I see a little number 3 left of the review button on the main site. Usually a number there indicates that there are suggested edits, but when I click on it and end up in the review page, all queues are empty (also on meta). I assume this has something to do with moderator tools (10k tools), but I found nothing in the tool page that would match that number and actions with those tools leave the number unchanged. The number has been there for several days, I can't remember exactly.

What does this number indicate? I assume it refers to some moderation duties to be carried out, but I have no clue as to what they might be.

  • Very odd, for sure. Between the review queues and the 10k tools, I'd expect to be able to find something, but I don't. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 21:37
  • @Nathaniel, it's good to know I'm not the only one seeing this.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 22:04
  • & @Nathaniel Just want to point out that it's gone. Perhaps one of us hadn't checked their review yet?
    – cmw Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 19:27
  • @C.M.Weimer Two of the posts I called out got a "Looks OK" vote since then, and I believe that the threshold for that counter appearing is 2, so that's why it's now gone. Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


I believe that the counter is showing a "3" because several posts that were flagged as "low quality" appear to remain unresolved.

First of all: as C. M. Weimer says, the counter is showing the total number of pending reviews in the system. When the feature was rolled out, there was a lot of consternation about this, because many people wanted an individual counter, not an overall counter. But that would be too resource intensive, so the SE developers didn't implement it that way. See: Notification for reviews shows way too many.

Theoretically, then, the "3" could appear for several reasons:

  1. You (as an individual) have something you could review in one of the six review queues
  2. You clicked "skip" on something in one of the review queues, causing it to disappear from your own queue but remain present in the system
  3. You took an action, but other people have to take action as well before it disappears

Several of us agree that we have nothing in any of the six review queues, so (1) doesn't apply. Personally, I know that I haven't skipped anything, so (2) at least doesn't apply to me.

That leaves (3). Several actions require multiple reviews before they are "resolved," and they are:

  • Close votes
  • Reopen votes
  • Suggested edits
  • Low quality posts

The 10k tools page reveals that there are zero questions that have outstanding close or reopen votes, so that's not it. That leaves suggested edits and low quality posts. For a suggested edit to be resolved, it needs either two votes for approval, two votes for rejection, or one vote either way by the OP. Right now, according to the history, every suggested edit has been resolved one way or another.

So that leaves us with low-quality posts. The process for low-quality posts is that first they pass through the Low Quality Posts queue, where users with 1k or more reputation can "recommend deletion." But in order for these posts to be "resolved," one of five things has to happen:

  • Six users (>1k rep) recommend deletion (source)
  • Three users (>4k rep) vote to delete (we don't have anyone with this privilege at the moment)
  • One moderator deletes
  • A substantial edit
  • Several users say "Looks OK" (see When is a post removed from a review queue?)

The history of our Low Quality Posts review queue reveals that there are probably three answers that have not fulfilled any of these criteria:

  • The first has two "Recommend Deletion" and one "Looks OK"
  • The second has three "Recommend Deletion".
  • The third has two "Recommend Deletion" and two "Looks OK"

I believe that it's these three answers that are still "pending" and causing the counter to show "3."

So what do we do?

It's unlikely that we'll get Stack Exchange to change the behavior of this counter. So what can we do to get the counter to zero?

  • Probably the least viable option would be to wait until we have three users with 4k rep. They would be able to delete the offending posts if they all agreed.
  • Alternatively, we could encourage all 1k-users to go to the low-quality posts queue and review. But even if they do, reaching six recommend deletion votes is tough to do for a small site like this.
  • The simplest approach would be for a moderator to delete or preserve the three answers. It may still be several weeks before we get our own moderators, so asking a community manager (like Robert) to address these would be our only short-term option to clear these out.

However, let's also consider that on many sites, particularly medium and large ones, the counter at the top of the screen is a fact of life for all 10k users: it simply doesn't go away.

It's theoretically possible for each site's moderators to unilaterally clear all the review queues to keep the counter from appearing. But that's not how Stack Exchange is designed to work: the community is to be involved in moderation, not just moderators, and that means that moderation can take time.

In the long run, we'll keep the counter down by working together to flag and review questionable posts, with moderators taking action in egregious cases or once the community has expressed itself through reviews.

  • 1
    Thank you for a very thorough answer! Now I understand the number better, but I still find it confusing and annoying. It shouldn't be that hard to tell what the three posts are...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 15:13

That number does not indicate the number of items to be reviewed for you, but for everyone.

More can be found here: https://rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/a/5950

I'll reproduce it here since it's relevant:

The review queue notification isn't actually specific to you. It's a sum total of the number reviews waiting across the site for anyone. It will appear on RPG.SE anytime there's at least 3 total reviews currently in the queues.

Anyone over 10k sees it, which also means it bugs every 10k user to go empty all the review queues so it'll go away faster. :)

Consider it a sort of site health indicator. If that number's large, something big's happening, including maybe one of the Stack Exchange devs just expanded the set of questions that get auto-added to queues and a ton of old stuff went in. If the number's increasing, people aren't pulling their weight in the review queues and it's probably time to bang some pots and pans on Meta and get people moving.

  • Thanks! It's quite annoying and counter-intuitive to have a that number bug me when I have emptied all the queues on my behalf, but I guess I just have to live with it. Or post a feature request.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 22:13
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Feature request, please! It annoys me as well. From what I understand, though, it would be too taxing on the system for it to report something different for everybody. I don't buy that at all, but there you have it.
    – cmw Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 22:22
  • I'm not sure this actually answers the question, because all the review queues appear to be empty (all zeroes, and nothing recent in the history that indicates something I've skipped), and the 10k tools page shows no pending close votes or reopen votes. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:04
  • @Nathaniel The thread I linked to links to another, where you can see it in action: meta.stackexchange.com/q/230742
    – cmw Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:26
  • @Nathaniel Since we have no 10k users yet, that means we can't see what's going on there, no? I'm really not sure about this whole thing.
    – cmw Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:27
  • @C.M.Weimer The 10k permissions are given to everyone with 2k on a public beta site, and in fact that's why we have this counter that never goes away (it's only visible to five of us right now). I have half a mind to attempt to prove that something is wrong with the counter in a new MSE post, but downvoters are cruel there... Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:33
  • @Nathaniel Might there be some way to notify someone? Perhaps post an answer here and we can link it to Robert Cartaino? The sooner, the better, too! I've been seeing it on myth.SE for a while, though it went away once (and now is back and even higher).
    – cmw Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:37
  • 1
    I have understood that SE staff follows the feature request tag on all metas, so posting a question with that tag would reach them. It might also work better to contact them with an explicit request than this post. I'm writing a request now. (Also @Nathaniel.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 8:18

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