In recent discussion with moderator ArtOfCode of Hardware Recommendations, I was informed that

...this site has overridden [letting votes decide good or bad answers] on Meta, and dictated that answers that don't meet our base quality standard are deleted.

This was later revised slightly to

voting is there for that purpose, except in the situation that a post doesn't meet minimum quality standards. In that case, it is deleted.

This caused some consternation among users, with one immediately thereafter claiming: "Voting is not suspended on closed questions. I will frequently up/down vote closed questions."

I was further informed that this was an official part of our rules set here in Hardware Recommendations. However, that does not appear to be the case. Using the Help Page as my resource, I discovered instead that

voting on questions and answers is the primary mechanism through which the community governs the site on a day to day basis.

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed.

(note the wording - this is not about the quality of the answer, this is about whether it engages with the question at all - e.g. it even trying).

[> During beta, the community works together to answer seven essential

questions for every Stack Exchange site:

Are questions about {subject} on or off topic? What should our FAQ contain? How should we tag questions about {subject}? Who should the moderators be? What’s the “elevator pitch” for our site? What should our logo and site design look like? How do we promote our site?]4

(nowhere in this list does Stack Exchange suggest the fundamental model of voting may be altered by moderator agreement during beta)

> A lot of the moderation work is mundane: deleting obvious spam, closing blatantly off-topic questions, and culling some of the worst-rated posts on the site. The ideal moderator does as little as possible (nowhere in the description of the moderator's job is it stated that voting may be ignored or not used. In fact the wording is strongly in favor of removing only "the worst-rated posts in the site" - rated using the voting system)

Judiciously limiting your use of moderator powers to selectively prune and guide the community -- now that's the true art of moderation.

(not, say, getting together and deciding to do away with a central site mechanic like voting)

With that context out of the way: fundamentally, the point of this post is to ask whether moderators should be letting the voting system handle whether an answer which is at least trying is good or bad, or whether they ought to just use their own personally judgment in determining whether an answer is bad, and then overriding site-wide policy by deleting it.

(For clarity's sake, but not as part of THIS question, the context of this discussion was that ArtOfCode believed quickly putting on hold off-topic questions was the best way for him to do as little work as possible (a commendable goal as stated above), because it was believed that this would lower the number of bad answers he would have to delete. However, if it is not the case that he should be deleting bad answers, but rather only inappropriate answers or answers already heavily downvoted, then there is - one might presume - less of a reason to quickly close questions that are deemed off-topic.)

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    This... is not what I meant, when I said put your concerns in a meta post. Oh well, if you want to call moderator abuse, I won't stop you. On the contrary: if you believe that I or another moderator is abusing their power, I advise you to contact Stack Exchange staff using the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page, and explain the situation to them. – ArtOfCode Jul 21 '16 at 20:37
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    I am not calling moderator abuse. I am calling moderator ignorance. I don't think anyone is putting questions on hold or deleting answers in bad faith; I think they are doing it because they don't understand how to moderate efficiently or effectively. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 20:54
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    @AdamWykes Considering that ArtOfCode is one of the most knowledgeable and proficient moderators within the entire Stack Exchange network, who has arguably taken on one of the most difficult sites to moderate, I don't think there is any ignorance at play on his part. – Zizouz212 Jul 21 '16 at 20:56
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    Anyone who thinks this is not a valid question to ask on meta and has downvoted my post, please comment here as to why. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 20:56
  • Appeals to authority are meaningless if a mistake is in fact being made. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 20:56
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    Down votes on meta are a sign of disagreement. – Journeyman Geek Jul 22 '16 at 3:24
  • I fully understand your concern here, and I have no doubt the other mods and community members do as well. But the problem we're having here is that this is simply how content moderation works around here, yet you are trying to prove that it's not. I know you have good intentions though. – Adam Jul 22 '16 at 4:14
  • I'm actually not trying to prove that; I can see moderation is proceeding (I will not say working, as that implies success) as you guys describe it. Yet the problem of low quality persists. It doesn't seem to be solving the problem it set out to solve, and is causing another problem as it goes. I want to change the way moderation is done, because currently I think it is being done badly. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 14:23
  • @JourneymanGeek but these downvotes don't affect my rep score on Hardware Recommendations, right? – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 14:24
  • Nope.It is not. Other than MSE, meta votes have no effect on reputation anywhere. It is entirely a measure how the mood of the community on the question. – Journeyman Geek Jul 22 '16 at 14:26
  • Thanks! Still, it would be nice if people who disagreed would leave commentary as to why. I'm guessing most already have, in any case. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 14:32

Believe it or not, this actually is a responsibility of moderators - to an extent. Your basic question is this:

[Should moderators] be letting the voting system handle whether an answer which is at least trying is good or bad, or [should] they... [use their own] judgment in determining whether an answer is bad, and then [override] site-wide policy by deleting it?

I'm blind to whether a mistake in moderation was made here. I don't know the content of the answer that was removed, and I'm not familiar enough with site policy to know whether this particular case was a mistake in judgement. I'm not saying it was, and I'm not saying it wasn't.

But what I can say is this: Each site decides what sort of content the site wants deleted. It's the role of the moderators to step in and delete content where the community has, in the past, decided it's appropriate to do so.

This may be the source of the misunderstanding. Stack Exchange not only permits, but actively encourages moderators to delete content they feel does not meet the quality standard of the site, and pushes each community to develop a stringent quality standard for that purpose.

You are correct in that voting is the primary method by which the community decides what they see as on-topic and of good quality, but the community isn't always right. Mistakes in quality happen - take that from a Puzzling moderator. It's the moderators' job to step in and delete content, even if it's positively scored, when that content should be removed.

In other words, moderators are human exception handlers. When a problem comes up that a moderator thinks the community at large isn't necessarily handling correctly, they step in. So yes, moderators are explicitly encouraged to override the voting system when it's appropriate to do so - and that can be fractious at times, but that comes with the job.

Whether you feel this is how Stack Exchange should work is a different question - one that's worth asking, and one that I think has a valid answer - but this is how things currently are.

As an aside, may I suggest taking a step back from your keyboard for a bit? Your comments sound aggressive, and while I'm not trying to invalidate or dismiss what you're saying, it may be better received if you take a moment to cool off and disengage. Let it sit for at least a couple hours, and come back with a clearer head.

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    I would ask that unless my tone specifically violates site policy, that people refrain from offering further advice about whether I should see fit to respond at my discretion. If I sound aggressive, then you sound censorious. Let's ignore those qualities in speech and focus on the argument. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:16
  • There is in fact no particular answer or question involved in this post; I am asking this question based on a common practice used in moderation here at Hardware Recommendations. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:16
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    @AdamWykes Your right to respond is not being challenged; I think Emrakul is suggesting you take some time to work off any frustration or anger you're currently under that's affecting your judgement. – ArtOfCode Jul 21 '16 at 21:18
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    Voting is the primary method. However, it seems to me that primacy is being infringed. Furthermore, there are claims you are making here that are nowhere to be found in the official documentation. You have not offered any quotes supporting your case that moderators may delete answers the community deemed bad in the past - and that makes sense because it would be a very bad policy for a site like this to behave that way. All the quotes in my OP serve to illustrate that in fact moderators should shy away from deleting answers very often. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:18
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    @AdamWykes I'm not really here to argue. I wanted to offer what help I could, then be on my way - I've invested the extent of the time I intend to in this. That being said, I actually do think the tone of your comments is crossing the line from being nice into being mean. I'm giving you this suggestion - and it is a suggestion - for your benefit as well as the benefit of those you want to discuss with. – user235 Jul 21 '16 at 21:19
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    @ArtOfCode it is fundamentally a sidelong attack on the character of my responses rather than their content. That is the problem with advice about my emotional state. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:20
  • Where am I being mean? Perhaps if I could be shown some mean language of mine? As near as I can tell I am simply being straightforward. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:20
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    @AdamWykes There. "Should we delete posts that don't match our criteria?". Response: "yes". Please stop assuming I'm telling you lies when I talk about policy (and yes, Meta is policy). – ArtOfCode Jul 21 '16 at 21:22
  • All of that talk, in all three of the posts you linked to, is about noncompliant answers, or what I referred to elsewhere as ANMRs. It doesn't have to do with replacing voting on compliant but bad answers. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:43
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    Interestingly, I find feetwet's downvoted answer here (meta.hardwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/1/…) remarkably similar to my position. Perhaps my knowledge - I am in the top 3% of Hardware Recommendations users this month - is best utilized elsewhere. My method of helping people - all of my intuition about how I should assist people in need - goes against the grain of this site's culture. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:51
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    If I may inform everyone, it is absolutely obnoxious the way you are coming off, using this condescending form of writing. "Cool off", "I'm giving you this suggestion", and "work off your frustration" are simply not valid points and are the arguments of an idiot. Please, there is no need to gang up on @AdamWykes because you disagree with him. Vent your disagreement in a more mature way, please. – Rubydesic Aug 3 '16 at 13:54
  • @RubyJunk, while I agree with your sentiment 100%, you may want to reword your statement to use less aggressive language, because people around here have pretty thin skin. In any case, as they've made abundantly clear in numerous meta posts, the mods and longtime users of this site are absolutely not open to reevaluating past decisions made, and will respond with thinly-veiled hostility above and below board to people who question those decisions. If you want to chat about it with a sympathizer I'm all ears. – Adam Wykes Aug 3 '16 at 13:59

To directly answer the only question I see in your post:

Is it a Good Idea for Beta Moderators to Delete Bad Answers Instead of Using the Vote System?


We have a problem with getting questions to be on topic. Our scope is described in the Tour as such:

HR Scope

We've further defined that in What is Hardware?. There are a few minor disagreements on specific "hardware", but overall, the community has decided:

Hardware is any primarily electronic item that can perform more than one task, designed to interface with, connect to, or be, a primary computing platform in day-to-day operation.

A primary computing platform is any primarily electronic item that can perform meaningful tasks on its own with minimal external support, and designed to be operated by a user, consumer or professional.

Now, look at what is on topic. There is a single green check mark. Unfortunately, we continue to receive questions that fall outside of that single check mark.

Our stats for the last 90 days look like this:

Questions Closed: 222
Questions Asked: 416
Close percentage: 53.37 %

We are closing more than half of those are for technical support and one out of five of those closed questions are for being to broad. We've tried preemptive education, we've tossed around other ideas, we've discussed renaming the site and much more. Not much of what we've done has helped to eliminate the problem.

With that background, we come to your question about deleting answers. Yes, answers are important. Yes, down voting is important. However, even more important is keeping the site clean and high quality.

There are a few ways that deleting these "bad answers" help.

We don't want to provide answers to something that is off topic. Doing so only encourages more questions that we don't support. Closing these questions quickly prevents the answers from appearing. Removing answers further teaches both the person asking the question and the person answering that answering these types of questions is a waste of time.

We want high quality answers that make a recommendation Below are a few answers that I have flagged as either very low quality or not an answer posts and were removed.

This entire question was closed as technical support and this answer was removed because it is little more than a link. It makes no recommendation at all.

One answer is a link to a product with no explanation as to why. The other is a little better saying that their recommendation is "a great drive", but contains no link and the rest of the answer explains "a handy piece of software" (in two sentences...) and then throws in a second recommendation. There is no substance to the answer. It looks like it was removed when the user deleted their account.

This answer doesn't provide a recommendation. It provides a laundry list of parts the user should put in a new machine. On top of that, it doesn't make any explicit recommendations for any of the items in the list.

In short, I support the deletion of "bad answers". It helps to keep the site quality high. I'm also hopeful that it will help turn around the trend of off topic questions.

  • First of all thank you for taking the time to write that and answer the one question actually asked without condescension. I will have a much more detailed response to this answer later on, but I think this actually moves the discussion hugely forward for me. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 1:44
  • My response to most of the first part of your post can be summed up as this: I feel it is very important there be a well-defined difference between bad and off-topic answers. The reason for this is that a bad answer can be handled by vote, while an off-topic answer is "not even wrong" - difficult to vote on, difficult to place in a hierarchy of goodness and badness. It clutters up the answers list on any given question. The bad answer actually doesn't. Its purpose is to show people what might be a common misconception or other error, to be compared and contrasted against the good answers. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 13:45
  • You admit that your current system is not really solving the problem you have with having an inordinate number of questions which need closing, and you further do see that closing so many is in itself problematic. I humbly submit that it might be worth changing up long-held traditions to see what effect they might have on this situation; for example, letting questions which appear possibly off-topic (of course I agree you should close questions about dinosaurs here immediately), open with only guiding commentary on them for say, the first 24 hours. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 13:48
  • Oftentimes it has appeared that people in your community felt the questions was actually quite answerable, either because they, not being as time-trapped as the moderators, were able to devote longer time to reading and understanding the question, which might be well-worded but simply quite complex, or because they had the technical expertise to see that the question was in fact a proper hardware request. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 13:49
  • I don't see why you should hope that it will change anything, since it hasn't already. Maybe I'm wrong about timescales here, though. In any case, hopefully now you understand my position a little better, even if you don't agree with it. I think there are very worrying things about closing so many questions in such a way as to essentially preempt any attempt by the community to come to grips with them. I think the mods are shouldering themselves with more work than is needed by not letting the community, however small, step in for the assist. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 13:51
  • @AdamWykes, I will provide a longer response in a few hours, but for your "24 hour guiding commentary" suggestion, I want to point you at Stack Overflow. Watch their front page for a little while. You'll see low quality questions appear and quick answers of similar low quality appear shortly after. It is only later that the question itself will be closed. The "game" aspect of Stack Exchange motivates people to get a bigger number next to their game. Answering questions quickly, even if they shouldn't, if one way to do that. We want to prevent the low quality here. – Andy Jul 22 '16 at 14:16
  • As a relatively high rep on Stack Overflow, the low quality questions is frustrating. If I want to spend time helping people, I don't want to wade through the sewer first to find a good question. If I'm providing a high quality answer with sources and links to external documentation, I don't want to waste my time when someone comes along and posts a two sentence answer that kind of answers the question yet gets many more votes than my detailed answer. The low quality is demotivating. – Andy Jul 22 '16 at 14:19
  • Andy supposing I take your word for it, that this is how Stack Overflow operates (and I am inclined to, since I don't really have the time or inclination to do what you ask as a real experiment), are the questions provided to the low quality answers voted up highly by the askers? Venturing further - if so, is it conceivable that this process only appears low quality to you? It seems like the people on either end of the interaction would be getting what they want, and whether or not we like the game aspect shouldn't really interfere with their satisfaction. It's how the site was designed. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 14:20
  • From what I've seen so far, the detailed answers get the most votes on almost every exchange site I've been on. People love detailed answers even when those detailed answers are wrong! – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 14:21
  • "are the questions provided to the low quality answers voted up highly by the askers?" - It depends on the tag the question is posted in. Some tags will upvote anything. Others are much more ruthless in their downvotes/closing. As for appearance, I'm inclined to say that it's not just me based on the daily meta post or two that appears complaining about upvotes provided to questions that lack things like "basic English skills", "a small code sample" or "a question". It's unfortunate, but many higher rep users are much more selective in what they answer due to the overwhelming low quality. – Andy Jul 22 '16 at 14:28
  • The goal is to prevent that from happening here. That's the motivation behind the quick closures and deletions. – Andy Jul 22 '16 at 14:29
  • Yeah I understand the motivation and agree with it. I'm saying it has consequences where we don't want them and no consequences where we do. I have a real philosophical problem with asking anyone, community, mod, or otherwise, to determine the usefulness of a session between asker and answerer that both apparently feel was mutually beneficial. It seems like people who don't like those should find a way to filter them out, not remove them entirely. I'm speaking in ideals, but a man can dream, right? – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 14:36

I'm a high rep user here, and a former mod pro tem at software recommendations (which gives me an interesting perspective into the inner workings of a SE recommendations site) and a mod Super User.

I'd like to start by saying SR and HR are in a strange place as far as scope is concerned. Recommendations are explicitly off topic everywhere else on the network. While it was primarily aimed at SR this post by a community moderator explains why quality control is so important on a beta hardware site. The pruning of questions done now helps determine the body of questions new users have to refer to, and avoid "but it was ok then!". What's worth doing is worth doing right to start with. If there's enough traffic and active closevoters the community can handle but the modhammer is a useful tool to help shorten the process loop. The best way to prevent mods from needing to unilaterally hammer things is to close the things that need closing first. Flag em, don't answer em.

If a closure or deletion is disputed, the right way to handle it is to bring it up specifically on meta.

I'd note every 'don't ask about' is a real problem that a moderator has faced.

  • Before I respond, I have to admit I don't know what "I'd note every 'don't ask about' is a real problem that a moderator has faced" means. Can you clarify? – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 14:52
  • Each of the issues there is something that has actually cropped up in the community, and still does. Its there so people don't ask such questions and require deletions to be done but people do it anyway. – Journeyman Geek Jul 22 '16 at 14:53
  • OK, I got it now. I'd like to clarify that I'm not asking for the scope to be changed. I accept that you guys don't want to answer the questions you've decided don't meet the scope; I don't want to deal with most/all of those questions either. I think the scope is mostly spot-on. What I see happening, however, is that sometimes questions are being closed wrongly - that in fact they did fit in the scope, and little or no modification was required for them to be very satisfactorily answered. So the problem lies in the interpretation of the scope by those quickly closing these questions. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 15:04
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    “Recommendations are explicitly off topic everywhere else on the network” — No, this is completely wrong. Each site decides. That blog post was about Super User. Since then some other sites have followed suit, such as Stack Overflow. Others haven't, such as Ask Different and Unix & Linux. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 22 '16 at 22:24
  • I disagree - it's meant to be network wide but interpretations of the rule by different communities varies. For the purposes of this answer it's a good reason for quality standards on questions. Let's not confuse things. – Journeyman Geek Jul 22 '16 at 23:32

Moderators are leaders in the community.
Moderators are supported by their community.
Moderators are trusted people in their community.

The most important question I see you raise is this:

fundamentally, the point of this post is to ask whether moderators should be letting the voting system handle whether an answer which is at least trying is good or bad, or whether they ought to just use their own personally judgment in determining whether an answer is bad, and then overriding site-wide policy by deleting it.

Hardware Recommendations Stack Exchange has strict requirements. Any post that does not meet those requirements are subject to action, such as deletion. The voting system has no impact on this.

Moderators have also been carefully appointed by people at Stack Exchange. The community, as well as Stack Exchange, have placed their trust in these people. They are very well respected, not only within Hardware Recs SE, but also other communities within Stack Exchange as well. They know very well how to react to various situations, and, to put it frankly, how to moderate.

There needs to be a realization here that many standards are not in the help center. They are located prominently within the meta site itself. Site policies, Should we have SR quality guidelines have been created by the community. These help define the community, and the framework for building the site.

There is clearly a misunderstanding on question closure here. For questions that do not meet a certain standard, they are eligible to be closed by various people in the community, including moderators. This is not a problem. If such question is closed, it can always be reopened, once suitable for the site.

Same for answers. If an answer does not meet the standard, it is eligible for deletion. Period. This site is a constructive question and answer site. Not a discussion forum. If you've read the tour page, you would've read this:

This place is for questions and answers. No chit-chat.

The voting system has nothing to do with whether an answer meets the standard. They are independent systems. Do not conflate the two.

Be Nice.

You clearly disagree with the actions of a member of the community. If you disagree so much that you need to create a post, then perhaps you need to take a break. You can always discuss, but if you are not constructive, you won't ever get anywhere.

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    This is absolutely not an answer to the question: should bad questions be deleted by mods or determined by voting? If you had read the "gibberish" then perhaps that would have been clearer to you. The rest of your entire post is can be boiled down to an appeal to authority, an attack on my character instead of the substance of the disagreement, and basically an inefficient attempt to tell me to shut up. It absolutely does not meet the standard of even an attempt to reply with a useful answer. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 20:53
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    @AdamWykes That's where I'm going to pop back in and say unfortunately, you're wrong. This answer addresses your question by pointing out several facts you missed and clarifying the surrounding policies. – ArtOfCode Jul 21 '16 at 20:57
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    Show me where it actually answers the question posed. He is absolutely conflating "bad answers" with "answers which do not meet the requirements" - and they are obviously two different things, as evidenced by the very existence of the voting system. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 20:58
  • @AdamWykes The answer is that there is no answer. Let posts be voted on, let posts be closed. The two systems are distinct. You can't say one is better than the other, because they are independent. Let the community do what they need to do. – Zizouz212 Jul 21 '16 at 21:00
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    @AdamWykes Wrong again, I'm afraid. The bad answers that I have been referring to all along are those that do not meet the requirements. – ArtOfCode Jul 21 '16 at 21:01
  • @Zizouz212 That is fundamentally my argument in a nutshell. Do not close bad answers; let them be voted down. ArtOfCode appears to be telling me that in fact that is not how we roll during beta here, which I am pointing out is nowhere supported in any official documentation, and which further makes no sense. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:01
  • @ArtOfCode except that cannot be true, because the reason we began this discussion was that you wanted to avoid bad answers - not answers which do not meet the requirements. The argument you put forward for holding questions early and often was to reduce bad answers. It strains the mind to imagine how that practice would reduce off-topic answers. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:03
  • @AdamWykes I have been synonymising "bad answers" with "answers that do not meet the requirements" all along. That is your misunderstanding. – ArtOfCode Jul 21 '16 at 21:04
  • No, I understand perfectly that you have been articulating yourself very poorly by failing to properly differentiate the two. What I fail to understand is how you think you could more efficiently reduce the number of answers that do not meet the requirements (hereafter Answers Not Meeting Requirements or ANMRs) by holding questions quickly, which is in fact a preemptive moderation against both kinds of answers, one type of which (bad answers) you should not be moderating that way, but rather leaving to the vote. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:11
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    @AdamWykes Can you give some examples of questions you feel were unfairly closed too early by a moderator? – HDE 226868 Jul 21 '16 at 21:15
  • @AdamWykes Once again, you misunderstand the Stack Exchange system. That's just not how these sites work. Please do look at the system's details before teaching your grandmother to suck eggs. – ArtOfCode Jul 21 '16 at 21:16
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    @HDE226868 sure thing: hardwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/4273/… – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:22
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    @AdamWykes "Is this newer version of the drive recommended? Does anybody know what the differences are here? Why aren't they reporting the RPM?" Is not a recommendation. It's a request to learn more about a particular product, and is not on-topic. – Zizouz212 Jul 21 '16 at 21:25
  • @ArtOfCode that's a wonderful analogy without any evidence to support your assertion. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:34
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    @Zizouz212 that's also not the whole question, and as I point out in my commentary on that question, what he's asking for is quite plain - which of these drives should I buy. I am not a genius, but I discerned that immediately. Leaving the question open for answerers to take a crack at would have avoided the whole problem and the asker would have gone away with his answer happy faster and happier. – Adam Wykes Jul 21 '16 at 21:36

Andy's answer has hit the nail on the head regarding your main question; I'm going to address some misconceptions you have.

Firstly, to clarify my meaning in those two chat messages you quoted:

voting is there for that purpose, except in the situation that a post doesn't meet minimum quality standards. In that case, it is deleted.

Voting is the primary mechanism of determining post quality. However, to be worth comparing a post to other answers on the same question, it has to meet a minimum standard of quality that we have set out here on meta. If it does not meet that standard, it will be deleted, as we also agreed upon. Every post that does meet those criteria is left alone to be voted upon.

I was further informed that this was an official part of our rules set here in Hardware Recommendations. However, that does not appear to be the case. Using the Help Page as my resource...

The help center is not the only source of official policy; meta is also official policy if the community forms a consensus. As I've said, we've agreed on meta that we should delete posts that don't come up to scratch, so that's the policy I've been enforcing.

(nowhere in this list does Stack Exchange suggest the fundamental model of voting may be altered by moderator agreement during beta)

Firstly, the Seven Essential Questions meta post is now very outdated and most new communities mostly shun it. There's now the Real Essential Questions FAQ instead.

Secondly, it doesn't have to be in the list to be possible. A community can change almost any aspect of the default Stack Exchange policies by consensus on meta, which is what was used here.

And lastly, this was not done by moderator agreement, but by agreement within the whole community.

(not, say, getting together and deciding to do away with a central site mechanic like voting)

We haven't done away with it. On the contrary: we've augmented that existing mechanism by deleting answers that don't meet our criteria, which leaves only those answers that are in the same kind of ballpark to be compared by normal voting.

With that context out of the way: fundamentally, the point of this post is to ask whether moderators should be letting the voting system handle whether an answer which is at least trying is good or bad, or whether they ought to just use their own personally judgement in determining whether an answer is bad, and then overriding site-wide policy by deleting it.

The policy that this site has decided upon is to delete those answers that don't do what we've set out to do here. Therefore, any answer that doesn't meet those standards, whether it's trying or not, will be deleted. Site-wide policy, therefore, is not overridden.

And yes, unilateral deletion of answers is a subjective process - as are most unilateral moderator actions. However, that's just part of being a moderator - diamonds are trusted to take the action that's best for the site; if they get it wrong, anyone in the community can challenge the action and ask for an explanation on meta.

  • Thank you for the clarification. I will try to clarify my position. I think that putting questions on hold so quickly is basically preempting whether an answer could be good or bad. It could be that you just misread the question. It could be that you just didn't understand the question. It could be that the question is poorly worded and really does need to be held. Letting an answer or two hit that question first would give you additional information needed to decide. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 13:38
  • I understand that's not what you want to do, but I think it is part of the solution to the problem with topicality you are currently experiencing. You guys have expressed that this is a long-standing problem, that it still exists, and that it is quite frustrating. I don't have any insight into what you're currently thinking might be the solution, but this suggestion is mine. Maybe I'm wrong - but I think that it is worth trying. You could always go back to how things were done in the past if it doesn't work. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 13:39
  • @AdamWykes I understand your thoughts. However, what you might not have realised is that pre-emptive closure, such as we use here, is part of a Stack Exchange standard. It's done that way because letting answers come in to determine the topicality and quality of a question legitimises those questions, and encourages people to post more of the m, pointing at the last one and saying "but that was allowed, why not mine?" to which we have no defence. It's a slippery slope to a terrible quality site, which is what we're trying to avoid. – ArtOfCode Jul 22 '16 at 13:46
  • I can definitely see that concern, and I'd be worried about that too, but since you can in fact close a question after it has received answers, thus providing the final say on its topicality, I think that's a red herring. No one is going to be deceived into posting more wrong questions so long as bad ones are closed. Again, as it is apparently felt necessary here, I must reiterate that I am but a padawan and you are the master, so perhaps there is something about closing a question with answers on it that I don't understand... but from where I currently am, I can't see how. – Adam Wykes Jul 22 '16 at 13:54

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