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I'm curious if anyone has noticed or did any checking on possible bias in the Workplace Forum when it comes to closing threads? Yes, there is criteria for closing a question, and that criteria, although sometimes questionable itself is officially to the forum, however, what I am referring to is a bias occurring outside of that criteria. Do we know how many people have closing thread authority? How big is that pool of people, and is there any oversight built in to it?

I raise this question because I've found posts which are in my opinion clearly viable and important questions which are getting closed. I also find when one person votes to close, a cohort of others are quick to add their votes to close as well. I'm astonished how quickly the cohort follows. If high reputation members tend to be managers and supervisors themselves then it would follow they might try to vote out threads on questions which question authority, or are strongly confrontational.

I am aware that the Workplace Meta is like a form of oversight itself. However, it can also be used negatively by forcing good but confrontational questions to have to be dragged through a discussion for re-opening, and only for members who even know about the Meta site.

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    Have you looked through the help center, the main threads on how closing works and the numerous previous posts on this subject on meta? We get discussions on this from new users almost like clockwork on this site. The first and most important thing you should realise is that this is a Q&A site, not a forum. The second is likely that you should read up on how this site actually works and give yourself time to become familiar with it. You're drawing some very dubious conclusions and making some strange assumptions here. – Lilienthal Dec 17 '17 at 20:39
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    "I also find when one person votes to close, a cohort of others are quick to add their votes to close as well." - that part is clear. The rest of it, not so much. Some folks are rather quick to pass judgement on new questions. And some folks seem to rush to be the first to vote to close new questions. As far as bias - I'm not sure on what basis you see this bias occurring. What kinds of questions do you see being closed that shouldn't? I see lots and lots of questions being closed, but I'm not sure I see a pattern. – Joe Strazzere Dec 18 '17 at 19:23
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    There are no clear lines being crossed. Rather, the heavy weights on the site sometimes have an over-bearing presence which does create a bias only felt by new members, and long forgotten by long-time members. To answer you directly, I've found questions being closed on the dubious argument that some questions would require an expert to answer them. First, there are many experts on the forum, and secondly, you do not need to be an expert to begin with. – Ootagu Dec 19 '17 at 4:58
  • even if there was a bias (which I agree that there is not), the people who look at the meta the most are the "heavy weights" you are talking about. If we thought there was a bias, we would have already corrected it. Take a look at the guidelines for posting a question and if you feel any of your questions was closed unfairly open a meta post explaining which question and why it was closed unfairly. – SaggingRufus Dec 19 '17 at 16:11
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Do we know how many people have closing thread authority?

Anyone with at least 3000 reputation can vote to close (or reopen) questions.

How big is that pool of people

From here you can see there are many users with over 3000 reputation.

is there any oversight built in to it?

Yes, a few ways. First, anyone who has over 3000 reputation can also vote to reopen. Second, if you do not or feel strongly, you can always open a question on this meta site - if you look back you will see many of them. This increases visibility to the questions you want reopened.

I raise this question because I've found posts which are in my opinion clearly viable and important questions which are getting closed

Feel free to open meta discussions on these types of questions. Or discuss them in the Workplace Chat which is normally pretty active.

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    It's also fairly common to post a comment under the question questioning the close votes and offering a reason why the question should be left open. – Snow Dec 19 '17 at 6:44
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As enderland points out

anyone who has over 3000 reputation can also vote to reopen.

Before a question is [closed], it is marked as [on hold]. This doesn't mean that there isn't a viable question in there somewhere, but that the question is off-topic in its current state. The intent is often to put a question [on hold] to prevent answers on a poorly written question so that it can be edited, fixed, and reopened.

Obviously there are many questions that are not salvageable or that require more information from an OP who never returns, but the important thing is that closing questions is not permanent and they can always be fixed and reopened. As enderland said, if you feel that is the case, then post about that specific question in Meta to request that it be reopened.

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There's far from bias. We often get into rather heated disagreements in Chat over the open/close votes and there have been debates both in meta and on chat as to if we are to aggressive.

The oversight is the battles in chat, the fact that you can only vote to close once, and 5 other members can vote to reopen. Then there is meta, and the moderators themselves.

So, no, no bias, yes, plenty of checks and balances.

  • Some clarification, you can only vote to close or open once on a particular question in a given timeframe (something like two months?). – user53718 Dec 26 '17 at 7:27

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