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Some moderation issue have come up regarding this question: Is it cheaper to mail a small package to Germany from Turkey, Bulgaria, or Romania?

Forget for the moment that there is disagreement about whether it's on- or off-topic.

The problem I have is that it was closed with no explanation. This directly contradicts A Theory of Moderation (emphasis not mine):

Whenever possible, try to leave frequent comments on posts where you’ve taken (or considered taking) a moderator action, explaining the reasoning. This is important so that community members can learn the norms of the community and the moderation policies.

Another mod insists that such an explanation should "happen in meta only". Again, this contradicts the blog post. There are a few other problems with it; to give four:

  • A user's first response to a closed question is not to post on Meta
  • A user's first response to finding a closed question is not to read all the Meta questions tagged
  • Closing without any explanation looks bad and generates ill will
  • This is not in line with how other SE sites have been run, from what I've seen

It's also claimed that the following is explanation enough:

closed as off topic by Dori♦ 23 hours ago

Questions on Travel - Stack Exchange are expected to generally relate to traveling, within the scope defined in the faq.

As I noted in my comments before they were deleted:

  • The FAQ was devoid of guidance here
  • There had been almost no Meta discussion on scope

"Off-topic" is not an explanation of why it's off-topic. A single sentence would suffice. Why is this too much too ask?

One of the deleted comments said that the question has nothing to do with travel. This is simply false; you can't bring a package in person to multiple countries without travelling. The fact that it involves travel doesn't necessarily make it a good question, but claiming it doesn't involve travel is ridiculous. (I answered here on distinguishing "travel problems", "traveller's problems", and "nothing-to-do-with-travel problems".)

I have no problem with discussions of scope occuring on Meta; in fact, I think that's exactly what should happen. But I do not see how that means that a quick explanation with at least minimal thought put into it is disallowed and, apparently, actively discouraged.

And, just maybe, the mods should consider posting on Meta. Users are currently working within the scope of "Travel". The moderation is obviously occurring according to a more refined scope, and it would be helpful if that scope was actually made available for review and discussion. The Area51 page doesn't help much either, since several questions similar to some of the voted-on-topic questions have been closed.

  • Similar issue with my question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/464/… I think it's not subjective, and so do other mod. – VMAtm Jun 28 '11 at 19:47
  • @VMAtm I'm not sure whether that question should be on- or off-topic, but at least the mod left a quick explanation! – Matthew Read Jun 28 '11 at 19:52
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    At least the scope issue will be sorted out thanks to this discussion - meta.travel.stackexchange.com/questions/79/… – Ankur Banerjee Jun 28 '11 at 20:05
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    I think issues of this type are suited very well to chat which I've only seen a few of us using so far. It would be great to see a lot more of us there more often. It's a more human place than trying to second guess motives from site actions and limited comments with no realtime feedback. – hippietrail Jun 29 '11 at 8:06
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First and foremost: your site was, until a few hours ago, in private beta. We really really want users discussing this stuff on Meta during the beta. Once it expands a bit more, this becomes increasingly unlikely... But it is the goal: meta is where we expect the standards for the site to be hashed out and remembered, not countless comment threads scattered across the site. On a mature site, under normal circumstances, no comment is needed when closing a question, because the site already has a well-defined set of standards available for anyone who cares - in the early beta period, this isn't true... so define them!

Beyond that... You're gonna have moderators appointed here shortly, drawn from the folks who show themselves able and willing to moderate the site. In the meanwhile, various SE employees will be stepping in to shut down questions that risk derailing the site. When an explanation appears to be necessary, they'll leave one; otherwise, bring it up on Meta and hash out guidelines for what is and isn't on-topic so you can have a FAQ. Personally, I wouldn't have expected "where should I mail a package" to occur to anyone as being on-topic for a travel site, but obviously some of you feel otherwise - so let's hear your rationales!

Finally... It isn't the duty of the "mods" as they exist now to define your site; they aren't necessarily subject-matter experts, and so will tend to act to assist you in finding a scope that maximizes the utility of the SE system, not necessarily including or excluding everything the community wants. That's what we expect you to do, here, on Meta. If you see us posting on Meta, you should be at least a bit concerned that you didn't beat us to the punch - this is your site, and will succeed or fail in the long run based on how you're able to define it. We'll do our best to help... But if there's a problem, you'll likely be the first to notice, and so should be the first to bring attention to it.

  • I agree it shouldn't be left to mods to determine the scope ... but when they do, they should share. – Matthew Read Jun 29 '11 at 13:26
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You're right that it would be more helpful to ALWAYS leave a comment why your question was closed,

BUT

I think you are taking this too personally. If this becomes a pattern, then by all means, make a stink on meta. Right now though, we're working really hard to nip things in the bud that are going to send this site on the wrong trajectory using our experience from launching the other 50 sites that launched.

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    I wouldn't have made a stink had our concerns not been dismissed out of hand. The effort that went into the dismissal and the purging of the comments was disconcerting and, at best, could have been more constructively directed. I think explaining the reasoning would be a great way to help nip this in the bud, rather than leaving it a big blank so that users don't know not to ask those questions. – Matthew Read Jun 29 '11 at 0:11

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