This question was recently closed as primarily opinion based and too broad, however it does not appear to be either of those. The question is asking for clearly defined and measurable information about a limited number of most commonly used techniques and asking that such an answer include details about what major sites were using each and if it impacted the way they selected moderators.

This question is possibly difficult to gather reliable data on, but it is extremely clearly defined.

Was it closed simply because we don't wish to have this kind of a data gathering question on topic? If so, what are the advantages and disadvantages of such a question so that we make a more consistent reason to give for them being off-topic?


3 Answers 3


It seems to be too broad to me.

the 3 most commonly used moderator training techniques used

Allowing for common sense to define "commonly used", how do we select the 3 most commonly used? There are university courses and degrees and seminars designed to teach leadership and training methods. Each presents a different view for what has worked for their audience. Answers could easily select a group of common methods, but each will select differently and present their arguments for why this is used effectively. For this reason, I think it is too broad

Do these techniques affect moderator selection

I'd hope the answer to this question was "yes", otherwise I believe their training needs to be adjusted. Moderator selection is a broad topic (appointing, community promotion, nepotism, elections, etc) combined with what training methods make selection effective makes the range of answers very wide. For this reason, I think it's too broad

This type of question is good, but I think it it needs to be narrowed in scope. Instead of asking for a list of common training techniques, ask about a specific one you are curious about.

How does a formal training session with new moderators improve their ability to moderate in a community? Did [site that uses this technique] notice an improvement in moderator behavior after this training was implemented?

On the job/tossing into the fire training of new moderators is relatively common in smaller communities. As these communities grow and add more moderators, does this method of training scale well in terms of consistent moderator actions across the team?

  • Different categorizations of moderating techniques could produce different results, but there are different ways to categorize it that would apply rather broadly. For example, apprenticeship, formal academic training and gradual permission introduction. I see what you are saying about it being somewhat subjective as to what those categories are, but I think that extends in to the realm of good subjective since the correctness of each answer itself can still be judged based on the type of breakdown they use.
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Aug 1, 2014 at 15:54
  • As for the techniques affecting moderation selection, I would disagree that the answer should always be yes. The means by which you train someone is frequently independent of the way that you select them. In some cases, the training may require a particular starting skillset beyond the basics that would work for another, but some training types will work for anyone that is a decent candidate for being a moderator.
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Aug 1, 2014 at 15:56
  • 1
    Fully agree on the last part though, asking about specifically defined trainings are certainly a good fit, but how does someone ask about those if they don't know the spectrum of what is out there and working well yet? Do we really want to rule out that kind of introductory information entirely or do you perhaps have some other idea of how we might be able to address that?
    – AJ Henderson Mod
    Aug 1, 2014 at 15:57
  • 1
    I don't think we want to rule out introductory information. I hope that we have a broad range of moderators visiting and asking questions, and fully expect the introductory type questions to appear. However, I do hope they do some research before asking us to do the research for them.
    – Andy Mod
    Aug 1, 2014 at 16:05

Personally, I think such questions may be a challenge to answer, but I think they are very useful if we can answer them. As long as the metrics are measurable, then data gathering such as this can be quite valuable for seeing what has worked for other communities. We need to be careful with such questions to make sure they remain clear and well defined, but I think when they are well defined they should have a place in the site.

It is true that the exact definition of a category is subjective, but I believe it falls under the good subjective side of Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. By nature, a lot of what we are going to cover on this site will have multiple ways it could be broken down. What is important is not necessarily that there are multiple ways it could be broken down, but rather that whatever way is selected, the correctness of the answer can still be judged.

There are multiple possible ways you could define a category such that the most common is slightly different, but every answer would add value as it would reveal more towards the question and can be clearly supported.


Personally, I voted primarily opinion-based on both "top techniques" questions. As for the one this meta Q is about, my choice was made because there is absolutely no way to empirically determine the "top 3" by usage. This is an inherent issue of the techniques in question: They're not clearly bounded. I can combine various techniques and make my own, new technique. How do we categorize that? How can we determine how often that is used? There is no way, aside from relying on personal speculation, how common a given technique is.

However, I fully agree that too broad is just as good a fit. Even with the assumption that we can indeed determine a "three most common", this question still opens up way too much that can be said about any of these techniques. We can give a rough overview, sure, but then why restrict it to this ominous "three most common" (after all, this does not say anything about the quality of the techniques - popularity can be affected by various other factors)? Might as well make a huge list of all techniques. Which, again, becomes too broad.

At the end of the day, a much better fit for the site would be clear scenarios to which we provide advice - or a separate "overview question" for any given technique. Compiling that into one question that relies on a not-too-well-definable "ranking" is hardly useful to the site, or to the community.

  • there is absolutely no way to empirically determine the "top 3" by usage - User count? Page views? Search rank? There may not be just one way to do it, but I think there are a manageable number of reasonable approaches. Would be nice if questions about "best" or "top" defined their own cost functions, but I don't know that I'd call it a deal-breaker.
    – Air
    Aug 1, 2014 at 19:07

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