A mod has decided that showing research in a question is now a requirement. The requirement is retroactive. However most questions on this site do not show research. Do the moderators plan to close most questions on this site?

Examples of questions closed for lack of research (note that some of these questions have over 10k views, and a several of them even have over 100k views):

  • 3
    I would love to hear the opinion of more than one moderator. It seems to me that this is the work of one moderator, and I don't know what the other moderators think of this.
    – Flimm
    Apr 10 at 11:09
  • 3
    When you consider that asking on SE IS doing research, closure for lack of research alone is ridiculous. Although it could qualify the question as VLQ.
    – Chenmunka
    Apr 12 at 12:06
  • I cannot see who closed these questions. Is this something that higher rep users can see? Are all these questions closed by the same user?
    – Flimm
    Apr 14 at 10:01
  • 1
    @Flimm All of those questions were unilaterally closed by the same mod. You can see who closed a question by accessing its timeline (the clock button below the voting and save buttons). Apr 14 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


This situation is very concerning. All of those questions were unilaterally closed by the same moderator as “needs details or clarity”, or closed as a duplicate of a question that is closed as “needs details or clarity”. (Some of them are also locked.) None of them have any comments indicating what specific details or clarity would make them reopenable.

Most of those questions have been open for several years. It's puzzling what changed to cause them to "need details or clarity", and I'm concerned that there may be many other similar questions that have already been roomba'd away (deleted by the Community user). (Closed questions that meet certain criteria are automatically deleted by the Community user.)

The community has not reached a consensus on whether or not “showing research” is a requirement.

As far as I know, there is no community consensus in Web Apps SE that the “needs details or clarity” close reason should be used to mean “does not show research”. I am also unaware of any Web Apps SE community consensus or policy that mandates questions to show research or face closure.

Therefore, I would kindly ask the moderators to refrain from using the “needs details or clarity” close reason to close questions for not showing research, and to consider reopening the closed questions, unless there is clear evidence of community support for that practice.

A close vote is not meant to be a “super-downvote”.

Deciding if the OP "does not show research" is subjective, which is why it is a reason for downvoting (see the tooltip on the downvote buttons) and not close voting.

According to the Help Center article on What does it mean if a question is "closed"? , this is the definition of a question that is closed as "needs details or clarity":

Needs details or clarity - Sometimes we need more information in order to help solve your problem.

Edit your post to be more specific about what you're looking for, and be sure to address any concerns that other users brought up in the comments.

Notice that there is no mention of “showing research” as a requirement. The "needs details or clarity" close reason is for questions that are ambiguous, vague, or unclear about what the actual question is, as opposed to "does not show research."

Stack Exchange Theory of Moderation

According to the blog post “A Theory of Moderation” by Jeff Atwood, Stack Exchange co-founder, which is considered the canonical article on how SE moderators should moderate:

But what do community moderators do? The short answer is, as little as possible!

[…] moderators occasionally need to intervene. Moderators are human exception handlers, there to deal with those (hopefully rare) exceptional conditions that should not normally happen, but when they do, they can bring your entire community to a screaming halt

A lot of the moderation work is extremely mundane, almost janitorial. It’s deleting obvious spam, closing blatantly off-topic questions, and culling some of the worst rated posts in various dimensions.

The ideal moderator does as little as possible. But those little actions may be powerful and highly concentrated. Judiciously limiting your use of moderator powers to selectively prune and guide the community — now that’s the true art of moderation.

I believe that closing those questions is not in keeping with the spirit of the above blog post on what constitutes good moderation practice on SE.

As a moderator, I basically have the same abilities as 3-5 users in a trench coat, and ideally the ability to shape/opinions via meta. For the most part I interpret and help enforce the rules rather than unilaterally define the scope of the site.

- Journeyman Geek's top-voted answer at the Meta SE post: What is the authority of moderators in defining the scope of a site?

I think that according to the above quoted posts, a moderator is an exception handler, and is not supposed to unilaterally define the scope of an SE site. However, the current situation seems to be the opposite of what is stated in those posts.

I hope the above feedback is helpful and constructive, and that the Web Apps SE moderators will consider and/or respond to it. I appreciate the work that moderators do to keep the site clean and organized, but I also believe that communication and transparency are important for fostering a healthy community.

  • 2
    Downvoter(s): If I’m mistaken on my above post, I’d like to be educated on which meta post the community agreed that the "needs details or clarity" close reason should be used to mean "does not show research." Perhaps you could please elaborate on this in another answer to the OP's meta post. Apr 12 at 5:45
  • 1
    Agreed, a silent downvote is useless. Apr 12 at 14:15
  • It looks that you have a misunderstanding about how meta works, about "community concensus" among other things. I.E. in relatation to community concensus Shog9's answer to Why must community consensus be reached on Meta? mentions that for that case concensus is not needed. Here is another discussion about community concensus from Meta SE How is consensus determined on Meta sites? Apr 15 at 3:14
  • 2
    @Rubén I appreciate your input, but I'd like to see you address OP's meta post, which has yet to receive a mod response, about what the actual policy is for closing those questions. Please address it in a separate answer to the question rather than in the comments section of this one. It would help the community understand the rationale behind your decision and avoid future confusion. Like the OP, I've noticed that most questions on this site do not show any research effort. Will you close most of them? Providing clarity and consistency behind your decisions would be helpful. Apr 15 at 5:05
  • 2
    @Rubén Regarding your linked meta posts, the first post is for a specific question in Stack Overflow posted almost 10 years ago, so I’m pretty sure it doesn't apply generally, and especially not to this Web Apps SE meta post. On the second link, I noticed the top-voted answer says: “it’s a judgement call” and “Folks are […] really, really adept at informing you when you’ve made a bad call.” I hope you are open to community feedback and willing to reconsider your stance especially since there is a strong community disagreement to your actions. Apr 15 at 5:05
  • If you want that your arguments be taken seriously avoid abuse of hyperbole and *non-sequitur". Apr 15 at 5:39
  • 2
    @Rubén and how about galacticninja's comment "I'd like to see you address OP's meta post, which has yet to receive a mod response, about what the actual policy is for closing those questions. Please address it in a separate answer to the question rather than in the comments section of this one."? If you want that your moderation to be taken seriously, avoid dodging questions. Apr 15 at 9:55
  • @FranckDernoncourt With due respect, I reserve my right to decide when, what and how to post. You might expect a long time delay to get a public response on posts that looks as trap questions, that have faulty arguments and from users that don't show an honest interest on this community. Private communication about mod affairs are exclusively handled through the tools provided for that purpose. Apr 15 at 15:30
  • 2
    @Rubén These questions are not trap and I have an honest interest on this community, as evidenced by my 500+ posts on webapps and ~10k posts on SE. If a question has faulty arguments, just say so in an answer. Apr 15 at 16:38
  • With due respect I don't believe you this time as the opening statement is deceiving: "A mod has decided that showing research in a question is now a requirement. " Apr 15 at 16:45
  • 2
    @Rubén what's deceiving about it? Apr 15 at 16:59

To ousiders, lurckers and silent community members:

There is no a Community Moderators plan in place at this time. I don't know about one before I was elected as Community Moderator. There have not being Community Moderator "plans" from I was elected as to Today.

Regarding the question's first statement that includes a link to Let's make "research efforts" more specific: request to search the web app help, I found it deceiving.

For those who are unfamiliar with , anyone can add this tag to meta posts. This tag is used to ask changes to the sytem or to a specific site. The system is prepared to make it easy to customize certain elements. Some of these elements, like the tour, the help center homepage, certain help articles like /help/on-topic might be customized by Community Moderators, like me. Other elements like parts of the Ask Question page can be customized by Community Managers (I think that they don't need help from a web designer or developer). Other elements might require a developer without requiring changing the system, just some parameters using their special skills, knowledge and access.

Feature requests that might affect several sites should be handled in Meta Stack Exchange but might be originaled in per-site meta like this.

As a Community Moderator I can add , this automatically triggers something on the side of Community Managers that help them to track the feature requests across the Stack Exchange network. They might do a quick review and provide advice about how to improve the feature request to make it easier to understand by them and handle it on their side.

The Community Managers someway (the details have not being disclosed and there is no need that they do that) review new feature request more deeply, i.e. what the feature request imply, like people, time and resources needed, what is the feature request background, if it has backed by the local community or someway makes sense taking advantage of ther knowledge about what is happening across the network.

When needed Community Managers might ask for clarification or provide guidance when there is something that the OP, Community Moderators or the community in general should do.

Once the assigned Community Manager / Staff feel that they are ready to give a response the might assign one of the other status tags.

My first attempt was to escalate a very old feature request related to the Ask Question form. This required to update the original post due to changes to the system and the feature request process. It was I think that this due to misterpretation about how to do a feature request like this as it was focussed on changing a side box but answer was about the modal dialog show to first time askers. Regarding my direct participation as editor of this feature request, it's currently in "stand by".

The second attempt was about a new custom post notice that I proposed very recently. It was as it only has 1 downvote, no comments. The feedback is that it could be reviewed again when there are more community participation. Currently this feature request is deleted, but it might be undeleted or reposted later. I have not made my mind about what I would do about this feature request yet.

So far there aren't more that I have directly added but there might be more in next days. This is not a "Moderators plan" as this is part of the daily tasks (operations) that Community Moderators can do as part of their regular activity.


  • 2
    Thanks, do you mean that showing research is not a requirement when posting a question on WebApps SE? I'm confused. Apr 15 at 19:47
  • This answer is not about that. The question asks if there is a moderators plan, I said that there isn't. The rest of content explains why I found the first question statement as deceiving. The referred post explained that there will used feature-request to ask changes to customizable elements and that other elements that doesn't require it also might be customized to better communicate an existing policy, not about a policy change. Apr 15 at 19:49

You must log in to answer this question.

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