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This question came up as another attempt by the user to get their map scale question answered.

There were already two Meta Qs about it that didn't have much engagement from OP:

OP posted the latest question last night that I (and others) felt was in need of closure until it was better defined.

There was a comment thread which attempted to reignite the discussion and get OPs feedback to help them define their problem so we could have better answers, but a mod came in and broke up the discussion.

All comments were deleted (not moved to chat, but deleted) and two new comments were put in countering the arguments from those deleted.

Is this the best way to handle closure votes that mods don't agree with?

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    \$\begingroup\$ related: are questions about rule intent on-topic? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 29 '18 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand about "didn't have much engagement from OP". I'm the OP. I was trying hard to get clarification on how to get my questions asked. If I wasn't seeking clarification in the right way then a) it's not from lack of trying, b) new users are definitely not going to figure it out. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Sep 8 '18 at 22:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack Thank you for the response and I'm glad to read your response. As a mod had put out, you definitely did engage with posting the question. From my perspective, I may have been incorrectly looking for you to respond to either the meta answers or to address the specific concerns in your question edit itself. The community did respond very positively to your revised question and that's the important thing :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 9 '18 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I probably wasn't as clear as I could have been in the discussion. Anyway, clear feedback about why it's too broad in the comments might help the poster figure out what to change. I am not sure if differing opinions in comments makes that better or worse. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Sep 9 '18 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack It probably does :) But that's why moving the 'discussion' out of Comments and into Meta or Chat can help direct you towards an answer. Comments aren't really the right spot for that type of interaction while those are places are better for doing so. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 10 '18 at 13:03
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Something the mod team has observed is that there seems to be a lot of sensitivity among the community to detecting hints of designer-reasons in questions. Possibly more detection than is really there.

In that context, my perception is that that’s what happened here. I can’t speak for the acting mod there, but I personally see some over-detection of designer-reasons.

As mods, we sometimes step in to override what we see as a clear error. For closes or reopens, we do that where we can with confidence say that an override is correct.

We also use mod actions sometimes to nudge the community as a whole entity away from spiralling into vicious cycles. Establishing a community-wide precedent where any hint of designer-reasons makes a question close-worthy is beyond the consensus established on meta, and is the sort of thing likely to feed on itself and/or change how closes in general are handled, so I see nudging away from hints becoming the working precedent as useful intervention. (For context, the consensus, at least as I recognise it, is that questions with a core problem that is “why is this designed this way?” is what was made off topic.) A nudge at community scale can look like a hammer at the scale of one post or one comment trail, but hammers are a normal tool in the mod toolbox too that we use judiciously.

So I can’t speak for the acting mod, but I can say that as mods we do step in to take corrective measures when something appears to be going wrong, so this example (wiping an argument and then making a statement, possibly with a close/open action) isn’t unusual in that regard and at question scale. I can say also say that at the community scale we’re not keen on overdoing designer-reasons close votes, and it looks to me that this is an example of going beyond what meta has established, and that’s part of the environment of this event.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Rather than a wholesale nuking, wouldn't it be better to make the statement and discuss it either in the comments, on meta, or in a chat opened for that purpose? This was nudging towards Designer Intent based on the language within (and I didn't feel that rewriting the question or altering a key word in it was a reasonable thing to do without OP's permission), but there were other closure reasons that were also nuked. While I understand wanting to nudge the community towards a goal, this wasn't a nudge - it was more like a shove. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 28 '18 at 16:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ And while the votes for the Q&A are currently very positive, I still feel that had the comments been allowed to continue and given the community a chance to help guide the OP as was asked and attempted on Meta previously, we could have had an even better question. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 28 '18 at 16:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am glad it wasn't just me seeing this. some over-detection of designer-reasons Thanks for pointing that out, as it seems to be a root cause of the difficulties with that particular question/comment cycle. (I found the answer, when it came, quite helpful and also had a "Doh! Why didn't I figure that one out?" moment). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 28 '18 at 16:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ A mod nudge on the scale of whole-community behaviour on a topic is going to look like a mod hammer at the scale of one question. If the hammer is justified and so is the nudge, we’ll do that. And usually it’s not controversial. As I said, I can’t speak for the acting mod, just give general insight, so I don’t have responses for why those specific alternatives weren’t entertained. (At a guess though, a big pile of comments is just asking to be nuked though, no matter the content. And we already have multiple metas where discussion could go, without making another. I imagine those factored.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 28 '18 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ The comment pile wasn't nearly as big as other (maybe 4?), but I guess without hearing from the acting mod, it's hard to know the intent and reasoning and I'm guessing you can't see the deleted comments to determine if you would agree with how it all went down. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 28 '18 at 16:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are 9 deleted comments on there (we can read deleted comments), which would be enough to trigger my own threshold to consider if they need cleaning up. I tend to be more lax about comments under questions that are discussing topicality, but they do seem to be redundant with the meta about that question. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 28 '18 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Woof, didn't realize it got up to 9. Would a better question be what is the criteria for deletion vs chat? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 28 '18 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ That’s be an interesting question but I’m not sure there’s a consistent answer. It’s very situational. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 28 '18 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ a. Once there's discussion on meta, discuss on meta. What's the point of discussion threads all over the place about the question then? Let's have comment threads and multiple metas and chats? How about not, let's discuss in one place. b. That's right, I intended to make a reasonably heavy thud about the overuse of "must be designer reasoning", appears to be mission accomplished there. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 28 '18 at 19:32
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The amount of discussion sprawl for a single question was in my opinion excessive.

There were 2 questions each with comment threads (What map scales have you found useful? (closed), Do the map scales suggested in the DMG tie into any rules? (with 10 deleted comments)) and then 2 meta questions also with discussion (How to ask about map scales?, Will this question about mapping not get put on hold as too opinion-based?).

As a result, instead of continuing comment discussion, I re-linked the latest meta question and deleted the rest.

If they choose not to engage in meta (and you don't really know they're not, they posted the meta and can read your replies, they don't have to turn it into a discussion), then you vote your conscience, you don't sprawl the discussion further.

Related to the specific area of concern for the original question, the community is in my opinion being excessively overzealous about identifying questions as designer-reasons questions. Someone explicitly asking for designer reasons is a designer-reasons question. Or just bellyaching about "Why did they do it this way I loved descending AC!?!". But it's entirely reasonable to explore, in a complex ruleset, why something might be the way it is. This is not a problem with the question, it's a problem with answers. If there is not an answer within the ruleset, then don't answer, and it's not a designer-reasons question.

This isn't just about that question, it's been happening a good bit lately and the mod team in general isn't very happy about it. And it's not just about overzealous identification of questions as designer-reasons. There's been a weird uptick in a particularly legalistic approach to community closure and activity lately which fails to recognize the organic nature of the community. We do kinda want to allow as much content on the site as we can that's not problematic. There's not always a "hard rule" and we expect people to use their judgement.

We certainly do, which is why there's not always some black-letter law underlying our actions and guidance to the community. This is an example of that kind of time. As @sevensideddie points out well in his answer, "it depends." Sometimes deleting comments, sometimes moving to chat, sometimes posting on meta, sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do. In this case, the combination of discussion sprawl, on a topic that seems to need some guidance in general in the community, resulted in a specific set of actions (comment deletion and comment guidance to a) use meta and b) lay off the over-diagnosing of designer-reasons).

A similar situation in the future might indeed generate different actions. That is a feature, not a bug.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I'm glad you did what you did and started this discussion. Because I hadn't realized how bad the designer reasons over-sensitivity had gotten (for me included) until we had a discussion at length in chat where I realized rather organically that that was the problem that was occurring in this case. So mission accomplished. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 29 '18 at 3:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose when you've got a moment, would you mind digging up the transcript and linking that conversation here? Chat's great for sussing things out, but meta's a much more "discoverable" place and if there's illuminating policy-discussion there it's good to bring it here. (See also the role of chat.) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 29 '18 at 13:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Chat starts here though, as often happens, it meanders quite a bit, but it was illuminating for me at least. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 29 '18 at 13:36

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