Wikipedia has a rather strict rule that administrators should not take an administrative action in an issue they are involved in. As in, if administrator is in discussion over i.e. neutrality of an article, he himself cannot lock the article from editing. Nor can he unlock it to edit if he feels like the 'wrong' version was locked. And so on.

The purpose of the rule is clear: preventing abuse of moderator privileges to advance your point.

I propose the similar or exact rule here. For instance, Moderators cannot reopen his own question if it was closed by other moderators or community without reaching a consensus first.

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There are many ways we moderators can interact with questions where we are involved ourselves, either because we asked them, answered them or commented on any post in it. I don't think we should prohibit moderators from performing any moderator action in those questions. In most cases there is no major conflict of interest and we would reduce the reaction time of the moderator team if we would exclude the participating mods from acting.

There are several actions that moderators routinely perform that might present a conflict of interest:

Deleting non-answers

You might construct a conflict of interest if a moderator has answered themselves, but I think that most of these cases are clear enough that there is no reason to prohibit moderators from acting.

Deleting comments

When an extended discussion starts in comments, moderators often need to remove some or all of the comments. As long as the comments are not direct criticism of the mods question or answer, I see no conflict of interest. I agree that a moderator should not delete comments that critizice his posts, though the exception is anything that goes into offensive territory. If someone starts throwing around insults, any moderator, no matter if directly involved, should delete those.

Closing question

I agree that moderators should not reopen their own question. At a point where a moderator and the community disagree to this extent, a meta question is probably warranted in any case.

Suspending users

I don't think there should be any restrictions here. If a user insults a moderator to the extent that a suspension is warranted, I see no problem with the moderator performing the suspension themselves. Every moderator (as well as the community team) is notified when a user is suspended, so there is a lot of review there anyway. Suspensions are also usually discussed internally before.

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  • Deleting comments: obsolete/off-topic comments may also be deleted, even on our own questions or answers. Comments are for discussing posts. Example: comments saying "you are censoring me because I disagree", giving valid or invalid criticism which has been addressed adequately, jokes or "me too" or "thanks" etc. – Sklivvz Dec 27 '11 at 14:36
  • Closing questions: It's OK if a moderator adds his or her vote to some other users. Also, if the community does not have an agreement (e.g. a question gets closed and then reopened by the community) then some moderator action is possibly needed and should not be forbidden. – Sklivvz Dec 27 '11 at 14:41
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    I think the moderators are above that. However it happened in SciFi and while the action that was taken was appropriate it created an appearance of impropriety. That appearance undermines the credibility of the moderators. I do not think it should be a strict rule but barring a flagrantly abusive post or action I agree mods should avoid these actions. – Chad Jan 3 '12 at 16:08

I seek some clarification on how strictly you think such a rule should be imposed.

I've never re-opened one of my own questions, but I have:

  1. Substantially changed an unanswerable/out-of-scope question to make it answerable... and in the process had my interested piqued enough to research and answer the new question. (That's not using "mod" powers - anyone with enough reputation could do that.)

  2. Written an answer to a post, and then later flagged/converted-to-comment/deleted competing answers, because they weren't up to the community standards.

  3. Downvoted competing answers because they weren't very good. (Not mod powers - virtually anyone could do that.)

Are they all acceptable to you? Or does arms-length need to be even longer?

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  • I think 2 is a little questionable. I do not have a problem with the flagged part. But deleting a competing answer contains an appearance of impropriety. Allowing another mod to take the action would be more appropriate. I would definitely provide an exception to flagrantly abusive posts, however were it me as a mod and the comment/answer was directed at me I would want to get another mod to remove it. – Chad Jan 30 '12 at 14:23

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