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Now that several of us have moderator privileges, I think its time to discuss when one of us should step in and vote to close. I was chatting with Robert Cartaino earlier today, and he mentioned that our votes are instant and binding. That means if one of the moderators votes to close a post, its done that moment.

Given that, I am wondering what our tactic should be. I'm sure there will be questions that we see that should immediately be closed...but I think that should be rarer. Is it better to allow the community to decide which threads to close without our votes in most cases, and only cast our vote when we are certain that a thread really does need to be closed?

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I feel that moderators should generally stay out of the voting unless they are absolutely sure. For a topic that is on the line, a moderator may make a comment about their feeling without actually placing a vote. This makes it clear for everyone else, and also leaves the decision to the community.

On the other hand, any question that is clearly not within the scope of the community should be closed, but even then, hopefully the moderator will comment on the reason so that the community understand the reasons behind the decision.

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  • I was going to try and say something like that earlier, but was never happy with the wording. Of course, there is the option of the Teachers' Lounge for this sort of discussion as well... – Rowland Shaw Aug 5 '10 at 14:12
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    Should we take this to the lounge? – jrista Aug 5 '10 at 18:52
  • Perhaps we need to define "clearly" more precisely. – Reid Aug 6 '10 at 5:39
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    As a caveat on this, if the moderators are to stay out of the closing process, we'll need the help of others to actively flag things for closure when that is the right thing to do; moderation should be about resolving disputes, rather than starting them ;) – Rowland Shaw Aug 20 '10 at 11:21
  • I think that the definition of clearly is subjective, but needs to go strongly (directly) and objectively against something in the FAQ about what the site is about. If the moderator can't link to something that makes it specifically off topic, then I think it needs to be left up to the community. – AJ Henderson Mar 26 '13 at 14:08
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As a moderator on one of the predecessor sites (photographr.info) I was pretty careful about staying out the voting process, but there was very little of that needed anyways. However, since the three (I think) previous stack sites have merged, the user volume will climb, so I imagine it will happen more frequently. In that event, I think if it's pretty clear that the posting should be closed, I'd see no reason for a moderator not to do so. However, if the community is in disagreement about it, I'd suggest letting them decide. That'll often come clear in the comments.

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    Agreed. We need to let the community decide what it wants for a while...were only 25 days old, and I think some simmer time will be good. Once we have a larger and more active membership, I think the need for moderator closures may increase simply because the volume of common and similar questions will increase. – jrista Aug 5 '10 at 18:55
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    I'd suggest that it isn't for a while, it just is, that's the point of the whole concept here. I think the value that moderators have in this respect is to shut down what is clearly not what the community wants quickly, but there are going to be topics that are gray and those should make their way through the process. – John Cavan Aug 6 '10 at 2:52
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FWIW, I believe that this question was closed too soon and the moderator should have waited. I do not believe it passes the clearly not within the scope of the community test.

One of the biggest problems I've encountered with other photo sites is overly heavy moderation. I hope to avoid that situation here. Moderators should use their power only when absolutely necessary. Let the community vote.

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  • Should we reopen that question and let the community do its due? – jrista Aug 5 '10 at 18:53
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    If others feel that it was incorrect to close that one I would understand, but I think there is a clear consensus that unreleased camera speculation is off topic. see meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/130/… – chills42 Aug 5 '10 at 19:11
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    My take is that it's clearly out of scope; any honest answer to the actual question would require speculation on the unreleased G12, which we've already decided is off topic. – ex-ms Aug 5 '10 at 21:02
  • I agree with Matt and chills42, it was my first reaction to the question as well. – John Cavan Aug 5 '10 at 23:57
  • My reading of the question was that it was not "help me speculate about unreleased camera X" but rather "buy now or buy later", which is a very valid question, and in fact it did draw such an answer. But instead of reading between the lines a bit, we blasted the question with an immediate close (dismissing it as "pure speculation"), and we did not provide any constructive feedback to the OP, such as "this formulation is discouraged but if what you're really asking is buy now vs. buy later, here are tips on asking in a better way". I suspect AR01 will not be back. – Reid Aug 6 '10 at 5:38
  • Well, I went to throw in my vote to reopen the thread...and it seems our votes to open are also immediate. I do feel like we blasted this poor question into closure oblivion before giving it a chance. I also agree with Reid's assessment that the question was not speculation, but advisory. I think this is a good example of why we as moderators should be sparing with our use of closure/reopen powers. I agree with Reid...I think we gave AR01 a great reason to never return...and possibly the same message to anyone else who reads that question. – jrista Aug 6 '10 at 18:33
  • @Reid - I think reading the good root question is a good idea, but can't be the end. Unless the bad version gets recast into the good one, it still ends up being noise. It won't get found by people looking for answers to "buy now or buy later?" And every slight variation ("D700 or hypothetical D700s?") either repeats the same general answer, or redirects to one that has no obvious relation except for that one general answer. I particularly see the latter creating arguments along the lines of "but the D700/D700s choice is different in ways XYZ to the G11/G12 choice! why'd you close it!?" – ex-ms Aug 6 '10 at 19:44
  • @Matt: I think Reid and I are both with you, 100%. The thing I worry about is, if we mods go around closing such threads the moment we see them, what kind of message are we sending to our (possibly potential) members? That we are the heavy handed arm of the photo-god, out to crush their questions? I agree, the question should have ended up closed, but until we are a more established site, I think it would be a good idea as mods to let things simmer for a bit and let the community act, then take action ourselves, along with a kind comment, to let the community know what to enforce where. – jrista Aug 7 '10 at 17:34
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    @Chills: I also wanted to note that I do not think there is any blame to go around here at all. We were all just recently given moderator powers, and we all need to figure out what they are, how they work, and when to use them. I feel rather sorry that question was the one you closed...I hope you don't feel as though we are trying to single you out or anything. In all honesty, I think that particular question was just a good example of where we might (but not necessarily always) take a moments pause before taking the appropriate action...and your action was appropriate. – jrista Aug 7 '10 at 17:39
  • +1 on no blame. While I'm not sure if I agree the question should have ended up closed, I'm behind the rest of @jrista's last comment 100%, especially the part about not singling out @chills42. – Reid Aug 10 '10 at 0:45

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