I feel some moderators are very trigger happy with closing questions, I'm not sure if this is right policy for new site trying to justify its existence and trying to gather user-base.

Consider https://networkengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/3891/ws-c3560x-24t-l-vs-ws-c3560x-24t-s-which-one-is-best (now deleted, see this screen shot):

original question

This is labeled as 'opinion based', perhaps because of the head-line.

  1. it's not opinion that the device won't do what OP wants, PoE
  2. it's not opinion that it's old generation switch, replaced by newer generation switch, costing the same
  3. it's not opinion to explain what is he difference in the devices

I feel there is clear lack of understanding by the poster and non-opinion based factual answer and be given to help the poster understand what he is doing.

4 Answers 4


Ignoring the "spaminess" of the example, this is a valid concern that I appreciate you have brought forward. I do also want to say this is one that Mike and I have discussed privately, as well as with other moderators from other SE sites.

First, as Mike has noted, we are actually doing very well for a SE site of this age. The stats are generally decent to good and seem to be getting better. We are growing the community, and it should continue to grow.

Second, other SE moderators have advised both Mike and I independently that we should be willing to close any question that is off topic or low quality. One thing Mike and I both expressed in our own discussion is that we wish we had a "non-mod" vote option to use when we aren't fully sold on closing, but we don't. I did mention this to another SE mod and he told me that if we would cast a non-mod vote, we should have no hesitation casting a mod vote, especially on a young site.

Third, as a young SE site trying to grow the community, we need to ensure that we grow the "right" community. Allowing off-topic or low quality posts just to "grow the community" will grow the wrong kind of community, drawing in members that really shouldn't be here and potentially driving away members that should.

Fourth, my biggest concern is that I want the community to be engaged and I don't want the community to get complacent thinking that the mods will take care of everything. As Mike said, we would all like to see more close/open or even up/down votes from the community at large. I was encouraged to see a recent post with five close votes (yes, the fifth was a mod but it didn't need to be to close). For myself, I won't vote on reopen votes unless they are either blatantly off-topic/poor quality or unless I closed them myself and they have been sufficiently edited to remove my concerns. I generally leave those for the community to decide.

Finally, your opening indicates "some moderators" which I wanted to address. There are only three mods here, and we are all volunteers who were asked by SE to be moderators (by whatever mechanics they use to choose moderators). Of the three of us, I sometimes think this is a "second job" for Mike. While he has closed more questions than Craig and I combined, I suspect that has more to do with the fact that he spends so much more time here than I can devote (I won't speak for Craig). I greatly appreciate the time and effort Mike has put into this site.

While I personally tend to prefer a more hands off approach to moderation, I will say that in nearly every case that Mike has closed a question, I agree with him and would probably have done so myself if he hadn't beat me to it. Where we have disagreed, we almost always have been in the same general direction on things, even if we are off by a few degrees. What I have taken From discussion with other SE mods is that we just don't have a community both large and active enough yet to be as hands off as I would like.


NOTE: Ultimately Stack Exchange concluded that the particular question you asked about is link spam; after investigating the other questions from the same user, I saw that they rapidly posted the same question (including the bogus Cisco PoE switch hyperlinks) across five different Stack Exchange sites. Those hyperlinks were:

  • Technically incorrect (i.e. labeled as a PoE switch, when the model number was not a PoE switch) Wrong description
  • Their website advertised a "Hot sale" for this product (See bottom of this answer)

Editorial note: In spite of our active attempts to get rid of them, the company (r0uter-switch.c0m) continued trying to spam us for three more months after this event.

I contacted the Stack Exchange community moderators, and they agreed that this was content spam. The user was destroyed, and their posts have been removed; however, I responded to your other concerns below...

For sake of argument, let's assume this wasn't a content spammer

The question you're asking about is too subjective and borders on a shopping question: i.e. they gave us two hyperlinks and asked: "which one is best" (with no other explanation of their requirements or any criteria for quantifying "best").

I'm not sure if this is right policy for new site trying to justify its existence and trying to gather user-base

First off, this site is doing quite well given the age of it (roughly six months); our unique visits grow by hundreds of average visits per week. That visitor growth ultimately means we get more questions from people who previously found good answers here. However, we cannot sacrifice site standards merely to justify our existence.

BTW, closure is not final. If the OP wants to rephrase the question as something on-topic (without lying), that's great. If they want to ask this shopping question in chat that's perfectly acceptable as well, although you need 20 points to talk in chat.

If you disagree about the closure of a question, you can always vote to reopen. I would love to see this site vote more for opening and closure, because that is one of the things we need more of. The community owns this site; however, the community should act within the guidelines established by Stack Exchange.

If you seriously disagree about the closure of a question, you've done the right thing. Ask a question on meta. Thank you for asking, but sadly the answer is still the same... it's off-topic as-phrased.

Proof of content spam

For the record, I'm adding a screen capture of the original question (now deleted as content spam), as well as captures from the hyperlinks in the question.

Exhibit A (the original question, now deleted by Oded): Content Spam

Exhibit B: Let's go shopping, #1

Exhibit C: Let's go shopping #2

  • If it's spam, it should be treated as such. We shouldn't use spam as argument to justify 'opinion based' closure. In my world SE is here to help people understand topics, from the question it's clear OP does not understand, and it would be easy to increase his understanding.
    – ytti
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:38
  • @ytti, read my answer closely. It wasn't closed because of spam; it was closed because as-phrased it is a shopping question. Nov 8, 2013 at 9:40
  • Yet you chose to use spam here as additional justification. It should be irrelevant how clueless channels SE users use to acquire their devices. What should be relevant, can SE increase the clue of the user in a question which is topical.
    – ytti
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:45
  • 1
    And we have increased the clue for hundreds of on-topic questions in the last six months. Let's keep doing that. Even when questions are put on-hold, you can post a comment to increase the OP's clue. Nov 8, 2013 at 9:47

A specific answer to Ytti's question

No, I disagree. The level of on/off-topic strictness is good.

Remember 'vote to reopen'

Being able to see the moderator's controls, I can tell you that there are basically zero vote-to-reopen requests appearing. (We're only seeing auto-generated reopen requests when the questions are edited to try to bring them on-topic.) So I would venture to presume the community agrees with my assessment and with Mike's "strictness."

A personal digression

As YLearn said, there are only three temporary moderators, and MikeP is by far the most visible/active in terms of closing questions. I think Mike is acting appropriately. I think he's keeping the site, and its questions, professional and keeping the signal-to-noise ratio up. Maintaining, and even further increasing, the level of professionalism and level of questions is critical to this stack's success.

I think this stack will succeed only if it continues to strongly differentiate itself from the likes of Server Fault and Super User. This stack will succeed only if the elite networking professionals continue to hang out here answering questions. Said professionals will drift away if the signal-to-noise ratio drops off.

Finally, I want to explain a bit about my "lower visibility" as a moderator. When I was originally approached, in private communications, I made it clear that my pet project was to work on the on/off-topic specification for the site. (I think it's pretty clear I was all over that, for better or for worse.) My level of network engineering knowledge is "intermediate", so in all cases where I have put questions on hold, it was because two or three community members voted/flagged the question. I generally lurk by several times during east coast work hours on weekdays simply looking for any urgent moderator flags that need attention in the best interests of the community.

  • 2
    I made a simple edit so I could change my vote from over a year ago. Initially, I had strong disagreements with your stance on this Stack's stringency. Now, I've come to appreciate it.
    – Ryan Foley
    Dec 17, 2014 at 20:12

I just upvoted all the posts in this thread. I got a lot out of reading them. Initially, I too shared ytti's opinion about the 'strictness' of posts being closed. But I can see now that I was thinking exactly what Mike and YLearn were warning us of:

Quote from Mike Pennington:

we cannot sacrifice site standards merely to justify our existence

Quote from YLearn:

Third, as a young SE site trying to grow the community, we need to ensure that we grow the "right" community. Allowing off-topic or low quality posts just to "grow the community" will grow the wrong kind of community, drawing in members that really shouldn't be here and potentially driving away members that should.

I guess in the end, I simply want this Stack Exchange site to grow to the level of significant and prestige that ServefFault (and others) have acquired. Maybe I'm simply not being patient enough though. For the sake of increasing user base, initially I would have gladly traded quality for more posts and answers; now I believe that this would simply be sacrificing long term value for short term results.

To that end, I understand the work and time required to help maintain this community. So if it hasn't already been said... Big thanks to Mike Pennington, YLearn, and Craig Constantine for all the work you guys are doing with the Network Engineering Stack Exchange. As a result of this post, I'm going to try to be more involved in voting to close/open posts. I've been hesitant, even timid, to vote before; but I guess if it takes 5 votes, I can probably afford to inadvertently vote incorrectly once or twice.

  • 1
    Keep in mind that there are no incorrect votes. The beauty of the SE community is that we all have a say in how it turns out.
    – Ryan Foley
    Dec 22, 2014 at 21:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .