review decision is. I think I'll be doing a lot more watching than deciding for the near future. It's good to know about the "fake" reviews, and I will definitely watch out for them. Thanks again for the help. – Chris C Apr 20 '15 at 15:30
• There are some other ways to work I didn't mention. You should be able to get back to questions you've given a review decision on in your own review history (under all actions on your user page), for example. It's not really important to watch for the fake reviews. While it's certainly okay to watch how decisions go, if you lean one way on a review, just take that choice (and then see how it comes out). It won't hurt anything if your opinion differs from someone else's - that's why it normally takes multiple people to make a review (except for mods; their choices are applied immediately...) – Glen_b Apr 20 '15 at 16:53