In my opinion, a lot of questions being closed at the moment are quite controvesial (http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/3029/was-the-2003-invasion-of-iraq-due-to-oil-security) and I think this is largely due to the fact that guidelines of what should and shouldn't be on here are quite subjective but the moderators seem to have a god-like ability to close whatever they wish and there is only discussion after the fact.

I don't think this is constructive because most of the time, the discussions shifts to not about the actual question, but about why the question should or should not be closed.

I think the great thing about a SE site is that it's a community built by the community. There are initial guidelines, but each site has it's own "culture" if you will and what's okay and not okay was not set in stone from day one and has been allowed to shift to cater for what the community wants.

The problem with Skeptics is that it's not being allowed to do that. Moderators are dictating what can and cannot be asked on with this whole ideal of "improving quality".

And I can understand that they have the best intentions in mind, and I can understand that some questions being asked probably are not appropriate or structured correctly, but I think the community needs to be given more input on what is a good or bad question.

At the start, it was necessary for moderators to close the questions because there weren't enough users that could vote to close. But there are now over 41 users at last count that can vote to close, which means there's probably always a couple online at all times. This number is growing.

I think we should implement the 5 votes to close rule like on other SE sites, or at the very least, make it that in order for a moderator to veto-close a question, there must already be 2 or more votes supporting a close.

After all, if a question is inappropriate for the site, then it should be seem that way by more than just one person right?

I think this ensures transparency and increases communication about why a question was closed. It leads to the decision being less controversial as there is more consensus. But most importantly, it allows the community itself to have some input about what is and isn't acceptable.

  • Question about Iraq is not controversial, it's an out of the book example of questions about motives - which are off topic here (and cannot be answered anyway).
    – user288
    May 13, 2011 at 9:40

4 Answers 4


Time for the community to decide...

That means closing questions that need to be closed. This is happening; it needs to happen more.

That also means opening questions that need to be re-opened. This isn't happening. At all.

In the fullness of time, the Community will rise up and take upon itself the responsibilities that come with the abilities granted to those who have participated, working together to see that the core philosophies of the site are refined and enforced.

...Or else, moderators will continue to pick up the slack.

You have Meta and chat to help you coordinate your efforts. Gain a bit more rep, and you'll have access to the Tools menu, with lists of close/reopen-voted questions to review.

Rather than worrying that moderators use the tools given them, strive to make use of those given you.

Good luck!

  • 1
    A lot of questions are closed within minutes though, I don't think it's fair to blame the community for slacking of when it has such a small window of opportunity to act. There are usually a few close votes on questions by non-moderators when a moderator hasn't instantly closed it, so I'm not sure I agree that the community isn't trying to close question. At the same time if questions aren't being voted to be re-opened that should be a good indication that the question was rightly closed.
    – Kit Sunde
    May 13, 2011 at 6:29
  • @Kit: blaming anyone is pointless. The moderators are doing what they're supposed to do - poor questions that sit open for hours or days are poison. When the community is able to take care of this, the moderators will be doing less of it.
    – Shog9
    May 13, 2011 at 15:15
  • @Kit: It doesn't happen rapidly enough yet. We don't want bad questions sitting around for too long, and usually it takes more than a couple of hours to close most questions.
    – Borror0
    May 13, 2011 at 16:09
  • In the last 14 days 4 questions got reopened. skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/2910/… skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/2717/… skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/2579/… skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/2744/… . The community does decide when it wants to reopen. I don't see that there has to be more reopening.
    – Christian
    May 13, 2011 at 19:06
  • @Christian: Um, those were all re-opened by moderators, except for the one that was re-opened by me. There was one re-open vote from a normal user in there. That's not necessarily a problem, but you can't expect moderators to step out of the way when they're the ones doing the work. Ideally, other folks are editing to clean up salvageable poorly-asked questions and then voting to re-open them, but for now it's pretty much just the mods.
    – Shog9
    May 13, 2011 at 19:15

The community is already closing questions, for example here. I think I can speak on behalf of all moderators, when I say that we would only like the community to do so more.

However, bad questions are a problem for the site.

  • the sooner they are closed, the better. Nobody likes their question to be closed, but even more so when it has answers or up votes.
  • people will imitate open questions, and in particular they will think that it's ok to post a bad question if they see another bad question left open.
  • the community is still in beta, and the scope is still in beta. For this reason, the community is still "learning" what is ok and what is not ok. This makes some high rep users queasy about casting close votes.

On the other hand, as moderators, we do respect the community. The same users that can cast close votes, can also cast reopen votes. Any closure can be changed by the community. So the questions you call "controversial" are not controversial enough to convince five high rep users to reopen the question.

In other words, a question that is not reopened by the community is an indication that the closure was acceptable to the community.

Moderators have never closed a question reopened by the community, or reopened a question closed by the community.

Futhermore, it so happens that three moderators on this site are actually high rep users as well. And to be more precise, Fabian and I are also the two highest reputation users. Your suggestion would prevent us from casting votes. I don't think it's fair, and you should agree if your aim is to enable high reputation users and not simply engage the moderators.

This is not to say that we do not make mistakes. Of course we do, and we will. However, we discuss internally all closures where we are not 100% sure on what to do - either among skeptics mods or among stack exchange mods in general.

So what does this mean? It means that many times, where you see closed by "moderator", there are 2 or three high rep users agreeing on the closure.

Finally, if we can, we will always try to fix the question instead of closing. The problem is that in many cases there is nothing to save of the original question, or fixing it would radically change the meaning. So editing is out of the question, and we leave a note, which many users choose to ignore.

  • I think mods should in most cases treat themselves like high rep users so if 3 mods agree on closing the question, then fair enough, worthy of closure. I've just noticed that alot questions that are closed usually only have one person attached to it. But I wasn't aware that there was internal discussion going on. In that case, just for transparency sake, maybe the other mods that were involved in the discussion could also cast a close vote before the question gets closed. It will then look less like just one person is making the decision.
    – Samuelson
    May 12, 2011 at 13:17
  • @stickman, it's just not possible. Once any mod casts a close vote, the question is closed. There is no special "vote to close as a user" "close the question as a mod" difference in the interface. There's just "close".
    – Sklivvz
    May 12, 2011 at 13:53

To reiterate my previous rants in one answer:

  • This site has a scope problem, people don't understand what is on or off topic
  • We get plenty of Yahoo answer type questions and they get plenty of upvotes, even though questions should be off topic they have the support of the community
  • I've tried flagging questions and putting a single close vote against poor questions, but it normally takes a meta post before the moderators act
  • Crap questions yield crap answers or no answers. We have a reasonable number (7%) unanswered questions and you will notice poorly written / should be off-topic type questions usually have anecdotal, uncited, or citing one study type answers

As @Shog9 said, ideally you want the community deciding to close questions, but it just doesn't happen here, even on the worst of questions. In lieu of this the moderators close what they feel appropriate.

I don't see people discussing questions that should be closed in meta, so I don't actually "see" a big problem. If you want the voice of the community then use meta to discuss. I appear to be the only person on meta debating with the moderators. If you feel there are a bunch of questions that should be closed (or shouldn't have) please bring it up in meta.

You can't criticise if you are not doing anything, the community exists on meta. Don't bring this up in comments on a question, people don't review every question.

  • Interesting post. However: do you think we should moderate more or moderate less?
    – Sklivvz
    Sep 21, 2011 at 12:17
  • @Sklivvz - I think you guys (moderators) do the best you can. I think the community should be stepping up and helping to moderate more. No need for flags if the community jumps on poor quality questions early and either edits or closes.
    – going
    Sep 21, 2011 at 22:49

I asked a similar question on the meta of a sister site.


My feeling was that a moderator should have a "supervote" (of three), but not all five needed to close a question. Meaning that s/he'd need two more from the community, or at least another moderator with three votes.

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