# Are we allowed to criticize moderators on this site?

I try to learn and follow the rules of this site. The moderators are given very broad authority to edit responses, close questions, and move answers to comments. This is done sparingly and most of the time seems to be appropriate to me. However sometimes I disagree and say so openly in discussion. Is this frowned upon? If so why? I found that my latest criticism led to a moderator contacting me directly to admonish me for this. What is the community's opinion on this. I welcome comments from anyone ioncluding moderators.

• The message to you was a response to many events; although it may have been triggered by a comment thread in which you were involved, your criticism of a moderator's actions was not the reason for the contact. – whuber Jun 13 '12 at 14:36
• @whuber Thanks for that information. I don't think the message was necessary. – Michael R. Chernick Jun 13 '12 at 14:54

Absolutely. How else can the moderators improve?

This question should remind us that criticism of ideas and actions is an essential part of our site, but criticism of people is not. It is important to keep the two separated. Everyone in our community is dedicated, knowledgeable, and well-meaning--I firmly believe that as an article of faith, which I find daily confirmed in all the posts on this site--but sometimes we disagree about things and sometimes our actions have unintended consequences. Let's take care not to offend each other in our efforts to resolve differences and make the site better.

This may also be a good place to clarify some assumptions in the question:

• All community members of sufficiently high reputation, not just moderators, have authority to edit answers, close questions, and even delete answers.

• Community members (again depending on reputation) can vote to undo the preceding actions.

• Moderators acquire their authority by means of community elections; it is not something that is just arbitrarily given.

• Discussion about how we all interact with the site belongs here on the meta pages. Discussion per se within the replies and even the comments on the main pages is pretty strongly discouraged by SE policy, except when it aims to clarify a particular question. (This is a policy honored more in the breach than in practice, I admit, but it's still an ideal to aim at.)

• Thank you for your well-crafted answer. I think that sometimes the criticism belongs in the comments to the specific question because it deals with the specifics of that situation and may affect actions taken by the respondent regarding editing or deleting a post. it is true that with reputation comes autority and privileges. But there is a difference between community members and moderators. I do not think that the community members do much in the way of closing questions and moving answers to comments. This is done by the moderators and is viewed to be part of their job. – Michael R. Chernick Jun 13 '12 at 14:53
• That last point is important, Michael: I believe all the moderators here would appreciate more involvement from the community in voting to close or migrate questions and editing questions and answers. I, for one, would be much happier seeing the community take these actions, because it would show in most cases that such actions are neither arbitrary nor expressions of authority. (Many mods are uncomfortable with the immediate, overriding nature of their votes to take such actions, but there are good reasons for that and it won't change.) – whuber Jun 13 '12 at 14:59
• @whuber, is it true that community members can acquire the privilage to convert answers to comments? I don't remember reading about this in the description of privilages. – Macro Jun 13 '12 at 15:38
• @Macro No, you caught me: I purposely left out that particular capability in the enumeration in the first bullet item. Moderators (and only mods) can do a lot with comments, including editing them, converting them into edits to the question, converting answers into comments, deleting comments, and viewing deleted comments. I haven't found a way to undelete comments, unfortunately... . – whuber Jun 13 '12 at 15:41
• Community members w/ rep >3k can vote to close questions, & if 5 do so, it will be closed, even w/o action from mods. I have voted to close some questions, although I am typically reluctant to do so, eg R questions that belong on SO (nb, w/o mods, they would just be closed, not migrated). In addition, I have flagged answers to be converted to comments, because I believed that they weren't really answers. I strongly suspect I am not the only one who has done so. My point is that, while I agree we can criticize mods, we should be cautious about assuming that they are just being arbitrary. – gung - Reinstate Monica Jun 18 '12 at 18:14
• @gung: Is that last part true? For example, if everyone votes to close as off-topic and belonging on SO, it will be closed as off-topic rather than migrated based on consensus? Gathering the five votes to close is so rare on this site that I don't know if I can identify a definitive case either way. (Luckily the mods are very attentive and more times than not will migrate after just one or two close votes, I've [anecdotally] found.) – cardinal Jun 18 '12 at 18:53
• @cardinal, I thought that was the way it worked--maybe I'm wrong. You're right that we never get to 5 votes here, so, who knows? – gung - Reinstate Monica Jun 19 '12 at 5:38
• @gung: I honestly don't know the answer and thought you might have seen this behavior on this site or another one, or had uncovered a meta.SO thread to this effect. I'd be curious to know. I'd like to see this site continue to grow in active users making positive and high-quality contributions to the site, in part so that the community has a critical mass of users more able and willing to self-police the content. – cardinal Jun 19 '12 at 10:44

As someone who has been involved with Cross Validated since day one, I have always found the moderators on Cross Validated to be highly competent, diligent, and reasonable. This is an impressive feat given the very open nature of Stack Exchange sites, and the many varied challenges that can arise.

Naturally questioning moderator action is welcome and encouraged. The site has many mechanisms to encourage discussion of site policies and decisions. The effective way to do this is in a respectful way. Moderators typically have a great deal of knowledge about how the Stack Exchange sites work and the many challenges involved. Thus, when a new user dislikes a decision made by a moderator, it is often worth considering why the decision was made and how that fits into the broader goals of the stack exchange network.

Yes, you have the right to criticize our actions: I'm all ears for criticism and suggestions to improve my daily work on this site. Three moderators have been elected to ensure that this site remains live and esteemed, and we pay a particular attention to questions about site management, our FAQ, Q&A appropriateness, tagging or voting activity. Those questions belong here, on our Meta, because this is the best way to gather ideas or opinions from the whole community, in a collegial manner. We all want this site to be a nice place to ask questions and to provide our users and visitors with a strong and enduring knowledge base for "statisticians, data miners, and anyone else doing data analysis or interested in it as a discipline."

Moderator messages are never sent without valid reasons, and they have to be taken with consideration, especially when they concern posting rules which apply to all registered users on Stack Exchange sites.