Some people have been going around and leaving comments on various questions/answers and asking for edits to be made so that the Q/A adheres to a site "policy". They link to a meta answer which has received a few upvotes, and that is supposed to constitute a site policy. Others disagree that such posts are site policy.

At what point has the community decided on a site policy? If a meta answer receives a few upvotes, is that enough to turn it into policy? If not, then when does something become a site policy?


Rundown of how it tends to work on SE I would argue the following:

At the current rates of participation on meta I guess that you would need about 10 to 20 votes for something to be considered community consensus. This is always a bit of a dynamic thing and if there are opposing opinions then the one with most votes 'wins' (except in cases where one post is significantly older and the new one has gathered a substantial number of votes). For controversial things you would need relatively more votes, and anything a moderator says in his role as moderators always takes priority (though moderators have some responsibility to abide by community consensus and they still can of course share opinions without enforcing them as moderators).

Now, that's the rundown of both how I think it should work and how it works in most communities. I have seen certain communities where moderators have far more power (disregarding anything and everything that happens on meta as nothing more than users chatting with each other) and I have seen communities that are run nearly perfectly democratically (where moderators only come in when stuff goes wrong), but still, this is more or less how it tends to work I would say. Feel free to disagree of course though :) .

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think 15-25 is a bit high at the moment. There's only one answer on the whole meta with a +15 score right now (while that's actually 17 votes +16/-1...). The general concept is good, but maybe ten or so is a better threshold. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Nov 20 '14 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Geobits: It's not limited only answers, but you're right, I might have overestimated that number. I came up with the 15 because my proposal is currently at 10 and I don't feel confident that we should start enacting it yet, so I added a bit~. $\endgroup$ – David Mulder Nov 20 '14 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidMulder: as someone fairly new to SE, I'm curious: when mods operate an SE site as a modocracy and basically ignore the opinions of the userbase, why don't they get voted out of 'power'? Is it that they actually make pretty good decisions? $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 20 '14 at 14:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AE: Well, elections aren't held regularly, and only the users that are fine with stay. Additionally in even the worst of cases it still could be far worse, so I have not heard of any cases where the SE gods stepped in. And most cases are indeed going fine. $\endgroup$ – David Mulder Nov 20 '14 at 16:21
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ It's less about absolute terms than about consensus or at least a large majority if possible, and otherwise coming to a sensible compromise. If two radically opposite proposals score +20 and +18 respectively, that's rarely a good policy decision. If a proposal scores +5/-0 on a low-activity beta, it's reasonable to take it as policy. @Geobits $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 20 '14 at 16:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AE Elections are held to decide who should be elected to the position, but the current mods are not "on the ballot". The only options when voting are to decide who new mods will be. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Nov 20 '14 at 16:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AE Moderators are supposed to enforce the policies set by Stack Exchange. Beyond that, the relation isn't one-sided: moderators are both supposed to enforce the will of the community and to intervene when the community gets something wrong. Some issues are firmly on the community side, for example scope (are tesseract Rubik's cubes on-topic?). On some issues moderators clearly have the final word, like enforcing politeness norms. Some issues are more shared, for example quality control. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 20 '14 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidMulder It has (very rarely) happened that SE stepped in to remove a moderator. There's now a process for that (but of course SE could still take any unilateral decision since they own the place). $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 20 '14 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Geobits: Ah, yeah, that's right, was thinking about when a site goes out of beta. My bad. $\endgroup$ – David Mulder Nov 20 '14 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles: Ah, didn't know that, thanks for the info :) $\endgroup$ – David Mulder Nov 20 '14 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles: Regarding your comments about compromises, I do agree in general that that is a natural consequence, because a compromise tends to gather more votes than a one sided proposal however in the end the highest voted policy tends to be what is enacted~ $\endgroup$ – David Mulder Nov 20 '14 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ @AE Is your "modocracy" comment a hypothetical or do you actually have an example of mods contradicting site policy? It seems to me that the moderators have been much too lenient.\ $\endgroup$ – Kevin Nov 20 '14 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Kevin, absolutely and totally hypothetical. $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 20 '14 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ @David & Gilles, that all seems very sensible. I'm a mod elsewhere, and I know what a thankless job it can be. I think if I were having design input into a system I'd suggest that mods be elected for an n year term but that existing mods were allowed to stand for re-election. $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 20 '14 at 22:21

Is there even a consensus on the final goal/aim of the site?

I have recently picked up conversation in "How can we objectively determine how well our site is doing?", but it seems that posting is no longer actively read.

I don't want to re-post this, as you can read it here, but essential I want to know if the suggested mission statement is in-line or out-of-line with what "the community" thinks about this site:

"We help puzzlers to become better. Better at building puzzles, better at understanding puzzles, and better at solving puzzles."


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .