22

On Stack Exchange sites, there is a no way for moderators to cast a normal, non binding vote, If I have an opinion but I am not sure it represents the community response how can I best share my opinion with the community?

Example: On a site where I am a Moderator Pro-Tem, my personal opinion was that a specific question (a week old) should be closed, but I was not sure what the community's choice would be.

Some options would be

  1. Close the question, if the community wants to reopen it they can
  2. Comment on the question, and forget about it
  3. Start a conversation in chat about it
  4. Start a Meta discusion about it
  5. Just ignore it, since as a moderator you are no longer allowed personal opinions

How should I share a close vote opinion without using my moderator powers inappropriately?

11

We're talking about specifically cases that are not clear cut enough to grant immediate closure.

Voice your opinion in a comment (stating that you'd vote to close but as a moderator you can't, without actually closing). If the matter grants a discussion, start a meta thread and link it from that comment.

Close if there are 4 votes, or if the resulting discussion indicates some points that clearly prove the question should be closed. Otherwise - wait for the community reaction.

  1. Close the question, if the community wants to reopen it they can
  2. Comment on the question, and forget about it
  3. Start a conversation in chat about it
  4. Start a Meta discusion about it
  5. Just ignore it, since as a moderator you are no longer allowed personal opinions
  1. Reopening isn't as strong and easy as you'd be led to believe.
  2. Comment, yes, but why forget? Revisit and see what your comment yields. Act upon these fruits.
  3. The percentage of users who visit chat is minor; the visibility of the issue will be minimal.
  4. Yes, Meta is the right place to discuss the issue, but the visibility is limited. A comment linking the meta thread from the "offending" question should point to the discussion.
  5. No. You're also a user. You can express a personal opinion. Unless you're a paid moderator provided through some work agency, you are fully entitled to personal opinion. You should just separate it from "official stance". The stance "moderators can't have personal opinions" if the moderators work for free is totally rotten.

Personally, I believe dropping comments in "fire and forget" mode is a big misunderstanding. Comments are a vital part of ongoing discussion. So, the essential answer would be "2", except don't drop the issue - keep watch on how the situation develops.

6

If the question is blatantly off-topic/too broad/whatever, close it as it is.

If you aren't sure, what I do is wait for 4 close votes on the question before closing, that way your vote doesn't count more than the rest.

Asking for your community's opinions via channels like chat or meta are also a good way, more often than not though, starting a meta post on a question whose quality is questionable is overkill.

2

StackExchange moderators are mostly elected (except for beta sites, which makes it a bit fuzzier). Since the community has chosen to give the moderator the ability to instantly close, I don't think the moderator should spend time checking the number of close votes to make sure that they have equal voice. The community has chosen to give the moderator a privileged voice because they believe that the moderator will represent the interests of the community.

For Beta sites, the reasoning is a bit more involved, but the moderator should still take action in clear cut cases. One of the reasons that betas have Moderators Pro Tem is that they have not yet built up a large enough population to quickly deal with voting actions as a community (unlike a large site that has ppl active at all times of the day). Because of that smaller population, because of time required to find 5 votes, the moderator pro-tems are super users that SE staff have selected to give 5 votes instead of 1. These extra votes ensure that the appropriate actions are taken while the site builds up a solid user base.

In either case, if the moderator is not sure if the question should be closed (maybe the subject is unfamiliar or TOO familiar), they can ask the other moderators and/or community members for their opinions in chat. If the question's status is unclear because it covers a topic that has not yet been discussed in that particular community (such as when Pets.SE started getting pest control questions), then a meta post is a good idea.

  • 1
    In this case, the person who asked the question is a Moderator Pro-Tem, which is an unelected spot on beta sites. It's also a bit fuzzy in that the community can't remove a moderator and election is for life unless StackExchange removes them. – Powerlord Aug 20 '14 at 17:06
  • @Powerlord Well, as I said in the answer, for beta sites it's fuzzier. One of the reasons that betas have Moderators Pro Tem is that they have not yet built up a large enough population to quickly deal with voting actions as a community (unlike a large site that has ppl active at all times of the day). Because of that smaller population, because of time required to find 5 votes, the moderator pro-tems were given 5 votes instead of 1. (As a side note, the OP and I are comods on the same beta site. :-) – Zaralynda Aug 20 '14 at 22:15
2

People underestimate the power of a comment.

As a Stack Exchange moderator, your display name carries quite a bit of weight, because it has a diamond next to it. That diamond can be quite influential: with a simple, opinionated but fair comment on the post, you can encourage close votes without forcing the question closed with your mod superpowers.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.