# Are our moderators being too aggressive?

A handful of questions have been mod-closed recently without any votes from the community. While I don't disagree with the questions being closed, I wonder if the rest of us should be getting an opportunity to weigh in. As of today (1/2/2011), we have over 30 regular users with the vote-to-close ability. Would it be better if we got a chance to use it?

BTW, this is not intended as a slight against the work our moderators have done so far. I've been a moderator on a non-SE web forum and unilateral thread closure was a big sticking point between the mods and the regulars. It just fosters an "us vs. them" mentality that's hard to break.

• I don't feel I should be chiming in here, but I did want to point out that I hang out in the chat room pretty much all the time. If anyone wants to stop in and talk to me directly, that'd be cool. Also, @LittleBobbyTables frequents chat as well. – Pat Ludwig Jan 3 '11 at 22:48
• No offense taken. "Would it be better if we got a chance to use it?" Up until this past month, almost every question was closed by a total of 5 votes, not just a single mod. Maybe users were all on vacation in December, maybe users were fine with all the questions being asked, or maybe we are being aggressive. I'm curious to see what others think. – LittleBobbyTables - Au Revoir Jan 4 '11 at 0:18
• @Pat: I know this isn't exactly what you meant, but I want to say it anyway: Your moderating should not be dependent on people seeking you out and talking to you. If the moderator takes action first, and then waits for the community provide input on said action, you're doing it wrong. – jalf Feb 4 '11 at 2:24
• @jalf - sorry you misunderstood. I merely pointed out chat as a means for folks to interact with me directly if they wished. I find commenting back and forth an inefficient means of one on one communication. – Pat Ludwig Feb 4 '11 at 3:25
• @Pat: I didn't misunderstand. Read the first part of my comment. :) I just wanted to emphasize that such communication typically shouldn't be necessary at all. If it is, it might be because the moderator in question is taking it upon himself to do too much. – jalf Feb 4 '11 at 6:39

I do feel mods are being too aggressive.

Questions that mods feel are mildly off-topic seem to receive a stricter treatment.

For example, surveys about variants seem to get closed frequently, as do questions about anything "meta" about board games (e.g. advice on arranging tournaments).

If we want boardgames.stackexchange to evolve into something more than just rules questions, game recommendations, and strategy suggestions, we need to be more open about what gets asked.

Incidentally, I want to thank all the mods for getting boardgames.stackexchange.com going in the first place --- you probably had to cull a lot of garbage for a long time --- but I think it's time to be a little more open and see where that leads us.

• +1. I don't even think the community will end up disagreeing with the mods in a lot of cases. I'd just like a borderline question to stay open for more than 5 minutes so the rest of us can weigh in on it. – Kristo Jan 12 '11 at 21:49
• I for one almost have left this community due to too agressive mods. – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 13 '11 at 1:37

The only way this will ever stand a chance to get have a user-base of NON-stackexchange people is if it loosens up a little bit. IMHO

On other sites, a moderate amount of strictness is fine. Programming languages, game development, math, and many other subjects are inherently non-subjective. Its pretty easy to see what topics are useful, and what topics aren't.

Games on the other hand are supposed to be fun!!! What's fun is going to be subjective a lot of the time. This site is different from the other sites in that its objective is fun instead of knowledge. If you guys disagree and say that knowledge of games is more important than fun, IMHO you're missing the point of games! :D

If this site wants to be able to compete with other sites, its going to need to change its goals a little. Would you rather go to a slightly less well designed site based on board game fun like BGG, or an SE site based on knowledge with strict limitations on the types of questions allowed? This site is very unfriendly to new users and frankly I wouldn't recommend it to any of them yet.

I totally agree that the mods are closing too many questions (no personally offense to them whatsoever, I greatly appreciate the time and effort they've put into their jobs :). Take a look at these questions that the community upvoted several time, but one mod closed:

What Risk variants do you like? 15 upvotes, 7 favorites.

what games use the worker placement mechanic? and economic games for mature players? 10 upvotes each and one mod closed them.

5 other highly voted but closed questions

Please open your ears and listen to the community before closing stuff!!!! There are more to board games than rules!!!! :D :D

Put it this way. People come to Stackoverflow because they want to get answers to objective programming questions. Programming is a huge profession that you can make a living with, and many people do. People go there to learn from others and solve problems.

This site is about games. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the vast majority of people play games and go to board gaming sites for fun. If what you want from a programming site is strict restrictions to objective only questions, that's fine, and this site could fill that role perfectly. However, IMHO some people want to have fun and ask questions about recommendations and other subjective topics that SO would deem less than perfect. If this site feels like turning them away, we will only be left with questions about rules and strategies. If that's all this site wants to be, that's fine. However, I believe very few people have a reason to specifically talk about strategy and rules and NOT anything subjective/fun, so this site would be left with a very small user-base.

Closing fun questions just makes the site unnecessarily strict. They are closed on SO because they are not very useful as programming is about skillfully communicating with computers. Board Games are about fun, and restricting well written, on-topic, useful fun questions is only going to hurt us when the whole site revolves around a source of fun anyway.

What I think we need to do is make the site a little more friendly. I doubt most of you had the first 3 questions asked on a stackexchange site closed with almost no explanation. I did, and it doesn't feel good. If this stupid site doesn't want my questions, I'll leave. And I almost did. Fortunately, I stayed and came to love it. The more we can make new user's experiences nicer, the more users we'll have and the more awesome the site will be. When users have a nice first experience, they tend to stay. Light-handed moderators are a huge part of this. :)

• Upvoted for emphasis on the word "fun". I feel as though the moderators are closing things based on their own (somewhat subjective!) literalistic interpretations of the site rules, rather than on the fact that useful, interesting, well-researched answers are not generated, or are not likely to be generated, by a given question. Lighten up a bit and give questions a chance to prove or condemn themselves, before dropping the hammer! – thesunneversets Jan 28 '11 at 21:04
• I don't think an emphasis on fun is the right emphasis for this site. Fun is great but this site is about answering questions aout games. The criteria for good or bad questions should be whether they are relevant to games not whether they are fun. – MrHen Mar 10 '11 at 16:26
• I agree with @MrHen, while games are for fun, this is a Q&A site, not a forum. – Lance Roberts Mar 24 '11 at 21:55

I don't spend a lot of time on this site, but so far, my impression is that yes, one or more mods are much too trigger-happy.

One of the nice things about StackExchange in general is that it is very nearly self-governing. Off-topic questions get closed by the community anyway, in an open and transparent manner.

There is very rarely a need for a moderator to close a question, unless it is blatant spam.

One of the key things that made StackOverflow, and now all the other SE sites, work is that they shape themselves. Rules aren't so much laid down from Above, they often emerge through users commenting on questions, voting to close, voting to reopen, upvoting and downvoting.

Or to put it another way: I've been active on StackOverflow since a month or two after the site launched. I don't think I've ever seen a question that was closed by a moderator. Deleted, yes, or locked, sure, those have happened a few times, but simply closed? I can't recall ever seeing it. Because it's unnecessary, and it might spark too much friction.

Here, though? It seems like 5+ of the questions on the front page alone have been through that wringer. That is insane.

The community is perfectly capable of closing questions. Let it do its thing.

Modrators should enforce the community's policy, in the rare cases when the community is unable to do so by itself. They should not try to define the policy themselves.

(and yes, this is a major difference from how moderators are typically expected to act on "traditional" forums, where they are the only channel through which a thread can be closed)

I do think the moderators are being too aggressive on some occasions, I strongly agree with @kristo's point: "I'd just like a borderline question to stay open for more than 5 minutes so the rest of us can weigh in on it."

For example IMHO, @Pat Ludwig, there was no need to close this question (discussed here) so quickly (within an hour, on New Years Eve!), before giving @CrazyJugglerDrummer a decent length of time to improve it.

• There's nothing stopping @CrazyJugglerDrummer improving a question and trying to get it reopened. – Charles Boyung Jun 27 '11 at 13:42
• @charles boyung: That's in THEORY. In practice, closed questions rARELY get reopened, even if they've been fixed. – Tom Au Jun 29 '11 at 22:04
• @Tom - show me an example of a fixed question that hasn't been reopened. If you think there are cases of this, you can flag it for the moderator and tell them it's been fixed and deserves to be reopened. They may not always see that the questions have been improved. – Charles Boyung Jun 30 '11 at 1:09

While "aggressive" is not the word I would have used, I feel uneasy sometimes on this site, as I've never been on other SE sites.

The reason is not them closing OT threads, thought: I think that is fine and correct.

Too often I've seen them comment questions or answers saying "you should do this or that instead". I find that annoying, "uneasing", and pointless. I think that a moderator can choose what has to be closed, but can't choose how something has to be done. With "can't" I mean can't, as in "he is really not able to do it: if he will try, he will fail".

I.e. if the posts are a river you can divert its course, but you can't turn the water into something else.

• I imagine many of the people here have been StackOverflow users for a long time. They way they do things has bled into the overall StackExchange network, for better or worse. I think the mods are simply trying to educate everyone on how the system as a whole works. – Kristo Jan 12 '11 at 21:46
• Yes, and I feel their way of "educating" to be... too much. – o0'. Jan 13 '11 at 9:18

Yes, the moderators are being too aggressive.

• Can you elaborate on why? This is a discussion after all. ;-) – Kristo Jan 10 '11 at 20:47
• Shoudn't this question be closed as being too subjective? – shemnon Jan 11 '11 at 21:58
• that's why it's on meta - because it's about the site itself. Meta questions don't necessarily need an objective answer. – Kristo Jan 12 '11 at 20:57

I have not been here long enough to comment on this question. Nevertheless, I have seen instances where I thought questions were closed before being adequately assessed.

While our site is decidedly Q&A, we must remember the theme that brought us here together: We are all passionate gamers, and we enjoy trying, learning, and sharing games.

Questions can be good and subjective. This is one instance where I felt the question should have remained open:

The idea that a question can be re-asked if worded differently begs the question: Why not edit the question and keep it open?

There is, in my opinion, a lot of value in that question and the answers it provided--even if it's subjective. Subjective also need not be argumentative. Our opinions on games are subjective. Should we not provide them? Should we remove "subjective answers" when users write why they like or dislike a game, a rule, or an expansion? Those are inherently subjective things.

As such there is enough intrinsic, useful value in such questions, even if the scope of their answers is too narrow to our liking.

There's my two cents!

• A question can be edited and then reopened. For me, the purpose of closing a question is more to prevent people spending time on answering a question that needs substantial revision, (or isn't appropriate altogether). – Pat Ludwig Feb 10 '11 at 4:33

I know at least some of the moderators have been inconsistent in their application of power.

If you're going to close subjective questions as being unanswerable, then they all need to be closed. If you're going to leave some/many open, then you can't pick on others to close that still match the previously-approved "pattern" for OK Subjective.

This question is a prime example, imho