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Moderators can't do everything.

As of right now, the couple of us with diamonds after our names and special duties to deal with community raised flags are able to keep up with reviewing and acting on the flags being raised. What we cannot do is read and evaluate all the posts! Maybe on a good day one or more of us will be watching the activity feed and catch most things that go by, but we cannot be solely responsible for identifying content that does not belong on the site.

As a case in point, today I saw something apparently no moderator had actually read. Periodically the SE engine bumps old questions that have no upvoted answers. One of these popped up today from six months ago. It had four answers, none of which were upvoted. Closer review made it obvious why. None of them even attempted to answer the question.

The question asked whether any Church Fathers had established teachings about issue A. The answers as garnered over four months were:

  1. was personal opinion with a dash of LDS doctrine about Issue A
  2. said Issue A reminded them of something.
  3. talked about some generalities in the NT an some modern anecdotes regarding Issue A.
  4. gave two references to modern Seventh Day Adventist teachings on Issue A.

NONE of them so much as mention a single church father or anything that might have been written or taught by them.

You know what else none of them had? None of them had ever been flagged "Not An Answer". This question would have been at the top of the home page five different times in five different months and surely somebody read these answers and realized they did not even touch on the issue raised in the question.

It is in the best interest of this site that we keep the noise down and the signal up. If this kind of thing does not get cleaned up it will attract more of it's kind.

Please, when you see an answer that does not match the question asked flag it!

</end rant> I'm not trying to point fingers over this specific question (hence not linking to it) so much as raise general awareness that part of what makes SE sites great—the high signal to noise ratio—only comes about if everybody reading (especially the established member base that roughly know the site guidelines) step it and intervene when appropriate.

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    Well said. Debating whether or not to edit for a one letter spelling error :P – Dan May 29 '14 at 21:23
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    I sometimes worry that I flag too many things, but my unhelpful rate is very low so I guess I'm doing okay. I've noticed recently that a number of new users (and sometimes old users) are very quickly giving answers to questions which are either duplicates or probably off-topic. Soon something like this has 6 answers, and maybe people feel it's too late to flag as a duplicate. – curiousdannii May 29 '14 at 21:32
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    @curiousdannii there is no such thing as too many flags. Well..there is, but you're not anywhere near that risk – wax eagle May 29 '14 at 23:32
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    @curiousdannii I'm most concerned with answers here. The community can handle questions by closing themselves without moderator intervention. Any VTC puts questions in a queue that can be reviewed without needing to be flagged at all. By all means VTC early and often, but when it comes to flagging it's most important to catch out of place answers that the community cannot remove without moderator intervention. All that said—my impression is that your flags are almost always spot on and—even if in a few cases a mod decides not to act on one—they are always appreciated. Keep 'em coming! – Caleb May 30 '14 at 6:53
  • that was a good example to raise this point on - point taken! – bruised reed May 30 '14 at 7:34
  • I'm aiming for the Marshal badge! :) – curiousdannii Jun 1 '14 at 6:30
  • @curiousdannii At the rate you're going it won't be long! – Caleb Jun 1 '14 at 6:53
  • See also: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/q/551/30 – Caleb Jun 18 '14 at 11:09
  • @WaxEagle - that's ok, the system doesn't give you enough flags a day to flag too much. – AJ Henderson Jun 18 '14 at 17:21
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Quite honestly, I feel like I need tutoring for this. I'd like to sit down next to someone who 'knows' and go through a load of questions and have them explain to me what they'd do.

For example, as I just commented here, the question doesn't seem like a good fit to me. But I'm not sure, so I do nothing (much).

In other places, as curiousdanni says about, even experienced users are piling answers on what looks like unmitigated carp, so my self-doubt grows even more.

Frankly, looking at the homepage, I sometimes fear that if all the questions that needed closing were closed, there wouldn't be much left!

  • I don't think you're as far off base as you worry. There was one day I closed over half the questions on the home page. Sometimes I think that needs to be every day. Unfortunately there are few people willing to put in the effort to mitigate the mess and considerable push-back from folks that would like this to be a regular free for all forum when mitigation does happen. I'm thinking we need to organize another round of reform. In the mean time I'd be happy to talk through a set of questions. Maybe we can organize a meta post or chat to talk through the hope page sometime. – Caleb Jun 8 '14 at 5:38
  • If you have questions about what is or isn't worth flagging, jump in chat and ask about it, or just try it and check back later if it is declined or accepted as helpful. As long as you aren't making vast numbers of mistakes, it really isn't a problem and if you are, then someone will end up talking to you to help anyway. – AJ Henderson Jun 18 '14 at 17:22
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I don't know how many users on this site I speak for, but part of the reason why I haven't done so is because my interpretation of this post on Meta Stack Exchange was that flagging would actually be the incorrect action. My understanding was that the proper course of action for such answers would be to downvote, possibly comment, and just move on.

I suppose if everyone on Christianity Stack Exchange agreed that answers that completely fail to address the question should be deleted, then we could do it differently here.

  • Also, if we do decide that those types of answers are to be deleted, would it be too much to have a canonical question on Christianity Meta that explicitly says "this is okay"? (Possibly by adjusting this question or by making a new post) – Dennis Meng Jun 5 '14 at 3:14
  • The trick is in the distinction between an answer that answers incorrectly vs an answer that isn't an answer or doesn't answer the question. Down votes are the correct response to an answer which is incorrect or unhelpful, but if it does not answer some portion of the question (or the underlying question driving the question) then it should be flagged. – AJ Henderson Jun 18 '14 at 17:41
  • @AJHenderson I suppose that's fair, though I'd probably still talk to the poster in the latter case first to give them a chance to right themselves. – Dennis Meng Jun 19 '14 at 2:15
  • @DeniisMeng - yes, certainly it is always nice to give feedback in either case and help them understand the correct action to take. Note that all actions are reversible as well. If you down vote or even delete a post, it can be upvoted later if they make an edit or undeleted. There are very, very few things that aren't reversible in the SE system, and all of them require being a moderator and have big warning labels. – AJ Henderson Jun 19 '14 at 4:25

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