In recent times I have often noticed that some questions are heading for closure but it feels like they take a little longer to get over the line of five votes, or don't even get to closure, more so than they used to. I think part of the cause could be that in our moderator elections we chose some of our most active close-voters as moderators. My thoughts are that moderators are holding back on close votes, compared to when they were ordinary users, because they have definitive close votes, i.e. their close votes immediately close the question.
In fact, I asked a question of the moderators in the Biosphere today, addressing this issue:
"Do you find now that you vote to close less often than before being a mod because your close votes are definite?"
The answers received from our two of three moderators so far:
"I certainly do that. I try not to decide on my own and let this to the community. I sometimes cast the 5th vote though."
"yep.. I avoid VTCing.."
So perhaps my suspicions were correct, we are not getting questions closed as quickly as we did. The question now is, can we do something about it?
What I propose is the ability for mods to choose the strength of their close vote. Would it be possible to have mods being given the option to cast a vote worth one or five votes when voting to close? This seems like it would be quite simple to do, and would help bring three formerly influential closers back in to the main pool of closers (which is quite small, maybe 10-15 people regularly casting closure votes - see notes below), encouraging more rapid democratic closures.
Mods could then cast a five-vote closure when it is obvious that the question should be closed (e.g. it's about physics or math etc.), and a one-vote closure if they feel it is more of a community decision (typically for borderline cases e.g. personal medical questions and primarily opinion based closures often generate discussion about whether the question should be closed). I suspect that mods are less inclined to vote with mod-powers on these more borderline cases thus a one-vote closure.
Of course, as a community I think we do quite a good job already, so it's not a major issue, but we can always do better, and I think this would be one way of improving.
Notes on the pool of closers:
There have been three steward badges awarded for close vote review activity (>1000 reviews of close votes, either voted for or declined to vote for closure) of which one is to a current moderator.
There have been 11 reviewer badges awarded for close voting (>250 reviews of close votes) of which two are to a current moderator, leaving nine people who have gone through 250 closure reviews.
It is worth noting that MadScientist has been a long term moderator, and is the only mod without the reviewer badge, perhaps suggesting MadScientist has held back for a long time, as would be expected given what I have written here.
The close vote badges awarded to our current mods were earned before becoming mods.
It is worth remembering that the mods are here not just to be mods, they are also part of the community that asks and answers questions, sometimes it's good to hear their opinions as users and members of our community, not just as mods.