What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 127 Stack Exchange communities.

I really feel that I got the short shrift on this question.

Honestly, it's not a very good question. I posted it because I was trying to post source code to a programming forum on CodePlex, it wasn't working, and the FAQs there weren't helpful. I figured I'd get a quick answer on SO. Another developer on CodePlex pointed me in the right direction, and I answered my own question in hopes of helping someone else.

The question was closed with a single vote instead of the usual 5, as the closer was a moderator. I don't agree with that. OK, I don't make the rules. I tried contacting the moderator (politely) through their web site (since there was no other contact information) and got no response. I tried posting a comment on the post. Another moderator suggested I post it on a beta site I had never heard of.

Finally I flagged the post for review. Initially I decided against posting on Meta, since there were a number of similar posts (and I didn't want another post closed as duplicate).

I came back to find that the same moderator who originally closed the question replied. Is it SOP for a moderator to review his or her own decisions?

Personally I found the tone of the moderator's response offensive, especially his final comment: "Also, I am the true Will."

I'd like to see more checks and balances on these individuals, as well as public faces to them. We have no idea of their real identity (mine's Bill Sorensen, BTW), no easy way to contact them to resolve disputes, and they appear to have little oversight.

Forget the post. This isn't about whether or not it was appropriate for SO. Close it, delete it, whatever. Forget the rep. This question is about preventing abuses of power.

(And as I was named William ten years before "Will" was born, I think I have as much right to the "True" designation as he does.)

EDIT: I deleted the original SO post after thinking over @devinb's answer.

share|improve this question
3  
Moderators are strictly volunteers. If they post their contact information on their profile, great .. but tracking one down through visiting their web site to discuss an action might not yield the results you were looking for. Secondly, I believe Will was being sardonic, its hard to convey humor without the aid of gestures, voice inflections, etc ... –  Tim Post Jul 26 '10 at 1:34
2  
@Tim - I was following the suggestion of moderator @random ("Email the mod directly") on this question: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/46039/… And while I respect the time they put in, they do have power. Whether or not a position of power is held by a volunteer is irrelevant with respect to the need for checks and balances, IMHO. Finally, of course it's sarcasm - but is sarcasm appropriate when a person in power acting in that capacity is explaining his or her decision? Would you appreciate sarcasm from a judge? –  TrueWill Jul 26 '10 at 1:45
    
My mistake - you said "sardonic," not "sarcastic." Defined as "disdainfully or skeptically humorous : derisively mocking". I would agree with that definition. –  TrueWill Jul 26 '10 at 1:50
1  
@TrueWill Judges are often sarcastic. As long as they are not sarcastic about relevant things then we're fine. –  devinb Jul 26 '10 at 1:56
1  
I guess that with great power comes great responsibility... –  Ivo Flipse Jul 26 '10 at 4:26
    
BTW: Just because another mod didn't leave a comment doesn't mean another mod couldn't have left a mod flag saying: nope, you're right this stuff should be closed. Just to strengthen the mod in case to do as he saw fit. –  Ivo Flipse Jul 26 '10 at 4:30
1  
And there I thought they were hiring mods only amongst people without a sense of humor. I've been lied to. –  Gnoupi Jul 26 '10 at 7:42
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Your post contains two separate issues.

Issue One: Your Question

Your question was closed as off-topic because it is off-topic. StackOverflow is not about "Websites about programming" or similar things, it is about actual code and code-related issues.

However, the merits of your question are secondary to your much larger and more valid concern.

Issue Two: Getting Attention

There are a few things that you mentioned here, and again I'll go point by point.

  1. The question was closed with a single vote instead of the usual 5
    This is the nature of the moderators, simply put, they are trusted more than the normal users. The community must vote to close because there could be wide community disagreement, whereas the moderators are (meant to) be experienced, knowledgable and active members who are in tune with the sense of the community.
    While it will not always be the case that they make the right call, they are given the additional powers because it is their job to help clean up and administer to the community, and if they cannot close posts when they need to, it severely limits their usefulness.

  2. I tried contacting the moderator through their web site and got no response
    Websites not related to SO and contacting moderators directly are not appropriate. For the purposes of accountability, all concerns should be brought to Meta or directly to the Adminstrators at team@stackoverflow.com. The moderators should not be concerned about having their off time (and other pursuits) consumed by StackOverflow.

  3. I tried posting a comment on the post.
    This will rarely work. Closers, Moderators, Commenters and Voters usually do what they do, and move on. Coming back to check is a rarity.

  4. Another moderator suggested I post it on a beta site I had never heard of.
    It would be the appropriate place to post your question. It is not your fault that you haven't heard of it though.

  5. Finally I flagged the post for review. Initially I decided against posting on Meta, since there were a number of similar posts.
    Either of these are acceptable responses. Generally, if you think it is a very cut-and-dry mistake, (he didn't understand) you should flag it for moderator attention. If (as in your case) a different moderator had already responded and said that StackOverflow is not the correct place, then you should probably try Meta and argue that we should make it appropriate.

  6. Personally I found the tone of the moderator's response offensive, especially his final comment: "Also, I am the true Will."
    The second part is definitely a joke. One thing to note, Will is not generally known for his tact, it is true that it is something he could work on. Although, however brusque his tone may be, his comments were accurate.

The Issue: Moderator Moderation

(aka: Who Watches the Watchmen)

I came back to find that the same moderator who originally closed the question replied. Is it SOP for a moderator to review his or her own decisions?

All moderators are (not administrators) are considered to be equal, therefore flagging for moderator attention simply means that the first moderator who picks up the flag will deal with it. It is unfortunately very likely that it will be the same one because he is clearly on "mod duty" at that time, because he closed your question in the first place.

I agree that this is very troubling. I think in instances where the moderator's own judgement is being questioned, it would be best if another moderator fielded the flag.

However. This means two very important things:

  1. Moderation of these issues will be much slower. The Moderator who is currently going through the flags will not be able to do anything about it, and there is no way for moderators to flag something as "flag for other moderators attention".
  2. It does not mean that the second moderator will agree with you!! Even in your own case, two moderators agreed that it was not appropriate for the site. So it would not have mattered which one fielded the flag, they still would not have re-instated your questions. Generally the moderators agree with each other, so in most cases having a different moderator deal will the flag will make no difference.

I hope this helps you.

share|improve this answer
    
@devinb - Thank you for your helpful and well-reasoned answer. –  TrueWill Jul 26 '10 at 2:04
    
lol, I don't know if it's "right" answer =P But it's what I've got. =D –  devinb Jul 26 '10 at 2:04
4  
devinb's answers - so long and formatted that you can't not upvote them, even if you haven't had the courage to read everything. –  Gnoupi Jul 26 '10 at 7:43
1  
@Gnoupi, that's why I only put effort into the first half. =D –  devinb Jul 26 '10 at 11:35
4  
there is no way for moderators to flag something as "flag for other moderators attention". -- Well, actually, if we feel that way, we can flag a post ourselves with our own questions. Both Will and I have done this at least a couple of times. (I, for one, am really looking forward to the chat system.) –  mmyers Jul 26 '10 at 13:02
    
@mmyers: Thanks for pointing that out. =D I don't have any experience with being a mod. –  devinb Jul 26 '10 at 13:32
1  
@mmyers - of course, this is rather a temporary solution, waiting for the chat to come back, which would be more effective for moderators. @devinb - also, it happens that moderators disagree, it's not useless to submit a flag for moderator. Most of the time, if the complaint is about what a mod did, we'll try to discuss it, and wait for more opinions from other moderators too. –  Gnoupi Jul 26 '10 at 15:34
add comment

It is standard operating procedure for the same moderator who dropped the guillotine to look at their handiwork if the disembodied head is calling out. Why not?

If the reason is in your favour and on-topic, they will overturn their own decision. It happens.

They can also let another moderator handle the appeal. That is also SOP.

If there is no case, it will be dismissed. Doesn't matter which moderator is looking at the flag then.

Yet still there is the community of 3k level users who can overturn a moderator's hammer of insta-justice.

They may leave comments explaining why. But anything not cushioned in a sea of marshmallows and flanked by Gummi bears may be seen as rather offensive when the initial decision isn't to your liking.

But it's not personal. It's just keeping the place clean.

Some mods may not have any personal contact information listed on their profiles because they otherwise would stay on top and in the open with their actions, and those who vehemently disagree, through Meta.

share|improve this answer
    
If (as @devinb wrote) it's not appropriate to contact moderators directly, you might want to edit your answer on meta.stackexchange.com/questions/46039/… –  TrueWill Jul 28 '10 at 1:18
add comment

You thought that the moderator closed your question unjustified. You comment and ask him to explain why he closed the question. Seeing that comment the moderator explains his reasons for closing the question.

Wasn't that exactly what you asked for? Why do you now get offended that you got the explanation you wanted?

And nobody could know that you were so super serious when you named yourself "TrueWill". Most people probably thought that you didn't really think that you were the only true Will. My guess would be that Will didn't expect to offend you when he claimed to be the true Will himself. He probably thought that your user name wasn't all that serious and this part of his comment probably wasn't either.

share|improve this answer
    
of course I don't think I'm the "only true" Will. My handle's a pun I've been using for some time (well before SO), and there are even others (on other sites) with the same handle. If you want to mock my handle, be my guest. I can take some ribbing. What I don't appreciate is when someone with the powers of Judge Dredd (judge, jury, and executioner) passes sentence on me while making a joke at my expense. –  TrueWill Jul 26 '10 at 1:58
2  
@TrueWill: You name is a pun. Now somebody else named Will made essentially the same pun. You get really offended. I think you are overreacting in this point. And for the rest of his comment, he replied to your direct request for explanation. He told you his reasoning why he though that this question is not appropriate for SO, just as you requested. You explicitly asked for it. It's not really his fault if he only saw the the @Will comment when you flagged for mod attention. He wasn't notified by the comment and I guess he only checked back to the question when it got flagged. –  sth Jul 26 '10 at 2:13
add comment

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .