Perhaps it would be agreeable to give questions something of a grace period after they are asked, to see what sort of response they garner.

So for instance, no moderation intervention, except in extreme circumstances, for 48 hours. The community could still down vote or vote to close.

Just an idea, thank you.

  • Edited the title. Hope that's ok. Please rollback if not. Cheers Jan 21, 2016 at 9:07
  • So the suggestion isn't just that moderators should refrain from closing them, but that everyone (the whole community) should refrain? In theory the questions that would normally be closed are ones described in second half of Moderation policies for Questions (off-topic, polling, duplicates, hostile, and/or comparative religion). In practice the questions which were actually closed in the last 30 days are listed here FYI.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Jan 21, 2016 at 11:16
  • Plus there's the practice of moving questions which are about this site to Meta (which isn't closing them).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Jan 21, 2016 at 11:18
  • 1
    No, just that the moderators wouldn't instantly close them. The community could still vote to close. In this way, perhaps a question that would otherwise be closed instantly would have a chance to be answered in a way that a moderator who would otherwise instantly close it would not have thought to have approached the question.
    – Ryan
    Jan 21, 2016 at 11:18
  • @Ryan You can answer the dukkha question now, by the way: the community voted to reopen it.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Jan 21, 2016 at 11:27

3 Answers 3


I think in an ideal world moderators would only rarely close questions. There would be enough members of the community to cast the 5 close votes required and close down the question. However as we are a relatively small SE site even notably poor questions wouldn't quickly attract the required close votes to shut them down in a timely manner. Hence the moderators intervene more than they would on a site with heavier traffic. That said I could think of a few amendments to the process we could consider

  1. Unless the question is clearly spam then the moderators wait until there is 2 or more close votes already there
  2. Moderators don't act to close questions unless someone feels strongly enough to flag the question for moderator attention
  3. We continue as is but open up specific questions that the community want to reopen in a discussion on meta
  4. Continue as is but we revisit what we believe are acceptable and unacceptable questions in the site policies

Or we do the 48 hour grace period. I'll be honest I don't like this. Once 48 hours are up then the question is push out of view often. It's unrealistic to expect the moderators to scour the question lists to spot ones that are poor but 48 hours or more older. I wouldn't do that for instance. The other moderators might be willing though.

  • It doesn't have to be 48 hours. Any reasonable amount of time to allow the question to possibly be answered. The point I was making, what one moderator may deem a "poor question", someone else may see in a different light and might have something useful to offer to the questioner. Thereby this would allow such perspective to be shed on topics that would otherwise be immediately squelched.
    – Ryan
    Jan 21, 2016 at 13:52
  • 1
    It's not that I disagree with this but I won't actually vote for this as-is because it argues for the status quo and/or it suggests 4 possible amendments to the process, so it's not clear what that would appear to be voting for.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Jan 21, 2016 at 16:32

I think it's unnecessary and potentially harmful (though it would be a new direction or experiment) to introduce as a new policy.

To start, few questions are closed. 120 new questions were asked in the last 30 days, of which 11 were closed -- of which, most recently:

  • 2 were closed (i.e. the ones about "Jesus Christ's teaching", and about "what is suffering")
  • 1 of these ("suffering") was reopened by the community (which proves that it's harmless or reversible if a moderator makes a "mistake" which the community disagrees with) -- but no-one has since answered it (and in this comment you described it as a LMGTFY question) so maybe closing it wasn't such a mistake after all.
  • Plus there were 3 which were migrated to Meta (which is not the same as 'closed')
  • Plus there were 2 others (including this one) closed (or rather, put on hold) temporarily until they were edited and reopened by a moderator

Furthermore the question which was most recently closed (about "Jesus Christ") ought to remain closed. I deleted a comment of yours, which you posted because you thought it was an answer to that question. Your comment (which I deleted) contained two sentences, the first sentence was about the Buddha and the second sentence was about Jesus Christ, and it was because of its second sentence that I deleted it. There's been a lot of discussion on Meta about religious arguments (i.e. that many people don't want them), and I am disinclined to "wait and see what sort of response they garner".

Furthermore the moderators were more-or-less elected by the community. It doesn't IMO make sense to take users, make them moderators, and therefore deny them any vote. Moderators are (I think I can probably say this for all of us) already conscious of the fact that we have a single-vote-to-close and are therefore already inclined to refrain or hold back, to see what other people think, if we have doubt.

Furthermore some suggestion here that moderators should do more to delete things 'on sight' on their own initiative, "regardless of being flagged". If one respected user says we're too slack while another compares us to a "totalitarian regime", moderators already practice a balance between extremes.

Furthermore introducing new rules (e.g. a rule which says that moderators are not permitted to intervene) isn't necessarily skillful.

I hope you will read A Theory of Moderation. It includes statements which support your position, for example:

community moderators do ... as little as possible!

Note the conclusion:

A lot of the moderation work is extremely mundane, almost janitorial. It's deleting obvious spam, closing blatantly off-topic questions, and culling some of the worst rated posts in various dimensions.

The ideal moderator does as little as possible. But those little actions may be powerful and highly concentrated. Judiciously limiting your use of moderator powers to selectively prune and guide the community -- now that's the true art of moderation.

Note too some of the other bits in the middle of that article. Asking the moderators to do nothing is pointless, IMO, because they already do next to nothing. Asking the moderators to do literally nothing no matter what the question sounds like an "interesting" experiment but irresponsible, i.e. moderators are expected to moderate moderately and there's no point in having them if they don't. This is not an unmoderated site.

If you look back in history (e.g. this answer and this answer) you'll see that you have been in favour of closing (and in favour of moderators' closing) some people's questions in the past. Moderators are expected to have learned from history/experience what kinds of question (and even what kinds of motive for questions) are problematic, and better avoided before they get out of hand ... and lead to endless debate. (sigh)

The Moderation policies for Questions is already unusually permissive for a SE site. Do you want to go further and argue in favour of being able to post and able to answer questions which are off-topic, polling, duplicates, hostile, and/or comparative religion? Do you want to argue in favour of rhetorical/teaching questions? Do you want to discuss Meta topics on the main site?

  • I think this is a better response than mine TBH. I agree with Chris on this one Jan 21, 2016 at 16:28

I would like the say the following about one subset of the cases on closing and opening :

  • If a moderator answers it, then a moderator shouldn't also close it.

    I think is a moderator has posted an answer it is best to wait for the 5 close votes before closing.

    If it was a closed question which was opened by a moderator, and to which a moderator added an answer, then the moderators should not close it again unless it gets the needed close votes from the community.

  • If a question is closed then a moderator shouldn't, both, open it and be the first to answer it.

    If it has been closed or put on hold, a moderator should not open it just to post an answer especially if the editing is by the moderator himself. If it remains open for reasonable amount of time then the moderator can answer but not immediately. If the editing is by the OP or someone else which the OP accepts then the moderator can open and post immediately but not otherwise as it sends a bad message to the community.

Above would be the most -ve regarding closing and opening. Rest I think is OK: close what is spam, migrate what is not a good fit, etc.

  • I agree with the first suggestion, although not the second. I think that the first suggestion sounds reasonable because if someone thinks that the question is answerable (and answers it), I don't see why they might also think it should be closed.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Mar 19, 2017 at 1:40
  • Also, Stack Exchange has designed "Badges", which identify and are meant to promote behaviour which they want to encourage. One of these badges is Refiner: "Edit and answer 50 questions (both actions within 12 hours, answer score > 0)". I think that's evidence that Stack Exchange wants people to both edit (improve) and answer questions, and without too much delay.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Mar 19, 2017 at 10:59
  • I think this is edit and answer. Not edit unblock and answer. If any state had blocked a normal user from immediately posting an answer in which case it is unfair someone else exercises the right a normal user cannot do. There maybe many question which is user may want to have answered but on hold or closed hence cannot answer. When mods are the only ones doing opening and answering it seems naturally unfair. Mar 19, 2017 at 11:14

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