This concerns closures by 1 user + 1 moderator, but what when 1 moderator closes? This obviously appears less democratic.

  • 3
    Have you even read the answers to that question? There is a mod there that explains one of the reasons there might be for mods to close unilaterally. Using meta, it should not be to difficult to find more reasons. I found this one in less than a minute: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/124097/…. I think that if we elect mods, we should have some trust in their integrity. – Tinkeringbell Mod Sep 13 '17 at 19:15

This is absolutely by design, and perfectly democratic. Moderators are elected (or in the case of beta sites nominated) based on their ability to make the site "better" and Stack Exchange has been explicit that if a moderator thinks a question should be closed (because it doesn't meet requirements or is outside scope) then they should close it.

If a mod is in doubt, often they will wait until other close votes are on (I do this myself sometimes) to bring the effective value of their vote down to one ordinary vote.

  • 1
    Very true. It can also easily be argued that when a question has already collected 4 close-votes, then the fifth close-vote cast by a moderator is not really a moderator's binding vote but only an ordinary close vote cast by that mod 'as a regular member', and I have seen many closed Q where a mod cast that 5th close-vote, @Rory Alsop. – English Student Sep 16 '17 at 12:17

Yes, they are allowed to do that, and therefore are required to be more careful before making a decision.

And you are free to contest their decision on any particular question that was unilaterally closed or deleted, by asking on meta.

If the community members disagree with a mod action, they can help reopen it (but not undelete)


A moderator will close down a question with a binding vote (irrespective of the number of close votes it has already collected, whether 0 or 4) only when they are absolutely sure that the question needs to be closed.

If they are sure, they are empowered to act, even if they would be casting the first close-vote and thus closing the Q with a single vote.

Note too that it is not a question of democratic, but about moderators performing their duties to the best of their abilities, fulfilling the legitimate expectations of the community and implementing the guiding principles of the Company. I have almost never seen a moderator misusing this serious responsibility while unilaterally voting a question closed.

Again, closed questions can be reopened by the community with 5 reopen votes and by a moderator with a single binding reopen vote. So the whole process is reversible if there is good reason to do so!

  • The OP has been a member of EL&U for over four years. I had left a comment saying this much... but it got deleted. Maybe I was too harsh when I suggested that he should have put forward a better case seeing as he had also studied law. How do I know? The many many questions inspired by those stuffy textbooks. – user3114 Sep 16 '17 at 11:46
  • Let's see how long this comment lasts. It's always worthwhile doing a bit of research on users, you get a much clearer picture of who they are. :) – user3114 Sep 16 '17 at 11:47
  • Yes indeed. I also seem to remember a related ELU meta question on this subject in which you were active, @Mari-lou A (should a mod unilaterally delete a closed question, was the Q) but a moderator needs to carry out their duties, more than being seen to be democratic, is my opinion. – English Student Sep 16 '17 at 11:50
  • English Student, I know you are extremely affable, kind, with a tolerant and gentle disposition. You have a kind word for everyone but "mods" are humans, they are not immune from making mistakes. They may be likable and respected by many users and be elected, but not necessarily they are the best people for the task. – user3114 Sep 16 '17 at 11:58
  • However a moderator needs to act in carrying out their duties, @Mari-lou A -- if the action is very clear in their own mind. Concerns about 'democratic' should not lead to inaction or delay. If the community is otherwise-convinced they can always vote to reopen. And I am sure the moderator team has their own professional review system about decision making just like the umpires and referees for high level sports events. – English Student Sep 16 '17 at 12:01
  • Since the community can always vote to reopen, the unilateral binding close vote of a moderator is not so serious as it might appear to a new user (not OP) is what I mean @Mari-lou A -- if 5 users reopened a post closed by a mod with a single binding vote, that would be a democratic response for sure! – English Student Sep 16 '17 at 12:05
  • @Mari-Lou - you are right. We are all human. on occasion I have closed a question and one of the community has pinged me to let me know it was a mistake, and I reopened. It's quick and easy. – Rory Alsop Sep 16 '17 at 12:35
  • That shows the design of Stack Exchange is so well-equipped for correcting the occasional human error easily, @Rory Alsop. – English Student Sep 16 '17 at 12:56

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