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I didn't realize it at the time, but looking back at the list of questions I have asked in the past, I can see that the same type of question, which are only different in regard to the variables, have different close statuses/outcomes. Is there a process to raise and resolve these types of inconsistencies with the moderators?

The example discrepancy questions I have in mind ask about webfont alternatives:

My newer question Webfont alternative to Segoe UI is closed,

while my other question Webfont alternatives to Gotham (which received substantially more traffic and votes) was not closed.

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    Hey Michael, thanks for posting. I edited your question pretty heavily, please make sure I conveyed all of the points you want to convey well and feel free to edit it again :) – Zach Saucier Mar 16 '16 at 3:48
  • @ZachSaucier all good Zach, I think all the points raised remain intact so thanks for the edit :) – Michael Lai Mar 16 '16 at 3:58
  • @ZachSaucier you edited with a link to the same Q twice.. – Cai Mar 16 '16 at 7:12
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    @CAI actually Zach didn't use the wrong link, Michael did. Only other question he's posted that made sense was the Gotham one I edited to. Michael, if that wasn't the link you meant please edit again. – Ryan Mar 16 '16 at 8:55
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    I checked the edits, the original only had one link and just mentioned another Q without a link? I assumed it was an old Q that got deleted and I couldn't see? – Cai Mar 16 '16 at 8:58
  • Either way, as it is now makes no sense. – Cai Mar 16 '16 at 8:59
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    @CAI what do you mean it makes no sense? Alternative to Segoe was closed, Alternative to Gotham was open. – Ryan Mar 16 '16 at 9:09
  • My bad, I missed your edit, on my phone so just read the comment not the edit.. It didn't make sense before your edit - both links were the Segoe Q - makes perfect sense now. – Cai Mar 16 '16 at 9:19
  • @CAI Whoops, sorry about that :) – Zach Saucier Mar 16 '16 at 12:57
  • Sorry if I put in the wrong links... I hope it didn't affect the question too much though, and thanks for fixing it up! – Michael Lai Mar 16 '16 at 22:02
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Close voting being inconsistent is no more than logical--it's humans who do it. Beyond that, it is the actual community that does the voting, and who actually votes on what questions is rarely, if ever, identical for two questions.

On top of that, site policy changes, and community opinion changes. Even (gasp!) moderator opinion changes.

Do not hesitate to bring these things to light, though. It might shed light on some older posts that have been closed and might be re-opened as a result. A meta post like you made here is a fine tool for that.

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Wall of text warning.

I figure I'll post my opinion on this since I voted on both of those questions (and inconsistently) and I'll preface this by saying the obvious: close votes are essentially opinions and as mentioned before, opinions change.

When I vote to close questions I try to keep the community feeling in mind. To help explain that I'll need to go back into GD SE history. In the beginning when the site was in beta we would get a lot of technical support questions and in those days most of those questions got answered. In a beta period especially you need questions and answers to thrive so you can't be too picky and the community hadn't gotten fed up with the technical support questions yet.

Nowadays technical support questions get shut down pretty quickly. This is for two reasons (in my opinion). First there's now site policy around tech support in the sense that we don't want non-design related questions on the site. Second, the site gets more traffic and has a lot more tech support questions float through and the community doesn't want to play tech support.

I realize your question isn't tech support but it relates to the community feeling point.

The questions, objectively speaking are opinion-based, which in my opinion (ha), isn't always a bad thing because design itself is in a lot of ways opinion-based.

For the record I voted to close the Segoe UI question and voted to keep the Gotham question open. I realize these two votes contradict one another, but here are my reasons. I voted to close the Segoe question because objectively speaking I do feel it's too opinion based for our format. But I voted to keep the other one open because it was already older and still open and it had more than a few positive votes.

Personally I take into account the popularity of the question. I think if a question is popular, even if not entirely within the site scope, is obviously still a useful question to have around because the community wants it.

I do try my best to evaluate each question independently of previous close votes which admittedly makes for more inconsistent voting and I'm just human as well and my personal opinion and feelings get in the way at times.

P.S. I have no personal issue with the font questions, but recognize they aren't as welcome here and vote in that direction.

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    I love that you can get really good explanations about decisions here on Graphic Design (it is a lot rougher in StackOverflow, and actually also pretty opinionated in UXSE), and I personally have no issues with the votes either. I do think font choices in light of the web-safe font era raises a lot of questions around choice and the decisions for those choices, which is what I am interested in finding out. – Michael Lai Mar 17 '16 at 23:22
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Generally speaking, the best way to handle these issues for a particular set of questions is to bring it up here on meta or in the GD chat. So well done!

As for your particular question, I voted to close your older question as too broad. We'll see if the community agrees with me or not :)

Site moderation policies change over time. Several things that were on topic when this site was first started are now off topic and perhaps some new things are now on topic that once were not. This is how community driven sites should work because it helps the community stay relevant and applicable.


Speaking even more generally, I do think there is a little inconsistency in moderation (perhaps more than some care to admit) but stating particular examples is hard because it comes down to interpretation of our on topic definitions. We want to be protective of the content posted and allow as much as we can while still requiring effort and on topicness.

In closing, when users gain reputation enough to moderate, it is up to us to cast votes, comment, and vote to close questions which we think are off topic. In addition to chat and meta, the community will make a judgement on each question and set of questions. With that being said, we're flawed people and we will never be perfect at moderating.

We need all the help we can when it comes to moderating site content - this site is moderated by you!

Thanks for bringing up the particular discrepancy and the general topic of inconsistency in moderation.

  • The question was definitely not raised as a criticism of the moderators, because I understand the amount of posts that need to be processed and without the fantastic work that you guys are doing I can't imagine what it would be like. I think the points that you have made, especially in regards to how the moderation policies evolve (due to different ways moderators deal with changes in time) is an excellent point. – Michael Lai Mar 16 '16 at 4:30
  • So in terms of this particular discrepancy, I am curious as to what the next steps will be in terms of coming to a resolution (I am okay with it either way) and whether it is also likely that there will be enough justification to leave it as is. – Michael Lai Mar 16 '16 at 4:31
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    Thanks for making a few good points about moderation, both by mods and 'regular' users. +1. – Vincent Mar 16 '16 at 10:33
  • Why are we suddenly against alternate font questions? Many of them have had great, useful answers over the years. – user56reinstatemonica8 Mar 17 '16 at 17:41
  • @user568458 I've been against them since I joined GD - they're quite broad and opinion based – Zach Saucier Mar 17 '16 at 18:05
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    Only if you typography isn't a skill, or knowledge of fonts and ability to spot subtleties in typefaces isn't something worth sharing... – user56reinstatemonica8 Mar 17 '16 at 18:07
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    @user568458 yes but you spotting the difference does not further the person asking. By not helping them the asker needs to train their eye. Lets face it sometimes the best help is to tell them to do the work themselves. – joojaa Mar 18 '16 at 16:58
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Our moderation is simply inconsistent because there are too few people voting. You see, in every topic there are several opinions about how it should be moderated. In one of the sites where theres lot of voting going on you tend to have several extreme opinion pools. When theres a lot of voters its unlikely that the pools get too much weight. Conversely when there is less voters these different political camps tend to fluctuate more maybe the closer camp has a member sick and one other member out fishing, this can be all it takes on micro timescales.

Second policy changes over time. Quite few people have hard line interpretations, but tend to lean one way or another. But they can have a change of heart and thus over time this opinion evolves over months and years.

One important factor is also who is the first to flag or handle the question. Often I give the user some time to make questions better and comment on the question. Now if a question has some problems that probably should be addressed and it has been pointed out by others as a problem, its bad. This tends to rally people around the commenters opinion because the reasoning can persuade people to your point of view.

Voting is by no means a perfect strategy, benevolent dictatorship is the best strategy - as well as the worst when the dictator isn't so benevolent. Psychologists an medical science have shown that power "corrupts". It really changes your brain chemistry and nerve paths so the later option is a BAD general strategy on the long run.

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    Long live the benevolent dictator :D – Michael Lai Mar 18 '16 at 13:29
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In reviewing the history of the Gotham question which is open the final tally was

Feb 18 '15 at 3:04 review close
Feb 23 '15 at 16:56 completed Leave Open × 3, Close × 2

5 members weighed-in and the vote was split.

On your question about Segoe it received 5 close votes and no leave open votes.

Different members entirely weighed in on the two which is just how it goes sometimes.

The only major difference I see is the inclusion of this, "What are some popular webfonts that have an open license and can be used as an alternative to Gotham?" I'm not sure how that plays into our users.

My guess however is that they were posted in different years, with different people reviewing it.

Not saying this its right but hopefully those that voted to close will weigh-in.

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