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I've noticed that users with the close privilege sometimes try to close unpopular announcements; though they mostly end up being left open in review, occasionally end up being closed. (But soon reopened.)

I guess the goal is to sort of 'stick it' to the staff: we dislike your post so much that we're gonna close it- heeheehee. But downvotes do at least as good a job of displaying this sentiment- in fact, in my opinion, they're a better way of showing our collective disgruntlement and also have a more explicit and cosmetic effect. Besides, when the question is closed, we as a community lose our ability to share answers and give detailed/specific feedback on it.

Also...the people posting these questions have a diamond next to their names most of the time. If the question is closed, it will be reopened. Closing it accomplishes nothing, really.

So I guess the point is: If you disagree with or dislike an announcement from staff, instead of voting to close, please just downvote.

Examples of misguided close votes:

(This is my view of the problem, anyway. Perhaps someone else has a convincing argument to do the opposite.)

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    Yeah, leaving them open also lets more people express their dissatisfaction :).
    – bobeyt6
    Jul 18, 2023 at 0:35
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    I see the same thing with voting to delete unpopular staff answers. This was pervasive on MSO that local mods there were locking those answers. Jul 18, 2023 at 0:35
  • I also remember that there was a heavily downvoted staff question on MSO that didn't get any answers within 30 days and was thus automatically deleted by the Roomba, so a mod there posted a "dummy" answer to prevent that. Jul 18, 2023 at 0:38
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    That's been a bit of a unfortunate meta tradition. I realise there's a desire to protest, but personally I feel that sometimes its worth making a bit more of an effort than a simple vote to communicate - something more than the metaphorical angry grunt. Also, in more normal times, mods would close and reopen said posts, but we're a little short of active ones right now. Jul 18, 2023 at 0:46
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    Closing or deleting just because of disagreement, is an abuse of the privileges. The moderators should interfere (unless they’re on strike). Jul 18, 2023 at 0:49
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    What have the close reasons been for such posts?
    – bobeyt6
    Jul 18, 2023 at 0:50
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    "Not suitable for this site → This question does not appear to seek input and discussion from the community. If you have encountered a problem on one of our sites, please describe it in detail." - since if you take a 'very' strict viewpoint, announcements are not questions Jul 18, 2023 at 0:57
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    Generally we want Meta to be used for announcements, and using that close reason does not seem like an appropriate response to disagreeing with the role of Meta in announcements. Jul 18, 2023 at 1:03
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    I'm wondering... will mods suspend those users' review privilege after the strike is done? cc @JourneymanGeekOnStrike Jul 18, 2023 at 1:27
  • Yea, i mean, i can't disagree with you (on this), but there's zero hope of this post doing anything about it
    – Kevin B
    Jul 18, 2023 at 1:30
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    I don't think we ever have - and certainly not retroactively. I think the general response is to sigh in exasperation and reopen. They're clearly not roboreviewing - just reviewing and voting strategically Jul 18, 2023 at 1:36
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    @CDR nothing related to this question, i just wanted to keep my options open for the future. ;)
    – Kevin B
    Jul 18, 2023 at 3:32
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    I agree. It's a childish behavior, as those who cast the vote are well aware it has no meaning, the staff will just reopen, and they make it with one purpose: to annoy the staff and/or site mods. Not nice, and not constructive in any way. Jul 18, 2023 at 7:51
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    It also means folks wouldn't have the option to give an opinion that's meaningful to them until its reopened. Jul 18, 2023 at 8:51
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    @user3840170 it would have had a meaning, if it could somehow actually have effect. But it doesn't. It does not make the question closed (maybe for a short while until it's reopened) and it does not, in any way, convince the staff that they are wrong, only the opposite. Jul 18, 2023 at 8:53

3 Answers 3

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There's a few things on meta culture that annoy me - and while this is one of them, I kind of understand the mindset behind it.

Folks are frustrated, and well, quite a lot of the time, there's a failure to communicate. Personally I feel that a well written answer-reply works, but when a close post gets reopened almost immediately, it's a somewhat more 'obvious' way to show displeasure at the subject.

We use meta in a few off-label ways - including announcements, and I'd argue in many of these situations, these posts should be seen as seeking input and discussion from the community, and these closures in general reflect both a feeling of that input and discussion being ignored and a certain taking the opportunity to 'get a quick kick in' at distant-seeming powers that be.

It also takes a lot less emotional labour to do so. Writing a good meta post is hard. And a closevote, downvote or even a comment is 'less work' than writing an answer. A close vote in a sense also 'shuts down' the post, at least for a little while. It's essentially a unique way (in the SE context) to heckle those in power.

Some might call it 'toxic' - but I'd say it's the way for folks frustrated they don't feel heard in any other way to feel like they're being heard. Which I guess is toxic, but who is, depends on your point of view.

Not everyone can sit down and post a compelling, well-written answer - and certainly not all the time, and it's a way to let the company know that post is... not appreciated.

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  • is it "toxic" or is it a healthy question to something "toxic"? Not always so easy to discern ... Jul 18, 2023 at 20:05
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TL;DR: I agree with the OP that it is legit for Stack Overflow staff to post annoucements here, even if they are not seeking input or discussion. And I'll try to explain.


Imagine a big restaurant, for e.g. 100 people. Its purpose is to serve people who come to eat or drink, each diner is being served and can order food or drink. So far so good.

However, the restaurant owners might also decide to host a concert in the place, e.g. some band that will draw audience that will come just to watch the show without ordering any food.

Now, hosting concerts is not the purpose of the restaurant. But the owners own the place, and it's their right to do that, it's another usage for the space they own and equipment they buy.

If you agree with the above, you should also agree about the similar case of Stack Exchange: while the purpose is Q&A, the owners can decide to use the platform for other things, like advertising/announcing internal changes or policies.

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    I don't think this is anything special about the owners etc; it's just that Meta is used for announcements. Individual site metas use announcements e.g. for moderator elections and resignations as well. Often community policies are determined in a discussion post and then later honed into an announcement post. Yes, this drifts away from the general Q&A format, but that's fine, we've agreed as a community to use Meta sites a bit differently than the main sites. Sometimes it's clunky and lacks some useful functionality for this purpose, but mostly it works reasonably well. Jul 18, 2023 at 21:24
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    A Q&A format isn't well suited to meta discussion anyway. Jul 19, 2023 at 2:13
  • @KarlKnechtel all the other alternatives suck worse. And effective meta is possible on this platform. It just needs the right conditions. Jul 19, 2023 at 15:07
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I used to do this quite a bit in the past, for the exact reason Journeyman Geek on Strike mentioned:

We use meta in a few off-label ways - including announcements, and I'd argue in many of these situations, these posts should be seen as seeking input and discussion from the community, and these closures in general reflect both a feeling of that input and discussion being ignored and a certain taking the opportunity to 'get a quick kick in' at distant-seeming powers that be.

I would use the "This question does not appear to seek input and discussion from the community...." close reason when it appeared that not only was my position and the position of the announcement so different that we were almost in two different worlds, but that the announcement was written in a way as to indicate that a decision had already been made and that the post was simply an announcement. If the post was written as "This is what we are planning, but we're open to having our minds changed by high-quality prose arguments posted as answers.", then the question would not be closable.

Some have mentioned that using close votes in the way mentioned above is abuse. I might venture to claim the opposite, that using a Q&A system to make announcements that are not open to debate is an abuse and that those announcements can be made somewhere else, like the company blog.

SPArcheon correctly summarized my views. By posting here, on a site with a Q&A model, a staff member (or actually anyone) implicitly states that they are open to feedback through the answer system. When that poster actually is not open to feedback, that triggers the "does not appear to seek input and discussion from the community" close reason. The post is not genuine and does not meet the community's standards.

Think about it this way. We use the "does not appear to seek input and discussion" close reason extensively to close rant and rant-ish questions where the poster just wants to share with us how much they think the network, users, moderators, etc. suck and how dare we downvote and close their posts, etc. These users are not really open to feedback. They are using the site to share their preconceived feelings and views and these feelings and views are unlikely to change based on a few well-written answers. I don't think there are many people here who would disagree with this use of the close reason. Why should the posts of staff be held to a different standard, one where they are not required to be open to feedback in order to post? Rather, staff should lead by example, behaving as role models for the community and the behaviors they want the community to adopt.

How do we know whether or not a poster is open to feedback? This, like most things in moderation, is rarely explicit but must be understood from the totality of the interaction - the content of the post, the tone of the post, the social, political, etc. context the post is made in, and the user's past interactions with the network (if any). The posts of staff members, like those of others, are similarly evaluated by the community to determine if they are genuine requests for feedback or just staff members using (or abusing) the site to dump whatever content they feel onto the community.

Just to be clear, I don't want to make this a discussion about legal rights. Certainly, the company has the legal right to grant its own staff permission to post content that would otherwise be inappropriate and/or closable and to forcibly reopen or undelete questions closed or deleted by the community. My thoughts here are that the practice of moderation is not the practice of law and legal rights are irrelevant or at least tangential to how we vote on questions.

If the company wants a site where they can post anything they want and the community can't touch it, then it has its blog, or it can stand up a Stack-like site that looks like Meta Stack Exchange but that doesn't allow downvoting, closevoting, or any other behavior that staff find offensive. That's what a blog is for, for posting a person's opinions, insights, or views. Meta is not a blog.

If the company doesn't like the current community-driven Q&A model anymore and wants to abolish it in favor of one where the company decides what is high and what is low quality, what should get closed, etc., then it can make that change. The company should also expect that such a move would trigger another exodus.

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    If you're going to argue that using Meta to make announcements is "abuse", you're gonna have to suggest a better alternative than the blog that nobody reads and lacks any proper form of interaction.
    – Cerbrus
    Jul 18, 2023 at 10:32
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    Funny thing was - I actively was sabotaging the company (with some internal support) when they decided not to post on meta, cause they couldn't quite handle the place, by cross posting. The blog's not 'ours' - meta is. Jul 18, 2023 at 10:40
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    I think my argument against it is - anyone who dosen't want to use meta shouldn't have the 'meta is hostile' argument, and anyone who does should be rewarded - closing is negative reinforcement of what I feel is a desirable behaviour, and upvoting the 'good' stuff and giving thoughtful answers is positive reinforcement. Jul 18, 2023 at 14:36
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    @Cerbrus I think Robert point is exactly that: since they don't want the interaction in the first place, then they shouldn't try to pose as open to feedback by posting on media. They should instead post on the blog so that everyone will be able to see that they didn't care about what the users could have to say.
    – SPArcheon
    Jul 18, 2023 at 15:34
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    Agree with @SPArcheon. Announcements are fine. Announcements that show zero intent to discuss accompanied by aggressively restricting responses & actively deleting them is the real issue.
    – vbnet3d
    Jul 27, 2023 at 15:51

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