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I have seen on more than one occasion where new users get downvoted, questioned, flagged, etc. if the wording in the question is slightly off, there are "weird" parameters in the URL they linked to, the question seems lazy or too easy to find the answer for on Google, etc.

Are Stack Overflow moderators scaring away new users?

I like the ability to question the validity of posts etc., but perhaps in cases like these, the questioning should take place "behind closed doors" i.e. out of view of the new user; where only moderators or people of a certain reputation level can see the comments.

I totally understand the desire to KILL ALL SPAMMERS, put lazy people to work, etc.. But at the same time I have run into people who are so completely dumb, they don't know where to begin. Stack Overflow is more and more frequently becoming the top search result in Google, and as a result it's getting a lot more "noobs."

PROPOSAL:

On the question screen, add a "moderation comments" box or "type" of comment, that essentially differentiates comments related to moderation so they are visible to users who have at least a certain reputation.

New users (users not logged in and users with limited reputation) won't see all the questioning / commentary, and it gives StackOverflow moderators the opportunity to discuss / research the right decision before either flagging the user to death or providing a helpful response (editing the users' question, adding comments with appropriate links to FAQ's, etc.).

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Less hand waving and more examples –  random Apr 8 '11 at 3:49
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random r u serious? U have been here long enough to know. –  Joshua Apr 8 '11 at 3:51
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possible duplicate of Could we please be a bit nicer to the noobs? –  YOU Apr 8 '11 at 3:55
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So is this post "we should stop being mean to people" or "we need a way to secret-comment on posts such that low rep users don't see it"? –  Michael Mrozek Apr 8 '11 at 3:58
    
Michael - I propose that the latter would accomplish both. And yes, I suck at asking good questions. –  Joshua Apr 8 '11 at 3:59
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Comments on the validity of a question are important as they help future readers see what's on topic/acceptable and what isn't. (This doesn't always hold true, but it's a generally decent approach.) –  Anna Lear Apr 8 '11 at 5:01
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It takes so little effort to not be an annoyance. Why should we coddle the annoying? –  Won't Apr 8 '11 at 13:31
    
I wonder if meta or any of the stackoverflow websites is the right place for the users and moderators to discuss the quality of the moderation as their will be a natural bias and or defensiveness. –  Lucifer Mar 25 '13 at 14:16

3 Answers 3

The moderators already have the StackExchangeTM SuperCollider ModeratorChatTM room (AKA the Teacher's Lounge) with which we discuss moderator issues, and we make extensive use of it for evaluating edge-cases. But many moderator decisions are cut-and-dry, and do not require such extensive evaluation.

Looking at your account on StackOverflow specifically, I can see that you asked a couple of bad questions when you first came here, which were summarily closed and deleted. But you learned over time, and got better at asking questions, and now you are still here, being productive at Meta.

That's how it works for some people.

The way you avoid the newbie pain is by reading the site instructions, and looking around to see what are considered good questions and answers. That's what I did when I first came here, and I never suffered the same fate that many of the new users just arriving seem to experience.

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Where are you looking to see deleted / closed bad questions? According to my history, I've never had a post deleted or closed on stackoverflow.com –  Joshua Apr 8 '11 at 4:31
    
This one: stackoverflow.com/questions/1752213/how-old-is-stackoverflow and this one: stackoverflow.com/questions/1923690/…. Not really bad questions, I guess; they were off-topic for StackOverflow, and were both closed and migrated to different sites. –  Robert Harvey Apr 8 '11 at 4:36
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@Josh: you can't see deleted posts (not even your own) unless you have at least 10k rep or are a ♦ mod –  Tobias Kienzler Apr 8 '11 at 8:21
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@Tobias: You can see your own deleted answers if you happen across them somehow. –  mmyers Apr 8 '11 at 15:32
    
@mmyers somehow indeed, you mean accidentally –  Tobias Kienzler Apr 9 '11 at 18:29

I'm not sure how you'd do the UI for such a feature, but something is needed. The real problem is that too many don't put themselves in another's shoes.

A huge example is how those without good English skills are treated, getting their posts downvoted just because they don't know English grammar and spelling good enough.

Everyone needs to try and remember what is was like to be new.

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Are Stack Overflow moderators scaring away new users?

No. Moderators are elected largely on their demonstrated ability to be fair, tactful, and helpful. I don't recall ever seeing a moderator on any SE site treat a new user in a way that could possibly be construed as scary or mean.

New users (users not logged in and users with limited reputation) won't see all the questioning / commentary,

Then how will they learn to participate in the SO community?

and it gives StackOverflow moderators the opportunity to discuss / research the right decision

As Robert Harvey pointed out, mods do already have the ability to communicate amonst themselves.

before either flagging the user to death

Moderators don't flag users; questions (and sometimes answers and comments) are flagged by other users in order to draw the moderators' attention.

providing a helpful response (editing the users' question, adding comments with appropriate links to FAQ's, etc.).

Moderators and non-moderators often do exactly those things, but nobody can be expected to fix up a question that the OP him- or herself couldn't or didn't articulate.

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