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On SO I've seen a lot of questions that were closed by 5 votes. I cannot remember any that should not be closed in my opinion. When I see something closed by moderator (with exception for the elected community moderators) sometimes I have to disagree. And most of the times it is not only my (when I see number of reopen votes - unfortunately they expire so such questions usually stay closed).

It also happen to me that my question got moved from SO to meta... Of course by moderator. It was moved in about 10 seconds after I posted it. He/she did not have a chance to read half of that question even if they read super fast. I guess they just read the title and moved it. That question was programatical and did not have a place on meta, so I had to flag it for moderator's attention and a day later it was moved back to SO... To late to get any attention there - it turned later to be one of my most upvoted questions so I guess that it would have some 10 more upvotes if it was on main SO during the first day. Reputation 50 is quite a lot for me. Well I'm happy that it's on the right place at least.

But what I make from all this ? Well I think that voting for question to be closed should be really voting. Not decision of one person that was given god power to do so. Community is to decide. And than there would be less mistakes or questionable migrations-closings.

At least I'm confident that before 5 people vote to close question at least 3 of them really read whole question, comments and maybe even some answers. That is not always a case with moderators - one more example: 1 person voted to close my question. 2 persons left comments how my question could get voted to be closed - they also explained why it is acceptable. Got closed by moderator... I don't know if he read the comments. But is it right that he closed the question by his single vote when at least 2 valuable members of of community disagreed ? Plus me myself (with an objective arguments not just because it is mine).

This is not supposed to be about me and my question. I have seen other peoples questions that I think have the same problem. I don't think is up to one person to decide - sometimes it is not quite clear even considering written and unwritten rules of SO. Then I thing it is up to community to decide what is acceptable and what is not. At least if it should be true that "you run SO not us". And the other think is that single person don't always have the ability to understand all the details of a question. Not mentioning those who don't read it properly.

So I suggest that the moderator alone was given double vote instead of ability to close the question alone. Or at lest that he had to explain reasons why the question was closed in their own words - and that explanation would be visible to all members. That will at least force them think more before taking any actions.


One more note: I understand that there might be a lot of questions that need some moderators attention and that you don't want SO to become place for low quality or no information questions/answers. I'm trying help and flag when I see something that does not belong here. But having a lot of work is not real excuse for mistakes. I believe community can take care of itself better with a little help.

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Moderators are elected and trusted by the SO users to do a very important but difficult and unpopular job. Having users that are the subject of such an unpopular decision whine at meta about it is expected but unappreciated. Make your case only when you have evidence of a pattern of poor decisions. –  Uphill Luge Mar 20 '11 at 12:39
    
@Hans: drasto wrote "(with exception for to elected community moderators)", where I think the "to" has to be read as "the". So as I read it, he did not talk about the elected mods here. –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 20 '11 at 13:11
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@Hans @Hendrik the question in question (I assume that's the one he's referring to) was closed by Jeff Atwood. –  Unicron Mar 20 '11 at 13:22
    
@Unicron: Well, so then it's not about an elected mod :-) –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 20 '11 at 14:40
    
@drasto, what you said is true. If these guys are not gonna do anything about these moderators. we should do something. Either we can move to different forum and also make everyone in your class/college/office aware about your experience in stack overflow. i too a victim like you here.. –  javasoul Mar 20 '11 at 14:47
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@Hans First: Yes, there was a typo, should be: "(with exception for the elected community moderators)" - but it was understandable for those who wanted to understand. I haven't seen anything closed by comunity elected moderator that should not be closed. Second: please read properly "This is not supposed to be about me and my question". I don't care I don't need that questions open I already know answers. I don't whine about anything (don't do that often in real live as well). I'm stating my opition on what to improve.If you don't appreciate that than you have nothing to do on meta.Or I don't. –  drasto Mar 20 '11 at 14:51
    
@Unicron I did not want to be concrete. I don't want to attack or criticize any particular moderator for any particular action. They are only people that can make mistakes or interpret the rules in a way that I disagree with. That all-right. And I'm not near as active member as they are. Non of that is my point. I'm criticizing system not moderators! Any kind of voting is used by people because it tends to be more objective, accurate and more fitting to their opinion than a decision of an individual. No matter how clever the individual is. On SO you have enough people that can vote. –  drasto Mar 20 '11 at 15:02
    
@javasoul: The hell? You had one question closed, and that was by the community, not by any mod. –  Won't Mar 21 '11 at 13:38
    
@Will Probably you have missclicked or there is a bug. Right now I have at least 2 closed questions at main SO, 2 closed here at meta (one of them is the moved one) and maybe some more elsewhere. As far as I remember non of my questions have ever been closed by community at least there has never been more then 2 closing votes displayed to me and there was always moderator to be the first or second voter to close. I have just checked those four that are on SO main and meta. –  drasto Mar 23 '11 at 8:39
    
@drasto: You have one closed at StackOverflow stackoverflow.com/questions/5129366/… (its deleted by a mod, but it was closed by members of the community). Please, don't tell me I'm wrong, show me I'm wrong. Where's the other closed question on SO? –  Won't Mar 23 '11 at 10:07
    
@Will hmm something seems to be not quite all right if you cannot see for example question stackoverflow.com/questions/5363830/… as closed. It was closed recently by moderator. –  drasto Mar 23 '11 at 10:18
    
@Will the question that you refer to is should also not appear in any closed list as it was reopened by moderator. When I click on your link it does not show me any sign that the question is closed. I remember that a moderator reopened by moving it back to main from meta (it was previously moved to meta from main by moderator) it after I flagged it. –  drasto Mar 23 '11 at 10:22
    
@drasto: Aaah, thanks. Yep, JA. It all falls into place now. –  Won't Mar 23 '11 at 11:34

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

When a moderator closes a question it is almost certainly not their choice alone. I'd estimate that in about 99% of the moderator actions I've taken the post was flagged by another member of the community first.

I agree with you that "having a lot of work is not real excuse for mistakes," but we are human, and mistakes will be made. I do think that our mistake rate is quite low, though. Every action we take is logged and reversible, so if you see a mistake, shine a light on it. Flag it for another moderator to look at, bring it up in chat, or (better yet) post it here on Meta for the community to discuss.

If you limit moderator power, you limit our effectiveness, so I think it's better to deal with mistakes on a case-by-case basis.

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I guess I'll just accept this answer... But still - think about this: Voting systems at general tents to be more objective and "right", "fitting" than decision of individual. However they tend to be less effective (voting takes time, you need to get people to vote). But on SO you have a lot of people that are already voting. You just need to get them think and vote about thinks that break rules (and so they also need to know rules) somehow... Then you will have less work and more happy users. If you like it, just tell it to people, if you don't, forget it. –  drasto Mar 20 '11 at 15:11
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@drasto: believe it or not, there has been more than a little outcry in the past over the voting aspect... With the end result being you need a lot of people voting, all the time, to accomplish what a single moderator can do in a few minutes. Which scales pretty well, but leaves edge-cases, questions that simply never get enough attention from the users who can vote. –  Shog9 Mar 20 '11 at 17:02
    
@Shog9 +1 for your comment. You have a point... Still when you find right way to motivate people to vote for closing as much as they vote for questions and answers themselves it will leave just a few for moderators to handle. –  drasto Mar 23 '11 at 8:50

While this isn't an exact duplicate, this issue has been discussed at length before. Consider reviewing these past discussions, with the understanding that the answers on these questions also answer your question, either indirectly or directly:

Moderators closing questions

The community can decide, even when a mod closes the question. It still takes but five reopen votes to get the question back.

Currently, your question stands at zero reopen votes. Thus, the community appears (for now) to agree with random's closure.

Need a better recourse against frivolous moderator action

While this one focuses on an exact duplicate, the process for challenging a moderator's decision is similar:

  • Edit the post to more clearly position your question to avoid the moderator's issue
  • Flag the post and request that another moderator
  • Comment on the post and request the community undo the moderator's actions
  • Post on Meta and request the community and other moderators:
    • Explain why the action was taken
    • Reevaluate the action and undo it if action is deemed unnecessary
    • Explain how you can avoid that problem in the future - perhaps simple wording changes could prevent similar actions in the future

Add a way for moderators to cast a normal, non binding vote

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.


Moderators are community elected to perform single vote uber-closing, deletion, etc. They do hold a lot of power which is why it's so important to participate in community elections, and to participate in discussions here regarding their actions.

Without single vote deletion, for instance, we would have a lot more junk on stackoverflow, because it takes two days of being closed before the community can delete it. The moderators take care of a lot of junk questions you will never see. Though you haven't seen any action that you agree with, you have to understand that many actions are taken that you never see, usually in response to multiple flags from the community.

The community is responsible for moderating the moderators, and that is done primarily on meta. While I doubt the voting structure will be changed you should post here when you see that a moderator has made a bad decision. If the community agrees with you, the action will be reversed and over time the moderators will change their behavior.

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+1 This is a great guide on what to do in current system when I see something that I disagree with. But I have posted here to propose a better system. And that is: Trust community more, give it more power and you don't need so much subjective moderation. Add: "we would have a lot more junk ... it takes two days of being closed before the community can delete it." But why ? After 2 people usually don't return to the question just to delete it. Make it 2 hours and it will be much more effective. Indeed we would still need moderators and I know that they do a lot of good work. –  drasto Mar 20 '11 at 15:24
    
And I have seen quite some decisions that I agree with. And those were not only clear ones. –  drasto Mar 20 '11 at 15:26

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