There have been at least three questions today from new users that were closed quickly because they didn't align with H:SE standards and culture. I'd like to propose a change to the way we handle those questions. I'm going to quickly summarize the protocol, then I'll explain why, and then I'll finish by listing some qualms that I would appreciate community help in resolving.
When moderators spot a question that we predict will be closed, particularly if that question is from a new user, we will pre-emptively close the question, make some quick edits and then force a re-open. (mod-hammer-close, mod-edit and mod-hammer RO) If we're not sure that the edit is quite right, we'll skip the third step and post a comment asking the community to 1) recognize this as a new user, 2) Improve the edit, and/or 3) vote to re-open.
Naturally this is a selective protocol; P. Geerkens correctly points out that some closures are righteous. I think there are some questions where this protocol would help.
Why: Problem statement(s)
We have a finicky culture. I support that culture; it has evolved in response to our needs and I defend it, but it isn't easy for an outsider to grasp quickly. That is one of the reasons I drop the standard comment on so many questions - to provide guidance to resources that will help people to acclimate to H:SE.
We close fast. This is really a SE problem; it has been analyzed elsewhere (I'd be grateful to someone for a relevant link; feel free to edit it in here), but closure is what we call a "trapdoor function" - it is easier to close a question than to re-open it. (Even though the protocol should make it easier to re-open than close, empirical evidence says that closure is more frequent than re-open.) P. Geerkens (correctly) points out that some questions should be closed fast and left closed. Some questions cannot/should not be saved. I guess I'm hoping that some fraction of them could be saved.
The theory (Again, I'd appreciate a link) that closure should lead to an edit/remediation cycle, which should result in a re-opened, significantly better question. Empirical evidence says that closure is final, and that the new user is unlikely to return.
We have an anti-pattern where people will post a well intentioned partial answer to a flawed question; the question gets edited, the answer is now less relevant; this leads to multiple edits to fix one side or the other. Nobody is satisfied with the result. If we close first, edit to quality and then answer, I think we can get to a mutually happy place.
It is my impression that we have trouble keeping new users. One of my goals is to be more welcoming to, and more retentive of new users. I'd rather provide a dramatic friendly edit that gets them an answer than allow them to experience the rapid downvote/closure cycle that keeps them out of an answer. (@justcal points out "History closed 38.49% of all questions asked. We are the 13th highest closing rate (out of 176?), putting us in the top 7% for closing questions. 2 out 5 attempts to ask a question here are closed.")
There are some patterns in flawed questions from new users. Just as an example, it is very common to ask, "What is a book on X?" Which we'll close immediately. But if the question is "Why does X happen?" our culture says that the answer should include citations/references that explain. So a quick edit can transform a flawed question into question that will probably satisfy the new user, and perhaps keep them coming back.
I believe that the moderator should be an exception handler; I'd be happier if the community were to take on this task. Problem is that 1) the way that SE is set up, the community can't do the pre-emptive closure, so the community winds up splitting effort among the various tasks; the lack of coordination leads to mutual frustration.
I have opinions about quality, but I'm not sure that my opinions are universal or approved. I wish there were a way to make this more democratic/distributed. Or to provide a stronger opportunity for the community to tell moderators, "No, that's not quite where we want to go"
I'm concerned that this will be just as discouraging to new users. I feel that a friendly edit is a better experience than a permanent closure.
This is a proposal, so I'll pay careful attention to upvotes and comments, and to any answers that offer alternatives or improvements.
@Mazura points out that this is "nothing the rest of us can do. . . . you can always edit and mod hammer RO anything. True - moderators have the power to do this; I'm asking for community advice & consent. Moderators are (or should be) reluctant to exercise their power. This question solicits the community's opinion