My question, proposed out of frustration with this site and what I perceive as overly aggressive closing/on-hold status of questions is simply....

Do the powers afforded to a moderator; the ability put a question on-hold in rare circumstances* (effectively closing it to answers) conflict with the overall stack exchange system of community voting?

Specifically this question has frustrated me - ArcGIS for Server need an Administrator account for Manager Account 10.0

(But this is just one question that has put me past the tipping point of actually writing something on the meta. I've seen countless others, that no, I'm not going to go dig up as source material)

It was closed once because it was 'unclear what was being asked' by a single moderator 'super vote'. In this instance, it was unclear to one person. It was clear to me. I voted to re-open. Eventually another regular member voted to re-open. However the rules state that 5 members need to vote to close/open a question. A mod came in and opened it. Only for it to be closed again with a single member vote to close by another mod. Effectively there have been 3 people vote to close and 3 people vote to open. Unfortunately 2 of the 5 unique voters are moderators, essentially cancelling out the organic nature of the voting system. I've basically given up voting to close/open questions because I know a moderator is simply going to go and do it. (So please don't propose an answer of 'nobody votes to open/close' ... I think that is a symptom of the heavy-handed closing)

Further, I don't get why it's closed a second time when it has an answer. (I don't get why it was closed the first time either). The only thing I could have done was to edit the original question. But why do I need to do that when I understood the question in the first place and provided an answer?

Anyways, I don't expect a satisfactory answer to why this site is so heavy handed in closing questions so quickly. But this is a Question and Answer site, and this is a question, so you're welcome to try.


From https://stackoverflow.blog/2009/05/18/a-theory-of-moderation/ which is directly referenced in the GIS Moderator explanation -

Even with active community self-regulation, 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 — if you don’t have human exception handling in place.


Moderators also have some special abilities necessary to handle those rare exceptional conditions:

Moderator votes are binding. Any place we have voting — close, open, delete, undelete, offensive, migration, etc — that vote will reach the threshold and take effect immediately if a single moderator casts a vote.


4 Answers 4


I'm not an Arc expert but that question makes no sense at all to me. I would have voted to close it as it stands.

I also can't tell if your answer will help future users searching for help, mostly because the question makes no sense.

Rather than getting angry why not edit the question to make what it is about clear.


The question you cite is a bit of an anomaly. Typically questions such as this are closed with a comment suggesting how the OP can improve and edit the question. Often the OP adds an edit, flags it for reopening and it is reopened by the community. We also see many questions that are closed and the OP shows no effort to improve the question. There is typically not as much activity surrounding a question such as this.

In this case, I would have also closed the question for the following reasons:

  1. There is no question.
  2. The grammar makes the question almost incomprehensible.
  3. The question is cross-posted.

There are several actions you have correctly taken to address this situation: 1) leave a comment or a flag for the moderators indicating how the close action was inappropriate and 2) If option 1 is not effective, post the concern on meta GIS to bring in the community for insight. If you see a pattern of action you disapprove of from the moderators, make sure to address that with the moderator/s.


I have to agree with @PolyGeo on most of his points.

I think this is one of the struggles of being a mod...it's one of the reasons I was reluctant to nominate myself in the last election. I felt that if I did become a moderator, I would actually review fewer posts in the review queue because I feel the community should be voting for itself there.
Obviously that's only a single task, and our mods contribute in a variety of ways.

This is very much an opinion and I don't expect there to be a real consensus, but we can at least discuss some objective data:

According to my queries in the SE Data Explorer, the vast majority of question closures are completed with a single vote.
Note: these are closures, not questions. A question can be closed multiple times (such as the example in this question).

Question Closures by Vote Counts

| Close Type              | Closures |
|  5 Votes                |       918|
|  Community Vote         |        85|  <5 votes, but by the Community user
|  Super Vote             |      4921|  a single close vote
|  Super Vote with Others |      2381|  <5 votes, but >1

The vast majority of the single vote closures are duplicates (actually 1592 since the old reason was called 'exact duplicate'):
Single Vote Question Closures by Reason

|      CloseReasonType       | Closures |
| duplicate                  |      1319|
| off-topic                  |      1120|
| too broad                  |      1042|
| unclear what you're asking |       904|
| exact duplicate            |       273|
| primarily opinion-based    |        86|
| too localized              |        56|
| not a real question        |        44|
| off topic                  |        28|
| not constructive           |        11|

That's important, because in addition to mods anyone with a gold tag badge can close a question that has that tag as a duplicate with just a single vote.

Individual users vary, but in general, the above trend is true:
Question Single Vote Closures by User & Reason

Excluding duplicates, this does align with most of the comments and answers here:
The moderators are using their 'super votes' to put questions on hold with the intent of having the poster update and improve the question.

Also, Midavalo has a good point: mods can also re-open questions with a single vote. That is also the case for the majority of re-opens:

Question Reopens by Vote Count

|      Re-Open Type       | Reopens |
|  5 Votes                |       96|
|  Community Vote         |        2|
|  Super Vote             |     1103|
|  Super Vote with Others |      626|

Far from being in conflict, I view the On Hold / Close voting relationship between the community and its moderators as being one of symbiosis.

When guiding my own moderation the Theory of Moderation is something that I use as a starting point, but it was written on 18 May 2009 and Stack Overflow launched on 15 Sep 2008 i.e. it was great for its time, which was 8 months into the 8 years 8 months history of the Stack Exchange network.

Many lessons have been learned since then, and I think the passages you quote from are among the most contentious today, as you will see at Should we update the "Theory of moderation" blog post?

For a more modern view on what guides moderators I would recommend the Stack Exchange Moderator FAQ which leads to As a mod when should I vote to close content that is not flagged? and this from an answer by Shog9 resonates with me:

When you see a post you think should be closed, close it. When you see a post you think should be re-opened, re-open it. If you're not sure, don't do either. We've entrusted you with the ability to perform both of those tasks instantly - so use them judiciously.

The main reason I favour placing On Hold sooner rather than later, when I see a question that I believe needs editing to reach the quality that attracts quality answers, is that it performs a "stitch in time to save nine".

I think it is important to let the writer of a poor question know that it needs editing, while they are likely to be still be watching their question closely. As often as possible, I try to also comment with advice describing the issue I see with their question and/or commence that editing for them. A comment or edit alone elicits that edit far less often than requiring a quality edit before answers can be provided.

It may seem harsh at times, but all too often I see new users ignoring the Tour, and posting three or four quick poor questions, making more clean up necessary. If we can bring new users up to speed on the site protocols as soon as they start posting, it usually makes the users who get how focussed Q&A works a pleasure to work with on later Q&As, rather than an ongoing struggle.

It should be noted that closing a question has no effect on a question with existing answers. The question, and any of its answers, can still be voted on. The reason for closing is not to prevent anyone gaining the benefit of existing answers, even to poor questions, it is purely to try and get poor questions improved.

Every poor question on the site can be pointed to by later askers of poor questions as a precedent to do the same, and every clear question helps attract more clear questions. I far prefer answering clear questions to closing poor ones.

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