I feel the need to publicly lodge my complaints.
This question went into the review queue and picked up two close votes (and at least one keep open vote from me) before being summarily put on hold by a moderator. I do not believe the question is off-topic, and I commented to that effect. I disagree with sphenning's assessment in his comment. Whether sphenning or I are in the right is something the community should vote on via the established process. However, the community did complete its vote on whether or not to put the question on hold.
This question was placed on hold after 15 minutes without even making it to the review queue. The question could use some significant work, but by going into the review queue, it will get the exposure necessary that someone may take an interest in helping the OP (a new user) improve it. However, this question never got to community review. Also, I find the comments distastefully unhelpful towards what is apparently a new user unfamiliar with our site.
To be clear, there are plenty of good reasons for a moderator to summarily put a question on hold. And this is not the first time a moderator has been addressed in Meta for these kinds of actions.
The problem is one of fairness. Let's say someone comes to our site, wants to participate, but thinks things go on hold too often. This happens very often: example, example, example, example by someone relevant to this post. We have a defense against that claim. There exists a community review process; many eyes look at each post and then judge. This is excellently explained by @dot_Sp0T here.
The concept of putting all questions on hold and waiting for them to be improved has been brought up before (recently). My interpretation of that discussion is that the response was largely negative. I support my interpretation by noting the voting on the original question, and @PatJ's negative response. Just because something can be re-opened doesn't prevent the 'hold' from putting a sour taste in a newer user's mouth.
Let me say that nothing in this complaint is about content of specific Worldbuilding questions, even the ones I linked. I want questions open that get closed all the time, and that's just fine. Its part of the community voting process. Furthermore, none of this is about my personal feelings about whether any moderators' specific actions are justified. My personal opinion is of minimal importance. This post is about site culture: maintaining rules-based and community-based control of Worldbuilding, with occasional assistance from the moderators.
Having a rules based process that we all voluntarily abide by is, in my mind, the single most important thing to maintaining a successful online community. As a philosophical statement, we should be able to tell new users, "You must follow our rules to participate, but anyone who follows our rules may participate."
Given the information posted and linked above, my complaint boils down to this: There is a review process, we should use it.
Even if a question is inevitably headed for being put on hold, we should allow our rules-based review process to play itself out. Moderators should not interfere with that process. Moderators can and should take action against offensive posts or trolling; moderators can and should take action about policing comments. But placing questions on hold is a community driven process and moderators should exercise restraint when interfering with that process.
I believe that this will have two beneficial effects on our site. New users who find this site will be more likely to come back if they find the their questions reviewed by the community instead of placed on hold by one moderator. And, more experienced users will feel like their participation in the review process is more important if their actions and discussions contribute to managing what questions are approved.