And close topics they don't agree with?

  • 13
    Yes moderators edit questions and answers. That's the definition of moderating. In terms of "closing topics they don't agree with", you need to provide an example if you have an issue with the moderation team.
    – DenisS
    Feb 22 at 15:23
  • 3
    I don't know why we're downvoting this. SE is unique in how much editing people can do of others' posts. Someone fresh of reddit won't realize this, so hearing "mods can edit" is surprising.
    – fredsbend Mod
    Feb 22 at 21:32
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    @fredsbend i think its assumed that someone reads at least a tiny bit of information on a site before ranting about how they don't like it, this user clearly didn't do that
    – Topcode
    Feb 23 at 0:21
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    @Topcode I wouldn't call it a rant... The idea that a user generated website even has a tour is unusual also. I'm just a little disappointed at what looks like hostility.
    – fredsbend Mod
    Feb 23 at 16:10

Welcome to Skeptics Stack Exchange!

Like all Stack Exchanges, editing of questions and answers is encouraged for all users, not just moderators.

The tour explains:

Our goal is to have the best answers to every question, so if you see questions or answers that can be improved, you can edit them.

Please help us out by improving the quality of posts that you see problems with.

And close topics they don't agree with?

No, there are policies about which questions are closed. It isn't about "agreeing" with them.

A well-written question shouldn't really have much to disagree with. It should be a question about the veracity of a notable claim; such a question is valid regardless of whether or not a moderator "agrees" with it.

  • 5
    I will note, sadly, that moderators often delete comments they do not like, regardless of whether they are relevant or not. Feb 22 at 17:01
  • 11
    @DanielRHicks Comments are intended to be temporary and should not have any expectations of them not getting deleted.
    – Joe W
    Feb 22 at 18:06
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    @DanielRHicks: You have been repeatedly warned not to use the comments section as an opportunity to post unreferenced pseudoanswers. They routinely get deleted whether they are relevant or not, and whether they are "liked" or no.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Feb 23 at 5:05
  • 1
    @Oddthinking - But a large number of them are references relevant to the discussion. Feb 23 at 12:43
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    @Joe W That attitude seems to be a hammer when a scalpel is more appropriate – much like a Human Resources response to a general situation, divorced from the reality of specific instances. I’ve learned in my years these sweeping responses are too often fallback positions for people with power. It licenses moderators to simply delete that which they find displeasing and keep that which they don’t. Mar 24 at 2:29
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    @JustSomeOldMan: This seems such a lazy accusation against the moderators. Comments have a temporary purpose: Improving the post itself. We have made it clear what "displeases" us: pseudo-answers that avoid the mechanisms the site is built around, party-political posturing, and jokes and discussion not related to improving the question. Also, obsolete comments that have served their purpose. This is not about pushing our point of view. It is about going around with a broom and sweeping up the litter.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Mar 24 at 4:18
  • @JustSomeOldMan Don't shoot the messenger I was just stating what the Stack Exchange policy on comments is.
    – Joe W
    Mar 24 at 12:19
  • @JustSomeOldMan: I don't see any evidence of that in your earlier comment.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Mar 24 at 15:41
  • @Oddthinking I do not see what makes my post an accusation, and under the inference it is, I don’t see what makes it particularly lazy. My comment was meant to illustrate the lack of wisdom in sweeping HR-like responses to dismiss valid concern in general. I know nothing of Daniel’s particular cases. Mar 25 at 19:19
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    However, I do agree moderators here display bias in selecting comments for deletion and violate the conditions you posted above. I can find many posts that fall under your conditions for deletion and are not deleted. If you wish, I can share a large number of these. I also know of many posts that did meet your conditions which were deleted. However, I cannot see these latter ones because, unfortunately, only mods have access to them, thus giving mods the only way to access important evidence regarding violation of their own principles. This is flaw in the system. Mar 25 at 19:20
  • @JustSomeOldMan: I see it as a lazy accusation because you are accusing the mods of bad behaviour without evidence. The system allows (a) SO staff, (b) other mods, and (c) high rep users (?? certainly deleted questions, but deleted comments, I am not sure) to see the evidence. You can share your views of inappropriate comments through the flagging system. Some certainly escape scrutiny for a while because comments do not trigger any notifications, so flags help immensely.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Mar 26 at 2:53

There are three key kinds of questions in this part of the StackExhange (SE) network that make moderators jump in quickly to close a question:

  • Questions that have been asked before.
    Closing questions as a duplicate of some other previously asked question is very standard across the SE network. Questions should be unique. From what I've seen, moderators typically wait for an ordinary user to first raise the issue that a question is a duplicate.
  • Questions asked in extremely bad faith.
    This site, along with some other elements of the SE network, frequently get questions that are asked in bad faith, and sometimes, in extremely bad faith. Even the SE sites dedicated to the hard sciences, mathematics, or computer programming occasionally get questions asked in bad faith. These garbage questions are things that moderators jump on. We non-moderators want the SE network to remain semi-sane, and we thank the moderators for their effort.
  • Specific to this part of the SE network, questions that do not raise a notable claim.
    The need for a notable claim is unique to this corner of the SE network. Unless a question is a duplicate or is asked in bad faith, moderators do not close questions that reference a notable claim, regardless of the ridiculousness of the claim, and regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the claim. Notable claims (things that have been widely seen / cited) that are patently false are the bread and butter of Skeptics.SE.

To expand on Oddthinking's answer, the purpose of "editing" a question or answer isn't to fundamentally change what the original poster is trying to say, but to clarify poorly worded but basically correct questions and answers, fix spelling/makeup errors, and occasionally to fix minor factual inaccuracies in an answer -- if a given answer has major factual inaccuracies it will generally get downvoted in short order, and instead of an edit you're more likely to see a different (and correct) answer posted.

Also, if you click edit under a post that's been edited (like this one), regardless of who made the edits, the entire edit history is preserved for anyone to see and review. Additionally, when anyone without sufficient reputation/privileges edits a question, the edit needs to be reviewed and approved before it's accepted publicly.

There is a possibility that multiple edits that occur within a few minutes of each other by the same user will be saved as one edit revision. There's a full explanation in the official FAQ:

Multiple edits made by the same person may be combined into a single revision, if they occur within a short period of time (currently 5 minutes), unless the post is later edited by someone else or one of the events listed at the bottom occurs. Edits made by the original author are considered part of the base revision if submitted within 5 minutes of posting (again, unless someone else edits the post or one of those events occurs) or migrating.

So even if someone edits a post with malintent, everyone can see the history of that and undo it.

  • 1
    One of the exceptions to the grace period is if another user makes an edit during that time it will end the grace period.
    – Joe W
    Feb 23 at 21:13

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