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I think moderators should have the ability to cast a normal, non binding vote like they were a normal user (while of course retaining their ability to cast a binding vote where necessary).

This can be used in "grey areas" where a moderator can choose to give his or her opinion, but not make a decision alone; a good example of this is Closed for “too localized” and by a single person is a bad decision.

This also helps in areas not so grey (questions that everyone would agree should be closed) since the OP has the time to see close (1) and possibly edit his or her question. The moderator can then optionally come back after a few minutes and close it for real if it's not improved (or maybe during that time other 4 people voted to close it).

This would also fit perfectly in Stack Overflow's official theory of moderation:

Since we’re about to add community moderators on both Stack Overflow and Server Fault, I need to document what it is, exactly, we expect moderators to do.

The short answer is, as little as possible!

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I'm not a mod yet, but yes I'd definitely want it to be this way because I don't like having quite that much power –  Earlz Mar 3 '10 at 23:30
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@earl, there's a difference between being a mod, and having more than 10k rep –  jmfsg Mar 3 '10 at 23:36
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@downvoter - Yeah, people hate us about nine thousand times less than mods... –  Adam Davis Mar 3 '10 at 23:43
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Be glad I didn't use @ear –  jmfsg Mar 4 '10 at 0:41
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I like this, but moderators only should be interested in this (why so many votes?) –  jmfsg Mar 5 '10 at 18:54
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@Downvoter: this puzzles me as well. I kinda wonder if there are folks unhappy with moderator behavior who hope that a feature like this would encourage moderators not to use their moderator abilities... but that's not a good solution; if moderators are making bad calls, then they need to be educated or removed, not hamstrung. –  Shog9 Mar 6 '10 at 2:15
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@downvoter The up-votes come in just because it sounds like a reasonable idea, that's all. –  Cawas Mar 11 '10 at 23:23
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Dont forget mods are humans too! Except for @random –  Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '10 at 21:40
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Kop - agreed with @Shog9. The hardest part for new moderators is usually to tone down the voting. They should place a close vote only if the community did too, in my opinion. Questions should not be closed only by moderators, aside from cases when it's obvious and potentially harmful for the site to keep it open. –  Gnoupi Jul 25 '10 at 8:51
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@Kop - I'm against this proposal too. In my opinion, there is no sense for a moderator to cast a normal vote. That's not his job. It's like saying "oh, I'm a moderator but I'm not so sure, I'll just cast a normal vote, and be like another 3k user". No, that's not the moderator's task. In doubt, a moderator should simply not intervene and let the community do its job. Moderators should act only when there is a dysfunction, or to help the community (like on SU, to close a question with 2-3 close votes). –  Gnoupi Jul 25 '10 at 14:27
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@Shog9: I can't say I don't agree, but now I'm puzzled as to why you don't want them to act as normal users. They can cast a normal vote (like they would if they weren't mods) and they wouldn't interfere. The list of people who voted to close won't appear until the thread is closed, so I don't understand what harm it can possibly do. –  Andreas Bonini Jul 25 '10 at 20:49
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@Kop: The point I was trying to make in my answer here is that they can't act as normal users. So long as they have that diamond next to their name, every action they take will be seen differently from that of a normal user, even if the immediate results are the same. "Obviously this should be re-opened - Gnoupi wasn't even confident enough to cast more than one vote!" If they want to act as normal users, there's a simple and effective way to do so: resign their moderator appointment. –  Shog9 Jul 25 '10 at 21:05
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@Shog9: that's a little excessive. With that reasoning they shouldn't answer questions either, should they? I'm absolutely sure for example moderators are more likely to be upvoted than normal users. Yes, it's not going to be exactly the same as if they were normal users, but I believe not letting them contribute (and a normal close vote is a contribution) is not worth it. (Also, what you said can be applied to everything: edits, comments, etc. Basically if you take your reasoning far enough they should have an account they use only for moderation purposes and nothing else) –  Andreas Bonini Jul 25 '10 at 21:10
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We really need this on SE 2.0 beta sites. –  Tim Post Jul 31 '10 at 19:30
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This is needed on new sites, as there are very few users that have enough rep to "vote to close". So without the Mods being able to vote, it can take a long time to get enough votes. –  Ian Ringrose Oct 11 '10 at 18:12
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13 Answers 13

It can be difficult to transition into the moderator role after having only been a lowly plebe. If I were moderator, I'd expect to have a transition period where I was accidentally closing questions unilaterally when I only wanted to be 1/5th of the party closing a question.

While moderators should only have to jump in for extraordinary cases, it would be nice if they had the ability to participate as 'normal' users.

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Agreed. Moderators should be able to be ordinary users the majority of the time, only stepping into mod-mode when necessary. –  mmyers Mar 3 '10 at 23:15
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@mmyers - that being said, keep their job easy - they shouldn't have to do more work (ie, mod menus, or switching to mod mode) just to do real work. –  Adam Davis Mar 3 '10 at 23:42
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While there are cases where I know I can close without a problem, there will always be questions that require a judgement call by other community members. Now I have to resort to flagging or commenting, since I can't cast a "first" vote... –  Ivo Flipse Mar 4 '10 at 9:58
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@Ivo - yeah, if I were a mod I'd miss the ability to direct the community more gently by participating in a normal close/open process. –  Adam Davis Mar 4 '10 at 14:52
    
@Dominic - I thank thee for the thee --> the correction. –  Adam Davis Mar 4 '10 at 15:32
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@Ivo: remember that SU is the special capabilities child of the group. Mod work is required there, rather than nice to have. –  perbert Mar 5 '10 at 18:00
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Adam: normally, moderators should be users who could already vote to close. So the "transition period" would be the time spent on the site between hitting 3K and being elected. As for participating as a normal user... Moderators can still ask and answer questions just as any user can; they get no special privileges there. NO ONE - whether moderator or not - should be voting to close questions they don't actually believe are unsuitable - if you're doing that as a normal user, you should think twice before accepting the duties of a moderator. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 17:12
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@shog9 But as a non-mod I can vote to close questions that I wholeheartedly believe are unsuitable but where I also think others will disagree with me, and see how things pan out. A mod can't do that, not the latter part at least. On sites with a lack of high rep, non mod users that is a shame. –  RobM May 24 '11 at 18:48
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@Robert: we make sure all sites have multiple moderators, so you can rest assured that someone can not only disagree with you but actually do something about it. On a site with too few high-rep users, reducing the ability of moderators to close would simply mean controversial questions never get closed (and quite possibly never get seriously discussed or defended). The solution (to pretty much every problem raised in this question) is more users voting (to close or re-open) - if this happened, moderators would have no reason to close at all under normal circumstances. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 18:56
    
@shog9 - I understand what you're saying, I'm just not sure I agree. I fail to see why having the ability to vote "normally" on a question as well as to swing the mod hammer would be a problem. –  RobM May 24 '11 at 19:04
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@Robert: it's not having the ability that's the problem. It's using it! Voting to close isn't about coming to a consensus on the worth of a question - that's what comments and meta discussions are for. Voting is just friction, added to the system to keep normal users from getting into close-reopen wars over controversial questions. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 19:16
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This can be used in "grey areas" where a moderator can choose to give his or her opinion but not make a decision alone.

I don't see the point. Moderators can already leave comments, thus making their opinions known, just like normal users. Moderators can edit poorly-worded questions, just like normal users.

And moderators can instantly re-open questions that they've closed if it becomes clear that they acted hastily in closing a question... Unlike normal users.

In what way are moderators currently prevented from expressing their opinions?

This also helps in areas not so grey (questions that everyone would agree should be closed) since the OP has the time to see close (1) and possibly edit his or her question.

Again, they can leave a comment... which can be a whole lot more visible to the OP than a tiny (1) next to the close button, not to mention potentially more helpful (especially for new users who won't see close reasons anyway).


There was a story on the local news here recently... A bit of controversy surrounding the actions of an elected official. Seems a district attorney became uncomfortable when a business which dispensed certain botanical products opened in his neighborhood. While these products and the business of dispensing them for medical purposes are legal in this city and state, the DA was not happy seeing such trade being conducted openly... and so he began making complaints to the shop's landlord and various city officials. While doing so, he insisted that he was acting as a private citizen and not in his official capacity as a district attorney...

Of course, ordinary citizens don't garner the attention of city officials in quite the same way as someone who works closely with them on a regular basis. And complaints from ordinary citizens don't generally carry the same sort of weight with other ordinary citizens as do those coming from a person elected to prosecute criminals.


Like it or not, when a moderator expresses his opinion on SO, it is going to carry additional weight. Even if that opinion is expressed in a comment, even without an explicit threat attached, there's always an implication of potential consequences. When you or I say we think a post should be closed, or opened, or locked, or deleted... well, that's mostly just talk. We can vote on some of that, but generally speaking we don't have the power to enforce it. A moderator can however, and thus his words, like his actions, carry more weight.

When I cast a vote to open or close a post, I do so because I think it should be opened or closed. Moderators should do the same, but with the understanding that they, unlike the rest of us, can respond quickly to correct improper actions and should respond to public outcry, since it is the public, the ordinary users of Stack Overflow, who have granted them this privilege and responsibility. As much as I disagree with some actions taken by moderators, I would not ask them to relinquish their abilities or shirk their responsibilities; rather, when unsure what actions should be taken, they should take no action at all, preferring to let the community do what it desires.

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The issue is that once you become moderator you lose the ability to just participate as a normal, high-rep user. This is sometimes desiderable. –  Andreas Bonini Mar 5 '10 at 18:52
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When I cast a vote to open or close a post, I do so because I think it should be opened or closed. Moderators should do the same - that's the problem - moderators don't get to vote. Their decision is effective immediately. Letting them vote or act would be the better choice, I think. –  Jared Harley Mar 5 '10 at 19:07
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@Jared: that's my point - they shouldn't even think of it in terms of voting. If a moderator is certain that a question should be closed, then he should just close it. A moderator who would cast one vote when he could cast 5 shouldn't vote at all. @Koper: They aren't normal users, and can't pretend to be. –  Shog9 Mar 5 '10 at 19:22
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Well said. Also, it is interesting how rarely people notice when we re-open posts we closed. If there is a valid enough reason, any moderator will review their own decision, or ask another moderator to intervene. Strangely enough, we get elected because the community consider us to meet the requirements for being a moderator, but once we are chosen and in that role, we become public enemy number one. –  Diago Mar 5 '10 at 20:36
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@Diago: there are a lot of good and useful things that moderators do but which don't get much attention because unless you're looking for them they're easy to miss. Moderator-led closing has to be visible on SU, and so there's an unavoidable level of grief as a result; on SO, I haven't see nearly as much of it. –  Shog9 Mar 6 '10 at 2:19
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Agreed with all that. It makes no sense for a moderator to cast regular votes, there's a community for that. Becoming a moderator means acting differently, in terms of site moderation. It's not a matter of "democratic vote" anymore. Moderators are supposedly above that, and should act only when there is a dysfunction, something requiring instant action, or when the community doesn't manage to deal with it itself (like on SU, when there are not enough 3k users to close a question). –  Gnoupi Jul 25 '10 at 14:35
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sometimes unilateral actions can look arrogant. It is OK that mod has additional wait, but they should also be able to live like normal people. Think of a policeman who wears his uniform all the time even when he is not on work, that can create a distance between mod and the rest of the rest of the community. –  Kaveh Nov 3 '11 at 23:48
    
So it's better for a mod to leave a comment, which will carry additional weight because of the diamond, than to cast an anonymous-until-complete close vote to prompt the poster and community to consider action? –  Monica Cellio Jul 30 '12 at 12:41
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@Monica: If you think a post should be closed, close it. If you just want to suggest that a post should be closed, leave a comment - and then close it. If you aren't really sure if a post should be closed, but feel there are problems with it that should be addressed, leave a comment pointing out the problems and suggesting improvements, and don't mention closing. –  Shog9 Jul 30 '12 at 19:11
    
You said elsewhere that this post shows that such the usage of such mod powers would not indicate impartiality. I never saw that in this post and disagree that does. You say that a person in a place of authority can't make a statement without it carrying extra weight. I agree and have made the same case in the past (though not on SO). However, it has little to do with the issue at hand. If you see your post was closed by multiple people, including a mod, you can be pretty sure it was an impartial decision, since multiple people thought the same thing. –  Jasper Jul 19 '13 at 1:48
    
If a mod closes your question on his own, it might be a case of partiality, since only one person was involved. It shouldn't be, but it is more likely to feel as such to a newbie whose question got closed, hence the demonstrate part. If your question doesn't get closed despite a mod voting to do so, you'll never know the fact. Other voters also won't know it was a mod who voted, so they can't be influenced either. As such, your "extra weight" comparison falls flat, since there is no opportunity for the weight to weigh in. –  Jasper Jul 19 '13 at 1:51
    
So why is the moderator voting in this scenario, @Jasper? –  Shog9 Jul 19 '13 at 1:53
    
@Shog9 Does it matter? Even if he is close-voting for all the wrong reasons, your extra weight point is still moot and has nothing to do not showing impartiality. Which is my point. –  Jasper Jul 19 '13 at 2:04
    
It matters to me, @Jasper. I don't want a moderator who is throwing around close votes - binding or otherwise - for the heck of it. –  Shog9 Jul 19 '13 at 2:04
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That's bogus, @Jasper. You aren't making yourself impartial by voting to deny someone something they want - you're just hiding in a crowd. As for supporting a community cleanup effort... I've helped to organize and taken part in a lot of these, and no one is going to thank you for making such an effort take longer or require more effort than it already needs to. –  Shog9 Jul 19 '13 at 2:07
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New Edit -- Since this issue keeps coming up, I'll make a few points, based on my experience as a moderator.

As a moderator, the actions I take are almost always initiated by a moderator flag. That means that my moderator actions are never unilateral. There is always concurrence from at least one other person in the community when I take a moderator action.

I moderate based on what the FAQ says, on community consensus established here on meta, and on the primary mission of StackOverflow, which is to provide a high-quality resource for programmers. Based on those principles, if I agree with the flag, I take action, using my binding vote. If I have a doubt, I generally don't take action at all, and leave it for the community to decide.

While moderators should be called upon to mediate exceptional situations, many moderator flags and actions are uncontroversial and unexceptional; they have more to do with sweeping the floors than they have to do with weighty issues such as inclusionism and exclusionism. Having binding moderator votes results in a system that is simple, swift and effective. It makes it possible for the moderators to take out the trash, in a way that the ordinary user never even has to see it or be bothered by it.

That's good for everyone.


Original post follows:


This is a good idea. If I might put myself in the moderator's shoes for a moment...

As a new moderator, I might not fully understand the impact of my close votes (they close the question immediately). This changes the way that I interact with the community; I can no longer cast close votes in the same manner than I did before, because they carry more weight now. In a way, becoming a moderator has taken away my ability to interact with the community as a normal user.

The purpose of moderation is not to interact with the community as a "super" user. The purpose of moderation is to mitigate extraordinary problems or exceptional disputes, situations that cannot be handled by the system under ordinary circumstances. In my view, that means that the activities of a moderator under normal circumstances must touch the system in the same way as that of other users.

In other words, moderators should be able to take off their moderator hat, if they wish to interact with the community in a non-moderator fashion, without the undue additional influence of moderator powers.


Original text follows:

I have noticed that, since the moderator elections occurred, some moderators have been making use of their new moderator powers by unilaterally closing questions.

While I certainly assert the right for moderators to do so, I am of the opinion that, unless a question is an especially egregious case of system abuse (i.e. obvious spam), that it should be left to the community to cast its own votes, and decide for itself whether a question gets closed or not.

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You make it sound like they are abusing power rather than just doing their jobs. This idea is a good one to allow for mods who aren't sure if its a black and white issue to cast a vote and see if others chime in. –  RSolberg Mar 3 '10 at 22:49
    
@Chester: I am saying that, by becoming a moderator, they are losing the ability to cast a single vote. That doesn't mean they should just cast five. And if they are casting five votes without allowing the community to weigh in, then yes, it is an abuse of power. –  Robert Harvey Mar 3 '10 at 22:49
    
@Robert: You're saying that Jonathan is voting to close the same post 5 times? Or that a moderator's vote is worth 5 people? –  RSolberg Mar 3 '10 at 22:52
    
It might not be the fault of the new moderators. The system may be design in such a way that close votes are not revocable, even for a moderator. If I was a user for a long time, and I suddenly became a moderator, the instinct to vote-to-close would still be there...Oops, I just cast all five votes. My bad. –  Robert Harvey Mar 3 '10 at 22:52
    
@Chester: A moderator's close vote closes the question instantly. If no one else has voted yet, that's the equivalent of five votes to close by ordinary users. –  Robert Harvey Mar 3 '10 at 22:53
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@Chester: a moderator's vote is worth 5 people. –  perbert Mar 3 '10 at 23:14
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Back off of your "new moderator" tone a bit. Moderators are part of the community, the system design sucks in the sense that they only can cast a "moderator" vote and not a "community" vote like the rest of us. But your tone simply sucks. –  RSolberg Mar 4 '10 at 1:47
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@Chester: what tone? I'm simply making some observations. I have no personal beef with the moderators, but the new crop of elected moderators has closed some questions much more aggressively than I have ever seen before, and that concerns me. The community is already heavily weighted towards high-rep users; it doesn't need any more weighting in that direction. I'm not going to mince words about that just because you don't think my tone is "right." –  Robert Harvey Mar 4 '10 at 2:25
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@Chester: reading this thread again, the one that sounds confrontational is you... –  perbert Mar 5 '10 at 4:10
    
@Voyage: I have noticed that, since the moderator elections occurred, some moderators have been making use of their new moderator powers by unilaterally closing questions. I guess you must think that this is not accusatory, has merit, and words like unilateral must support positive actions? –  RSolberg Mar 5 '10 at 16:06
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@Chester: unilateral involving only one part or side One person closing a question is unilateral. I believe that it's not accusatory, but rather a concern that moderators, not realizing that the best moderation is the one that goes unnoticed or without incidents, nor that they now have some more power than before, they might need to refrain from making things like casting a close vote in a question that no one else has voted on and that seems to be active. I believe a mod should use its super-voting powers only when the community fails to police itself. –  perbert Mar 5 '10 at 16:39
    
@Voyager: Moderators by default have always been able to cast a vote that will automatically make their decision the decision. This is not a premeditated power play, it is being a moderator. The tool sets the mods have today only support this type of functionality, therefore, it is not unilateral, it is being a moderator. –  RSolberg Mar 5 '10 at 18:34
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@Chester: I'm not sure what to make of your discomfort with voyager's observance that this spade is, in fact, a spade. Rest assured, calling it something else doesn't change what it is. –  Shog9 Mar 5 '10 at 19:25
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@yhw42: See my edit. –  Robert Harvey Jun 3 '11 at 17:02
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For a new site with a low number of users, mods often are closing quesions that have not been flagged yet. I agree with what you said for large sites. –  Ian Ringrose Nov 4 '11 at 10:10
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The purpose of moderators is to moderate.

If they are afraid to do so, they should not be moderators in the first place.

As for educating the community, leaving instructive, explanatory comments is far more useful than casting a weak regular user vote in these circumstances.

So in summary: leave extensive comments, and learn to wield the big vote stick responsibly.

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I strongly disagree with this. Moderators are also participants in the site. When I have people lightly misbehaving on my questions/answers, then either I can do nothing, or I can wield my super-mod-hammer and then have to deal with them getting hurt feelings and acting out in other Q's and on meta. Adding this feature could help people not get their fur ruffled as much and thus make all us mods' job easier and users happier. –  mxyzplk Feb 17 '11 at 14:33
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@mxy if you want to educate, leave comments explaining your actions. Good moderators should be doing this anyway. Pretending to hide in the cloak of "oh, I'm just a regular user like you good folks" is an abdication of responsibility as a moderator. –  Jeff Atwood Feb 17 '11 at 22:59
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@Jeff: No. The purpose of a moderator is to intervene under exceptional circumstances. Most circumstances are not exceptional. A moderator should be able to act as a normal citizen most of the time, but when stuff hits the fan act as the one we turn to to make good decisions and carry out their duties. –  John Dibling May 24 '11 at 14:30
    
@John: we just added two more moderators to SO, because the work-load was so great. Even with a huge number of community members editing and voting to close, the shear volume of crap flooding into the site on a daily basis is insane. "Exceptional circumstances" here are any inappropriate questions that fall through the cracks - if only they were more exceptional... –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 15:36
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@John: Having been a moderator for a few months now, I can tell you there are many questions that are (in your words) unexceptional, clearly off-topic questions that never achieve close velocity because they are too uninteresting to get enough views. I close them unilaterally, and I don't think twice about it. –  Robert Harvey May 24 '11 at 15:54
    
Beta site are different as there are often very few users that can vote to close - so by making someone a moderator there are even less people to do the "normal" closing. –  Ian Ringrose May 24 '11 at 16:17
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@Ian: the role of moderators on beta sites - especially early on - is a little different: traffic is lower, but (often, though not always) signal/noise is lower as well, since the site's definition is still in flux. I'd argue that unilateral closing is just as important, if not moreso, on the beta sites... But the importance of discussing the reasons for closing is much, much greater - moderators must be willing to address concerns raised by the community in response to their actions. Incidentally, we always appoint more than one pro tem moderator so that no one person is trusted with this –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 17:52
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Jeff, moderators are not just moderators, they are in the first place users of the site. So saying that the purpose of moderators is to moderate is not the right attitude IMHO. Fearing and not using power unless it is necessary are different things. –  Kaveh Nov 3 '11 at 23:52
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This is flat-out wrong. Lots of the mods on SciFi.SE, for example, have lamented in chat or on meta that they want to be a normal user most of the time, and only use binding votes when appropriate. They started as normal users, after all, and forcing binding votes onto them is a slight removal from the community. –  Izkata Jul 21 '13 at 18:13
    
So, what you're saying is that in situations where you want to leave a regular close vote, but don't want to unilaterally close the question, you should just leave a comment instead? –  Sam I am Dec 4 '13 at 22:41
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I still stand by my close-vote. However, I would like to be able to cast a normal vote from time to time. Every now and then I get lucky and come in after four close-votes.

The example question was reopened, and close-voted again by the community this time.

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Yet now it's open. If you had stepped in now, after a few open/close cycles, this would have been a non-issue. –  perbert Mar 5 '10 at 16:41
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@voyager Anytime a moderator does anything, it becomes an issue for somebody, and then they voice their complaints here :) –  Jonathan Sampson Mar 5 '10 at 17:46
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Arguments that have been stated so far against the request are not dealing with the point that why a mod should ALWAYS use binding mod powers. Being trustable, not fearing to act in necessary cases, carry more wait, usefulness of these powers, how some moderators use these powers, ability to use comments to express opinion, ... don't deal with the main point of the request which is the possibility to act like a normal user without invoking binding awesome moderator powers.

In most cases there is no need to use mod powers. I don't find these arguments very convincing about why a mod should not be able to act as a normal user when using the site. A moderator is in the first place a user of the site.

Maybe there is technical problem about implementing this which I am not familiar with, but the philosophical and policy arguments given so far are not very convincing.

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What I'd really like is to be able to sometimes have my vote count like four votes, if and only if it's the first vote passed. Then it still needs confirmation from at least one other user.

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Perhaps allow a moderator choose how many votes get applied. –  Brad Gilbert Mar 31 '10 at 0:17
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this is why I only vote to close after someone else has, unless it's egregious. –  Jeff Atwood Mar 31 '10 at 0:18
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Ah, but I'm not always going to be around a few minutes later to check back. –  Joel Coehoorn Mar 31 '10 at 0:22
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I like the current way it is, as a moderator you should be trusted to make judgement calls, you are where the buck stops.

Making these kind of day-to-day decisions subject to committees is paralyzing.

I would like to close this question but only if others do, sounds extremely wussy to me. Make a decision, and stand behind it.

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Totally. If you don't have the fortitude to be a mod, hand your spine to someone else. –  random Oct 22 '10 at 3:48
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+1 here, I agree. What I would hate to see, though, is a flame war against a mod where someone thinks that they're being singled out when a mod chooses to use their mod-close-vote.

But we all know our mods have tough skin to deal with that :)

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I can fully understand that this functionality isn't useful for StackOverflow.

On the other hand I think it's very useful for a smaller website like Skeptics where the community wants to decide democratically whether or not to close a question. Doing it through regular votes seems to be a better way than having to do it on meta.

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The big problem with unilateral delete votes is that the community can't vote to undelete them. If you won't enable them to cast a delete vote like a normal user, then at least allow the community to override. You may need to make a setting for those deleted as spam or offensive, as opposed to just a normal closed question deletion.

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Assuming moderators know how to reach one another through email or whatever:

Would it help if a moderator-vote would count as 3 or 4 normal votes? And hence requiring at least one other person to vote?

(Of course that implies a moderator might need to get in touch with another moderator for urgent things, which, I guess, is not too nice. At all. So I doubt it would help; still maybe moderators feel differently?)

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Mods can also flag posts for other mods to check out. –  random Mar 31 '10 at 0:40
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A moderator's job is to intervene under exceptional circumstances, but they are still a member of the community just like the rest of us. We elected them because we trust their judgement. When a post is flagged, we trust them to decide if the flagged post warrants intervention and moderation. If it does, then we trust them to decide how to intervene.

Most circumstances are not exceptional. Most crappy posts are just normal crappy posts that do not require intervention. The vote-to-close system works for the most part. Sometimes it goes haywire, with vote-to-close/vote-to-reopen wars flaming up here and there. Sometimes people go way off the deep end in being offensive. Usually this is not so. Most crappy posts are just crappy posts that the community can cull.

As has been referenced elsewhere, Jeff has said in the past that a moderator should do "as little as possible" and that "Moderators are human exception handlers." He said himself that the conditions under which a moderator must moderate are "rare."

A moderator must have the ability to act as a normal user because they are not just a normal user. They have more power, and their decisions are binding when they act as moderator. This is a good thing, but if they don't have the capacity to act in a non-binding way then they end up applying "exception handling" to non-exceptional circumstances.

This is not fair to the moderators, because it puts an unintended burden upon them to moderate everything. Every single vote they cast is law. They can no longer contribute to the community, they can only govern it.

It is also not fair to the rest of the community. If a moderator closes a standard crappy post in one place but not all of the others, they apply their moderation abilities arbitrarily. Arbitrary governance is unfair and unjust.

This issue should be revisited.

Cross Reference: Moderators should not close crap, flamebait questions, let the community . Please read the comment chains to understand the thinking!

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"As little as possible" when it comes to closing is... not closing, not voting to close, not posting comments suggesting the post be closed, not flagging for a moderator to close, and not sitting and brooding about the sad state of a world where a post isn't closed. "As little as possible" is... nothing. Except when inaction conflicts with a moderator's duty to the site (stepping in where the community has failed) - in that case, "as little as possible" is... Simply closing and moving on. But I can think of no scenario where it equates to "a token gesture". –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 15:00
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"As little as possible" obviously refers to exercising one's abilities as moderator. It does not mean not acting as a normal user of the site. A moderator should have the ability to act as a normal user. –  John Dibling May 24 '11 at 15:03
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@John: because "why the downvotes" are useless noise. Ask for feedback if you want feedback, or just wait for it (since this is Meta and you'll pretty much always get it anyway). –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 15:05
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@John: please see my answer here. A moderator is elected to moderate, not sit around waiting for consensus on every action. Allowing moderators to engage in such a charade is counter-productive - if they can't or won't moderate, they shouldn't be moderators. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 15:07
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@Shog: I saw your answer. It is essentially saying "I have power, you don't. Deal with it." –  John Dibling May 24 '11 at 15:13
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@Shog: You are raising a bunch of strawmen. Obviously not nuking a normal crappy question isn't "sitting around waiting." Just vote-to-close. –  John Dibling May 24 '11 at 15:14
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@John: Your mistake is in thinking that moderators are acting arbitrarily. There's nothing random about how we moderate. We pick and choose what posts to moderate based on what the community flags for our attention. We simply don't have time to moderate 1.6 million questions based on our own personal whims. We're directed by the community. –  Bill the Lizard May 24 '11 at 15:25
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@John: I posted that answer before I had mod-rights on any site... And "vote to close" is a compromise that was implemented in response to a series of close-wars; it's hardly an efficient or effective use of anyone's time. If a moderator isn't certain that a question is inappropriate, he should ask for advice or just move on - that is "as little as possible". If a moderator is certain, then "voting" instead of taking decisive action is no more than a pageant. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 15:30
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Moderators make decisions. Not uhms and ahs. If they come across a crap question, either through normal use or via flags, they decide how it should go. If a moderator needs hand-holding on questions that clearly don't belong, they need to toughen up. –  random May 24 '11 at 15:39
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@Kop: I always talk like I'm right when I actually believe what I'm saying (and when I'm trying to flush out reasoned rebuttals). I'll change my mind when someone posts an answer here that makes sense to me. 100 people liking a bad idea doesn't make it any less of a bad idea. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 16:49
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@Kop: if you're talking about Adam's answer, I've left a comment there. FWIW, I understand why the idea is appealing - I just think it's terribly misguided, and quite possibly based on the dangerous idea that voting (rather than taking unilateral action) somehow absolves you of responsibility for your actions. If you close a question - whether alone or with the cooperation of other users - you should be willing to stand behind that decision, justify it to other users, listen to reasoned arguments against it, and potentially take steps to reverse it if persuaded that that is the proper action. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 17:16
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@John: how are you being logical? How does your statement of trust (first paragraph) fit with the example you gave (wherein you chastise a moderator for closing a question you yourself admit is worthless)? How does "A moderator must have the ability to act as a normal user because they are not just a normal user" make any sense at all? I'm sorry if I came off as dismissive, but... You dove in here apparently without reading any of the previous discussions, without so much as an example of a moderator who would have wished to use such a feature... Please, explain your logic here. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 19:51
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Yes, @random. Were all very impressed by how tough you are. –  John Dibling May 24 '11 at 21:53
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@John: certainly. But remember, anyone voting to close, or re-open, or flagging is picking up another "hat" - opting in for the janitorial work in addition to the student/teacher roles that make up the core of the site. We try hard to emphasize that users who become moderators should already be moderating, so that once elected or appointed they can hit the ground running. Again: no one should be voting to close or open a question they don't think should be open or closed, regardless of how much their vote "counts" - that goes for moderator-led moderation and community-led moderation. –  Shog9 May 24 '11 at 22:04
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@John: I'm still not following your logic then. Moderator abilities are a superset of those available to a normal (albeit high-rep) user, with limitations removed from certain tools (closing, re-opening, flagging, deletion): we trust (see your first paragraph) moderators to use their discretion. If this is not the case, if a moderator is not acting in the community's interest, then they shouldn't be moderating! –  Shog9 May 25 '11 at 19:10
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