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(This post is for the candidates who are running for the 2023 Web Applications SE Community Moderator Election.)

As you may already know, there have been a number of recent meta posts on Web Apps SE expressing concern about a moderator who has been unilaterally closing dozens of questions based on some yet-to-be-explained reason. Some of the relevant meta posts:

The votes on these meta posts and their answers indicate that the community has generally expressed disapproval of these moderator actions. Posts that opposed the moderation practice received mostly upvotes, while the moderator’s posts received mostly downvotes. However, the moderator in question continued with the question closures despite the lack of community support.

How will you handle feedback or objections if you find yourself in a similar situation where the community disagrees with your moderation actions? Would you keep doing the same thing, disregarding community feedback or consensus, like in the case mentioned above? Or would you respect the community consensus, even if you do not agree with it?

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I would respect the community consensus.

In my opinion, the only time moderators should oppose the community is to fulfil the moderator agreement. This should be quite obvious, but even with community concensus, a theoretical case of the community asking a moderator to reveal personally identifiable information, that would break the moderator agreement. In that case my duty would be to not reveal the information.

With cases like those out the way, everything else a moderator does should be for the community based on what the community wants.

In this example, ambiguous close reasons are a great case to work with the community and figure out better close reasons.

Mods can create a small set of stock "Off topic" reasons for a site, which can be used by anyone.

https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/187574/222623

The quote says mods, and sure mods will be clicking the buttons in the UI, but it’s through working with the community that these close reasons can be developed. These should be to meet the needs of the community.

Mods have access to statistics on use of custom close reasons — the free text box one gets when voting to close a question. With sufficent use of the custom close reasons, this becomes a great starting point to the discussion of what custom close reasons should exist. Even without this, the community can suggest close reasons and have them added even as a trial.

Here is what I think was a fantastic example of this on the site I moderate at the moment: https://apple.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3030/37797. A member of the community proposed a new close reason for a specific issue we had and felt needed custom guidance to the question asker. Coincidentally it seems like a similar problem to that of the sorts of question brought up here. We discussed between the moderators and the community, out in the open, followed by the close reason being added. It’s helped numerous questions be edited appropriately by their askers and subsequently not only being reopened but answered well.

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  • Thanks for your answer. Speaking of a point of dissention between a moderator and the community consensus, do you think that showing research is a requirement when posting a question on WebApps.SE? Requirement means that if the OP doesn't show research, then the question must be closed. Jun 16, 2023 at 21:26
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    @Franck My current point of view is that one should “Downvote questions that don't show any research effort” (source) and only “Closing […] where the community identifies questions […] unreasonable to answer in their current state” (source). A question without research but which could reasonably be answered could therefore be downvoted and left open.
    – grg
    Jun 16, 2023 at 22:08
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Absolutely!

The community members taking issue in many cases have contributed a lot to the site over the years and it is appropriate that their concerns be properly addressed.

I have read as many of the closed posts, comments, and META posts as I can. I've tried to understand the specific issues with as many of the closed posts as I can. In many cases, the reason was not clear and couldn't be inferred based on the close reasons given.

I think it is important to seek consensus with controversial decisions. As a general rule, closing a question or answer is unlikely to be well-received by the author, if not others. It is important to provide feedback.

In reviewing the closed posts, I see that feedback was often given however in many cases it didn't do enough to actually clarify specifically what caused the closure, or what if anything would get it reopened.

The current discussion seems to be combative. It is a good sign that the community is discussing the direction of the site, and I think the temperature can be lowered if people's concerns are properly acknowledged and addressed. There needs to be more clarity on what the end game is in all this, and how the community feels about it.

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