I think it might help some participants inexperienced with the SE model to have an overview of how real-life management of a (synthetic) discussion problem is generally handled -- flagging, digressive comment chain, the usual suspects -- via community consensus mechanisms.

It might help folks understand how SE differs from other systems, and why --if they are feeling ganged up on -- they should first consider whether the objections might be valid, why comments should be assumed to be volatile (and rewritten/quoted as answers if they should be retained), why peer editing is supported and should be accepted as an attempt to help improve the question, etc...

A step by step example to refer people to, which goes through this all as a system, rather than as isolated subunits and as practical operations rather than architecture, just might help people see how the SE process works.

It may already exist, eg up in the SE-Meta layer. If so, having and using pointers to it (and making sure things like close-reason explanations point to it so folks can better understand their issue in context) might avoid some conflicts and help people decide whether to stay with the SE model or better understand it.

Is anything actually actionable here or better yet already written so we could point to it?

  • Other than the obvious, could you give some examples of where experienced have not "got the message"? Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 14:34
  • I do remember some past cases where we've had to explain that this is Q&A rather than discussion, that text once contributed may be edited, and that if this isn't their idea of a good time they are probably in the wrong place. I don't have individual citations handy; can try to dig them out later. It just feels like an opportunity to build some fire cuts before the next flame comes thru.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 14:40
  • I made a fairly significant edit to make this a bit to make it more generic and less of a reaction to recent events. I don't think this changed your intent too much, if so, you know the drill - go ahead and edit to clarify :-)
    – enderland
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 15:30
  • That:s fine, @enderland. This wasn't a highly wordsmithed question, just a start for brainstorming to see if we can get folks to understand our model faster.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 15:52
  • What, y'all don't have a ten page template file saved with stock responses and close reason explanations? :) But are you asking for something like that (i.e. more in-depth explanations of common actions) or for a model timeline of a moderation incident?
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 10:44
  • I was thinking model timeline, but the built-in canned responses are often not a good fit...
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 15:24
  • Somebody asked for examples: meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/3745/…
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 19:29
  • Relevant: meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/355/…
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 19:41
  • A lot of people (including myself) have expressed a concern about potential biases that each of us brings to the table. I think any meaningful discussion on this topic should also acknowledge that problem in the greater context of SE design principals.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 19:48
  • .... Perhaps, Lumberjack. On the other hand, some of that winds up being a mix of best judgement, elected moderators , discussion here on Meta when things seem to diverge from best practice ... and, in the end, accepting that no system managed by any one else will ever perfectly track how we woulda done it, and that's the trade-off we accept when using services such as SE.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 19:51
  • Oh I don't disagree at all, but aren't you trying to manage the expectations of people new to the system? It seems to me that addressing common complaints would be a good measure. With that in mind, a case study or two or three might be just the vehicle to show people how the system is intended to work and how it can be successful when we use it properly.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 19:53
  • Good point, @lumberjack.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 19:54

2 Answers 2


I think this would be useful. During my brief, but interesting life I've learned one thing that is axiomatic. You can knock someone down, but never humiliate them.

The model used at SE is a good one, but to the newcomer, it can seem like little more than gangstalking. Note, I am not saying that SE is gangstalking anyone, merely that to a new user it can appear as such.

Knowing and understanding the process will help this and, IMO, save the mods and employees a significant amount of headaches. To be honest, when I first came here, I thought that it was run by a bunch of jerks. That was my perception and it has of course, changed.

I think that the addition of a "how this all works" faq, while a bit time consuming on the front end would save a good deal of time down the road.


Case studies of past incidents where the system has successfully mitigated a common problem.

Show the potentially disaffected user how the system operates by transparently discussing past problems and exactly how they were handled. Be detailed about exactly what happened. Show the process in action.

How did the community establish a consensus?

  • 4
    I'd rather use a synthetic problem closely modelled on a past problem (possibly a composite, maybe not), just to avoid singling out specific actors and issues. I think.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 21:06
  • @keshlam Good point. I will edit my answer.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 21:09

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