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My impression is that a lot of moderators on stackexchange sites overuse their powers. It seems they browse the site for fun in their free time, and close questions trying to find a reason. They rationalize that they are doing good community service but in my opinion they are effectively deterring new users and choking off the tiniest seeds of discussion when they do so. Thereby, they are preventing the creation of value on the site, which inhibits the growth of stack exchange.

Therefore, moderator powers should be used responsibly and sparingly. It is not something that is fun to play with when someone is bored. In most cases, other users who are more knowledgeable in the given topic have time to answer the question, before a moderator comes in and does harm by closing or deleting it, though I'm sure his intentions are good. This just results a lot of users leaving the site, and moving to other programming forums, (such as reddit), where moderators are more liberal.

I understand that moderation is a fine balance, because in too much noise the signal gets lost which results in ghosts towns. Therefore, moderation is necessary. But at the same time, too much moderation also suppresses the signal all together.

Here is an example of what I mean. I asked this question a few hours ago. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/128935/why-are-machine-learning-quant-researchers-paid-so-much It got closed by a moderator, because it's too localized. At the same time, another question was also closed by the same moderator, stating that it's not a real question https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/128922/why-c-is-called-c-sharp

I cannot see why either questions are offtopic, other than that the moderator couldn't answer it, so he closed it. In the first case, I don't see why interviews are ontopic but salary is offtopic. This question concerns everyone with CS degree as they could apply for this job. That specifically includes programmers. In addition, machine learning quants are highly compensated all over the world, not just in specific regions.

Similarly, I can't see why the second question is offtopic either. In my opinion, it's a perfectly good question. Just because there's an answer for it on wikipedia, it's doesn't make it not a real question.

Anyway, this is my opinion and you can take it or leave it. I just wanted to draw attention to the dangers of too eager moderation that I have noticed on stack exchange lately

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My impression is that a lot of moderators on stackexchange sites overuse their powers. It seems they browse the site for fun in their free time, and close questions trying to find a reason.

Most questions are closed by regular members, moderators close only but a few of them, and unless the questions are blatantly off topic (like your own) they always wait for at least a couple of close votes from regular members.

They rationalize that they are doing good community service but in my opinion they are effectively deterring new users and choking off the tiniest seeds of discussion when they do so.

Whatever your opinion may be, the stats show otherwise. In a comment on your closed question you write machine learning quants are highly compensated all over the world, not just in specific regions. How the hell do you know that? Where's the data to support that statement? That's not discussion amongst professionals, that's something else, something I don't have any problem if it get's choked off.

Thereby, they are preventing the creation of value on the site, which inhibits the growth of stack exchange.

Or they are doing a good job cleaning the crap, and allowing good questions to gain more exposure.

Therefore, moderator powers should be used responsibly and sparingly.

They are. 3K+ users are doing most of the cleaning up, when it comes to closing questions. And almost every 3K- user helps by editing / flagging / voting.

I understand that moderation is a fine balance, because in too much noise the signal gets lost which results in ghosts towns. Therefore, moderation is necessary. But at the same time, too much moderation also suppresses the signal all together.

But at the same time you don't allow even for the slightest possibility that your own question is actually pure noise, and instead of asking for it to be reopened in a constructive way, you post this rant. Hint, if people knew their questions where pure noise, they wouldn't post them in the first place.

In the first case, I don't see why interviews are ontopic but salary is offtopic. This question concerns everyone with CS degree as they could apply for this job.

Salary is highly localized. Mark explained that in a comment, I tried as well. That's it, plain an simple. If you can't back up your opinions on salary with hard facts, don't expect anyone to take them seriously.

Similarly, I can't see why the second question is offtopic either. In my opinion, it's a perfectly good question. Just because there's an answer for it on wikipedia, it's doesn't make it not a real question.

It's off topic, because Programmers SE is not a replacement for Wikipedia, or any other reference. Why does the internet need yet another place that explains why C# is called C Sharp? What's the point? The question is trivial and answerable via a very simple web search. Hence, not suitable for Programmers SE.


You spent quite some time in telling us what's wrong with moderation. I'm quite puzzled on why there isn't a single constructive suggestion in your rant. Just one, and I'd be happy. But you've chosen to just vent your frustration, cry wolf. Yeah, ok, for arguments sake let's say the mods are all you think of them. So what? What are you doing to help remedy the situation? Yap, yap, yap...

This is my opinion, you can take it or leave it.

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    Excellent answer. – Josh K Jan 7 '12 at 16:08
  • Actually there is hard data in my question. I posted a link to quantfinancejobs.com . You can do a search there for Machine Learning and get about 100 job results. If you repeat the process on any other job searching site, you get the same results. So I do have data to back up my assertions. With regard to my rant, I don't claim to know the answers. I just identified a problem. Just because I didn't include a solution, that doesn't mean the issue is invalid. That's a logical fallacy. – siamii Jan 8 '12 at 5:46
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    100 job results! Really! So that's supports your claim that "machine learning quants are highly compensated all over the world"... Just because I didn't include a solution, that doesn't mean the issue is invalid. Didn't ask for a solution, but for just one suggestion. Suggestion not solution. - Begone troll. – yannis Jan 8 '12 at 14:18
  • @YannisRizos "Begone troll" is an ad hominem attack, which is again a logical fallacy. It's hard to argue with you this way. What is wrong with the data? 100 jobs results is on one website. You can repeat the process on any other website. Here's a suggestion: Only close questions if they have 5 close votes, no other time. – siamii Jan 10 '12 at 7:12
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    You can repeat the process on any other website. Why should I have to do the research for you? You are the one making claims. Here's a suggestion: Only close questions if they have 5 close votes, no other time. Post a meta question at Meta StackOverflow and ask that, I dare you... Finally "begone troll" is indeed argumentum ad hominem, as is My impression is that a lot of moderators on stackexchange sites overuse their powers. It seems they browse the site for fun in their free time, and close questions trying to find a reason. You chose that path, not me... – yannis Jan 10 '12 at 7:14
  • @YannisRizos Ok, you're right, I did use ad hominem attack. Maybe they browse the site in their work time. Also, I'm sure they have good intentions and carefully consider if a question should be closed. Let's be friends :D – siamii Jan 10 '12 at 7:31

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