Relating to this question on main, and a spin-off of this question on meta, I noticed an odd trend: five votes to close, five votes to open, and one diamond close, all without any editing. This is far from common, and the question has since been edited, reopened, and edited again, but it did prompt one of two questions (the other in the linked meta).

Should RPG.SE have a set of principles/internal guidelines for diamond mods on votes to close/votes to reopen on contentious questions? If so, what should that be?

This would be an internal set of guidelines used by the diamond mods to guide their votes, and can't and shouldn't be a hard set of rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would love it if this conversation were cast in terms of principles rather than policies. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 1 '17 at 3:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: A Theory of Moderation (SE's guidance to moderators) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 1 '17 at 3:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Done, is that appropriate for what you mean? \$\endgroup\$ – user5834 Jun 1 '17 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I certainly think it's better--"policies" seems much stricter than what your comments on the other meta seemed you wanted to be discussing. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 1 '17 at 4:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking in terms of "descriptive" or "instructive" (this is what we should do that is best for the health of the site) as opposed to "proscriptive" (diamond mods CAN'T do this, it violates policy). \$\endgroup\$ – user5834 Jun 1 '17 at 4:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you read through meta.stackexchange.com/a/41333/288652 ? Shog9 is a very well-regarded meta personality, and his opinion here might well help you get what you want (it seems like you guys basically agree) \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 1 '17 at 5:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question assumes that mods don't already have something like this, just because it's not clearly shared with the community at large. Are you asking if mods should have such a thing, or if the community should be told about it? (eg, what would you do if the mods said, "We do have that, but it's not useful to share it because [reason]"?) Because, based on your responses below, it sounds like you're actually concerned about community perception rather than mod behavior. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Jun 1 '17 at 5:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW There seems to be some (not much, but some) inconsistency in how VTC/VTRO are applied, which led me to believe there wasn't such a set of guidelines. There might well be, and I just don't know about it; in any case, I think making said guidelines public (if they already exist) would at least allow for some transparency. If said guidelines don't exist, having them as a reminder will help with keeping moderation policy (as decided by the moderators) even-handed. Even surgeons should use checklists. \$\endgroup\$ – user5834 Jun 1 '17 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW I'm also changing my mind in response to new information and arguments, so some comments will be inconsistent. \$\endgroup\$ – user5834 Jun 1 '17 at 5:44

Mods know the rules

The power of a mod is often confused with the responsibility of being a mod*. Mods don't close/open a question because they feel like it, they do so, because they know what the SE standards are.

Normally, you will only see a diamond close on a question that is clearly off-topic, otherwise you will almost always see a comment explaining why they chose to close it.

The fact is that it's a mod's job to make sure the standard is kept. The community is usually in charge of weeding out the rubbish, and mods step in when things get a bit much. But the fact is they are part of the community already, so it's not like they're above and out-of-scope with everybody else.

While yes, I can understand that sometimes this sort of "power" might seem a bit unfair, but it's really not. It's a responsibility that is given to them, by the community, for the community**.

All in all, the system, as it stands, works 90% of the time, and if it doesn't it is always dealt with appropriately.

A good example of this is actually one of my latest questions***. While some would consider it a good question - on topic, answerable; it could quickly get out of hand for some who might see it in a different light. A mod stepping in and closing it immediately removes that confusion, allowing for it to be dealt with appropriately.

*Uncle Ben is always wise
**I also apologise for all the Patriotic talk
***Only viewable to people with the appropriate permissions - has since been deleted

  • \$\begingroup\$ The mods here are generally really good about leaving comments for why they close things anyhow. I'm not worried about the power being unfair exactly, more about it being used when letting the community feel it around is better. Should the mods set the standard or wait for the standard to be set on contentious questions? Huh, maybe that's a better way of framing this. \$\endgroup\$ – user5834 Jun 1 '17 at 5:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Again, probably not. It's not like they're constantly aware of everything that goes on. They log on, they do their job, and then ley leave, just the same as any one else does. The only difference between us and them is the additional ability to deal with things more quickly. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Jun 1 '17 at 5:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re setting the standard vs waiting for it to be set, it's a bit of both -- we diamond moderators act decisively when we need to in order to keep the peace and uphold a minimum quality threshold, but there's a lot of circumstances in which we could act but deliberately do not act because we feel our action isn't strictly needed and that it's going to be healthier for the whole community (including ourselves) to let everyone else determine what should happen. Y'all take care of a lot of stuff, and it's awesome. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 1 '17 at 8:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for Uncle Ben is always wise. (He also makes good rice!) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 1 '17 at 15:32

Sure, guidelines are good

I'm always a fan of explicit guidelines. Explicit guidelines for reason makes action more easily predicted and thus, in this case, makes moderation seem more transparent.

We probably shouldn't write them, though

The best way for these guidelines to be made is for the moderation team to take some time to write up a post on how they actually make these sorts of decision. The moderators shouldn't need community guidance on this because our moderators should already be making these decisions competently and consistently. It's possible that the guidelines each mod currently uses are significantly different, but that's not really a problem since we have 4 mods and that's a reasonably small pool of perspectives to get answers from. It's also possible that for at least some of the mods the guidelines are not parsimonious, but I think a simplified, parsimonious version with an 'actually not this parsimonious' disclaimer would suffice to increase transparency.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer is better than the one I offered. Transparent guidelines that the mods write themselves for guidance, that we can see, is an effective solution to otherwise confusing situations. Not sure about that last paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ – user5834 Jun 1 '17 at 5:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WrongOnTheInternet last paragraph nuked. If you're not sure about it, it sounds like it'd definitely go over poorly. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 1 '17 at 5:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WrongOnTheInternet Also you will probably want to make a new question that's a discussion with something like 'how do moderators decide to VTC/VTO and why?' with some explanation of the background as to why you're asking and such. Ordinarily I'd reccommend another middle step where we get consensus that this is what we want done as a site, but voting on your discussion question would already serve that purpose and so can be safely skipped. (also asking a meta question shouldn't be a big deal). So, basically, feel free to ask the mods to do that, then ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 1 '17 at 5:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's reasonable to request. It might be hard to articulate all of it since a lot of it is judgement calls, but we can at least articulate that it is judgement calls (just like with anyone's close votes). Thank you for the feedback that we're handling this well! \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 1 '17 at 10:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Btw, I think you mean harmonious ("all in agreement") rather than parsimonious ("frugal"). (TIL a new word.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 1 '17 at 10:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener no, I meant parsimonious, as in 'derived from a small number of core principles'. But apparently that's the philosophy specific meaning >.<;;; woops. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 1 '17 at 18:58

Diamond mods should generally avoid closing/opening contentious questions, at least initially

For questions like the above, or more contentious questions with a couple rounds of open/close, I don't think it's a good idea for a diamond mod to intervene except to close the question specifically to be discussed in a meta question or somewhere else appropriate. Questions where there isn't a strong consensus on its appropriateness for the site tend to lead to policy discussions about what sort of question is appropriate, and that shouldn't be left to the winning open/close vote on very contentious questions.

As a footnote: Diamond Mods should feel free to offer open/close votes when they would be the fifth vote on a question. They're still members of the community.


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