OK, this does it. This site is officially painful to participate in, thank to blatant moderator abuse.

This question: What was this SciFi story?

  • Was first closed, including a mod vote, despite the active meta discussion of the question itself, and more importantly a prior meta community consensus that such questions are ON topic (specifically, asking a question to which the asker obviously knows the answer).

    NOTE: of 4 closers, at least one (Keith) openly admitted on meta discussion that he was not aware that as per established prior rules on meta the question was NOT off-topic based on the sole reason for him to have closed. Even before I gave him the proof on meta he updated in a comment "That being said, I think it's fine to keep, and even keep open"

  • Moreover, with the current meta discussion clearly trending in favor of the question, along comes another mod and unilaterally decide to delete the question that shouldn't even have been closed in the first place based on meta.

    • So far, the meta question itself that is positive of the OP, is voted +8/-2

    • The accepted answer is +8/-2 and also supportive of the OP

    • My own answer, obviously supportive of the OP, is +11/-3

    • The only non-mod answer negative of the OP is +3/-6!

I don't know whom to complain to, but from now on I'm on strike. I refuse to post anything beyond mere minimum needed to achieve my benchmarks. No more spending 1-2 hours researching, polishing and editing perfect great answers. No more spending my time answering questions just to help he askers and improve the site once I hit the cap.

  • I totally agree with your observation. However, I would like to add that there were at least three votes to reopen the question the last time I checked (before the page was invisible to me). In a matter of hours.
    – bitmask
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 1:59
  • @bitmask - correct. And I bet I could have scrounged around for #4 easily (I know who), bringing the open votes equal to close count. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:07
  • 12
    I have to agree with @DVK on this. Considering that discussions on this post was ongoing, and that there was a link to the meta discussion in the comments, AND that there was another related discussion (about humorous posts) going on, along with votes to re-open, having a moderator close the question at that point was either careless (not checking on the discussions) or rule-by-fiat. While I do not think the site should be held captive to any one user going on strike, I do think this is a legitimate concern and the question should not have been closed.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:10
  • 2
    @Tango - is your last sentence a polite way of phrasing what my family states bluntly as "go ahead, don't eat this food, will be more for me!"? :) Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:18
  • Also, for those who didn't get my reference, my intent to strike was at least 50% influenced by Gilles' previous statement of "Story ID questions will be made offtopic over my dead body, or at least my resignation from SFF". Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:19
  • @bitmask - count it as 5 likely votes to re-open. Keith just commented on Meta that he was intending to vote to reopen but was prevented by mod deletion. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:26
  • @DVK: That comment about the food -- made me laugh! While I think you're right on this point, I do think this site is a community and none of us should be able to control the site by going on strike. (Besides, by your own admission, you'll still be crapping out each day!) If you want to strike, or Gilles wants to die to defend story-identification, that's a personal choice, one I'll respect, and, with your rep, one that should be heard -- but not one that should control the site. Even if it does or does not mean more food for others... ;)
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:27
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    @TangoOversway - Oh, I agree. I am not even implying that the site would be worse off if I go on strike, though my vanity hopes at least some people would agree to a degree (those people who upvoted all my posts :))) - as you said, it's more about making a statement, and a slightly more "loud" way of making it than a mere meta rant. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:33
  • I think I'd sum it up that, in my view, high rep (and you're way over anyone) earns the respect of being listened to and responded to (and not with a "brush off" either), but not to the other stuff. But as far as this question, I also agree with your point.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:43
  • 4
    The question has subsequently been deleted, and I have no idea what it was about. Could someone please educate me?
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 11:12
  • 2
    @Pureferret: It was a story ID question that presented a different description of the plot of Star Wars (two robots trying to return data to their owner) and the username of the poster was in Latin that roughly translated to Skywalker.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 13:55
  • @pureferret - plus it mentioned "futuristic samurai" bit Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 14:07
  • I just voted to undelete. If you do the same, and we find someone else with a bit of a sense of humour ... (PS: I hail from a Stack where almost all questions are posted for fun by people who already know the answers; this is definitely acceptable on SE as a whole.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 19:08

2 Answers 2


Whether a question is humorous or not doesn't affect whether it's off-topic. I agree that this question is not off-topic. But it qualifies as “not a real question”, because (as you even pointed out in the answer) it is not a question but a puzzle: the asker obviously know the answer, and an artificial story identification question is not interesting, it's not what somebody remembered but what somebody chose to reveal.

I left the question alone as long as it was April 1st. Then I deleted it, because it doesn't have any lasting value. This question hardly had community consensus even on April 1st, with several close votes and flags.

Your childish and vindictive behavior here isn't helping your case.

  • 8
    As @DVK pointed out, one topic raised in discussions before moderator elections was about listening to the community. If there were not two discussions going on in meta that were not, at that point resolved, and if there were not already 3 votes to re-open, then this might be more reasonable, but considering that the community was clearly not in consensus, it's hard to see an act by a moderator that the community can't undo as not being autocratic and unilateral.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 8:01
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    @Gilles - "is not interesting" - that's purely your opinion. a HELL of a LOT of people disagreed. You were elected moderator, not a ling, to paraphrase what Tango said. The question of whether it was a real question WAS hashed out on meta and consenus was that it WAS a real question. You are not supposed to override that consensus just 'cause you feel it's not interesting to you personally. Your behavior was childish, not mine. As a further hint - so far, my "childish and vindictive" question has +7/-3, with most likely 2 of those 3 being moderators. On meta, it IS about community opinion, OK? Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 9:12
  • 1
    @DVK Just a word on the votes your question received: upvotes on a question in meta doesn't necessarily mean "yeah, you're right!". It could just indicate that the person thought it was a good question that deserved an answer (and the answer could very well be "no, you're wrong").
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 13:28
  • @Beoffet - my comment was based on voting of the ANSWERS in meta question, not just the question itself. So while you make a technically valid point, it doesn't prove anything in larger pic, sorry. Please see my updated answer stats. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 14:16
  • 4
    @DVK I see two answers to this question, both by moderators explaining why the deletion was appropriate, and both with net upvotes. Adding stats about answers to other questions, no matter how closely related, doesn't fix your statement that community opinion shows that your question isn't "childish and vindictive" (not the words I'd use, but I do agree that the tone of your question is far more inflammatory and confrontational than it needs to be, and is therefore far less constructive than it could be).
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 14:40
  • @Beofett - OK, got it now. you were talking about my comment to Gilles, NOT my question. Yes, I was talking about votes for this question in that one, and on that one you are correct, sorry. I deleted my replies to you that resulted from the confusion. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:00
  • @DVK No problem. I've deleted some of my comments, too. I'm still in Science Fiction & Fantasy Chat if you wish to discuss this further (not just the whole meaning-of-meta-votes thing, but rather the whole should-it-have-been-deleted discussion).
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:04
  • 1
    @Beofett - however, THIS question wasn't meant to be constructive. It was a declaration of an open rebellion (by withholding my efforts that - in both mine and likely many other people's opinions - are beneficial to the site), because it turned from a community to a dictatorship of the mods. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:05
  • @Beofett - If you think I have any MORE constructive avenues left, after pleading and asking on meta for months in 100s of comments and answers, AND getting at least some mod candidate assurances that they are indeed intending to listen to community vote instead of set the rules themselves, I'm open to more ideas. We don't have mod impeachment options, only META posts. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:06
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    @DVK A Meta post that doesn't contain silly threats and deliberately inflammatory rhetoric is far more likely to get long-term results, imo.
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:08
  • 1
    @Beofett - I made THOSE posts. 100s of them. They got - as evidenced by today - ZERO (or rather negative) results - we went from mods closing and deleting questions without meta discussion to mods closing and deleting questions in the middle of ongoing balanced discussion to finally mods closing and deleting the questions in the middle of meta discussion that was strongly leaning towards deciding the question on-topic. I'm fine with the mod being an executioner - I'm NOT fined with him being judge, jury, executioner AND king who makes up the rules as well. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:10
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    @DVK Sorry to be so blunt, but do you really think throwing a public hissy fit is going to get better results then? And again, please, let us take this to Science Fiction & Fantasy Chat.
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:12
  • 1
    @Beofett - no. Aside from waking up other users, by showing that this abuse has material negatives (driving away presumably good users), I didn't expect ANY results. I don't mind you calling it a hissy fit - it was meant to be, though I think "childish" and "immature" is a bit uncalled for, especially for someone who said almost exactly the same thing before. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 15:15
  • 2
    Closing a question that the asker knows the answer for that reason alone goes against what's said in the FAQ, it states there that it's okay to ask and answer your own question. Commented May 2, 2012 at 2:42
  • 2
    @NathanC.Tresch That was not the reason for the closing.
    – user56
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 8:15

I basically responded to this question on the previous meta question post, but I'll give a specific answer to your question here.

Stack Overflow found in it's early days, they allowed a number of questions of the same kind of quality. What happened is that these "fun" questions started to take over the site, and making it more difficult to get the answers that really mattered. This has been brought up in countless MSO questions, and a fair number of blog posts. The best of these that I can find is a semi-recent post, The Problem with Popularity. Specifically, I'll quote this part from near the end.

This is why community moderators have real power; they need that power to intervene, educate, and refocus the community’s exuberance on more substantive content. People will fight you almost literally to the death over their right to be entertained, and to entertain others:

Why can’t you just not look at these fun posts? Why do they have to be deleted? You guys suck!

The same reason the moderators and community on that subreddit didn’t decide to “not look” at the fun posts, really:

Broken windows. Every ‘fun’ post users see is an open invitation for them to participate in the fun by adding their own fun question or answer. The stuff spreads like kudzu! Pretty soon the entire site is overrun with nothing but that kind of fun. And even if you grandfather a few in, you’ll enjoy neverending requests asking why their fun question or answer has to be removed, while this one over here is allowed to remain.

Opportunity cost. Every minute spent participating in an entertaining ‘fun’ post is time that someone could have spent asking or answering a substantive question, something practical that solves an actual problem for hundreds or thousands of people. Entertainment, within reason, is by no means a bad thing — but I experience almost physical pain when I think about a brilliant topic expert spending 10 minutes on one of our sites deciding which hilarious cartoon is their favorite.

It's one of the most difficult parts of being a moderator, closing and removing questions like these which are fun, popular, but don't serve ultimately the betterment of the community.

There are countless questions which are on the line. Some of them I agree with, and others I don't agree with quite so much. But the question in note leaned on the site that was more for fun, and not for learning.

I guess that's pretty much where I draw the line with the borderline questions. If they allow everyone to learn something, then they are great. If they are just purely for the fun of it, then I'd need a lot more convincing...

Lastly, let me talk about the community consensus. I first noted the question because it was flagged. So, I took a look at it, noticed that there was a significant number of down votes, as well as 3 votes to close. I looked at other criteria, and decided it was indeed worth closing. All of that came without looking into the next bit, but I would say that there was far from a consensus to keep the question opened, but rather, the decision seemed to be split in half. Given all of the above, and the fact that the community seemed divided, I decided to close the question.

  • 5
    I see this reasoning, but, honestly, it would be much more appropriate if the line were being crossed a number of times. There isn't a need to be absolute. This is similar to the issue of list questions and the result of that discussion seems to have been a consensus that sometimes an approach of monitoring the situation is better than quick reaction. Especially since, in this case, there were multiple meta discussions going on concerning the topic.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:14
  • 5
    @Pearson - Sorry, but the point is that this question was fully on-topic WHETHER OR NOT it was fun. The only relevancy of April 1st to that question was that it allowed a fairly unambiguous guess that it wasn't meant in trollish malicious intent. Moreover, my point is that no matter what your own personal opinion was, the consensus on Meta was by that time that it was on topic, and I seem to recall that you explicitly mentioned prior to moderator elections that you prefer to abide by the standards set by the community (don't mean to single you personally out, but I remembered that for you). Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:15
  • 5
    As an aside note, I MADE it more "for learning" by analyzing from 3 different angles including adding info re: samurai references (never mind somewhat irrelevant but super educational Latin bit) Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 2:21
  • 1
    @Pearson - re: your last paragraph - was that before or after the heavy voting on relevant META question? Please note that there's no way on a main site to determine the balance of consensus, as you can't vote to re-open until it's already closed. Also note that - by the time of Gilles' delete, there were ALREADY 3 reopen votes, AND on top of that one of original 4 closers indicated on meta that he voted without knowing the meta rules (that knowing the answer when asking isn't off-topic) and is switching his vote (Keith). I'm sure if not for delete I would have gotten it reopened by non-mods. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 16:04

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