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I bringing this up, because I think that is something we should discuss before it becomes too much of a problem.

There are members of community that feel there is too much moderation. The trigger for me to post this question was @ATpoint's comment about converting comments into questions:

I agree and I think @gringer should stop doing that unless a comment get sufficient community vote as I suggested many times before. –ATpoint

But there were other moderation problems flagged before. Namely, with deleting comments to early, but also for closing deleted questions:

I do think @gringer does marvels to the cleanness of this site - stats like "fraction of answered questions" or the amounts of very clearly outdated questions a great, for big part thanks to them. So, thank you for that Gringer! But in all these "edge" cases, I am more on the side of people - I do think we should make sure people won't get too frustrated with our moderation despotism and I am afraid it might have repelled some people already.

As I belive that there is a good intention of making the webpage clean and tiny, I do think we could just, as a community, define better what are the edge cases.

Namely:

  • Comments to answers: What comments should be converted to answers? E.g. How many upvotes a comment must have? Or another comment saying that the previous one was a solution for them
  • Deleting comments: How old comments we delete to make sure we don't cut an ongoing discussion? Nothing older than 48 hours? Or something like the last comment older than 48 hours?
  • Closing old/outdated questions: I think this one is not much of an issue at this point, but I guess we could also agree if we do it or not. (I would leave this to the community, e.g. mod closing of questions that have >2 votes, or something like that).

I do think we all want to have a helpful community, that is useful to everyone. We just need to agree how to go about it, because our visions clearly differ.

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I personally think moderation is good and works well. @Gringer's edits are useful for getting a thread moving. The one thing that could be improved as a community per se is simply encouraging a 'closed question' to be reopened if the matter is singly a question is closed too soon. Question can be closed by mistake and reversing that would help.

I personally would go further to say that IMHO moderation is a critical role of Bioinformatics SE and without it fewer questions would be answered.

There are countless examples where moderation is required, I'm going to cite a few examples:

  • OPs persistently supply insufficient information and the ability to answer a question is thereby restricted, there are current examples. Thus alot of the question material is in the comments.
  • Answers such as is 'oh thats not what I meant' happen, we've all experienced this.
  • Some questions are simply not adequate for Stackexchange and need removing, possibly Biology SE, who knows
  • 'please do my homework for me' appear regularly and should rapidly wound up in my personal opinion (thats a moderation decision).

Occassionally there is a deep thereotical matter where the context doesn't matter, alot of the time its about non-disclosure.

I don't aportion blame to the OP: there is often far from adequate project supervision, and thats often why OPs are here - that is understandable.

Summary, There has to be a point where a line is drawn and thats a key moderation role. Personally, I do feel mods do a good job and less moderation would not be cool.

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The majority of the moderation I do around comments follows the following guidelines:

  • comments shouldn't be answers; we have answers for that.
  • comments shouldn't be discussions; we have chat for that. Discussions in comments are a particular problem because the voting system alters the order of comments.
  • comments shouldn't discuss community behavior or site policies; we have meta for that.

The important thing to keep in mind is that comments are meant to be temporary things. Comments should primarily be used to provide additional information that helps improve questions or answers. If it's important that your statement is preserved for someone reading the question or answer five years from now, it shouldn't be a comment.

I believe short answers are perfectly acceptable. Answers don't need to be perfect, and they don't need to be well-researched theses the first time they are created. They can (and should) be improved over time.

I think most of the hesitation around writing comments as answers is that people don't like giving really short answers, but they're comfortable writing short comments. I would like this culture to change, but this runs counter to statements like "this shouldn't be an answer because I don't think it's correct". Unlike other bioinformatics discussion forums, the StackExchange network allows and encourages people to downvote answers if they lack substance or are otherwise inappropriate.

It seems to me that the people who get the most upset are frequent users of other discussion forums (Biostars in particular). StackExchange allows anyone to edit and improve the questions and answers of others, which is not a very common feature.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why do you think people get upset then? Because they don't understand the system? $\endgroup$
    – Kamil S Jaron Mod
    Feb 14 at 0:43

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