What is the general attitude of this site's moderators? Pro-active, or waiting for the community to flag a poor post?

This question about Public-key cryptography is the reason I ask - I considered flagging it as trivial, but a moderator posted a comment to it. Does that mean the question is de-facto acceptable, given that a moderator looked at the question, and didn't close/delete it? Or do moderators wait for more input from the community?

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    One thing to remember - most of the mods are human, so are fallible. We rely on the community to keep us right - through flagging, voting, chat on the DMZ etc – Rory Alsop Jul 20 '11 at 8:42
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    @Rory Alsop - most of the moderators are human? Well, that sounds ominous - who is SE hiring, Terminators? :( – John C Jul 20 '11 at 23:52
  • 'most of the mods are ... fallible' where's the permalink button? select Answer from Posts where Answer.DisplayName=rory-alsop – this.josh Jul 25 '11 at 22:31

What is the general attitude of this site's moderators?

From my observation they tend to be relaxed, but it depends on the individual. Some on them want sharks with frick'n lazers.

Pro-active, or waiting for the community to flag a poor post?

Again from my observation, unless a post of extremely poor, they the order of operations is aproximatly: comment, chat, edit, close.

Does that mean the question is de-facto acceptable, given that a moderator looked at the question, and didn't close/delete it?

Different moderators have different opinions, so I guess the only thing you can say is it is acceptable to that moderator.

Or do moderators wait for more input from the community?

I think they do. It appears that if there is some way to salvage the question they work towards that. Sometimes they wait to see comments or answers from the community before proceeding.

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    +1 for sharks with frikken lazer beams on their heads! But yes, overall this is true, except that the q is acceptable just cuz a mod commented... see my answer re that. – AviD Jul 20 '11 at 6:11

Somewhere in between.

Especially now that traffic is picking up, it's likely that the moderators will miss a post that needs moderating.

If we do notice a clearly problematic post, we obviously jump on it, as soon as we see it.
If we don't see it right away, we do depend a lot on flagging from other users.
We also expect a certain level of self-moderation from the community - users can either edit a bad post, or even propose and edit if they dont have enough reputation. High privileged users can also vote to close a question. (Moderators can't actually just vote like others, since their vote is automatically binding.)

There are also a lot of gray areas - such as the one you linked to. Speaking as the commenting moderator in question, my purpose was agreeing with you: it is a trivial question, as such it is a poor question. However, whether it is poor enough to close outright, or not, is as of yet undecided. For that, we're waiting for more consensus from the community.
TBH part of what tipped the scaled for me (towards undecided, and away from closing outright), was the excellent answers already received there, before I viewed the post. Closing it outright would be unfair to those fantastic posts (though, as @D.W. commented there, the question itself is unfair to the posters).

Btw, there was quite some discussion on this very issue, over at the DMZ (IT Security Chatroom). That is one way to gather consensus, and understand via discussion the different issues at hand.
Feel free to jump in!

P.S. I also want to point you at this blogpost from @JeffA, while this pertains to all of SE, we do also try to follow those guidelines.

  • DMZ, great name for the chatroom :) And regarding the question, it's too bad you can't make only the question a wiki, leaving the answers as non-wiki... – John C Jul 19 '11 at 17:40
  • What he said. +1 from this mod. If you disagree, mod elections will be held shortly. – user185 Jul 19 '11 at 19:43
  • @Graham Lee, no, I'm not disagreeing - I simply don't know the general culture/attitude of this site, what questions are on/off-topic, or off-topic but tolerated anyway. :) – John C Jul 20 '11 at 1:06
  • My word, @Graham, are you already lobbying to have me impeached for questionable behavior? ;) – AviD Jul 20 '11 at 8:15
  • @AviD :). No, just making it clear that alternatives are available... – user185 Jul 20 '11 at 9:11

As others have said, the moderators are human, and a diverse lot, and disinclined from using their big clumsy "close" hammers when the situation is unclear.

I think this particular post highlights a somewhat different question: how to deal with the kind of question cited - i.e. a relatively basic question, or one that is very ambiguous and thus frustrating to answer.

We have a few choices:

  • Close them
  • Comment on them in an effort to get the original poster to improve them
  • Edit them into a better form

Also, note that it is sometimes a race between folks trying to make the questions better, and other folks looking to quickly provide an answer to their interpretation of the question, perhaps trying to get some reputation built up.

In this particular case, my view was that we didn't have a question on that particular basic point of crypto, and since we have people willing to give good answers to such questions, it isn't a problem for us to have them, even if Wikipedia also has good content on the same topic. So my preference was to edit it to make at least the title read well and lead people to good answers. This is not always easy, especially if the answers are already all over the place, and it runs the risk of changing the game for those who have already answered. But I take the view that this is all Creative Commons Share-and-Share-Alike, and my goal is a site that helps people learn while respecting people's contributions. Not always easy, but as Jeff and Wikipedia say, "Be Bold". The author (and many others) can always revert a change.

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    Really like this - your final paragraph is an excellent attitude. May need to pop a version into the FAW at some point. – Rory Alsop Jul 21 '11 at 7:31

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