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Moderators can directly close a question. This is OK, but I think it would be useful if they would be forced to leave a comment, if they do so.

I understand, that users who vote to close should not be forced. This is OK, because in this case there are several people with the same opinion, so the reason for the closure should be mostly obvious. But in case of direct closing by a moderator the situation might be not that clear.

Therefore I would suggest: Moderators should be able to vote to close a question whithout being forced to leave a comment. And they should be able to directly close a question, but then it should be mandatory (or encouraged?) to leave a comment.

What do you think?

Edit: I got many downvotes for this and want just to explain a bit:

I think most people invest a significant amount of time before asking here. The closing of a question is something that may be useful for the site, but can make affected people angry (even if the reason for closing is valid). This feels even worse, if only one moderator decided to do this. If there would be a constructive comment (for instance "Please provide the code, that produces the error"), I think it would be much better.

Even, if you do not agree, please consider if this is really a question, that is not useful.

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If you have particularly hard time figuring out what's wrong using only the close reason provided by system, you can always ask on meta. –  Mołot Sep 11 '13 at 10:37
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They already do leave a reason, the close message they chose when closing or putting on hold. If however you're unsure what that message means, then you need search for that, as it's 99.9% likely been asked 100+ times before –  James Sep 11 '13 at 10:41
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@James I think most times it is clear, what the message means. But sometimes it might not be clear how this relates to the question. –  Alois Heimer Sep 11 '13 at 10:47
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Can you give an example? –  James Sep 11 '13 at 10:49
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Not really anymore, because my question was only closed by accident, as it turned out some seconds ago. –  Alois Heimer Sep 11 '13 at 10:51
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And presumably in those rare cases a moderator can leave a comment. If you force a comment everytime most of the time you'll have comments along the lines of "Yeah, what the huge text said" –  Richard Tingle Sep 11 '13 at 10:52
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Well, Andrew has reopened the question. On this occasion you are completely correct in that the close reason was not clear, but only because it was closed in error. Any chosen close-message would likely be unclear if there was no reason to close. –  James Sep 11 '13 at 10:58
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Ain't nobody got time for that. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 11 '13 at 11:14
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That's as productive as requiring every policeman and -woman to explain every law in detail (including its history) when they make an arrest. –  Pëkka Sep 11 '13 at 11:23
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@notPekka analogy with police hardly applies: there can be only as many police officers as budget can afford, no more then that. This is far from being the case with mods. As an example, at last elections I shortlisted 7-8 candidates (not counting ChrisF), everyone of them a good fit - it was only SE decision to to get only 3 of them, not 5 nor 9. Every time I read oh nobody got time for that I wonder what's stopping SE of getting more moderators –  gnat Sep 11 '13 at 13:43
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@AloisHeimer Just a note; The down votes on this question are likely due to disagreement with the proposal you've made here. You've not complained about that, but I thought I'd mention it. Also, a suggestion: You are welcome to post questions here which are about specific posts and what happened with them. There's even a tag for it: specific-question –  Andrew Barber Sep 11 '13 at 16:46
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@AndrewBarber I only can tell, that it feels completely intransparent, if you disagree with the reason for closure. I know, you closed my question by accident. But in that situation I did not know whether the comment I leaved would reach you. I did nowhere saw the possibility mentioned to ask for a specific question in meta. If the proposal, I made, would be in place, your comment would certainly have made clear, that it must be a mistake. But yes, I too can understand, that this would not make the work of a moderator easier. –  Alois Heimer Sep 11 '13 at 17:21

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is already done in a sense —

When a question is closed without comment on a beta site, the system automatically flags the post to be sure someone is checking that there is sufficient guidance around any action taken. It's not forced, per se, because frankly, there are many times it is not needed.

There may already be sufficient discussion around the closure, or the reason for the closure may simply be self-evident. Leaving useful comments is good community/moderation practice in general, but forcing someone to leave a comment regardless of the surrounding circumstances could just be noise and busy work… where understanding the best practices of community moderation in general should be sufficient.

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Questions, that were closed without leaving a comment, beeing flagged, is what comes closest to my proposal of requiring / encouraging these comments. I therefore select this as accepted answer, despite the practical problems @Gilles mentioned. –  Alois Heimer Sep 12 '13 at 10:13

I don't think that's necessary (or productive).

The most common cases are already covered by the close reason messages (which have been improved quite a bit recently).

And in those rare cases where that alone is unclear, the moderator can still leave a comment.

And if it's really unclear, you can still raise a question on Meta.

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The close message seems to suffer from a "too big to read" syndrome. I wonder if it would be helpful for community to repost the close reason as a comment –  Richard Tingle Sep 11 '13 at 10:42
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Surely that would make it "too small to find" syndrome :P –  James Sep 11 '13 at 10:52

It's expected that if a moderator takes a course of action that is not obviously prescribed by the quality or content of a post in the context of the explanation of the close reason that they'll leave a comment. If we were to make commenting mandatory when a single binding vote was used, we'd be putting metaphorical weights around the ankles of our moderators

Moderators have a saying, comments save lives, and they are consistently good at leaving them when they suspect that their decision might be called into question later. There will always be times when the reason for an action was so obvious to them that they fail to do this, but it's not very often.

Users have the ability to do the following things if they desire an explanation for, or wish to contest the actions of a moderator (preferably, in this order):

  1. Leave a comment to the moderator asking why the action was taken
  2. If unsatisfied, post a discussion on their meta site to see if the community agrees with the closing
  3. If still unsatisfied, contact us, the Stack Exchange community team directly

If a situation ever arose where a moderator misused their binding vote consistently enough to warrant a feature like this, then the proper course of action would be to find out why they felt that they need to take these actions, and get to the broader root of the problem - a point at which we'd definitely be involved.

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This is a really good answer. I'm about to bust into my Jack Nicholson monologue from a Few Good Men -- that's how good that answer is. YOU WANT ME ON THAT WALL. YOU NEED ME ON THAT WALL. –  George Stocker Sep 11 '13 at 11:24
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@GeorgeStocker Moderators do neither have the time nor the inclination to explain themselves to a man that rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that they provide, and then questions the manner in which they provide it? ;) –  nijansen Sep 11 '13 at 12:50

I don't believe we should be forced to, but there are reasons why we sometimes will and sometimes won't leave a comment on a post.

I try to leave a comment when I close a question organically. For instance, I just closed this question, and I left multiple comments explaining the problem.

The reason I [try to] leave a comment when I'm closing a question organically (as opposed to reacting to flags in the moderator queue) is that normally no one else has left a comment, and so it's conceivable the OP could be confused as to why their question is closed. It's also because people tend to react more adversely to a moderator closing a question than they are if five people close it.

For me, putting a question 'on hold' is a way to help improve the community. We get thousands of questions per day, and not nearly enough of them are in the shape we need them to be in to be useful to others. By putting a question on hold, we enforce these minimum standards and shape behavior towards putting enough information in the question that others can solve it.

It's controversial, but it probably shouldn't be.

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On beta sites, when a question is closed without a comment, the system automatically raises a flag to nag moderators into posting a comment. This happens whether the question is closed by 5 users, by a moderator, or any combination.

As a moderator on a beta sites, I find this flag almost always useless. I understand that it might sometimes prod inexperienced moderators to provide explanations, but in my experience, it isn't necessary. When I close a question, I usually have already left a comment, or have upvoted an existing a comment, or am about to post a comment, or have decided that the close reason was sufficient explanation. In my experience of Stack Exchange in general, I find it rare that a question that needs a comment on closure lacks that comment by the time five people have voted or a moderator has become involved.

Closures by a moderator are not less obvious than closures by non-moderators. If anything, moderators refrain to intervene in ambiguous cases, and have more training to explain their decisions, so questions closed by a moderator are more likely to either have a comment or not require one.

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