So today I went to check the review queues, as per usual, and found the following message:

Please take more time when reviewing in the future. Take a moment to look through your previous reviews to see where your choices have differed the resulting action. In the future, please read each review carefully - not just skim.
Come back in 8 days to continue reviewing.

I have a few questions about this.

  1. Most importantly, why? I'd like to know what to learn from this. For months now I've been dedicated to the review queues, checking them every time I log in. I believe I have completed more reviews of each type than any other user, and have always been conscientious about it, thinking carefully about whether a question really deserves to be closed, whether a suggested edit really improves the post, etc. I'd like to know what I've done that's off so that I can improve when I'm allowed to access the queues again. Not just for my own sake: since I'm such an active user, it would be good for the site if I know how to improve my reviewing skills (unless I get a permanent review ban).

  2. How was it done - manually or automatically? If automatically, is there a possibility that it was done in error?

  3. I can't even parse the message I got. Does "where your choices have differed the resulting action" mean where they've differed from the resulting action - i.e. I voted to close a question and others voted to leave open, or whatever - or where they've made a difference to the resulting action? (I guess this answers my 2nd question: one would hope that an automatically generated message would at least be in correct English.)

    • If the former, what's the problem? Is having a differing view from the majority not acceptable at SE? Do I have to "follow the sheep" in order not to get banned? (Note that my vote isn't worth any more than anyone else's: I don't have a "close-hammer" like the mods. It's not as though my voting differently from others could create a huge problem that would need 5 other votes to rectify.)

    • If the latter, I can't see what the problem is either. Surely the whole point of reviewing is in order to make a (positive) difference to the site?

I've had a look on main meta, but all I've found is this, which doesn't really help me. (As a side issue, how on earth do the review queues work at SO? I don't understand half the lingo used in that question!)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This seems like it could apply to any site, not just Puzzling. Maybe take it to meta.SE? $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 0:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I've never seen a review ban message like that, so I'm guessing it was probably a manual ban. See this post. Side question: do you guys get review audits here? $\endgroup$
    – mmking
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 0:41
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ "...well, it wouldn't be the first time one of them has been out to get me." Again with this? Seriously? Yes, it was a manual ban. No, it wasn't because we're out to get you; it was because of a list of bad reviews and clear evidence that you're not paying enough attention. I apologize for the unclear ban message; I assumed it would appear next to something more descriptive, and I was distracted. There's a longer answer incoming later. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 0:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I got the same ban once, just after I had obtained the review privileges. I didn't ask for details, but I was sure that I wasn't paying enough attention when reviewing. Now I'm more careful in this delicate task, I think that my ban was somehow "didactic". $\endgroup$
    – leoll2
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ The "sheeple" problem is exactly why automatic review bans are only based on audits, [not consensus. $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 2:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JoshCaswell There's no review audits on Puzzling.SE, which means there are no automatic review bans here. $\endgroup$
    – mmking
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 16:42

1 Answer 1

  1. You approved several edits that added blatantly incorrect formatting (and incorrectly rejected others). You voted to reopen / leave open several posts that were obvious duplicates. You claimed that a number of posts that clearly go against site policy "Look OK." Likewise for questions that should have been closed. Oh, and this one—come on, seriously?!

    I believe I have completed more reviews of each type than any other user

    This isn't necessarily a good thing. In fact, a large quantity of inaccurate or unthoughtful reviews can be, and is, detrimental to the quality of the site. The simple fact that you have clicked a button a greater amount of times than anybody else has no significance whatsoever.

  2. The ban was applied manually, and no, we most assuredly did not apply it in error.

  3. First off, after a careful rereading, it is understandable that you may have found the ban message unclear and vague. It is of the utmost importance that the procedures and actions of moderators (and all users) are as transparent as possible, and I (and the other moderators, I'm sure) will do my best to accurately communicate any further thoughts with all due precision in the future.

    No, "following the 'sheeple'" is not what you are expected to do in order not to be review-banned, or anything of the sort. However, when a significantly large quantity of your reviews directly contradict the general view of the rest of the community, this can signify that a problem may exist. It is true that this does not necessarily guarantee that there is an issue with the way you are reviewing (and the ban message was poorly worded on this front). However, it is a very strong signal, and can be a determining factor when deciding whether to look into the review history of and/or review ban a user.

(note: this answer does not represent the views of any other moderator/user, and I'm sure I left something out. This is by no means a comprehensive answer; it is simply my thoughts on the matter.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your response; I'm beginning to understand what the issue was. I've also thought about "please read each review carefully - not just skim" and concluded that you may have thought I wasn't taking it seriously because of my speed of reviewing. But please bear in mind that when I come across e.g. a First Post, it's usually one I've ALREADY seen and decided what to do with, so I don't need to read it again when I find it in the review queue. I prefer to cast close votes, review first posts, etc. actually in the review queue so that it's visible how much of this review work I'm doing. $\endgroup$ Commented May 28, 2015 at 10:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The same goes for the self-eval queue. I probably completed my survey quicker than most, but this doesn't mean I took it less seriously or put less thought into it. As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm very active on the site; I'd already seen almost all those questions and had an opinion on them already (some of them I'd even answered myself). For the few I wasn't familiar with such as the PolynumCrypt question, I took a longer time to review them. $\endgroup$ Commented May 28, 2015 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ I haven't got time now, but I'd also like to address quickly the individual examples you gave of bad reviewing - either to defend my decisions or to say how such mistakes came to be made (both of which could be useful for others' future reference). Perhaps we should start a meta post on "how to approach review queues", so that clear guidance is in place and review bans like this happen less often? $\endgroup$ Commented May 28, 2015 at 11:12
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor From a thorough look at your review history, it is clear that you are not paying nearly as much attention as you should when in the review queues. The (rather large) list of reviews mentioned here isn't even comprehensive; these are simply the worst offenders. Again, inaccurate or careless reviews can be even worse than no review at all. The only thing you have to do is to be more meticulous and attentive when reviewing posts; otherwise, the entire purpose of the queues is defeated. $\endgroup$
    – Doorknob
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 11:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks; I get the point. I still think a general meta post on how to approach review queues would be useful... $\endgroup$ Commented May 28, 2015 at 19:58

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