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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):

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    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, 2023 at 11:09
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    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, 2023 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, 2023 at 10:01
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    @Flimm All of those questions were 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, 2023 at 14:09
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    I do not plan to close most questions on this site, nor has any plan to do so been shared with me. I appreciate the concerns that are being expressed in this and similar meta-posts and I will circle back on this once I have had a better chance to fully review it. A reminder for everyone to keep comments about user/mod behavior and site policy on the meta site where they belong.
    – Blindspots Mod
    Jul 17, 2023 at 19:15
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    @BlindSpots That’s good to know. To avoid any confusion or misunderstanding among users, I think it would be helpful if a moderator could post an answer with a clear and detailed explanation of the criteria for avoiding question closure so that the community can provide feedback, understand, and follow them. This explanation could be posted in this meta post or in any of these related meta posts: Showing research requirement; "Needs details or clarity" close reason. Jul 18, 2023 at 4:07
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    @galacticninja The number and scope of the meta posts attached to both sides of this "discussion," means it will take time to untangle this in a way that doesn't exacerbate the situation. A post by me on meta seems reasonable and I will make a decision on how I proceed once I am further along.
    – Blindspots Mod
    Jul 18, 2023 at 18:46
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    User engagement is important to me and also a concern highlighted in some of these posts. Ignoring the quality of the discussion the "volume" itself is too loud. Framing this as a crisis and repeatedly posting similar material raises the temperature. This "discussion" doesn't encourage user engagement on the site let alone meta. The number of community members invested in this matter on both sides can be counted on one hand, and most, if not all, have a personal connection.
    – Blindspots Mod
    Jul 18, 2023 at 18:46
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    Any behavior that includes misquoting users, belaboring points, repeatedly editing and cross-posting, and users adding posts that add little substantial to their existing posts doesn't help anyone. The optics of our behavior affects other community members as well as visitors who are potential members. In my estimation, everyone involved is an active user who cares deeply about this community and should be treated fairly and with respect. I am looking into this, will reflect on it, then respond.
    – Blindspots Mod
    Jul 18, 2023 at 18:47
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    Does Web Apps Stack Exchange Require Research? - relevant meta discussion post where a community manager asked the community whether we should mandate research on questions. Sep 20, 2023 at 2:45
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2 Answers 2

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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.

Web Apps SE has three-vote question closure

Web Apps SE implemented three-vote question closure more than three years ago, in January 2020. Yet, many questions are closed by mods without giving the close voters a chance to weigh in.

I just learned about the three-vote question closure today (June 15, 2023). I previously assumed Web Apps SE still had five-vote closure (like most SE sites) because most of the recently closed questions I’ve seen here were unilaterally closed by a mod, and I haven’t seen any recently closed questions (from 2020 onwards) closed by non-mod users only.

Since we already have three-vote closure, I think the mods should let the close voters vote on whether the types of questions like those the OP listed should be closed or not. That way, the mods can focus on dealing with the blatantly off-topic questions as per the Stack Exchange Theory of Moderation. This would make the closure process more transparent and democratic, and also reduce the workload for the mods.


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.

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    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, 2023 at 5:45
  • 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, 2023 at 3:14
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    @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, 2023 at 5:05
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    @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, 2023 at 5:05
  • If you want that your arguments be taken seriously avoid abuse of hyperbole and *non-sequitur". Apr 15, 2023 at 5:39
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    @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, 2023 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, 2023 at 15:30
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    @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, 2023 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, 2023 at 16:45
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    @Rubén what's deceiving about it? Apr 15, 2023 at 16:59
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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.

Reference

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    Thanks, do you mean that showing research is not a requirement when posting a question on WebApps SE? I'm confused. Apr 15, 2023 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, 2023 at 19:49

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