I won't belabor the research by repeating it here. It's been described in exhaustive detail at this post.
The executive summary:
Closing, editing and reopening all become more effective.
Can we do the same here?
Some of you may have noticed the Meta Stack Exchange post - Testing three-vote close and reopen on 13 network sites (it's linked in the featured on meta sidebar) - we've finally got this project under way and Software Engineering is one of the sites we'll be running the test on.
Starting tomorrow, I'll be changing the site setting and closing and reopening will require only three votes. This test will run for 45 days and will be turned back to five votes to close and reopen while I review the data from the 13 sites. After we've seen the impact, I'll be posting results and, if there aren't negative impacts, we will change the setting to three permanently.
A few weeks into this, I'll be posting a question here on meta to ask for your thoughts about this change, so you will have an opportunity to discuss the impact.
Thank you so much for your patience while we got this prioritized and scheduled. There's a lot more information in the MSE post, so please review it.
I understand that this is a re-test for y'all - we did this a while back and the results weren't awesome. What I will say is that we're looking at slightly different things now and it's completely possible that the problem y'all are facing is different than it was at the time. Over a 60 day period, only 38% of posts that were flagged as close-worthy (received at least one vote or flag to close) completed review - this includes posts that were closed and posts that were marked "leave open".
The big concern I have here is what that means about the 62% that were unhandled. They could be close-worthy or they could be just fine but, because there aren't people reviewing, we don't actually know. It would be bad if more stuff that shouldn't be closed got closed and, to some degree, that's a matter (which is not easy) of getting the community on board with when a question should be open or closed.
This test won't make more people review. We've been making changes to the review queues that we're hoping will make reviewing more interesting and easy for people with the privilege to do it - but reviewing is not an easy process, even less so on sites where there's confusion or disagreement about what should be open or closed. So we'll end up on relying on the opinions of only three people - which may just be all that are willing to participate in review.
Happy to hear what y'all think about the test either here, on MSE or on the midway post I'll put up in a few weeks.
As I wrote in the comments above, I first was very sceptical about this change when Robert asked for it. In the meantime, however, my opinion changed a bit and I think the positive effects of the change most probably outweigh the negative ones.
Don't get me wrong, I still have the strong opinion there are currently too many community members around here who don't behave nicely:
downvoting and closing question with minor issues or no apparent issues (at least not apparent to me, so maybe my fault?)
refuse to give constructive or specific feedback to askers which are willing to improve their question (last example here, where after a full week of silence Thomas Owens finally was gracious enough to write a kind of answer I had expected to get from one of the initial high-rep close-voters).
stay away from curating questions actively, though they have more than enough rep for being able to do so
stay away from any reflective discussion like this one about the groups self-moderating style
mark questions frequently as duplicates of older questions which are way-too-general (or simply unsuitable) for giving the asker a helpful answer
give me the impression the only moderation tools they know are the downvote and the close vote button.
My fear was that the influence of those community members would increase even more when they now get a chance to close reasonable questions with just three votes, and probably it has become now. And I still don't buy Robert Harvey's argument that quick closing will motivate more askers to improve their question, so 3 reopen votes will actually lead to more improved, reopened questions, balancing the formerly described, IMHO abusive behaviour.
On the other hand, I see this site being still flooded with way more unsuitable questions than ones which might be salvaged, and these kind of posts now vanish a lot more quickly than before from the site. So there is probably some collateral damage I have to accept here. And the fact Thomas gets a little bit unburdened from cleaning up cumbersome stuff is definitely a positive one.
Of course, all what I wrote above is not based on any statistics, just my personal impression, so I am looking forward to see a statistical summary at the end of the experiment.
I can understand why you are willing to try the way that has proven to work so well at Stack Overflow. I am observing it for about half year now and it looks really impressive and, which is especially promising, it seems to be free from (serious) negative side effects.
On the other hand, there is no guarantee that this will work well here. Rather opposite, I think we better be sceptical because as was pointed in comments we already experimented with such a change about five years ago and back then, results weren't encouraging.
Speaking of that prior experiment, I decided to re-visit and study past discussions about how it went (here, here and here) to see what we can learn from it. I found lots of insightful considerations posted back then and I strongly recommend checking these.
That said, studying these prior discussions left me uncertain about whether it is worth having this change now or not. Some points for or against it I've seen were apparently relevant back then but seem to be no longer applicable. It was particularly striking to discover that my own reservations against this change no longer hold.
It looks like in the years that passed site has changed too much to rely on analysis and conclusions made back then.
We had site name change (which seemed to have much more profound impact than I anticipated), we had a noticeable change in the way how diamond moderators approach blatantly off-topic questions. I think we even had some shift in topicality due to successful rise of the sites that handle law and open source topics (can't say for others but to me this changed alot in the way how I approach these topics at our site).
Suming up above, I think we could give this change yet another try - run an experiment with 3 close / reopen votes for a month or two and study how it works. Maybe this time it will help getting reopen votes work like it did at Stack Overflow (it failed in our previous experiment but reasons for that seem to no longer hold).