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I'm left surprised by some answer presented in the late answers review queue.

Considering Kusalananda (it could have been whatever other moderator) commented that answer 16 hours ago without taking any sort of additional action (apart from possibly downvoting) I must assume that the answer just "looks ok" to the mods.

If so, why should I think differently ? (within that precise context of review tasks) hence :

Why is that answer still presented in the review queue (getting everyday longer and longer) ?


EDIT after misc. comments : Other example

I have also many times read some moderator commenting some question when some member of the community asked for closing the question.
Can't we just assume that if some moderator comments a question already asked to be closed and does not close the question then the moderation team does not think this question should be closed ?

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  • While I can't read Kusalananda's mind, perhaps they were giving the author a chance to salvage their answer? Regardless, comments are temporary post-it notes, and shouldn't stop the community from reviewing as they see fit.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Sep 10, 2022 at 15:17
  • @JeffSchaller : Whatever Kusalananda had in mind, we can assume that they actually reviewed the answer. I mean if some mod actually closes some question, it no longer shows in the close votes review queue. (Irrespective of members of the community considerations) The same should IMHO happen when reviewing. If some mod actually reviews an answer it should no longer show in the review queue. BTW my point is simply to find ways to reduce the ever growing number of review tasks with limited chances left opened for a wrong decision.
    – MC68020
    Sep 10, 2022 at 15:45
  • In its current form, the answer does not "look ok" to me, which is why I commented the way I did on it. I was hoping that the user who answered would see it and take action to improve on it. I then promptly forgot about it. My comment should definitely not stop any other reviewer from reviewing the answer and taking whatever action they see fit. It is unclear if you are asking about my comment or whether you are asking about how to review this answer.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Sep 10, 2022 at 15:49
  • Rereading your question text here, are you saying that if an answer (or question) has a comment from a particular user, it should be taken out of the review queues? That would be a strange mechanic.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Sep 10, 2022 at 15:58
  • @Kusalananda : Not whatever particular user. I meant whatever particular user from the moderation team. ;-)
    – MC68020
    Sep 10, 2022 at 16:05
  • @MC68020 Technically still just a user of the site though.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Sep 10, 2022 at 16:15
  • Basically, if the mod left a comment but took no other action, that just means the mod doesn't feel the situation is clear enough to warrant mod closure and instead feels they should let the community decide.
    – terdon Mod
    Sep 11, 2022 at 12:19

2 Answers 2

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Can't we just assume that if some moderator comments a question already asked to be closed and does not close the question then the moderation team does not think this question should be closed ?

Absolutely not. That is not a conclusion that you can draw. Partially because we don't act as a team when it comes to that sort of reviews.

From Who are the site moderators, and what is their role here?:

Moderators are human exception handlers, there to deal with those exceptional conditions that could otherwise disrupt the community.

Reviewing quality in questions and answers is not a primary moderator activity. Commenting on low-quality posts is not "dealing with an exceptional condition", so the fact that a moderator says something about a post says absolutely nothing about whether that post should be deleted or some other particular action should be taken.

If you see a comment left by a moderator (or a high-rep user for that matter), it should not stop you from using your own head.

If we need to delete a post because it is exceptional in some way (spam, abuse, etc.), then we will not just leave a comment on that post. Ideally, you will never have a chance to see it in the first place.

Personally, I prefer giving a user a heads-up about their post rather than just deleting it. It seems friendlier that way. Others may prefer to vote to delete answers that miss the mark, and I happily leave that decision to them. (Unfortunately, as a moderator, I can't vote to delete. I can only comment, or delete.)

On another personal note: I seriously wish there was some setting in my site preferences that would turn off the "moderator diamond" and all special moderator privileges, so that these could be activated only when actually needed. That way, on good days, a moderator could quietly take part in the ordinary activities of the community, just like anybody else.

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  • 1
    Fair enough! I do appreciate your last^H^H^H^Hpenultimate (just kidding) paragraph highlighting the nice understanding you get of your exceptional role here. However, getting back on my point (reducing the amount of review tasks) : You (rightfully) give a chance to the author, then (as you said yourself) you forget about it (who could blame you for that ?) so we get to review the post and for the very same reason... just skip that very task... which is therefore likely to remain for ages in the queue.
    – MC68020
    Sep 10, 2022 at 16:44
  • 1
    @MC68020 the point is that mods aren't special: we're not always right or always certain our opinion is The Right One®. If I think a post should be deleted or closed I'll do it, but sometimes I might feel that it isn't such a clear cut case that a mod should get involved. In a healthy community like ours where many people are reviewing, it is often best to let the community handle it when it isn't a blatant case instead of having the mod impose their own opinion.
    – terdon Mod
    Sep 11, 2022 at 12:17
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I'm happy that Kusalananda answered separately regarding comments:

If you see a comment left by a moderator (or a high-rep user for that matter), it should not stop you from using your own head.

I'll add two separate points.

The first echoes a comment by both terdon and Kusalananda: that mods don't have a "community" vote -- it's a one-touch, gold hammer, vote to Close or Delete. If the moderator (or gold badge holder) isn't sure enough about that decision, they might silently abandon the post (close the tab; skip the review) or they might leave a comment.

In situations like these where the author appears to be attempting to answer the question (it's not spam; it's not a further question or "I'm having this problem too"; it's not completely irrelevant to the question, etc), it's a judgement call. I see this particular case as similar to an awk answer to a sed question. It doesn't answer the literal question at-hand, but it might be helpful to someone else who's in the same situation (perhaps they believe the other browser won't crash). I've added comments to similar posts asking the author to more closely address the question. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. I trust the community reviewers to decide once they see it in the queue. It turns out OK either way: if the answer stays, it has some comments asking how it can apply, and maybe the answer helps and maybe it doesn't; if the answer is deleted, the author got a notification (the comment) and has a chance to learn about the expectations here. I believe there's also a technical wrinkle here where a mod-deleted post can't be undeleted by the author, so if that post was negatively-scored, it could affect their future ability to write answers.

Separately, specifically for this case, Kusalananda may not have been viewing that post in the review queues. An actual review from the queue would end up with one of:

  • Looks OK (and I believe the post would exit that queue)
  • Edit (ditto)
  • Delete (with an accompanying stock comment, such as "This does not..." - From Review - $author $date)
  • Separately-posted comment and "Other Action" (I'm not sure what this does to the queue).
  • Skip (leaves the post in the queue)

Since you found the post in the review queue about 17 hours after Kusalananda's comment, it would be safer to assume that they either found the post independently or made no decision in the review queue. I don't think you should "assume that the answer just looks OK". Additionally, if it's still in the queue, then feel free to review it!

Having a healthy community such as this one means that we have users such as yourself who take the time to curate the posts that might need extra attention. I think these review queues do a decent job of (mechanically) finding posts that might need extra help. Sometimes these posts are easier to take care (deleting spam, deleting NAA's, etc), but other times these are newer users who haven't yet climbed the learning curve of Stack Exchange. I think it's good to give them some guidance and some time to learn. This becomes a timing issue where a well-intended comment can become a confusing landmark. Use your judgement in the review queues! If the author hasn't responded in a "reasonable" amount of time and the answer still does not meet the site standards, then vote to delete. If you feel strongly enough about the post but it's only been a few hours, maybe revisit the review item later.

One-off responses:

If some mod actually reviews an answer it should no longer show in the review queue. from your comment

Yes, if that review action was something concrete like "Looks OK" or "Delete". This is the "Stack Exchange" definition of "review". Perhaps this is being confused with the English definition of "to go over or examine critically or deliberately", which is what Kusalananda did and it's what each reviewer should do -- but that's distinct from an actual Review Action.

Can't we just assume that if some moderator comments a question already asked to be closed and does not close the question then the moderation team does not think this question should be closed?

(from your updated question)

Generally speaking, no! Best-case, that person has seen the potential issues with the question and is giving guidance to the author for how to rephrase the question to keep it on-topic and open. If the author does not update the question, of course it should be closed. I believe the SE team is working to improve the guidance that's given when a question is closed, but that's yet another learning curve for new users. Free-form comments can be much more specific to the post and its problems, giving the author a much better chance of success. There are too many other cases to consider, such as a comment that says "I think this should be left open" or other variations. Of course, a moderator (or any other user!) may think the question should be left open -- they may even answer the question! -- but I think I can speak for the current moderation team when I say that we consider our one-touch voting privileges very carefully, and it's our preference that the community does the voting.

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