Mod Hammer

I've been noticing a trend in the last five days of some heavy handed moderator attention. There isn't really any point in being vague about it, TimB seems to have broken from the campaign promise of light moderation.

I hope the emphasis will remain on light touch moderation and exception handling. Trying to guide rather than force the community has produced excellent results so far. - TimB

I'm not trying to single out TimB, but all three questions closed via mod-hammer in the last five days (#1, #2, #3) were due to TimB. And one for Serban.

Now, I'm not arguing for or against the validity of the questions, I'm just questioning the exclusion of the community in voting to close questions. Am I wrong in seeing this as in an increase in moderator intervention?

Comment Deletion

I haven't seen a trend yet, nor can I see who is responsible, but I recently had my comments deleted from a question asking for a clearer definition of "mind control". I asked for some specific aspects that I believe would have cleared up the question quite a lot. The edit which apparently addressed my comment was rather insufficient in my view. However, my comment request was deleted because apparently a mod felt my questions were sufficiently addressed. The particularly annoying aspect of this is non-moderators can't see deleted comments, not even our own, so I can't even see why my comment may have received such an insufficient reply.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 That's the one. Thanks. The deleted comments are visible to mods. Your report isn't worth much because I would have no way to to make the same comparison at this point, because I can't see my own comment. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Feb 26, 2016 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ Here's the text of it: "Mind control is a very vague term. Without further description this question is far too broad. Can you explain it in more detail and give a specific example of what can be done with it? Please include whether the controlled knows what they're doing, if they're willing or not, and what happens afterward." The edit addressed some of it: "Edit as to Samuels request, what I mean by mind control is the ability for a person to be able to control the actions of another and the person being controlled is aware of what is happening." $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Feb 26, 2016 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 Thanks again. So, do we just ask a mod to tell us what we said after they've already decided we're satisfied and deleted the comment, or can users decide that on their own? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Feb 26, 2016 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ I''m not commenting on the issue at hand here; just providing you with the information everyone needs. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Feb 26, 2016 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 Fair enough. That question was rhetorical in any case. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Feb 26, 2016 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


Actually my campaign promise was to keep moderating how I have been, which hasn't changed. Sometimes there are a cluster of events where I intervene, sometimes a week or two goes by without using a mod hammer like that once (although there are still plenty of other flags to handle on those weeks).

Closing Questions

In the case of those questions they were clearly in need of further refinement before they were ready to answer. (In fact I'm struggling to understand why #3 can have reopen votes when so far as I can see it is still completely unclear).

Since these were very clear cut I put in comments saying what needed to be improved and mod hammered them closed rather than waiting for them to have more close votes before doing it (I think two already had close votes). This is something I've done many times before and no doubt will do many times in the future. In general the less contentious a close vote is and the more likely I think it is for people to try and answer before it is closed then the more likely I am to mod hammer it.

Comment Deletion

There are generally 3 reasons why I delete a comment:

  1. I've migrated the discussion to chat.
  2. The comment is offensive/rude/inappropriate or off topic
  3. The comment is obsolete.

Most of the time a comment comes to my attention when it's been flagged either automatically or manually. Sometimes I see them as I'm browsing the site, I don't remember which was the case here but it most likely was me deleted the comment as I have deleted quite a few this week.

In this case you had asked for clarification in the question, the question had been clarified. The comment was now obsolete. Note also that there are two other currently unanswered questions in the comments (although there may have only been one when the deletion happened). By removing other comments that the answer had been improved upon it stops obsolete discussions from drawing attention away from questions that have not yet been answered.

Comments are not intended to be permanent additions or decorations to the site, and once their purpose is served they are eligible to be deleted. Permanent records is what questions and answers are both for.

It's the same logic as was used when I deleted my own comments from your answer about magic genes at the same time as I upvoted the answer. The comments were now obsolete so leaving them does not add anything to the site and does distract from other things that may still be relevant.

We're not going to go on some vast crusade to sweep out comments from every nook and cranny of worldbuilding, but equally if we see something that could use a bit of tidying we might get out the dustpan and brush.

Some Stats

In the past month I've deleted 179 comments. In the past week I've deleted 31 comments. That's actually a reduction in average deletions per day, although my all time monthly average is lower than 179 so it seems there was an increase earlier this month.

This month so far I've closed 8 posts. This week I've closed 5 posts. That is an increase but the numbers are so small it's easy for clusters to form.

In Conclusion

I was a little hasty in deleting that specific comment and apologize for that. However it was done in the context of deleting many other equally obsolete comments that just didn't happen to be quite so recent and I am willing to stand by the action. Obsolete is obsolete. It doesn't matter how long it's been obsolete for. You asked a question, it was answered in an edit that directly addressed it and covered the main points (two directly, the third by inference). At that point your comment was obsolete and eligible for deletion.

  • $\begingroup$ Your argument about deleting your own obsolete comments is exactly what I was denied, to delete my own comments when I find them to be obsolete. I can see doing so on behalf of a user after weeks or possibly days depending on how obviously they've been addressed, but deleting within hours for incompletely addressed comments, where is the sense in that? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Feb 26, 2016 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ As I said, I disagree that the comment was fully addressed, therefore it was not obsolete. We have a system for finding obsolete comments; with flags, so I don't think you need to make notes. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Feb 26, 2016 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ I've edited my stats and a conclusion into the answer, but I'm going to leave it there. I'm sorry you feel hard done by but it wasn't personal. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Feb 26, 2016 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ I'll surmise that the short answer to my question is "Yes", as it appears you would not change any of the issues raised. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Feb 27, 2016 at 0:10
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    $\begingroup$ Actually the answer is no, this is not the "new style"...since it's the old style continued the same as before...I didn't suddenly grow a bigger mod hammer or something... $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Feb 27, 2016 at 10:18

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