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In the past days, a question has been deleted by a diamond user (not one of our moderators), and some questions have been closed as off-topic because of something that was added to the FAQ (again, not by our moderators).

Does that mean we are not doing a good job in closing questions that do not suit EL&U or that are duplicate of other existing questions?

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Does that mean we are not doing a good job in closing questions that do not suit EL&U or that are duplicate of other existing questions?

I am going to dodge that question and answer the question in your title instead:

Are we not doing a good job in closing questions that should not suit EL&U?

I would actually claim that we are NOT doing a good job closing questions. We are doing much, much better now than we were when I first arrived at EL&U but I personally think we, as a community, are approaching the topic of closing incorrectly.

This has nothing in particular to do with the mods or any specific users or anything like that. In my opinion, which I acknowledge as being significantly more close-happy than most, is that we the community are letting too much subpar material through. This goes for Questions, Answers and Comments.

I have created a few Meta topics on the subject when I felt it was necessary or appropriate. If you are curious about specifics you can check my meta history for hints. I don't feel that this is the time to deal with particulars as I suspect people are pretty sensitive right now and, honestly, the details don't matter right now.

This answer is most certainly NOT meant to be jumping into the fray so as to spray my opinion all over everyone. It is my opinion but it isn't a very emotive opinion. It is just a simple, "We could be doing better." Unfortunately, being honest about this right now feels like kicking the dog. So here it is in bullet form, which hopefully makes this the least dramatic possible:

  • In my opinion, we should be closing, editing, revising or deleting significantly more questions, answers and comments
  • I have absolutely no qualms with how the community as a whole acts or how we have approached any particular topic regarding topicality or closing, editing, revising or deleting
  • I have nothing against any of our moderators and I regard them all with the highest respect
  • I have never considered any action or inaction of the moderators as evidence of poor judgement or an inability to perform their tasks
  • I appreciate every single edit, close vote or explained downvote that I see from every user that offers it (even if I disagree with it)
  • I appreciate all of the participation in any meta discussion on how to make the site better
  • EL&U is far better off now regarding closing, editing, revising and deleting than it was when I first joined — this means we are doing a good job at getting better
  • I consider the community very respectful and, with only a few exceptions, am proud of how we treat each other

Hope that helps.

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No, these actions don't indicate that the community mods aren't adhering to the rules that the community has set in place.

To understand this, you have to understand that Jeff doesn't always tell the exact truth:

We don’t run [SE site]. You do.

That, no matter how often repeated, is not true. The daily running of the sites do fall to elected diamond moderators, but when Jeff makes a decision, his word is final. (Notably, all other SE team members do usually yield to the community or Jeff.) There was no reason for us to believe that SE/Jeff has some hidden agenda about questions about jokes, rather than jokes themselves, as the matter has not previously arisen on any SE site. Thus, our mods can't be faulted for this.

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  • I was not putting the blame on moderators; the question is "Are we not doing a good job in closing questions?" I am referring to the community, as I am not a moderator on EL&U. (I am not a moderator in any SE site, to be exact.) – kiamlaluno Jul 12 '11 at 20:16
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    No, the same reasoning applies. The community had no reason to believe that questions about jokes shouldn't be allowed. These weren't categorized as "subjective/argumentative", but the off-topic category was redefined. The community can't be faulted for choosing a on-topic/off-topic scope that Jeff disagrees with. – waiwai933 Jul 12 '11 at 20:20
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    some data: English has one of the longest time-to-close for flags of any site in the network -- quadruple that of SU and SF. It also has one moderator who has handled 83% of all flags for all time. Regardless of whether the moderation is correct, incorrect, or something in between -- there is not enough moderation, period. – Jeff Atwood Jul 14 '11 at 10:53
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    @Jeff: Often, I will actually act on a flag (by leaving a comment, editing a post...) but not clear that flag right away so as to leave a post-it to other mods, or to myself. I was never taught not to do that, I see no harm in doing it, and I did not invent this approach. (When I first got access to the mod tools there were like 10 flags sticking around, some of them over a week old, so I figured that's how it works.) The newly-inroduced "average handling time" stats don't seem to take that into account. They are skewed against us by design. Clearing time != handling time. – RegDwigнt Jul 14 '11 at 14:29
  • @Jeff My answer was in the context of the OP's first paragraph; I didn't mean to comment about the general moderation itself. – waiwai933 Jul 14 '11 at 18:19
  • @waiwai meta.stackexchange.com/questions/76333/… – Benjol Jul 19 '11 at 5:29
  • @Benjol Yes, I've seen that—any specific points you want to emphasize? (I think it agrees with what I'm saying, but I'm running a little low on sleep right now, so anything said to me clearly is probably better). – waiwai933 Jul 19 '11 at 6:26
  • @waiwai, just pointing out that I agree with you, and that you are corroborating what I say: the ambiguity surrounding governance creates holes for people to fall into. – Benjol Jul 19 '11 at 9:15
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It takes reputation 3000 to vote to close. We have too few of those guys.

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    There are 70 users who can vote to close questions, and other users can always flag a question that needs to be closed. Flags that don't use a custom reason are seen from 19 users who can then vote to close those questions (4 of them can directly close the questions, as they are moderators). – kiamlaluno Jul 28 '11 at 15:39
  • OK, I see I was looking only at the users for the month, rather than all time. – GEdgar Jul 29 '11 at 14:30

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