There are a fair amount of locked questions and answers on Stack Overflow.

The trouble is, when visiting these questions and answers it is really easy to see whodunit, but it is often tricky to figure out why. Often locked posts are forgotten. Even if others may want to answer them.

Now that we have support for post notices, should all moderator locks carry a notice?

If so, what should the various notices be?

  • 2
    example notice below, dev only feature for now
    – waffles
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 11:19
  • to be clear - the notices are shown on locked answers too, right? Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 12:17
  • Where did you get that link ?
    – genesis
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 12:30
  • 1
    @genesis-φ he'd, you know, have built it Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 14:07
  • I dunno, the "so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here" seems a bit whiny and suggests lots of people want to do such.
    – user1228
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 14:14
  • totally open to changing the wording @Wont, suggestions welcome, just used what you guys used in post edits at SO
    – waffles
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 14:30
  • Do we really need canned reasons? I'll be more than happy to add a banner of explanation each time, if that is what is needed (locks are not a common occurrence). Also, note that I sometimes lock a post for 10 minutes to stop an edit war or comments war, and then unlock it. Is a reason really needed there?
    – user102937
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 17:38
  • @Robert ... I think it is, it teaches the fighting users why you locked the post ... also we can then track all these fights. the idea with the canned banners is that we can group them and revisit the various types
    – waffles
    Commented Sep 15, 2011 at 4:27

2 Answers 2


The historical notice is good: the other main reason for locking is when an edit war ensues. I'd like to see something like:

This post has been locked while disputes about its content are being resolved. More info: {link}

While it'd be ideal to be able to specify a meta discussion topic or something for the {link}, a link to the meta site or the FAQ could be a substitute if that's not possible.

The only other reason I see posts get locked, and it's a bit of an edge case, is when the post is controversial and generates a metric ton of comments (example). A message like this could be useful:

This post has been locked due to the high amount of off-topic comments generated. For extended discussions, please use [chat].

We talked about this in chat, but just for the sake of completeness for anyone coming across this in the future, one issue we run into periodically on Programmers are questions that just get an overwhelming number of answers, to the point where people just repeat other answers because nobody bothers to see if one of the 100 other answers is the same as theirs.

As Jeff noted in the comments the system warns people when they're adding an answer to a question that already has a bunch of answer already, and in the past, we've added moderator notices like these to those questions as warnings:

Moderator Message

This question already has nearly N answers. Therefore, please consider whether your answer is going to provide anything new. Please take a moment to review all the answers before posting.

But eventually the question gets locked because nobody bothered to pay attention to the warnings anyway. For these locked questions and for future occurrences, it'd be helpful to have a message like:

This question has an overwhelming number of answers that address every possible aspect of this question. Feel free to improve existing answers. More info: FAQ

  • 2
    discussed in the mod room, I think there is a good case to be made to have an optional expiry date for locks ... cause edit wars will end
    – waffles
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 11:34
  • are you aware that once posts past the pagination limit, they already warn users? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/84870/… I am violently opposed to adding a redundant "this question already has nearly n answers" message. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 4:43
  • @Jeff All the warnings already in place haven't stopped the questions from accruing more answers, so we've locked them (I think there's maybe 3 or 4 like that on Programmers): we were talking in chat about how every lock now needs an accompanying annotation, and that is the reason those questions are locked. If we're not supposed to lock questions that just keep getting dozens of answers, we'll unlock them and let the chips fall where they may
    – user149432
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 4:47
  • 1
    if locking is judged necessary, that is fine by me. I'm really struggling to see where the value is in adding Yet Another Thing Users Won't Read (e.g. adding the "this question already has.." message) to the question, though. If they aren't reading the Just In Time warning that is right in their faces when they click answer, that redundant message in the post is doing nothing but taking up space and adding friction.. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 4:50
  • @Jeff well, when the post is locked, it's no longer a warning: it's a reason why the post got locked. i.e. "This is why we can't have nice things." Otherwise, I don't know what we use as an annotation for the lock: the "historical significance" one? BTW, I should clarify I haven't seen the moderator notice I mentioned in my answer manually added in some time, its usage likely predates the automatic warnings.
    – user149432
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 4:53
  • 2
    oh, I see -- yes, as a lock message that is perfectly OK. Part of the reason we did the Post Notices was because I disliked these meta-edits to posts so much.. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 5:02

All the times I've locked a post - it's been to avoid an ongoing edit/rollback war, to let the people calm down and take a break. An expiring-within-x-hours-lock with a message:

Post has been locked to cool down an edit war

would be useful.

(Note: The actual message could be a lot better)

  • 2
    I really like the idea of having an expiring lock. That could be useful.
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 12:48
  • 1
    locking this for an hour ... it should be automatically unlocked in an hour -- look at the rev history
    – waffles
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 6:02
  • @waffles indeed it has unlocked Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 8:37
  • I'll add a mod only section area on the notification that shows when it expires
    – waffles
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 10:19

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