DISCLAIMER: This question is not a response to cleanup activity of old content. It is about current content, that is blocked soon after posting.

I am aware, that I am not the first one to address this issue. All the more I think it should be resolved. I have made an effort to read all related questions and their answers and I really can't conclude it's resolved just yet.

So here's the thing (in case this is the first time you hear of someone unhappy with actions taken by the moderators): Some recent moderator activity has left me quite displeased. Specifically, there has been a number of cases, where questions/answers have been closed/deleted without prior notice, proper explanation and suggestions for improvement.

In the last weeks, the problem has become intolerable and I feel that the current moderator team fails to pursue their mission - which AFAIU consists in guidance as well as gentle and exceptional intervention.
This makes being an active and caring part of this community a frustrating experience. Which leaves me with a simple question:

As a mere community member, what can I do in this situation?

The argument has been made, that the current moderators are elected and therefore what they do is right. Which suggests I'll just have to live with it. However:

  • Only 3 of the 4 moderators have really been elected.
  • Only 11.8% of those entitled to vote have actually done so.
  • Just because you're elected, doesn't mean everything you do is right.
  • If you really are elected, then you have a responsibility towards those who elected you, which encompasses acting as promised prior to elections. This is precisely not what's happening IMHO.
  • Voting doesn't mean to give up power, but only to delegate it.

In any case, I don't see trying to ignore this as an option. Since I just don't know how to respond to this, I thought meta might be the right platform for that. I am not looking to blow off steam or to attack anybody. I am looking for solutions to this problem.

Therefore I would propose the following:

For all content, that is not clearly off-topic or entirely substandard or causes immediate damage to the community (i.e. spam, declaration of religious wars):

  • Content should no longer be blocked without prior warning.
  • Content should no longer be blocked without leaving a proper explanation after doing so and pointers as to how to improve the content.
    I've seen quite a number of things blocked, that arguably weren't conforming to the rules in place for programmers.SE, but that definitely contained quite some value. Yet no effort has been made to provide guidance.

Any thoughts on that?

  • 1
    In the SE case, the power is not transferred from the voters (who really have no power of their own, other than leave the site), but from the owners of the site (i.e. Stack Exchange Inc.) The voting only serves to see who should get this power. Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:14
  • 2
    Just a correction, the fourth moderator did stand in the election and he came fourth. When it became clear that an extra moderator was needed, SE announced that the 4th placed candidate would get the job - just as though there'd been 4 moderator spots available in the election.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:20
  • Do you not know about the cleanup effort? I'm not even part of this community and I know about it. Deletions and closures should not have come as a surprise to anyone. There are many meta posts regarding this rescoping.
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:22
  • @Richard: No, I don't know about it. It would be a lot more helpful if you just shared one such post, instead of talking about how many there are.
    – back2dos
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:36
  • 1
    @back2dos Programmers.SE Summer Cleaning although there have been several sub- and follow-up initiatives since then. I encourage you to browse the recent questions list; my questions tagged moderation are a good place to start. Also see The Six Subjective Question Guidelines — Enforcement Notice.
    – user8
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:41
  • @MarkTrapp: Ok, thanks. I was not talking about that. Edited my question to clarify.
    – back2dos
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:52

2 Answers 2


All four moderators were elected, not just three. We are all subject to constant peer-review from each other, the Stack Exchange team, the 100+ moderators across the Stack Exchange network, and users like you.

Every action is carefully considered, discussed, and explained: you need only look at the activity of each of the moderators on meta and the main site to see the amount of feedback we provide when we intervene. I personally make it a point to explain nearly every closure I do and respond to each and every complaint on meta: the other moderators do the same.

If you have an issue with a moderator or the moderator team and it isn't being resolved to your satisfaction via normal channels, you should contact the Stack Exchange team directly at [email protected].

  • 1
    Quite obviously the activity log doesn't show that you deleted this answer and who knows, how many other things you (or others) deleted don't show up either, so I don't see how such a log is of any help. And I would also like to know, where you explained the deletion of said answer. I can't see one, which really makes me doubt I should believe this: "I personally make it a point to explain nearly every closure I do".
    – back2dos
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:54
  • 4
    @back2dos The answer was converted to a comment, which deletes the original. The FAQ explains why we delete answers: when they're just a link to external content (like this one), they're meant to be comments, not full answers. Deletions aren't closures, though: when we leave feedback on deletions, only the owner of the deleted comment can see the feedback. But when we close questions, we almost always leave a publicly-viewable comment.
    – user8
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:57
  • 1
    @back2dos Also keep in mind that 10k+ users like yourself can view recently deleted questions via the 10k tools: we generally don't delete questions unless it's part of the backlog cleanup, the question is closed and the OP requests deletion, or there's a serious content issue (e.g. spam or abuse), but if there's a question that gets deleted you want to ask about, feel free to create a meta question when it happens.
    – user8
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 22:03
  • I know I can go and discuss every mod action at length. My point was, that such actions should be announced in advance if possible and/or properly explained afterwards (if no improvement is made within reasonable time). I think mod actions should be comprehensible on their own, without me having to ask (wasting my time and that of the mods). And I think mod actions should aim to improve poor content instead of merely deleting it, or (IMHO even worse) just freezing it. Therefore I think the first moderator action should be pointing out ways of improvement, unless really impossible.
    – back2dos
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 22:25
  • 4
    @back2dos The Stack Exchange platform is designed such that there are very, very few things that do not have an undo. We close questions to make sure they can be revised before the fall off the rails: the expectation is that they will be improved so they can be reopened. Letting a poor question fester doesn't help anyone.
    – user8
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 22:34
  • 4
    @back2dos And as I've said, we take great pains to provide a ton of proactive guidance when we intervene: if you read our comments and the FAQ, it should be pretty clear why we stepped in. If it isn't, discussing specific instances allows everyone to figure out what needs to improve—whether it's the FAQ or the comments we leave—for the next time it comes up. We're not going to get anywhere if we just talk about generalities and don't actually discuss specific failings.
    – user8
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 22:35
  • I have already spent quite some time discussing specific moderator decisions. They usually end at a point, where it becomes obvious that my counterpart and me have irreconcilable opinions what actions are appropriate and because of the difference in privileges, the only constructive option for me is yielding and hoping what I have said will be taken into consideration in the future. Thus far it hasn't. The general stance your team seems to be taking: "We don't see any problems".
    – back2dos
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 8:47
  • Let's talk specific: The deletion I pointed out primarily led to one thing: Loss of visibility. At the time, the answer was top voted, presented an interesting point and a comment contained a link to a thorough discussion on security.SE. Now there's a comment alluding to the xkcd, on linking to it, one new answer embedding it, and the link is lost within a comment that contains 3 links. In short: it's a mess. Chances are instead, that Robert would have incorporated psr's comment and the answer would have been accepted.
    – back2dos
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 9:04
  • But just to make it clear: There will always be someone disagreeing with specific moderator decisions. Sometimes it's me. And I can live with that. What's really striking me is the way you go about it in a number of cases. If you expect a closed question to improve, then you're really doing it wrong quite often. Your actions are not inviting revision, only retreat. It might not be what you intend to, but this is really how I perceive it and from the reactions you get you should be able to infer I am not the only one.
    – back2dos
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 9:10
  • @back2dos Can you elaborate and suggest, preferably in a new question, how we can improve the guidance provided in the FAQ about why answers that contain nothing more than a link are deleted? I've already explained to you why the answer was deleted, so if it's still not obvious even after reading what I've written and reading the FAQ, we should improve it.
    – user8
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 9:19

In order to solve the problem that you described, I recently proposed that moderators should have to defend their seat.

Should P.SE Moderators have to "defend their seat"?

I'd like to make two additional points:

  1. It's unfair to paint all moderators with the same broad brush. Some are quite good.
  2. Recently, it seems like the moderation has improved.

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