4

I would like to find out whether there is any recourse when a someone with the power to delete or change questions behaves in a way that seems unreasonable.

I asked this question: Why doesn't my Qt application present a GUI when executed?

I'm a newbie as far as QT and submitted a question asking for help in understanding why I can't run an executable that I generated using QT. From past experience, I know that there may be commands that should be added in a .pro file to make a program work in specific circumstances. I was hoping someone might be able to look at my .pro file and suggest a solution. I felt I was polite and clear.

A person who seems to be a moderator immediately jumped on the question and down-voted it. He said that he didn't see a problem, so the question would be closed. I politely asked him to leave it up because another user had started engaging with me. He then replied with a cryptic and rather obnoxious comment about staying on topic.

At this point, I expect he will have the post deleted and I will simply go to another forum to get help elsewhere.

I understand that this is a pretty minor issue in the general scheme of things. I understand that questions need to meet a certain standard. I'm OK with being told that there is a problem with a question. But too often, certain members seem to be on a mission to assert their power and be jerks--deleting or over-editing questions to the point that they don't make sense. I have seen this happen with other users and mostly it affects newbies--who are then scared away from the site.

When this happens, is there any way of getting a second opinion from a second moderator, to keep the power-hungry people in check and polite and have questions reinstated?

  • 6
    If you see a username with a diamond, that's a moderator. Others are high rep users. – random Jan 11 '14 at 18:27
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    Thanks. Do the high-rep users have the ability to modify posts? By the way, I see that the guy who has been a pain as far as my question has edited his posts to sound less obnoxious. – Ant Jan 11 '14 at 18:29
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    The user who you talked with wasn't a moderator, rather he was a user who can vote to close questions. Keep in mind 5 people have to vote-to-close a question, not just one (except if it's a diamond moderator). – hichris123 Jan 11 '14 at 18:29
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    Calling a moderator "power-hungry" is as dumb as calling a janitor "power-hungry" because he gets to clean up garbage in the schoolyard – Pëkka Jan 11 '14 at 18:47
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    Sorry, but casting a close vote (or any other kind of vote) on a question at any of the StackExchange sites is not being "Power-Mad". It's part of the basic, designed functionality of the sites. So is user moderation, by the users who have earned the privileges to do so. You might want to revisit the About and Help Center pages at SO, if you're unclear about how the site works. – Ken White Jan 11 '14 at 18:49
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    "Do the high-rep users have the ability to modify posts?" -- please read Why can people edit my posts? How does editing work? And while in that Help Center, there's more interesting things there, like Help Center > Privileges. – Arjan Jan 11 '14 at 18:54
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    @Ant I'm not a moderator so I have no personal stake in the discussion, but wouldn't you agree that calling people doing their job "power-hungry" is a pretty bad way to start a conversation? Moderators are selected with the greatest care, after having built a track record of being a reasonable and nice influence – Pëkka Jan 11 '14 at 18:56
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    @Ant: You're right. I only saw your comments back to him, and your original post here (which is the one I posted my first comment on, before it was edited) when you came here name-calling ("Power-mad moderator" was the phrase in the title, wasn't it?). :-) – Ken White Jan 11 '14 at 19:04
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    @Ant fighting obnoxious responses is an ongoing issue that the entire community is spending a gigantic amount of effort on. See e.g. blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/07/kicking-off-the-summer-of-love unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. – Pëkka Jan 11 '14 at 19:12
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    The comment you described as cryptic and obnoxious, was it This question was caused by a problem that can't be reproduced or a simple typographical error. While similar questions may be on-topic here, this one was solved in a manner unlikely to help future readers. This can often be avoided by identifying and closely inspecting the shortest program necessary to reproduce the problem before posting.? – bfavaretto Jan 11 '14 at 19:14
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    I was wondering why your question was at -6 because I was impressed that you would come to meta and ask how to respond to criticism. Most people never ask how to improve, so I think that's great and gave the question an upvote. So, I checked the revisions. Shog9 wrote that question title, not you. Your question title probably got some people defensive and they downvoted it. Just FYI. I see now it's at -3 so maybe some other people agreed with me. – Kevin Panko Jan 11 '14 at 20:31
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    The user edited their comments; had they not done that, and the comments were really as obnoxious as you say, a moderator would have removed them over time. It was clarified that the user isn't a moderator with any special powers (of whom polite conduct is required even more than from anyone else), but simply a normal user with the same voting rights as tens of thousands of others. It was reinforced that politeness is required here at all times, and you were given hints on what to do if this happens ever again (flag for moderator attention). If that isn't good enough, what is? – Pëkka Jan 11 '14 at 21:54
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    @Ant I wouldn't judge others so fast if I were you. I just asked about that comment because it's a new canned comment created two days ago, and I thought your feedback could add to the discussion, had it been about that specific comment. – bfavaretto Jan 11 '14 at 21:56
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    @bfavaretto. Sorry, I didn't realize that. You and Pekka are right that I should not judge everyone as being one of the old boys! I do need to avoid being a jerk myself at this point. – Ant Jan 11 '14 at 22:01
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    Ant - that sounds great, much appreciated. Thanks for coming to Meta instead of just leaving the place for good - if there's ever another problem that can't be resolved, please be back. Emotions can run high for everyone involved, but there's usually an amicable resolution. :) – Pëkka Jan 11 '14 at 22:08
17

Stack Overflow (and the other sites in the Stack Exchange family) are community moderated.

Regular members of the community earn the privileges to help moderate the site so we don't need so many people with diamonds. When you get 10's of thousands of questions per week, you need the community to help.

Individual users who have at least 2000 reputation can edit questions, and users with at least 3000 reputation can vote to close questions.

However, the post you reference was neither closed nor edited. It does have 1 close vote, but that doesn't mean anything until it gets 5 close votes, so the "editing" you are referencing is likely comment editing or deletion. It could have been someone cleaning up their own comments, or if they were offensive, they might have been deleted by the community.

Individual users can edit their own comments within 5 minutes of posting, and can delete their own comments. The editing is to help fix typos, and the deletion of comments is also helpful in clearing up posts. Other users can flag comments that they find rude or offensive or otherwise unconstructive. It is all the ways we help keep the site clean.

If you see a comment that you do not think is constructive, you can flag it. If enough other users flag the same comment, it will be deleted, but also a moderator (the guys and gals with the diamonds) can also delete it.

In the end, the comments should be for clarifying the post and not much else. It is not for long discussions about the topic at hand. If you have a post that is attracting a lot of comments, you should pay attention to what those users are trying to say. Some of them might be harsh and some might be a bit more gentle, but more often than not, they usually have something constructive to offer. You can then take the advise to help edit your post to make it more constructive and useful, and to help get the answers you seek.

If you ever see a comment chain on a question getting out of wack, either too long or off-topic, you can flag for a moderators to clean up the comments, and possibly move the discussion about the question to meta (sort of like you did here). the meta discussion should be reserved for discussion the post itself, whether it is on or off-topic and how to fix it, not to discuss the content.

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    Thank you for the clarification. As I said above, I agree that if a question gets five different "close" votes, then it seems reasonable that it should be deleted. I would be fine with that. The guy did edit his posts (which is a good thing--he clearly realized he had overstepped). I am usually a lurker at stackoverflow (i.e., I look up previously answered questions) and I do think there can be some unpleasant mob-type behavior sometimes. People are generally great and generous with their time, but some answerers do seem to get away with some awful responses. – Ant Jan 11 '14 at 18:48
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    @Ant closing <> deleting. They are different. Closing just means "we don't think this question fits the site, but you have an opportunity to fix it up". Deleting removes the post from view. – psubsee2003 Jan 11 '14 at 18:55
  • @Ant: you are still confusing closure with deletion. – lpapp Jan 11 '14 at 18:55
23

(I have no knowledge of your question's topic, so please take no offence if my assessment of your situation is incorrect)

To me, the core of your question looks like this:

  1. I have code and a .pro file
  2. I tried to use the code and .pro file.
  3. The code is big and messy, so I'm not going to show it.
  4. Here is my .pro file: ........
  5. It compiles but does not run as expected.

Then, someone said that your .pro file looks fine, and requested a SSCCE.

To which you replied:

I'm sorry, but the code is huge and old. It is not possible to provide an example that would make sense.

Then, you received the following response:

@Ant: I am afraid this question will be closed soon, then. There is nothing fundamentally wrong in the project that I can personally tell.

You seem to be focusing on the first sentence, and ignoring the second sentence, which is actually the most important part of the comment. Since this user has lots of reputation in your question's topic, I'll assume that his assessment of your .pro file is correct. Then, what remains of your question is basically this:

  1. I have code and a .pro file
  2. I tried to use the code and .pro file.
  3. The code is big and messy, so I'm not going to show it.
  4. Here is my .pro file: ........
  5. It compiles but does not run as expected.

The problem with this question is that others cannot even reproduce your problem, because you're witholding crucial information that's needed for verifying the problem. If you show an equivalent (reduced) code sample, then the experienced ones could step through the whole process, and perhaps spot a silly mistake that you'd never think of.

19

TL;DR: I am not "power-mad", just a community member as everyone else is here.

Long explanation: I gave a reason for my downvote and close vote in order to get some improvement to the question, because otherwise people cannot help, including me. As I explained over there in the comment, five people would need to cast a close vote for the closure to happen. Also, it is worth noting that closure is not the same as deletion.

I mentioned to the OP that the pasted files are OK, and it should work by design. I have worked with the technology in question for years. I also tried to verify the problem locally.

Instead of merely downvoting and casting a close vote without any feedback for improvement, I wrote to the OP that it would be better to get a self-contained example. That way I can get into a position to help the OP, which I would really like. That is why we are around here, including me, right? :)

I thought the feedback would appreciated, as usually people ask for downvote reasons, et al.

There was no radical content change in my comment. It is very likely the OP did not update the page in the meantime, but I did not change the content significantly. I can probably still quote myself fom memory if needed, but I will skip it, as the discussion seems to have been removed over there.

Having that said this, if someone feels a comment is non-constructive like that, it is always possible to flag it (with over 15 reputation, which the OP seems to have).

11

I've taken the liberty of editing the title here to reflect a question.

First: STAY CALM

The world is full of unhelpful jackasses. Ignore them. Flag particularly unhelpful comments as "not constructive".

Second: Do your homework

An awful lot of questions can be answered - or at least asked more effectively - by spending a bit of time with Google first. Don't worry if you don't understand everything you find - keep notes, and make use of them when asking or revising your question; letting folks know what you know and what you don't can be invaluable in avoiding unhelpful criticism and obtaining a useful answer.

Always: Respond to requests for information or clarification

Sometimes, for all your best efforts, it is not possible for us to answer a question because key information is missing. If someone asks for additional information, do your best to provide it by editing your question.

  • 2
    "The world is full of unhelpful jackasses" Exhibit A ---> – yannis Jan 11 '14 at 19:13
5

Welcome to Stack Overflow, relax, drink some water.

You should understand that "off topic" is not the same as "waste of time", and sometimes not even "bad", so don't take it as an insult. It either means that the question should go on another site in the Stack Exchange Network (which IMHO is a legitimate feedback, no one expects a new user to know the exact differences, even seasoned ones may have trouble deciding at times), or otherwise is not considered a good question for Stack Overflow.

To avoid ambiguity in what is considered "good", there are quite elaborate guidelines, but they can all be summarized as "the question and any answer it attracts can not contribute others who will find it in the future". Keep in mind that this is a Q&A site, so you need to include enough information for the answers to be relevant and meaningful (including enough relevant code), reproducible, and otherwise professional.

The user who downvoted and closevoted you (which is not enough to close your question as psubsee2003 explained), is just trying to tell you that this question is missing some crucial information. He's trying to help you (and help the community at the same time). Closing questions that aren't useful due to a missing data is important - otherwise we'll all drown in junk questions that no one can use (I'm not saying yours is one of these, only five members are enough to decide that; so far there's only one.)

  • unfortunately, I have seen your post just as I am having to leave the office for the day. I do understand you. If you'd seen the guy's original comments, I think you might understand a little better why I asked this question! I am relaxed now because I understand that one person can't derail things. Anyway, thank you and good day. – Ant Jan 11 '14 at 19:13
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    @Ant Best thing here would be to forget about the guy's comments. We all have had a bad day every now and then (or at least I know I have), and have posted a bitchy comment (or two). No reason to let a few comments spoil your SO experience, just move on. – yannis Jan 11 '14 at 19:17
-2

Many a times I found a question is useful and down-voted. People with huge reputation tends to defy other peoples requirements without a research effort. Research effort has been mentioned in a rule for the site. They should remember not only the stackoverflow members are only watching the site for instant help. People those who are not members and web searchers may come across the same problem in future and this will misguide them, leaving a bad impression on the site. Useful questions/answers are sometimes down-voted, deleted and discouraged but the question/answer with no or little help are encouraged. Very easy to shade the true answer and misguide people. How would take this hypocritical attitude?

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