The question Smoke detector bad keyword detection was recently closed due to not being "about the software that powers the Stack Exchange network, within the scope defined in the help center." MEE is Johann Gambolputty made a comment that

SmokeDetector is a community run project to help to fight spam. Therefore your question is unfortunately off-topic for this site. You can find help in this chatroom.

If questions about community run moderation bots (e.g. SmokeDetector, FireAlarm, Natty, Queen, etc.) are off-topic here on Meta Stack Exchange, is there anywhere on the Stack Exchange network where one can post a Question and Answer-style question on them, or are they only on-topic in appropriate chat rooms?

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    Well, one could propose a site for it, but I am not sure it will be successful, considering that there already IS a private team for some of the bots. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


Sure, you can ask on meta. Tag it and Charcoal will see it. But...

For SmokeDetector, it's probably best to ask us directly first - what you think you're seeing probably isn't what's happening, simply because it's a complex system with lots of moving parts. Charcoal has a bunch of tools, all public, but many confusing to the outsider.

Meta questions are heavy for everyone involved. The last thing I (or anyone) want(s) is to get meta spun up over a perceived issue, only to have the answer be "yeah, that's not what that number means". That creates a bunch of unnecessary work for everyone involved.

I can say this directly for SmokeDetector, but I suspect many maintainers would rather address questions one-to-one before spinning up the meta speculation machine.

  • There are 2 HTTP connections drawn between SD and SE chat. I think you mean one of them to be a WS.
    – rene
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 20:55
  • Heh, good catch. @ArtOfCode.
    – Undo
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 20:56
  • 1
    Blame my years of training ...
    – rene
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 21:01
  • 2
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 21:23

You can ask questions about that community run moderation bot right here on MSE. No one that is being hit by that bot or want to discuss issues pertaining to it should be forced to join a chatroom1 and discuss it there.

Do notice the difference between a community run moderation bot and a community run bot. We're not going to have questions here about KennyBot nor am I going to answer those.

The bots that assist the community with moderation do have a public appearance, make their presence known in some way or another. I would argue it is in our all interest that the broader community can monitor what these bots are doing, question the features it has and raise concerns where due. By ruling these questions out and directing them to a chatroom with like minded people is bound to have a biased response.

Although the code of the Smoke Detector (and other bots) isn't maintained by Stack Exchange, you can argue it does power the Stack Exchange network for moderation. Similar to how the Stack Exchange Data Explorer powers the Stack Exchange Network for data analysis. Questions about moderation bots are on topic.

To prevent an overload of questions I do propose to limit the questions to the and types related to how the bot interacts with the users on the site. Bugs and feature requests can stay on the GitHub repositories or other means provided by the bot maintainers.

1. but if you can and are willing it might be the route of least resistance for all parties involved

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