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Should moderators step in when there is a disagreement over leaving open / closing posts? A tale of two posts:

Are German, Japanese, and Chinese companies not able to build aircraft jet engines on their own? (+31/-8)

A most definitely off-topic [and too broad] and yet was left open due to its tabloid nature. (The +31 is largely due to HNQ traffic.)

How many crew members load and offload luggage on an Airbus A380? (+6/-5)

A most definitely on-topic and yet was closed due to the unpopular way @securitydude5 asks questions in succession. And after it was reopened, it was added to the close queue again. For those that voted too broad, e.g.:

Surely, this will vary according to the policies and staff availability of the ground handling company.

I'd say surely that comment counts as an answer if it can be backed up (it can as demonstrated by the opening of my answer).


Now, I'd like to hear your (moderators included) thoughts on the title question because as it is now the mod team are taking a hands off approach. Preferably in answers so everyone gets the chance to vote [properly].

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Yes, but not in the way you think.

The role of moderators is to enact the community's policies. If there's a close/reopen war about a particular question, it's a sign that the community has not yet reached consensus about that question, and the policies may be unclear. When this happens, it's extra important that moderators check what has been agreed on meta. It may be appropriate to keep the question open or closed, and link to the meta discussion that's relevant. It may be better to leave the question open but create a new question on meta to allow further discussion, and voting on a new, more refined policy.

Either way, moderators should intervene to stop close/reopen wars. Even if the action they take is the wrong action, it's better to have a final decision than to waste people's time with questions flip-flopping back and forth.

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In general I think the moderators should indeed be hands-off by default and we shouldn't rush to solve problems that don't exist. I'm not sure what qualifies as a "war" here anyway? Your first example is actually about aircraft engines so I don't think it's as black and white as you seem to believe. The second one seems like a more genuine disagreement and perhaps based on style rather than substance, as you said.

Anyway, let's assume that there is such a thing as an obvious open/close war and we all just know it when we see it. As Dan said, that's a very strong indication that there's disagreement - or at least no strong consensus - within the community on what's on-topic, acceptable, answerable or whatever. The appropriate way to deal with that is usually to bring it to meta for discussion, and if no one has already done it then a mod could obviously decide to do that.

Going a step further, if the mods think it's necessary they can always lock the question until there's a consensus on meta about it, but that's fairly heavy-handed and I'd reserve that for more 'controversial' cases where things are getting heated and comments are out of control.

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Yes they should.

When consensus is clearly not reached within the community (indicated by votes, chat, flags, etc.), I ask that the mod team intervene and 'moderate' (take action) accordingly and in a timely manner.

Unfairness is not a trait I've seen in this team, so I'm not worried there. If anyone is, then maybe we can have a trial-period and see if it will cause any upsets.

When I brought this topic up, @Federico told me he is sticking to his election campaign promise (hands off). My counter argument is politicians should adapt, especially when such rare (thankfully) situations may have not been considered in the promise or may have not been considered by the voters.

I think the mods should check with others mods or community managers, to agree on and then present a policy. The help center and/or meta at this stage of the site are well defined when it comes to what is and isn't on-topic, too broad, etc.

Clarification based on comment by @RalphJ:

I'm not calling for hands on all the time, no. I'm asking the mod team to be hands on when and only when such rare situations arise.

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  • $\begingroup$ Disagree, because I don't think mods have (nor claim to have) any supernatural insight or wisdom on such issues beyond what other users of similar experience have. We all have opinions, and mods aren't made mods so that their opinions get extraordinary weight or because their opinions have been found to be supremely wise. And I say that not at all to downplay the important role that they have. But I agree with what Dan and Pondlife are saying, and I think their answers are in tension with this one.There's a time for mods to act, and a time when they should let the community, be the community. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Apr 7 '18 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ - I agree with you 100%. When I said When consensus is clearly not reached, I meant when such rare (thankfully) situations do arise. So the default being hands off is perfectly fine, except in those rare situations I've highlighted. $\endgroup$ – ymb1 Apr 7 '18 at 5:02

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