This is not a duplicate of Add a way for moderators to cast a normal, non binding close/open vote as that asks for the ability for moderators to cast a non-binding vote. This, on the other hand, asks for the ability to simply add things to community review, without casting a vote.

I like my hammer. It's nice to be able to instantly close an off-topic post, especially at times when the site isn't too active.

But the hammer is double-edged: if moderators constantly hammer-close off-topic questions, they never end up in the review queues, and the community gets "trained" to wait for a mod hammer.

If moderators could "mark" a post as (potentially) off-topic without actually hammer-closing it, the question would be taken to the close queue for the community to handle, and then the community gets "trained" to monitor the review queues.

The mechanism for such "marking" already exists: one would expect an off-topic flag to get the question into the the close review queue for the community to handle. But as a moderator, flagging a post as off-topic has the same effect as a close vote: it's a binding action.

I think moderators should have both options: a binding close vote to hammer-close, and a non-binding flag to get a question community-reviewed in the close queue. This would be extremely useful, especially for gray-areas of a site's scope, where a binding close vote isn't an appropriate action.

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    It was declined back in the days of Jeff, now with new team in place, there is a chance they will reconsider. IMO better post new answer in there, explaining why this is useful, and hopefully SE staff will notice, take a look, and reconsider the decision. Jan 11, 2016 at 15:25
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    I wrote my answer to the linked duplicate before I was employed here, and before I had moderator rights anywhere. I stand by it; in 5 years of discussion, I've yet to hear a compelling argument for allowing this. Please stand by your own decisions to close or not close until you're shown good reason to do otherwise; don't hide behind the crowd.
    – Shog9
    Jan 11, 2016 at 15:35
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    @Shog9 The compelling reason on Worldbuilding during the beta period was because we wanted a discussion of what should be on and off topic to happen with the community. If a post was clearly off topic we would close it, if it was on topic then fine. If it was borderline though there were several cases where I wanted to push it into the review queue to see what the consensus was. Just because I was a moderator didn't mean I wanted to also dominate the on/off topic conversation. Now the site is better defined it's not come up so much but during the beta period I'd have liked this.
    – Tim B
    Jan 11, 2016 at 16:00
  • Drawing attention to the question in chat or meta so someone else pushed it into the queue worked as a work-around, but it was still annoying to have lost an ability by becoming a moderator.
    – Tim B
    Jan 11, 2016 at 16:01
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    It's a false confidence, @Tim - if it gets closed in /review, all you know is that 5 people agreed with you; if it doesn't, you know at least three people disagreed. Review - and close voting in general - is intended to make sure that there are multiple eyes on things, but hardly guarantees broad consensus; if you want a real discussion then start one.
    – Shog9
    Jan 11, 2016 at 21:06
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    So the real answer to this question would be: "Don't, you got the site's meta for this"?
    – Mast
    Jan 12, 2016 at 7:10

1 Answer 1


I think it's better to either close it or let the community handle it entirely on their own. Putting something in the close queue is pretty much the same hand-holding that you're concerned is having a bad effect on your community's independence from moderator intervention. If you see an issue with things not going into the queue that should, or a lack of reviewers, you really should bring it up on meta to ensure the community stays healthy.

I try not to unilaterally close something unless it's clear to me the community would close it eventually, or we are having a problem with “bears” that needs to be nipped in the bud (even though we've asked folks not to feed them). Not everything I would close gets closed, but it's better for the site I moderate on to try to err on the side of letting too many questions stay open than to be too heavy handed.

A comment mentioned that my stance is contrary to the guidance in A Theory of Moderation, but I disagree. The blog post states:

So in summary, if you are a community moderator on a Stack Exchange site, here’s what to expect:
Keep the site reasonably on topic by closing, migrating, or removing blatantly off-topic questions.

My interpretation of "moderators should do as little as possible" includes "but no less than is required to keep a community healthy". I'm not going to leave an obviously off topic question open when I could close it. That would be misconstruing the intent of "as little as possible". If I'm unsure of what the community would do with a question, trying to nudge them toward closing it by putting it in a queue is doing more than "as little as possible".

  • I respectfully, but totally disagree with this answer. Sure, it'd be great if a community does have enough active reviewers that hand-holding isn't necessary. And I agree that moderators aren't in place to "hand hold" the community in their decisions. However, in the absence of active users (at all times or even during slow days), why should a mod let something just stick around when he/she knows it's probably worthy of further community attention? I think the OP's proposition is not about hand-holding, but rather about site clean-up & maintenance -- which is a primary purpose for mods. Apr 28, 2019 at 17:54
  • Letting a post slip too far down the active list or too far down the chronological list increases the chance that bad posts linger on the site indefinitely or forever. Addressing such posts in meta is time-consuming and also delayed. Why not simply add a way for mods to flag to queue? I really don't think this is hand-holding. My understanding (from reading a number of moderation posts) is that many mods just create separate accounts to capture these issues anyways. So why not just simply provide a direct and otherwise unobtrusive tool for mods to "fix" this problem? Apr 28, 2019 at 17:58
  • @theforestecologist A site not having enough active users to put things in the review queues, but too many posts flying past for moderately active users to handle seems like a very strange situation to me. If there aren't enough active users to put something in the queue, there probably aren't enough to review things either. Moderators primary purpose is to handle things the community can't handle that are disrupting the site, not "site clean-up". The community is supposed to do that collectively. If a mod thinks a question should be closed, they should close it.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 28, 2019 at 18:10
  • regarding your last sentence: the SE Theory of Moderation suggests this isn't the case. Mods should only close "blatantly bad" Q's but leave other close-voting up to the community. Further, the theory of moderation also suggests that part of a mod's duty is "janitorial" (which corroborates my usage of "site clean-up" in my previous comment).Overall, though, the point I'm trying to make is that I think mods could help trap a bit more trash they're looking at anyway w/out reducing the community-focus of site control. Apr 28, 2019 at 19:52

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