The comments on this Politics SE answer are but one of example of how argumentative and caustic people can be to each other specifically on that SE site compared to other SE sites.

I am open to the possibility that nothing needs to change and moderators must simply remain active, especially because there are penalties for users who continually post negatively flagged content (I think… so flagged comments affect this? I think so.)

But I am also open to new strategies to reduce the constant influx of arguing - of using slightly offensive language, personal attacks, and especially, too many comment threads descending into off-topic arguments. I’m sure anyone reading this has witnessed how sometimes people feel so strongly about refuting a certain point they hear that it is not important to them that what they are saying is not relevant to settling the original point of discussion.

Is it technically possible that a Stack Exchange site could require pre-approval of certain content? This happens on some Reddit subreddits, where the content is not even published until a moderator signs off on it.

The moderator could return the content to the poster requesting a revision.

I know this could have its own issues and may not be successfully implementable, but I would like to draw attention to that, in my opinion, the Politics Stack Exchange site has a problem that ideally would be fixed.

Stack Exchange is generally designed to produce better quality content than ordinary forums. But on Politics, the argumentativeness is up to the brim, and it may be very hard for moderators to staunch the flow. I believe we should aspire for something higher.

  • 3
    Define what the "certain content" is for which pre-approval would be required. How would content be determined in advance to be "certain content", and, thus, needing pre-approval? Where do you propose to get the hundreds, potentially thousands, of people needed to perform the work of evaluating this "certain content" for pre-approval?
    – Makyen
    Jan 10 at 3:23
  • 2
    It feels like a bit like something inherent to the topic - and potentially causing more work and drama not less Jan 10 at 3:24
  • 9
    This debate seems to be quite specific to a single site, and it appears that the issue should be addressed locally, initially using the flagging system. If it persists, it should be taken to the local META Site. In my view, it is overly and premature to make a request for resources when guidance from the moderation or some time for users to cool down would be sufficient. It was flagged as relates to only one specific network site Jan 10 at 3:29
  • 2
    I can see this idea being useful on a handful of sites other than Politics - religion sites, IPS, Skeptics... etc, so I'm not sure how this only relates to one site. While I understand @Makyen's point relative to SO's scale (and I doubt this would ever be considered on SO), most sites have a small enough number of comments that I can imagine finding a solution that would work without hugely increasing moderation needs on the site, particularly if it greatly reduces flagged comments.
    – Catija
    Jan 11 at 1:45
  • Voting to reopen because, as the close reason description in the dialog says, it's not for questions that can be applied to multiple sites even if they focus on one site. Jan 11 at 2:19
  • 3
    @This_is_NOT-a_forum dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/pre-approval The hyphenated pre-approval spelling is listed in the Cambridge dictionary, although the solid compound version is included it suggests that it is the less common version. In any case, it does not mean that pre-approval was "wrong" or needed to be modified. Jan 11 at 8:48
  • I mean, i'm sure they'd love to throw overflow ai at this
    – Kevin B
    Jan 11 at 15:27

3 Answers 3



  • The Staging Ground is a form of pre-approval, but it's SO-specific.
  • You can flag inappropriate comments
  • You can raise a custom moderator flag (on a post, not a comment to ensure a mod sees it) if a comment flag is insufficeient
  • Per-site Meta is an option to discuss problems with a site's culture or norms, but keep it constructive. You can contact Stack Exchange directly for serious issues the site mods can't/won't handle.

If I understand what you mean correctly, the Staging Ground project on Stack Overflow (currently paused) seems to be kinda what you're describing.

New questions go into the "Staging Ground" where (hopefully!) experienced community members can give constructive feedback and suggestions on questions before they get posted.

That said, that is (currently) SO-specific. If you'd like to raise an issue of a specific user behaving in violation of the CoC, you can raise a custom moderator flag explaining the issue. You can also contact SE directly (Trust and Safety > I want to report a Code of Conduct violation). Contacting SE directly should, for the most part, only be used if a custom flag doesn't work. There are a few cases where I'd contact SE directly (cross-site voting fraud with proof exceeding a mod flag, inappropriate socks on multiple sites, severe issues with a diamond moderator that cannot be addressed with them, the other mods, or Meta, etc.)

If you want, you can also post on the site's Meta, but I'd suggest reading this (everything above "The value of downvotes, at last"). If you want to discuss site culture (i.e., not one or two users behaving poorly), that can be a better choice. But please ensure you have a constructive post - a rant doesn't help.

In regards to the comments on the answer you linked*, if you feel they are getting out of hand, you can flag comments (No Longer Needed, Harassment/Bigotry/Abuse, or Unfriendly/Unkind). You can also raise a custom moderator flag on the answer requesting the comments get cleaned up (with rationale!). Note that site norms on if custom flags are appropriate for this can vary, and I'm not familiar with the guidance for Politics SE there.

*I have not read the answer nor the comments in depth, and I'm not taking a "side" in this answer. Rather, I'm giving general advise.

  • Note that site norms on if custom flags are appropriate for this can vary, Norms shouldn't matter. When in doubt, raise a mod flag. Flags raised in good faith should be marked helpful even when a mod decides on inaction. This assumes you don't keep raising flags to insist a mod handles your flag how you see fit. But you'll know when you crossed that line. You'll know for sure.
    – rene
    Jan 11 at 8:53
  • I'd describe the staging ground more as a pre-check than pre-approval, it comes with no warranties that a question is "approved/fit" at all. A question may get through the staging ground, but still get downvoted and closed.
    – Erik A
    Jan 11 at 10:13

There's no such thing as pre-approval, but moderators can prevent any comments from being posted on a post with a "comments only" lock. This only prevents comments, so voting and editing work like normal.

Additionally there is the "controversial post" notice, which is supposed to dissuade people from leaving poor comments (though it is not a lock and has no mechanical effects itself).


I feel like this throws an onerous burden onto the moderation team of the specific side. In addition to needing to review and judge every question - there's always going to be people unhappy that 'their' question was closed or rejected and especially in the context of politics - people can get unreasonable.

What's 'hostile' to one person might not be to someone else - that said within the framework of the code of conduct, or simply if there's too many comments a moderator can choose to intervene and if you feel a conversation is going too hostile and heated, flagging is an option after the fact.

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