Today I had a question closed by a moderator, which seemed unreasonable, it was then reopened (i dunno if by the same moderator or someone else) and then all the comments on the question were deleted.

I was left confused. Is this normal moderator behaviour? What's up?

It seems my question might have seemed "too something" to the moderator, as they went on a bit about "one answer per question, and this being items, not answers". I had no idea what the heck they were talking about. Can anyone enlighten me? My question said nothing at all about "one answer per question", and I wasn't asking for people to poll or "list their favorites". I think some of those things that the moderator mentioned must be violations of the FAQ. But I'm confused by this since I didn't mention it at all.

Closed and reopened and all comments deleted question:

Reading on "meta" here, it seems there is a move away from "yet another repository" questions, and among at least one moderator, maybe a general hate on LIST questions.

Since gaming as a topic is probably chock-full of "questions with multiple (finite) sets of good answers", I really think this gray area is getting silly to pick on all list questions, just because we're all sick of "what should I play next" and "list of all roguelike games" lists. Me too, for infinite-set list questions that are related to multiple-games or a whole genre. But where a question with more than one answer exists, pertaining to a single game, I can't see the list-phobia, and why it's there.

I wonder if THAT is why I witnessed such a quick moderator close on my question. I can see closing questions like "can you please list all the different guns used in all the different FPS ever made", sure fine, close it. But specific things like "easter eggs in game X", or "hidden levels in game Y", are these ALL going to get moderated?

Update: It's my opinion that this chat log shows a moderator acting in a manner that makes me very unhappy to see.

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    I think the closing moderator was "fail badp", but as all record of the closing is gone, I can't be sure. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 3:35
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    The closing moderator was badp. Arda Xi convinced him to change his opinion. I would guess that the reason the comment(s) were deleted was to avoid potential confusion by presenting new visitors with a close comment on a question that wasn't closed. Chat log: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/935375#935375 – Arkive May 6 '11 at 3:41
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    Hooray for Arda Xi. Voice of reason. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 3:44
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    @Warren Context: it is perhaps the 200th discussion about opening and closing a question, where I am on the side of keeping the question open 95% of the time. You know, it gets tiresome at times. – badp May 6 '11 at 7:29
  • Re: "How do I know what's up", are you able to see the revision history? (I don't remember if this has rep requirements) – juan May 6 '11 at 12:56
  • @Juan It has no reputation requirements, but pre-edit it requires URL manipulation, so it's a bit hidden. As well, there's still the matter of the removed comments. – Grace Note ModStaff May 6 '11 at 13:02
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    badp misinterpreted the question slightly. It's easy to see how it could have been a bad question had it taken a slightly different angle. He undid his mistake rapidly. The outrage is unwarranted. – Matthew Read May 6 '11 at 15:56
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    I know most everyone here is in love with chat, but I would prefer that questions regarding questions be put on meta. It is less transitory and easier to follow the discussion. If a moderator wants to close something, but is unsure about it - please put it on meta. If a high level user wants to open something a moderator closed - put it on meta. And so on... – au revoir May 6 '11 at 17:00
  • I didn't see outrage. Annoyance, maybe. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 18:43
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    @Jason I don't think anyone truly considers chat to be an effective tool for proper meta-discussion on the merits of a question. Rather, chat operates similar to when such discussion happens in comments - it's done to hopefully settle things before reaching the level of needing to post on Meta. Not to mention... this is the Meta question for this, is it not? – Grace Note ModStaff May 6 '11 at 20:55
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    @Grace - It is, but I think it would work nicer if rather than coming here and starting a question about a closed question, only to be told the answer is in chat, a user could come to meta and see that there is already a question regarding their question, with all the discussion nicely contained in one spot, and not interspersed with TF2 discussions. – au revoir May 6 '11 at 22:18

If you click on the "edited" link at the bottom of the question you can see the history of the question. This shows exactly who closed it and who reopened it. Deleting comments that are not necessary anymore is routinely done to reduce the noise, not to hide anything.

A moderator closing a question is no different from the community closing a question. The community can always reopen a question if they disagree with the decision to close. This specific question already had 3 reopen votes until the same moderator that closed it reopend it.

Moderators are not infallible, they do make mistakes. That's why there are ways to appeal a moderator's actions. In this case by voting to reopen the question. Opening a meta topic explaining why a certain question should be reopened is also a good way. One point though, it is always better to focus on the specific action, not the moderator that performed it. Focusing on the moderator and speculating on his motives makes it more personal than needed and unnecessarily heat up the discussion.

  • When there's no edited link, just construct the URL yourself: /questions/{id}/whatever/posts/{id}/revisions – badp May 6 '11 at 9:00
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    I would like to suggest that if moderators delete stuff, and feel that they have in any way made an error, it's more gracious to find a way to admit it than not to. Ie, "This question is a list question, but not one of the prohibited list types. Reopened.". (Even if it was you that closed it.) – Warren P May 6 '11 at 13:22

What happens is that I made a decision, this decision was perhaps wrong and got a quite emotionally charged response from multiple sources.

After fourteen minutes I reopened the question. Grace asked people to cool off and, after a while, I wiped the comments for they were no longer relevant and only were noise distracting people from the question at hand.

I'm in a way happy to see I haven't made any mistake so far, given that this is what happens when I do – multiple angry comments, multiple angry moderator flags, multiple angry chat messages, multiple angry meta questions. I get it. You care. I care too.

Moderators need the peace of mind of being able to moderate, or they won't, and then they're not really moderators. Please give us the benefit of the doubt; we're not out there to get you.

Now — can we pretty please move along?

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    My first question on Gaming.stackexchange and I get some random moderator sniping. Context is important, as you yourself said. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 10:50
  • @Warren That's to be expected. First questions are usually troublesome, so much that there's an ad-hoc view in the review pages. – badp May 6 '11 at 10:55
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    On Stackoverflow, we have a habit of breaking people in. I think this practice could be adapted to Gaming SE like this; Leave a comment for noobs; "Welcome to <site>. This is a great place to ask certain types of gaming questions. How about checking out the FAQ?". We usually do that before we vote to close, and those of us who are 10K/trusted wield the close-at-once with a great deal of care. I'm just sayin'. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 13:13
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    @Warren, if you are a 10k user on stackoverflow, shouldn't you already know that you have to/can check the FAQ? (referring to your particular case, and not the general case for new users) – juan May 6 '11 at 13:21
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    @Warren Also, this wasn't your first question; you had another before that: "What is the most powerful experience you have had, playing a game?" (closed; deleted) – badp May 6 '11 at 13:24
  • Good point. I totally forgot I even asked that one. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 13:27
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    That question was months ago, and is still deleted. I imagine it's quite easy to forget something like that, when it's been so long and there's not any publicly easy evidence of it. Even if it isn't the literal first question, it's been long enough that one could still consider this a fresh new experience. – Grace Note ModStaff May 6 '11 at 13:28
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    @Juan: I had reviewed the FAQ, but the FAQ had changed a lot since the last time I reviewed it. Even so, my question didn't break the rules. The moderator in question was however inserting imaginary words into my question. I'm a 5K user on SO, not 10K, but I am referring to members of the community that I know and collaborate with that are 10K users, and I have observed a distinct care in their vote-to-close behaviour. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 13:28
  • @Grace I know, just putting that datapoint out. – badp May 6 '11 at 14:11
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    These points of data make a beautiful line. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 18:43

Some note, and this is more of a comment than a response, but you have expressed a concern about our approach to lists, and so I wish to address that. Our list policy has really changed a lot since the old times. In fact, we don't particularly target lists in general as much as a certain kind of problematic list. Your question was an acceptable kind of list. Speaking as one who could've been considered a major opponent against lists, it was within our policy 100% and I would not have even fathomed closing it.

In essence, when it comes to judging lists, there's two major things we look for. One is unique to lists, one is not.

  • Itemized nature. This is when a list attracts items, one-per-answer, and each individual "answer" is not actually an answer. That is, you can't really "accept" one of the answers and say "This is the answer to the question", because it's asking for a list even though the author just wants one item. This would be like, for example, "What are programs that record gameplay". One program isn't an answer, it's just an item.

    The acceptable version of the above is to ask a question such as "How can I record videos of my gameplay", which is no longer a "list" type of question even if it attracts multiple answers. It's just like any other question that may have multiple answers, so it is judged on all of those merits instead.

  • Open-ended and overly broad scope. Alternatively, being too vague. This is basically in line with our "Not A Real Question", and it applies to questions for lists that are... a bit larger than what would be reasonable. Asking for all of the hidden levels in multiple games, for example, would be too broad. But asking for the hidden levels of a single game, that's fine.

We started off with a lot of list phobia. This is because we didn't really understand what was a good way to try and understand the problems with lists. And a lot of misconception about "only one definitive answer", which was something of a false policy that people clung to during our Beta. I don't want to say our current policies are perfect, but they're much cleaner than before, much nicer than before, and I find they're a lot easier to apply.

badp addresses the heart of your concerns about what actually happened yesterday in his answer.

  • Well I think the current policy seems FINE. And overall, the execution is probably very even-handed. It was very surprising to see a moderator on an SE site write a comment that had SO little bearing on the question I wrote though. Almost like he had some kind of of stuck-pixels on his mental LCD. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 13:17
  • @Warren In perspective, badp is normally not that reactive, and we're also usually a lot more welcoming (I still remember what it's like to be a new user, so I always welcome them, but I suppose that your experience is just proof that we need to overall be a lot more nurturing, and I thank you for that). I'm not going to presume that I can speak for badp, but I'm more than willing to bet that badp was severely off of his game at the time he made that judgment. Thus, I implore you to forgive him in this instance, as that particular closing isn't fully indicative of how he normally moderates. – Grace Note ModStaff May 6 '11 at 13:20
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    No harm done, as I'm not a noob to this format, I'm a multi-year veteran on original StackOverflow, but new to Gaming. I am 100% sure that a similar lack of welcome given to people who aren't familiar with the format will have very poor results. I would like to see this Gaming.SE grow, and be friendly to people who don't know anything about META. They just like this site where they can ask great gaming questions, and find great gaming info. – Warren P May 6 '11 at 13:24
  • Well then, @Warren, let me myself extend a welcome for you to Gaming, on behalf of all of us, as it seems we still haven't done so yet. I shall keep your experience at heart for future endeavors, as it is a pretty good wake-up call. – Grace Note ModStaff May 6 '11 at 13:27

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