Let me start by stating that I am not questioning the right of moderators to close questions or perform any other of their duties. However I have noticed that, recently, more questions are being summarily closed. I was wondering if, since there is a gentler mechanism, 5 individual close votes, this was really necessary. If 5 of us think it should be closed, then by all means close it, but a moderator, however exalted, is only one person with one person's opinion and interpretation of the rules and their action leaves little scope for discussion and dissent. On the other hand, you may think they are saving 5 of us the bother of voting.

4 Answers 4


Some food for thought:

  • I'm not sure that five close votes is really a "gentler" method of closing. Five close votes from the community might seem more brutal than a single close vote from a moderator.

  • Remember, a moderator's close vote may be immediate, but it isn't binding. The community can always override a moderator's decision with five reopen votes. Unless these recently-closed questions have been reopened regularly, I'd guess they are probably worth being closed.

  • A closed question is rarely the desired end state; the hope is that the OP will come back and improve the question so that it can be reopened.

  • The title of your question is "Moderators privileges." Performing the work of a moderator is hard work; I'd say it's more of a duty than a privilege. Yes, moderators have elevated rights that allow them to perform certain functions, but this work is almost always done from the perspective of trying to help the community become a better place.

Whether it's one moderator acting unilaterally or a team of moderators acting in concert, the chief goal of closing questions it to ultimately improve the quality of questions over time thereby making the site a more interesting and helpful place to visit.

  • 1
    I fully appreciate your point of view. Someone who has a question closed by 5 votes should realise that the reason(s) were generally recognised and that they had posted a bad question. If it is closed by one individual then there is always the lingering suspicion that it was just one opinion (however experienced) and somehow unfair. There are questions that should be summarily closed, ones that seriously break the rules either in themselves or by people how have been banned or under caution. Oct 22, 2022 at 13:31
  • How many closed questions are reopened? How many people come back after their post has been closed to improve their question? I'm not that observant, but I can't remember having seen either. Maybe some questions are edited by reviewers to try to improve them, but I gave up doing this when I was told off by a mod for supposedly "changing the meaning or intent of the question" Oct 22, 2022 at 13:36
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    I don't envy the moderators their job and whatever they do someone will always question it. I appreciate their work and wish them all well. Oct 22, 2022 at 13:41
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    @PeterJ - I just checked my voting record; I have voted to reopen a question 306 times. (I think most of these were on questions where someone – either the OP or perhaps someone else in the community – made changes to improve the question. A few of these might have been cast because I felt like the question should never have been closed in the first place, but I don't think that happened very often when I was more actively moderating.)
    – J.R. Mod
    Oct 23, 2022 at 22:00
  • Yes, a question that is closed isn't meant to stay closed. It's just closed to avoid answers while the question is put in shape and made on-topic. That is something that every user should remember. Unfortunately, many questions aren't rewritten to be on-topic.
    – apaderno
    Nov 16, 2022 at 20:12


You're probably referring to questions I've been closing.

It would be helpful if you included links to questions summarily closed by mods that you think should have been left to the community to decide on. That, or perhaps clarify that you mean you'd prefer that mods never summarily close any questions, and that it should always be left to the community to decide, which is also a valid position.

When I see a post I think should be closed, there's two different reasons I might close it summarily. One is I consider it unambiguously a bad question, and would be among the bottom percentiles of questions that normally get closed by the community. In this way, I save the community some review work, and I get questions removed from the front page that would either attract imitators or reward bad questions with good answers. This probably isn't the kind of question you're referring to though.

There are also times when I close questions that are not as close-worthy as those above, ones which I'd normally leave up to the community to close. These are questions from particular users that are under caution from a mod to improve the quality of some particular aspect of their questions, so when I see them post a question that fails in that regard -- even if it's otherwise a good question -- I close it. This also applies to low quality answers and comments from users with a history -- I often delete them without waiting for them to be flagged.

This applies in particular to users who have expressed to the mod team that they are indifferent to the quality of their questions in terms of whether they get closed or of the effect on the site overall, so long as the questions live long enough to get the answer they want.

And low quality questions do attract answers. As much as I wish users knew to ignore poor quality questions, they don't, and I don't see any reasonable way to change this behaviour. Some users will even downvote a poor question and leave negative comments, then provide a high quality answer. ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

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    Hi gotube, See my comment to David above. But since you are putting your hand up, I had noticed that the preponderance of such recent closures are down to you. I agree with most of what you say. I would only suggest IMHO that a good answer to a bad question still has merit and deserves a place here. I guess that I've occasionally been guilty of answering a question that I've also voted to close. Of course, at my level I have no idea if a particular user is under caution or a repeat offender. I repeat, this is not an attack on any moderator, just an attempt to clarify the process. Oct 19, 2022 at 21:41
  • I'm sure that most of the questions you summarily close would have got close voted in any case and your point about saving time and effort and clogging up the review queue is perfectly valid. So taking your and David's answers into consideration I guess I'm happy with the current situation. Oct 19, 2022 at 21:49
  • @PeterJennings Thanks Peter, and to be clear, I understand your concern, I think it's valid, and I take it in the spirit intended. I don't expect users to know what my motivations are for closing questions, and have sometimes wondered if I was going to get feedback about seemingly questionable summary closures. Now I know, and since you're almost certainly not the only person thinking that way, I'm glad we're having the discussion in the open.
    – gotube Mod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 22:32
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    @PeterJennings Also, good answers do have merit, but as a community we agree that bad questions get closed, even though it means a potential good answer to that question won't arrive. The reasoning behind for closing questions is the belief that when users improve the quality of their questions, they get more and better answers. What I'm doing is a "streamlined" version of that, at least in my mind. ;) If it's not working for the community at large, of course I'm open to shifting my habits. Thanks for raising this question BTW
    – gotube Mod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 22:38
  • Just playing devil's advocate, I notice that you have just given an answer to ell.stackexchange.com/questions/325492/…. A question which could be classified as "asking for meaning" or "proof reading", both reasons for closure. I hasten to add that I agree with your decision and would have answered myself had I got there first! It's a thin line we tread. Oct 20, 2022 at 10:00
  • Well in the spirit of widening the discussion how about ell.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5641/… in this meta site. This was closed although it seemed to me on topic for the meta site. To be fair I think I voted to reopen but it did not get popular support.
    – mdewey
    Oct 20, 2022 at 12:41
  • @mdewey That was my mistake. Thanks for bringing it up. I've reopened it.
    – gotube Mod
    Oct 20, 2022 at 12:52
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    Regarding the not closed question, the OP does say "...if I have used ... in the dialog below" which could be construed as proofreading since I read it that they created the dialogue. And a google search for meaning "make a good living" brings up 2 or 3 answers, so a non-native speaker could have answered it for themselves. But, as I've already said, I'm not out to start an argument, just to get clarification and discus points of view in an amicable fashion. Oct 20, 2022 at 13:09

I will not speak for the other moderators, and I have not yet checked the logs for question closed by them. This question might be improved by links to some questions recently closed by mods.

For myself, I would only close a question if it seemed very clear that it should be closed. In clear-cut cases of spam, rudeness, or abuse, I would close at once. In other cases that seem very clear, there seems to me no benefit to waiting for users to get around to casting inevitable close votes. This site has a fairly long close queue, and the delay serves no helpful purpose that I can see. I do not see a closure by one mod as "gentler" than closure by five trusted users.

One point of prompt closure is to discourage other off-topic questions by not allowing improper questions to sit open and perhaps be imitated.

As it happens, I have not to the best of my memory closed any questions since I was elected a moderator, except in one case where I thought close votes improper, so I closed and immoderately reopened a question, to remove it from the closure queue.

  • David, I cannot fault your answer. The reason I specifically didn't link to any questions or name names was to avoid finger pointing and make this a general discussion, not a witch hunt or diatribe against any particular moderator. Oct 19, 2022 at 21:32
  • @Peter Jennings Of course ther is no desire for a witch hunt, but without spwcifics to address, thew general answers are of at best limited use. But since Gotube has been specific about recent closures, I think you could safely link to a few posts that you are concerned about without that seeming accusatory. Oct 19, 2022 at 21:46
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    David, Of course, now I go looking for some examples, I can't find any! Without searching over 2000 pages of questions the only one I can find closed by Gotube is on page 4 and I agree it should be closed.. However, if in the future I spot a question I'm not sure should have been summarily closed, I'll flag it here. Oct 19, 2022 at 22:12
  • @PeterJennings I searched through the close review history and didn't find any behaviour that stood out as being unduly strict. If you want, you can search users activity pages e.g. ell.stackexchange.com/users/18673/… Glorfindel closed a couple of questions that already had three close votes but since the beginning of October I can count them on one finger!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 20, 2022 at 15:30

The fantasy is that the community contains many willing and eager reviewers. They sit at their devices poised to vote to close the inadequate or misguided questions to stop well meaning people spending time answering questions which are not clear.

In desperation the moderators, seeing the queues stretch out into the distance, step in and use their powers to close the most egregious examples. It is possible that the OP comes back and edits and then the question goes into the reopen queue or a community member votes to reopen. Is there a community sitting watching the reopen queue to help out here? See first paragraph for a hint.

On other sites the magic number of votes has been reduced from five to three to try to expedite the process but this was not carried out in the context of a properly conducted scientific experiment so we will never know whether it has helped.

We live in an imperfect world and in the absence of someone wishing to offer community members riches beyond the dreams of avarice to participate in the queues we are left with the present situation.

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