Unlike the community moderated SO, the new sites have specific moderators. But there is no way to contact the moderator other than the "flag post"

We don't want every moderator decision to turn into a flame war but it would be nice to ask why or to try and make a reasonable case in one's own defence if a post is removed or changed.

A private message system was deliberately left out of the SO design because it was based around the discrete answers rather than a forum model, although the addition of meta and chat has rather diluted this.

  • 3
    Moderation works the same way here as on SO, there are just fewer diamond-mods. And fewer 10K users, but that's slowly improving.
    – Marthaª
    Apr 13, 2011 at 18:41
  • @Martha - but (except for blatant SPAM) questions on SO are closed by community votes, and there is a similar vote to reopen. On the newer SE sites a single moderator can go through the list of questions closing any they want without any way of asking why.
    – mgb
    Apr 13, 2011 at 18:44
  • 5
    Again, that's just a question of fewer users with the requisite privileges. Most of the time, our mods try to wait for at least one close vote before bringing down the axe, but sometimes the duplicate is so obvious, or the off-topic-ness so egregious, that they choose to act unilaterally. Plus, we haven't yet trained our community to not blindly answer close-worthy questions, so sometimes, time is of the essence.
    – Marthaª
    Apr 13, 2011 at 18:52
  • I gotta ask, though: which question brought this on? I don't see any closed questions in your profile...
    – Marthaª
    Apr 13, 2011 at 18:54
  • @Martha - not a personal thing. The SO model doesn't work if there are official cliques, especially on the smaller growing sites. Moderators are elected, but they are elected when there are only a handful of users, SO managed to reach many 1000s of users before having any mods. Being able to message moderators might defuse the impression of high-handedness
    – mgb
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:11
  • 2
    As already said by Martha, the only difference with SO is the number of users with a higher reputation. On SO there are 7604 users who have a reputation higher than 2000. In a site like EL&U, the number of users with such reputation is much lower; which means that in specific moments of the day, only moderators can take any action, which is what sometimes happen on SO too.
    – apaderno
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:12
  • There isn't a close/reopen button on SE sites though, only a flag moderator (unless I missed it). It also seems that half the questions on the front page are marked [closed]. These may need closing - but there is a balance between bad questions with no answer just disappearing down the list and people not bothering to answer a question because half way through a moderator that say doesn't like defn questions will kill it.
    – mgb
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:19
  • 4
    @mgb: you don't have the reputation to vote to close or reopen questions, that's why you don't see that link.
    – Marthaª
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:31
  • I only see four closed questions on the front page. In comparison, my front page on SO shows two closed and one migrated.
    – mmyers
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:35
  • @Martha - thanks forgot that, that explains everything! (Off to find the section on discover-ability in Joel's GUI usability book)
    – mgb
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:37

2 Answers 2


I guess I'll just post this as an answer...

  1. There is no difference in the moderation mechanism between Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange 2.0 sites. There are diamond mods, there are 10K users, and there are users at various levels of the privileges ladder. The only difference is the number of users in each of those groups.

  2. I don't perceive any difference in moderation philosophy between SO and EL&U, but YMMV.

  3. There are various ways to ask why a question was closed.

    • You can comment on the question itself.
      • If you have the rep, you can vote to reopen, as well as posting a comment explaining why you think it belongs.
    • You can post something in chat. If you @-reference the moderator in question, he will eventually see your message even if he is not currently online.
      • Heck, you can even open a new private chat room for just yourself and the moderator you want to talk to.
    • As you are evidently aware, you can post something on meta. :)
    • You can flag the question or an answer for moderator attention, using the "other" option to explain what you think the problem is.

Bottom line is, I don't think we need yet another mechanism for discussion of moderation.

  • "@ reference" in chat is probably the answer I was looking for. I thought the moderation function was fundamentally different here - forgot I didn't have the same rep here.
    – mgb
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:40
  • That covered all bases, but if I'm allowed to plug in an answer to a similar question on TeX-SE with some extra info: meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1252/… Apr 13, 2011 at 21:05
  • interesting, some of what you said I don't think exists for chat, but probably should. We're looking into that. Apr 14, 2011 at 7:14

The standard way to question a decision is to just post about it here on meta; hopefully you aren't running into problems often enough that meta gets flooded with "why was post X closed?"

As others have said, moderation privileges on SO and English are the same; you don't see a close/reopen link because you don't have enough rep. Moderators are more visible here because there's less people with sufficient rep to take community action, but there's no difference in functionality, and moderators do close on SO all the time: in the last hour, 17 posts have been closed on SO; of those, 13 were finished off by a mod vote, and 5 were closed by a single mod with no 3k votes at all. Those decisions are occasionally questioned on MSO, and that format seems to work fine

  • Yes SO is likely to run into the opposite problem. With time and popularity there will be 10,000s of high rep users, which may lead to close/reopen wars. Suggestion have been to increase the required rep with time (grade inflation) - but this leads to an original clique having the power. Or to decay your rep so only currently active people have power.
    – mgb
    Apr 13, 2011 at 19:44

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