A recent question was swiftly and unilaterally closed by a moderator using a special power.

(I'm in favor of our moderators using that special power when it's really necessary. I'm not going to ask moderators to stop doing that! I understand that in a low-traffic site, it's helpful for a moderator to be able to close a question quickly and single-handedly, when it's an open-and-shut case.)

When the reopen votes started coming in, I think one of our four moderators should have reopened the question and then cast a normal vote to close. At that point, a more measured and democratic process could ensue, with people voting to keep it open or voting to close it.

Once in a while, it's not an open and shut case, and I'd like to see moderators make more of a distinction, please.

Anyone who agrees is invited to upvote, and anyone who disagrees is invited to downvote. (If you think things are more complicated, please feel free to post an answer with a different point of view.)

Related question, for the moderators: do you feel your moderating team has the right amount of manpower? I wouldn't want you to burn out. (What would we do without you here?) I can see the moderators working hard to do the necessary housekeeping here. I'm just wondering if you would like to recruit one or two reinforcements (additional moderator or moderators). There are a bunch of regular participants who check the site frequently, have shown excellent judgment and tact, would wield the special moderator powers wisely, and could help with moderating duties if you want to widen your moderating committee. (I personally don't visit regularly enough but there are some strong participants who do.)

  • I strongly disagree. My vote to close happened during the week and reopen votes happened during the weekend. We the moderators deal with flags and other issues as soon as we see them but please remember that we contribute our own time for this "job". Our patterns are different during the weekends and I don't see fair that you expect expect "service withing x time". Plus, the mechanism of the site is that with enough reopen votes the question gets reopened (no need of "special powers" or extra manpower), so I fail to see the need to have moderators "on call" or swift moderator intervention.
    – Diego
    Dec 11, 2017 at 14:23
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    It is important to remark what @Diego is explaining in his answer: moderators votes are always binding: to close or reopen questions, to delete posts, to accept/reject items in the review queues. It is a pity sometimes, since both Diego and me (specially Diego) are among the users with the most items reviewed in the review queues, and we lately decided to keep a bit away of it so that the community handles them coordinately.
    – fedorqui
    Dec 11, 2017 at 23:44
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    Also, some suggestions for better approaches in the future: if it was so important to have a moderator check this, raise a flag! We enter periodically to check for broken windows. Also, a good way to show that a post is not off-topic is to edit it to show it. Finally, you can @ping a user that used their binding vote to close or reponed (see ¿Cómo funcionan las @respuestas en los comentarios?).
    – fedorqui
    Dec 11, 2017 at 23:49
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    @fedorqui - Ah, very helpful, both comments. Dec 22, 2017 at 2:45

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, moderators have binding votes (for better or worse). We cannot choose to use a binding vote or a "regular" vote. For that reason, we have tried to keep ourselves away of the "close" and "reopen" queues. You may have noticed that, if anything, we cast the last fifth vote, so we don't use the "binding" vote and function as a "regular" user in that way.

My mistake (sorry about that) with that question is that I failed to notice that it was the title, and not the body of the question, what contained what distinguished the question has off-topic/on-topic (show no effort, no explanation of what you don't understand, request bulk translation).

In any case, since the site is ultimately moderated by the community I don't think that we should put stress in the failure of judgement of a single user, moderator or not, nor any user's time of reaction. In fact, in the past we have discussed to be mindful about that. The community agreed that the question should be (re)opened and that is what finally happened (and I don't think it took a long time for that either).

To summarize, since we don't have the ability to cast non-binding votes that you request, we will maintain our current policy of having a watchful eye on review queues and new posts, trying our best not to use binding votes (so we avoid imposing a user's criteria over the community's).

  • Your link to "be mindful about that" reminds me that I don't think we reached consensus on that -- and I am still interested. // I don't blame you for taking the weekend off -- that is very healthy -- and I'm constantly amazed by the commitment shown by our moderators. Also, I understand that a moderator might hammer-close a question and later have a change of heart. But I do see a difference between this site and larger sites such as ELU. It is frankly rather difficult to come up with five quick re-open votes here (for the community to exercise its self-housekeeping functions), which ... Dec 11, 2017 at 15:00
  • ...puts proportionately a larger burden on the moderators here. // So, what do you think about my idea of adding a moderator to the team? To share the responsibility? I can think of several people here who have a demonstrated track record of collaborating extremely well with the existing moderators, and also showing as amazing a commitment to the site as the existing moderators do. Dec 11, 2017 at 15:00
  • The ELU is a well-established very active stack. It's only normal that our stacks work at a different pace. Basic numbers: they have 90K questions total (we have 5K), +185K total users (we barely 11K) and probably their visits/questions/activity per day compare to our beta site in similar way (and as a stack they are not much older than us!). It's not difficult to come up with 5 reopen votes, what's challenging might be the time expectation. That question was reopened, by the community, in just a weekend. Not bad, actually. I fail to see the need for such urgency for mod intervention on this.
    – Diego
    Dec 11, 2017 at 17:41
  • A site is supposed to be self-cleaning, with the community pitching in and moderator intervention needed only rarely. But it can be a challenge to get 5 re-open votes on a small site. // Hence my question about the moderating team. This is not an expression of dissatisfaction with the current team, but a question (third attempt now): would the team welcome an additional member? Dec 11, 2017 at 19:47
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    @aparente001 this is not in our hands. It took many, many months of contacting CM to have another member on board. A small beta site like this normally has only 3 mods and we now have 4, so there is no way (I think) we get a 5th, nor I see the need. In any case, it is always good to upvote Moderator elections in beta sites? since the current Pro-Tem system looks a bit obsolete for never ending betas like this.
    – fedorqui
    Dec 11, 2017 at 23:56
  • @walen - I wasn't sure if my initial impression was correct, that two of the four moderators are leaving a good deal of the responsibility to the other two. When I looked at their activity, I could see that they played an important role in getting the site up and running, and more. I just don't know what the etiquette is for suggesting that an inactive moderator sit down and make some difficult choices. Any guidance anyone can give would be very welcome. If someone else could take the plunge and compose a question it would be much appreciated. // Fedorqui thanks I will upvote there. Dec 21, 2017 at 15:19
  • Sorry, I meant step down, not sit down. Dec 22, 2017 at 20:03

Fedorqui gave the solution in a comment: flag.

Apparently our fearless leaders have recently been trying to leave more of the housekeeping to the rest of us (which is a good thing, I think), so they might not catch a reopen situation quickly. But if I understood right, they would be more responsive to a flag. So, if something like this arises again, the path is clear: raise a flag.

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