It seems like there's been less voting to close since Pro-Tem moderators were appointed.

Us moderators can only close a question, we can't vote to close, and we'd prefer to have the site run democratically as much as possible instead of moderators heavy-handedly stepping in all the time. On the other hand, at this point, there aren't very many users with enough rep to vote to close a question yet.

A couple of us moderators really liked this response to this question on meta.cooking.stackexchange.com about the same topic over there.

What does everybody think? Do you want moderators to step in and close questions like this one†? Would you prefer that the community do more of the "policing", or that the 3 pro-tem moderators step in whenever a question is problematic? Can we get more people voting to close problematic questions?

Borrowing generously from the (CC-Wiki licensed) comment on meta.cooking.SE, here's a good methodology for users to follow:

[S]tart with these two steps:

  • If the question is subjective and not wiki, flag for moderator attention. Don't leave a comment asking the author to do it; many won't understand, some won't be able, all will be annoyed, and already-submitted rep-farming answers will remain in non-wiki mode.
  • Determine the most applicable close reason for the question. If the question can be made more objective / less localized / more coherent / etc. (whatever would prevent it from being closed), without altering the question's meaning, then edit it. Stop.

Assuming the question can't be edited due to insufficient detail (which is the case for at least 90% of closed subjective questions) then it goes down one of the following two tracks:

  1. Leave a comment warning that the question as written is likely to be closed.
  2. Suggest how the author could improve the question.
  3. If the author fails to respond within a reasonable time (i.e. a few hours), actually vote to close.

The other strategy, which is the one [they] prefer, is:

  1. Immediately vote to close.
  2. Leave a comment explaining (politely!) why you voted to close.
  3. Suggest how the author could improve the question, or appeal the decision on meta.
  4. Return to the question several hours later, and if it has been closed and also edited (improved), then vote to reopen it.

This would mean the pro-tem moderators would need to step in for the (flagged) subjective questions.

† I don't mean to pick on the poster of that question specifically, it's just a recent example.

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Thanks for posting this, @freiheit. If this community is to make it out of beta -- and I have every hope it will -- this is a perfect example of the kind of thing the community will need to be active in. –  Neil Fein Sep 14 '10 at 23:19
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Good post -- I've never voted-to-close. I'll try to keep it in mind in the future. –  darkcanuck Sep 15 '10 at 4:32
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3 Answers

I am not sure if we as the community have the power to do this or not but could we temporarily lower the required reputation needed to vote to close questions? This would really put the community in charge of what should live and die.

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Not sure we can do this now that we're past the private beta, but it's a fair point. This was brought up in other contexts on Meta Stack Overflow. @sixtyfootersdude, would you like to post a question about this over there? I'd love to hear what the MSO folks have to say about this. –  Neil Fein Sep 15 '10 at 2:38
    
right now we've got 16 users with enough rep to vote to close questions, and another 4 within 85 rep points of it... –  freiheit Sep 18 '10 at 5:55
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I hate seeing questions closed without discussion, especially when the site is so new. When we have a few months under our belts there will be questions that clearly cross "the line". But that line has yet to be properly drawn by the community -- new members are still joining and folks are still feeling out what's appropriate.

I'd prefer that moderators only close questions that have already been flagged or voted to close and there's been a bit of discussion. It's odd that you can't vote to close yourselves. Keep in mind that unlike SO, not all users of this site are likely to check back in an hour or two so the time before closing might need to be longer.

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I'm concerned that if we wait to close questions, people will put time into answering them anyway, and we'll then be hesitant to close them, even if they are blatantly off-topic or badly worded. Keep in mind that questions can be re-opened. My $.02. –  Neil Fein Sep 15 '10 at 5:13
    
Yes, we can always close a question, comment how to fix it and re-open it when it's fixed. –  freiheit Sep 15 '10 at 5:46
    
What I mean by "can't vote to close" is that it takes only one mod vote to close a question, instead of the normal multiple non-mod votes it takes to close a question. It's an overriding power to be used judiciously instead of a real "vote". –  freiheit Sep 15 '10 at 5:51
    
@freiheit: I understood what you meant, but I still think it's odd that you can't cast a vote like a regular user. –  darkcanuck Sep 15 '10 at 5:53
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@neilfein: Closing feels very final: closed threads on forums never get re-opened. I don't know how many people would want to put effort in fixing something they feel has a slim chance of being re-opened (whether it's true or not). A bad question isn't likely to get many answers. An OT question that gets lots of answers -- especially if they're good -- could be an indicator that it's of interest to the community. Try it and see? –  darkcanuck Sep 15 '10 at 5:58
    
There are also questions that are clearly off-topic, i.e. localized questions. I closed this one (one of the other mods agrees that it's localized), but it could possibly be rewritten as where to buy a folding bike on the net. –  Neil Fein Sep 16 '10 at 15:01
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@neilfein: You didn't give the poster any chance to correct, nor allow anyone else from the community to weigh in. Judging from the rep score, this is a first time user. There's nothing in the FAQ about localized questions, not even consensus on this meta site on what is "too localized". –  darkcanuck Sep 16 '10 at 15:11
    
@darkcanuck - On the other hand, "too localized" is one of the four standard reasons for closing, built into the site itself. We currently have a debate going about this elsewhere in meta. How about if I edit the question as an example to the first-time poster? I asked mods on other sites about this, and they tend to take the close-first-ask-later attitude. –  Neil Fein Sep 16 '10 at 17:39
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@darkcanuck - This has been brought up on meta stack overflow, but not recently. Perhaps you might revisit the issue there? Perhaps you can convince them that the "too localized" argument is not as relevant when it comes to the non-programming sites like this one. –  Neil Fein Sep 16 '10 at 17:44
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Every time a question is close, or is commented on in a negative way, we risk losing a user of the site. I am seeing more questions closed then I think should be.

The option to down vote a question is there for a reason, maybe there should be more down voting and less closing.

At present the site is not getting enough questions to grow, we have lots of answers. T he risk is that moderating the side to be 100% “correct”, may need to having a very focused site with very few users.

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Seems to me that one of the ways to promote growth is by showing up in google searches for questions with some really good questions and answers that draw people back. If you search on google for how to clean up at work after a commute and you really like some of the answers on our site, you're more likely to just come straight here next time, join the site, ask questions, answer some, etc... Low-quality questions with discussion instead of answers detracts from that. –  freiheit Sep 15 '10 at 15:16
    
@freiheit - Hey, our question is #1 in that search! –  Neil Fein Sep 15 '10 at 16:05
    
@neilfein - I hand-picked that example for something we did show up as #1 for. :) –  freiheit Sep 15 '10 at 16:16
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Seriously, keep in mind that part of the SE sites is to present the user with answers that the community has voted up or down, presenting the user with a feel for what the community agrees or disagrees with. We want to discourage users from posting bad answers, but at the same time, we want to encourage users to use the site properly and to post good answers and ask good questions. –  Neil Fein Sep 15 '10 at 19:32
    
Yes, quite frankly, this site is getting boring and some interesting questions are being closed. –  Scott Langham Dec 3 '10 at 8:28
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