Erroneous red dot indication on the review queues icon

For a few months now I have often seen the red dot on the review queues icon, which is meant to indicate that there are posts that have been flagged as low-quality in the queue to be reviewed. (For anyone wondering what I'm talking about, know that one must have review privileges to see the review queues icon at the top of the page.) The red dot often persists through a page refresh. When I click on the icon, there is a red dot in front of Low Quality Posts. When I do click on Low Quality Posts, I'm usually told that "This queue has been cleared!"

In other words, I often see a red dot on the review queues icon when there are no low-quality posts in the queue. This appears to be a bug.

Here are pictures from a very recent example. I took care to refresh the page immediately before I clicked on the review queues icon with the red dot.

"Oh look! One of the review queues needs my attention!"

"Aha! There are Low Quality Posts to review!"

"Fooled again!"

It's a bug!

... and IMHO not really a feature request.

I just saw the red dot appear again. And this time, the history did not change!

I even looked at the history of item in https://ham.stackexchange.com/review, to see if something there may have triggered the red dot again. Nope.

From a community manager:

The red dot is... a headache for some, it's true. But rene is correct about how it works. The dot doesn't know whether you can review anything, only if there's something to review. It'll go away for an hour if you view it but then it will return.

From what I understand the effort required to make it recognize whether you specifically have an action you can take is expensive enough (in database searches) that we can't "afford" to do it on every page load, so what we have currently is about the best we can do.

To be completely truthful, nothing has changed recently. The dot changed before I was hired two years ago - you can even see examples of me discussing it with Jon when the feature was first changed. It's possible that more review items are sitting around for longer due to there being fewer reviewers active on the site, which causes it to seem like it's broken recently.

Prior to the change, the indicator showed a number - which was usually wrong for the same reason. It'd show the number of reviews in the queue, not the number you could actually review. :D

How does the review-needed indicator work exactly?

• I've earned all the privileges short of the ones granted to moderators. I believe it is a bug: about 80% of the time I see a red dot on the icon, I click on it, then I click on the red dot on Low Quality Posts, and then I see "This queue has been cleared!" So for me, 80% of the time the red dot is erroneous. It's quite annoying. Oct 14, 2020 at 22:45
• @rclocher3 That likely means that somebody saw it first. Try refreshing the page before you click on it; if it disappears, then someone else took care of it.
– Mike Waters Mod
Oct 14, 2020 at 22:50
• @rclocher3 Can you see this one: ham.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/9832
– Mike Waters Mod
Oct 14, 2020 at 22:53
• I posted screenshots from another instance that happened to me just now. I took care to refresh the page immediately before I clicked on the red dot icon. Oct 14, 2020 at 22:59
• Mike, when I click on your link I see a page with the answer, with a box at the top that says "This item is not reviewable." Oct 14, 2020 at 23:00
• Okay, we now know that moderators can see things others cannot. That might be a bug. I see Looks Okay, Edit, Delete, and Skip. I put the Bug tag back, and removed status-by-design.
– Mike Waters Mod
Oct 15, 2020 at 3:28
• @rclocher3 Hmmm. Try searching or asking on meta.stackexchange.com. You'll probably get a better answer there than even Kevin can.
– Mike Waters Mod
Oct 15, 2020 at 3:54
• @rclocher3 This is happening to me now, for a couple of weeks or so.
– Mike Waters Mod
Nov 7, 2020 at 13:25
• @rclocher3 Lookie what I found: a History link there. Such fine print. Check out the other link there: next to Kevin and myself, you are the #3 reviewer! Good job.
– Mike Waters Mod
Nov 9, 2020 at 0:40
• It is not a bug, it is by design. To determine if there are reviews for a user is for historic reasons and design choices from the past extremely expensive, performance wise. The topbar is shown on every page. Loading the review status for each user on each page will lead to so much long running queries on the database server that the performance / load time of all pages for all users will increase dramatically. The red-dot is a rough site-wide indicator at best. It was never designed to be personalized for you.
– rene
Nov 9, 2020 at 7:55
• @rene It used to work, and for several years. Now, it's behavior has changed. Can we assume that this design change was recent (that is, during the history of this meta post)?
– Mike Waters Mod
Nov 9, 2020 at 20:56
• If I'm informed correctly there is redesign happening for the review bits and pieces, addressing UX and performance, specially for sites like Stack Overflow. Maybe some of that work already got pushed out leading to the changes you see or maybe the threshold values for when the red-dot appears have been changed / are affected. Maybe it is best for you to ping a CM in the TL to have them look these settings to confirm if they have changed. A possibility is that other factors are at play that I'm not aware of.
– rene
Nov 9, 2020 at 21:47
• Thank you, Rene! :-) @rclocher3 I can do what Rene said, but first I want to see if Kevin and Scott have anything to reply to my private message to them; possibly, this or something else has already been done.
– Mike Waters Mod
Nov 10, 2020 at 1:21
• It has been fixed.
– Mike Waters Mod
May 4, 2021 at 16:20

As of 15 October 2020, having the red dot indicator appear for reviews in the queue that the user can't review is a known issue, as evidenced by the meta.stackexchange.com question Please don't show the red dot indicator for review items I can't do that was asked back in June of 2018. The question has been tagged feature-request rather than bug. The people of Stack Exchange, Inc. must know about the issue, which to me is clearly a bug, but given that the meta question is 28 months old now, apparently they are in no hurry to fix the problem.

• I just added the bug tag there (subject to moderator approval). In the meantime, there's the History link (comment below).
– Mike Waters Mod
Nov 9, 2020 at 0:59
• And, I added this comment.
– Mike Waters Mod
Nov 9, 2020 at 1:15