11
\$\begingroup\$

So this question has a very odd edit history, being closed as primarily opinion based by five users, re-opened by five-users, and finally being closed by a diamond mod. The reason this is such a strange question is that all of those open/close votes came consecutively, with no additional edits happening between them. Clearly, this represents a kind of tug of war between people who think the question stands on its own, and people who think the question isn't appropriate for the site as worded.

How should we, as a community, deal with questions like these when there's no real consensus on how to deal with them?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ There's a related system limitation: You only get to vote to close a question once, even after it gets reopened. Those same 5 close voters can't participate in closing it again, and the same 5 reopen voters can't vote to reopen it again. That tends to give these tugs-of-war a natural ending point, since new people have to get involved for each "tug". Diamond moderators are the sole exception to this limitation because of their nature as exception handlers. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 27 '17 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Those limitations make sense, which I suppose makes the second question the more prominent one. I'm not sure if there is even a "bright-line" answer for it. \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet May 27 '17 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm getting the sense that these should be separate questions. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 1 '17 at 2:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ They may need to be; about the first one, should that remain for posterity since that seems to have a strong answer? \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet Jun 1 '17 at 3:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WrongOnTheInternet The first part is the majority, yeah, so it makes sense to have it here. It's the “Additionally:” that seems to be far more important than its status as a footnote there indicates, and should probably get its own spotlight and community visibility. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 1 '17 at 3:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alright, porting over that other question... \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet Jun 1 '17 at 3:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interestingly, if re-open votes could be cast as "anti-close" votes before a question gets closed, it could get 5 close votes, 5 stay-open votes, and never reach the closed state, making the tug-of-war more discrete. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jun 9 '17 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM That was a suggestion a long time ago, but it was shut down by the site founder (one of his most unpopular answers, I think). meta.stackexchange.com/questions/125/… \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet Jun 9 '17 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that changing the system for an "anti-close" vote would give disproportionate power to people who wanted the question to remain open (If 4 people wanted the question open, it would take 9 to close the question). \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet Jun 9 '17 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WrongOnTheInternet: On the other, in the current situation, if I think that a question with a closed vote should remain open, I have to periodically watch it until it finally is closed to be able to vote to re-open. At the very least I'd like to be able to "register" my intention to re-open or schedule a trigger for when it's closed. Polling is so inefficient ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jun 10 '17 at 10:43
12
\$\begingroup\$

These things happen — they're not out of the ordinary or the system malfunctioning, merely uncommon events. Everyone with hold/reopen privileges theoretically gets a vote in whether a particular question is open or not, but more often there are only a few people who choose to cast their votes and the community in general is generally in agreement.

When there are greater multiples of 5 who wish to vote and they are split in their votes, we see a question's hold/reopen state cycle a few times before reaching an equilibrium — that is, when all the remaining voters agree with the current open/closed state of the question and stop casting contrary votes.

The question may currently have reached an equilibrium, or it may not. We'll see.

Sometimes, the state of a question is in sufficiently grey area that someone will feel the need to open a discussion on Meta about what should be done with the question. If voting seems to be insufficient to decide a post's status (or worse, it turns into an ongoing war of votes that doesn't seem to settling down, a “close war”), then it makes sense to bring it to Meta to discuss what to do with the question.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Any opinion on the second part of the question: how diamond mods should deal with contentious close/opens? So far, the unspoken policy seems to be "open or close once, but if the community negates the diamond's close/open, let it be." \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet May 30 '17 at 1:40
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @WrongOnTheInternet I do, but I think it's useful to let non-mods have a say on the subject first. I'm intending to update this after a while. (But do remind me if I seem to have forgotten!) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 30 '17 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie were you still waiting on that update? I've been curious about that point for a while now. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jun 9 '17 at 3:25
3
\$\begingroup\$

While closing a question in general is an appropriate moderator activity, closing or opening a contentious question multiple times is not appropriate without some kind of meta discussion, because that throws the way the VTC/VTO system works off significantly. I believe there's a locking tool that the mods could use that would be more appropriate in such cases, so that community input doesn't get stifled.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ We mods use our close vote like anyone else, once. We're 5x weightier than other people so it counts for 5 votes. We don't re-use it unless there's actually something dreadfully wrong and we believe it goes way past personal opinion that something needs to be closed, and yes, then we will lock or otherwise take additional action. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 31 '17 at 22:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Yup! That's a good way to do it :) \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jun 1 '17 at 4:36
3
\$\begingroup\$

I think the first part of the question already has an answer. To quote doppelgreener:

You only get to vote to close a question once, even after it gets reopened. Those same 5 close voters can't participate in closing it again, and the same 5 reopen voters can't vote to reopen it again. That tends to give these tugs-of-war a natural ending point, since new people have to get involved for each "tug".

The natural followup from SevenSidedDie in another answer here:

Sometimes, the state of a question is in sufficiently grey area that someone will feel the need to open a discussion on Meta about what should be done with the question. If voting seems to be insufficient to decide a post's status (or worse, it turns into an ongoing war of votes that doesn't seem to settling down, a “close war”), then it makes sense to bring it to Meta to discuss what to do with the question.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 - I asked this question on meta.SE and the community mods said that mods should vtc/vtro if they feel it should happen, and "waiting till you're fifth" or whatever is, and I quote Jeff Atwell, "an abdication of responsibility." Therefore we don't and won't do that. See rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6129/… for more. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 31 '17 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Jeff Atwood's answer, regardless of his position, was contentious and pretty near the bottom of the pile on that question. I don't think we should use that as the primary standard to define RPG.SE policy. I have to ask you a question fairly directly, since I'm not a diamond myself and don't have your perspective: How's your (and other mods) workload at this site? From my position as a user, it seems that the community does a fairly good job of self-moderating, especially on obviously bad questions and answers. Contentious questions are exactly the place where discretion is most important. \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet May 31 '17 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I will grant that it probably doesn't matter whether a single diamond or a team of five users closes an obviously poor question, so I'll edit my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet May 31 '17 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, you don't get to take away our votes in any situations. Enjoy! \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 31 '17 at 22:46
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk That's one of two points of this question, determining how that should work. I'm presenting my answer here to be discussed, and that last comment is saying, "It doesn't matter what you discuss, we do what we please." Please approach this with some amount of respect. \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet May 31 '17 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Community consensus can do some things. What it can't do is control how anyone uses their votes or otherwise participates on the site. We can't tell anyone how they should vote or when they can vote, and you can't tell us that either. Approach your fellow site members with respect and you'll get some. I'm not interested in pretending you get to vote on when I get to use my close votes. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jun 1 '17 at 2:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I don't think it's disrespectful to talk about how diamond mods might use their powerful close and open votes and talk about setting a policy around that use. Ideally, the diamond mods would actually have some hand in setting that policy or talking about it, even if that policy is "we should have no special policy". The point isn't telling people how they can and can't vote, it's setting a policy for that moderation. \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet Jun 1 '17 at 3:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nope. You don't get to control how or when we vote, and that's a non-starter. When we become mods it doesn't mean you suddenly get to say how or when we vote. It's not on the table. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jun 1 '17 at 3:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to disagree with the "generally no" part of this answer. Many of my reasons can be found here, which opinions haven't really changed. (Note to future readers: I was a relatively-new site member when I wrote that, only my tenth (or so) time weighing in on Meta.) I will say that since becoming a mod I've tried to be 100% on leaving decently-explanatory comments when I VTC or ReO, try to actively invite other viewpoints, and opened a meta in the case where I didn't really feel I could articulate what was going on... \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 1 '17 at 3:29
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's important that we keep doing our community moderation like we did before the diamonds. I think it's also doubly-important that we make clear to the community that we're receptive to differing viewpoints. I know it can be a big step to, as a new or lowish-rep member say "hey, [diamond]: I think you got this one wrong." Nevertheless, that's exactly the sort of conversation we want to be inviting. It's the best part of the Stack education system: we might learn something, the other user might =) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 1 '17 at 3:29
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @WrongOnTheInternet I wonder if some of the friction might come from verbiage: setting policy for moderator actions vs. (perhaps?) something like coming to a common understanding of moderators' principles? Any time someone in (any) Meta starts talking about how people (incl. moderators) should vote, that gets others' hackles up. Compound that with the dual mandate we moderators have of enforcing Stack policies and promoting community health, and it puts us in a tough position. This may not be the best word-choice, but while we take direction and guidance from you, we take orders from SE. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 1 '17 at 3:39
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I'm not sure if this clarifies, but I was talking more about determining what was the best approach for VTC/Reopen with the more powerful diamond votes, in terms more of principles or guidelines to follow rather than saying, "No, you can't vote to close on that! Get rid of that diamond!" I'm looking for agreement on something mods can look to internally as guidelines for VTC/Reopen, from those mods and other users. Thanks for showing the confusion there. \$\endgroup\$ – WrongOnTheInternet Jun 1 '17 at 3:53
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the input (from prior to the question split), I've been watching the answers here interested to learn how the community members would feel about when/how our supervotes should be used. I don't think it's practical or something we can follow, but that's another matter -- and that's mainly because we close a lot of stuff (mod stats say something like 12 questions in the past week) and the majority of closes I've cast just need to happen, like on a question that doesn't specify an edition. You wouldn't want to see a meta for each of those, and it'd be neglectful to not close them. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 1 '17 at 8:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .