Note: The term "moderator" used herein refers primarily to high-reputation users, not to those with diamonds by their names (although that is also useful).

In the long tradition of "How can I become a better ..." on Stack Overflow:

  • Think of your biggest pet peeve of moderators.
  • Read all the answers
  • If your pet peeve doesn't exist then
    • Post a new answer - only ONE pet peeve, and at most 3 short sentences of explanation (No Too Long, Didn't Read (TLDR), please)
  • else
    • Vote up your pet peeve since it already exists. Add comments to suggest improvements.

Please try to remain objective and dispassionate. Phrase your pet peeve in terms of an improvement I might make, rather than a negative statement.

Avoid: "I hate when my question starts getting closed without comment"
Instead: "Please leave a comment regarding the reasons for voting to close"

I have a very narrow view of what Stack Overflow is, and what it could be. My hope is that I'll learn new ways of helping maintain it while frustrating people less. I know there are many moderators who are also open to suggestions.


5 Answers 5


My Biggest pet peeve is when some questions are allowed through and others are closed.

Either go back and close all the old 'What's your favorite...' questions, or let them all through.

Edit: Some of me does believe that it has to do with reputation. Higher Reputation users are allowed more leeway than lower reputation users, and I believe that to be unfair.

For instance, if a 1000 Reputation or less user had posted this question, it would have been closed post haste.

  • 6
    One of my biggest pet peeves is your trigger-happy close finger. I am in favor of much more relaxed standards as to what's allowed and what's not. Just because some subjective or otherwise fun questions are allowed through doesn't mean all have to be (or none have to be). Let the people decide. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 20:03
  • 4
    Yep... in the early days you could post an XKCD comic or something and get 1000 rep from it. Now if you do that, the same guys who posted it before will close your thread.
    – TM.
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 20:03
  • 1
    @nobody: That view was brought up (stackoverflow.com/questions/182833/…) and received very little support. There are two camps, the stringent and the relaxed: You just happen to belong to the latter. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 20:24
  • In fact, it received -15 votes! So I guess that means the community doesn't really like that view a bit. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 20:28
  • 3
    I think you're missing my point - I believe that each post should be judged based on its merits, not on rule-based criteria. As an example, my two highest ranked questions can be considered off topic, yet they each have over 100 upvotes. I think this says that pigeonholing questions doesn't work. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 20:49
  • 1
    @nobody: You're right, and if I had my way, those questions would be relegated to programming forums like Digg and Reddit, and this site would be 'pure' and filled with quality questions. What is it about the internet that everyone wants to become the Least Common Denominator? Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 21:19

I would LOVE if people would explain their upvote/downvote. Particularly their downvotes, votes to close, etc.

  • 4
    Downvoting for irony. (I left a comment for meta-irony). Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:21
  • 1
    people should be forced to leave a reason why they downvoted
    – user134813
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:26
  • 3
    I don't think that they should be forced, but it is the right thing to do.
    – Rob
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:27
  • 4
    forced : Why? Much like the metrics for measuring programmer productivity, it is easily gamed. The only reason to force them is to know who did it so you can revenge-downvote them. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:28
  • 5
    No Gortok, some people like to know what was wrong with their answer so they can improve. Not everybody thinks your way and instantly seeks revenge upon people
    – user134813
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:36
  • 1
    @John T: Then it wouldn't hurt if the comment was anonymous, would it? Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:38
  • Put it on Uservoice, and when I have votes, I'll vote for it. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:43
  • 3
    I'd also vote for a suggestion that gave pre-canned reasons for downvoting in a dropdown ("User Has No idea what he's talking about", "Answer not Applicable", "Too Convoluted to Understand", "Blatant Rep Whoring") Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:44
  • I agree. It can be as simple as a pop-up which auto posts a comment for that particular post.
    – HyperCas
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:44
  • 1
    To be fair, this is a general pet peeve among SO; whereas the OP was asking for specific problems with what Moderators do. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:46
  • @Adam: Perhaps not. I know of moderators that don't downvote at all. The good thing is that you don't know who is voting on your stuff: So you'd never know if a Moderator ever voted down your question. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:49
  • 1
    Some moderators never downvote?!? How can this be! I'm certainly glad votes are anonymous - there would be so much more anger and unhappiness if it was known who specifically downvoted. And we think the closing and editing wars are bad...
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:55
  • 1
    Personally, I like people who downvote. It means they can recognize bad as well as Good. Those are people I want on my team; not just those that only say something when someone does something right. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:57
  • 1
    It would be very considerate to leave feedback for any negative action, but shouldn't be forced. Too much friction, downvotes would drop dramatically anonymous or not.
    – Rex M
    Commented Apr 2, 2009 at 0:29
  • 2
    @George Stocker: If we're talking about general pet voting peeves, I'd nominate sympathy upvoting. If I downvote a bad answer, and somebody casts a sympathy upvote, we've given the guy 8 rep for a bad answer. Commented Nov 4, 2009 at 15:17

In my opinion, SO mod-users need to be significantly less active in closing and editing. I think a lot of them are getting off on a power-trip.

  • Funny that I tend to only edit questions, if I think they're liable to get closed. If only to give someone half a chance of getting their question answered.
    – GregD
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:19
  • 1
    This. Don't edit everything just because you can. It may feel good having the power at some times but don't abuse it.
    – user134813
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:26
  • Why isn't this answer community wiki and ever other one is?
    – Malfist
    Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:33
  • 4
    The point of editing is to make a question better. Either more gramatically correct, more clear, remove extraneous stuff (Like "hello"'s and "Thank you"'s. Such things do nothing to improve the question. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:34
  • @Malfist. Because I forgot the checkbox. Commented Feb 28, 2009 at 18:38
  • 1
    @ Mystere Man: Is a little friendliness (e.g. a single sentence of "thank you" at the end of a question...) really that evil that it needs to be removed? Does that improve the question in your opinion?
    – dionadar
    Commented Mar 1, 2009 at 5:03
  • 4
    @dionadar: It's 'fluff'. The 'thank you' is implied, as is the 'hi'. Your name is explicitly shown in your profile name/avatar. We like to get to the crux of what's important, and subtly remind people that this is not a forum, so don't treat it like one. Commented Mar 2, 2009 at 13:29

All in all, I feel that the moderation on SO has gotten better as time's gone by. At one point in time, it seemed like you couldn't post anything outside "Here's my code, here's my question." I do still think that moderators should be a little bit more forgiving. For the most part, I feel that if it's a grey area, we should give the poster the benefit of the doubt.


I'd like to see the FAQ updated with a moderator related section, with information on things like tag consolidation.

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