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lillycoyote's avatar

I don't want to rag on the moderators, but do you think they could possibly give us a moment or two to sort a questioner's question out before it gets yanked?

Asked by lillycoyote (24810points) May 11th, 2010

Some questions _aren’t_clear or well worded but if you just ask them to clarify, sometimes they can, without the question being pulled, without the moderators needing to make more work for themselves. Can’t we be trusted to do this? And if we can’t, then they yank it?

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23 Answers

MissA's avatar

I’m not understanding exactly what you mean…can you explain?

Seaofclouds's avatar

The only problem I see with that is not everyone looks at the answers before posting a response (at least it seems like a lot of people don’t look at the answers before posting a response). So if the question asker clarifies something down in the answers section, people may miss it.

lillycoyote's avatar

@MissA Someone just asked a question about quotes from Marilyn Monroe, or “someone cool,” “nothing specific.” And I commented saying that it was kind of a “wide field” and asking them if they could be more specific. Then the next thing I knew, the question was gone. Yes, I know the question was kind of vague, but couldn’t we maybe have sorted it out for ourselves? It’s just that the same thing has happened a couple of times in the past week. You comment on a question and are hoping to get into a discussion or whatever, and then the question is gone.

MissA's avatar

Thanks, lillycoyote. The question seemed pretty harmless.

Dog's avatar

Hi Lil,

I just researched what you are referring to with this question and wanted to clarify what actually happened.

The question regarding Marliyn Monroe was posted in the general section. Unfortunately it does not meet the guidelines so it was put back in the users control to either post right away in Social or edit for general.

We are not moving things for people- we are allowing users do decide where they wish to post.

Please note that the question was not deleted and that the user is in control.

If you have any more questions please feel free to PM me.

Buttonstc's avatar

I have had exactly the same frustrating experience numerous times. The most recent occured on a question that I felt was perfectly clear but apparently some mod did not.

Personally, I think all this yanking of questions is very disruptive to the spontaneity of the site and my only way to deal with it is to just refuse to answer any new questions at all. That way I don’t end up frustrated by typing for nothing.

Even if the Q returns at some point in the future, good luck finding it. If the person who posted it isn’t around to correct it for quite a while, it may as well not exist.

My solution certainly isn’t ideal as I find myself responding to fewer and fewer Qs of late, but until they develop a better system that’s my only defense.

I think there are much less drastic ways to handle such things, but that’s just my opinion.

Trillian's avatar

I figured that it was a homework question anyway. At least, the way it was worded made me think so. Why would they want some quotes? I thought that someone flagged it.

Trillian's avatar

@Buttonstc I asked about this before. A couple Q’s that I asked got pulled and I had already gone to bed or something. After I fixed whatever was wrong, they got put back but there were already a whole slew above them and I never got much response. I did suggest that when a Q got pulled for editing that it be put back at the top so that people could see it. I suggested this more than once and never did get a response….

Dog's avatar

@Buttonstc I know what you are saying but really is it not up to the user to be sure it meets the basic guidelines for the section when they post?

Just curious as to what you guys are thinking on this.
If they post a question that does not meet guidelines are you all suggesting that we leave it up till the user gets around to seeing it and realizes it does not meet guidelines? (Again keep in mind that the user here is in total control since the question can be posted again right away with one click)

Personally I hate pushing questions back to the user to edit but the site quality would quickly dissolve if we left them up.

Regarding re-posting to the top of the page that is a good idea. I am not sure what the reasoning is for the way it is now. Perhaps one of the founders or Tim will enlighten us.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m not saying we leave it up to the user. I’m just saying that you might want to give us, the fluther folks a chance to help someone, maybe a new user, ask a decent question. I asked this question because a newbie asked a question that was a bit vague. And no, I’m not an editor for the New Yorker but I tried to get her/him to clarify what she/he was looking for and poof! The question was gone. Like I said in my question, just give us a chance, the users of Fluther, to help someone ask a good question. Yes, I know that if your first question is a bad question some users on Fluther will simply tear you a new one, but some of use want to help but the mods won’t let us if you yank the question within 30 seconds.

Dog's avatar

But the user has the question and can post it immediately. The question is not gone at all!

Like it or not they are in full control. If it is past the edit time the user needs it sent back to fix it or needs to (in this case) just choose the “Social” area.

Regarding helping the user in the responses- unfortunately that will not save the user from less kind responses. (though we are really cracking down on that)

I strongly suspect many users do not really read the responses before posting most of the time.

It also really bothers me when people pick on new users. But if we give it back to them edit with helpful suggestions it they can possibly avoid this.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, since you asked, here’s my two cents.

There are certainly questions that are so egregiously outside the guidelines that immediate removal is the only thing that makes sense. Things like spam, outrageous content, trolling or totally dumbf*ck mangling of the English language are obvious. I’m certainly not defending their need to stay. And I’m a strong believer in a well moderated site.

But many many times it’s a judgement call. I’m referencing my recent experience with a Q posted by Wundayatta regarding 12 step programs.

Even tho the number 12 was not specified, it was clear from the context, which was very well worded, that that is what he meant.

Even if perchance a hapless clueless person wandered by, it was crystal clear from my subsequent answer what was being asked.

But some extremely nitpicky mod promptly yanked it while I was in mid-edit of a very thorough answer. It would have done no harm at all to wait 20 mins or so to see if anyone at all found it the least bit unclear.

Evidently he wasn’t around to correct it promptly and by the time it returned it was long gone off the main page. And what had the potential to be an interesting discussion was aborted prematurely. It got a few more responses but never regained the traction it would have had if it had been allowed to remain rather than returned so much later. That is just a needlessly cumbersome way to deal with a minor matter which did not detract from the impact of a very well crafted and thought provoking question.

The world wouldn’t have come off it’s axis if the Q had been allowed to stand and a PM sent to him by a Mod to be more specific and mention 12 step.

I’m sure that there are many many cases like this. If it’s that type of non-egregious judgement call, why not just PM the person to correct it and extend their editing ability to allow for that?

If they don’t reply within a reasonable amount of time (12hrs ? or so) then remove it.

Knowing the general population of Fluther where many many users have written of their therapy experiences and substance abuse recovery issues, I find it really difficult to imagine very many people so confused by his question that it had to be summarily yanked. That’s just not believable. It was a judgement call and could have remained as is until he had a chance to be as specific as was desired without any serious damage being done.

I highly doubt anyone seriously would have thought he meant step aerobics or something unless they had the reading level of a first grader.

If question of a person who has reached the highest lurve total to date isn’t a sure bet to answer, then no question is. I was frankly amazed that his Q got yanked for such a flimsy reason.

I had already been avoiding Qs by total newbies or those with even the teensiest misspelling, since they’re more likely to be yanked. But now I just avoid ALL new questions and participating less and less.

Typing on an iPhone is not exactly a joyous experience to begin with, and having stuff disappear right and left is just too frustrating to deal with.

And NOW things can be yanked just for being in the wrong category? Yeah that pretty much does me in.

There is no consistency nor rhyme or reason for much of the Qs being yanked. I have certainly encountered dozens of far more poorly worded or nebulous Qs than that one by W. and if I couldn’t make sense of them after clicking and reading, I just passed them by. No big deal.

But there is little consistency in this regard and I’m just tired of dealing in guesswork. So, I don’t.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Buttonstc Thank you! That’s all I was really trying to get at here. A little consistency, and maybe not pulling a question within 30 seconds of it being posted. And most importantly, getting a discussion going about something that at least some of us seem to be bothered by.

Dog's avatar

First off let me clarify that many mods such as myself will PM a user if the question is within edit time. This allows a quick easy fix.

When it is not in edit time I will often wait by my computer for them to return the question so that the answers are not disrupted. We cannot help if a user has posted and walks away. Alternately we cannot wait around all day for the user and may step away ourselves. (We have jobs and school and the position of moderator is that of unpaid volunteer)

Okay- had to look up the question by Wundayatta.

Apr 27, 2010 at 2:18 There was a flag for bad title- the flagging user stated that they thought the question regarded exercise.

The question had already gone past it’s editing time before the first flag thus sending a PM to the user would not work.

Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 2:26 PM the question was sent back to the user asking the title to be clarified.

Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 6:06 PM the question was returned and re-posted.

Total downtime roughly 3 hours 40 minutes

I realize that while sometimes a question is re-posted right away, some questions are not that fast a turn around. However I also want to reiterate that we try. Our goal is not to remove questions- it is to keep them up when ever possible.

Because of freedom of speech we do not go in and edit a users questions for them so that they remain live. That is up to the user. (it can be done by the community manager but it is used sparingly)

gemiwing's avatar

I’m okay with the pulling, personally. I do very much agree that when it’s returned to the collective (in whatever new form or location) that it gets to go to the top of the page. It’s only fair to give their question a shot. I think that may help questions not get lost in the shuffle and then that answer that one took the time to write won’t be lost as well. assuming the OP doesn’t just abandon it

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m just curious as to why there can’t be more flexibility in the allowance of editing time.

I realize that NOW it’s about 5 mins. or so But does it have to be that way forever or for every single user every time?

For years, I used to participate in a site where every user was able to change (or even delete) their posts whenever they wanted to. I’m assuming that the theory was that it was THEIR (the original poster’s) writing so the OP should have control over it.

If someone was screwing around and changing their posts after people reacted to what they said, they got called on it right quick. It really was a self-policing type of situation.

But the times that it even happened AT ALL were extremely rare. I could count them on one hand over a period of many years. People learned their lesson and just did not change the essence of their original positions because they knew they would get such overwhelming flack for doing it.

For the life of me, I really don’t understand why edit time is so severely restricted on Fluther. I have no idea why that seems to be so sacrosanct. It would make life much easier all the way around, especially with so many predominantly iPhone users, where a full preview (other than a scant five lines) is impossible. I usually don’t see my typos and poorly structured sentences until I can read the entire thing after it posts.

Anyhow, I wasn’t writing my remarks because of just the one Q I mentioned as an example. (Altho I do appreciate you taking the time to research it)

I think the whole process could use a drastic re-thinking and overhaul. There are Qs and answers being removed all the time willy-nilly and it really detracts from the spontaneity of the entire site. There has got to be a better way.

I really question the thought process of whoever flagged that Q cuz they thought it was about exercise. Obviously that person didn’t bother to click on and read the details because it was explained in such a way that it would be impossible for a reasonable person to assume it referred to exercise.

But because a careless person couldn’t be bothered to read the Q details, a really good Q ended up derailed just because the title wasn’t perfect.

Other people have made the same observation that returning a Q to it’s original place instead of the top of the page effectively relegates it to obscurity if the asker isn’t around to fix it immediately. But nothing gets done about that either.

I also have no idea why a mod can’t add a minor edit (and label it as such) in the interest of efficiency and flow rather than a Q being yanked just because it isn’t icky-picky perfect.

There is a huge difference between truly egregious Qs and those with a really minor flaw and yet they are both dealt with in the exact same heavy handed manner. I just don’t know why something so unwieldy must forever remain so.

I have seen numerous Qs far more poorly constructed remain so there isn’t even any type of consistency enabling someone to be able to predict which Qs will be yanked or not.

I’m just tired of the whole thing.

Buttonstc's avatar

EDIT: I just realized that I incorrectly said that it’s 5 mins. time we have to edit our posts.

I now realize it is, in fact, 10 mins.

But that’s still WAY TOO SHORT.


andrew's avatar

@Buttonstc As I’ve mentioned before, we’re planning to make it so that edited questions are more visible, and that we have better notification if you’re in a question and it’s about to be moderated. We’re just busy working on some other features right now.

We already have a problem with people taking potshots and then editing their answer (same thing with their questions)—so until we rework that, we have a limited window for editing.

forestGeek's avatar

This happened yesterday with a question about organizing oneself on the web. I thought it was clear what was being asked, but obviously at least one other person didn’t, and poof, question gone within minutes of me answering. I assume the user who asked the question just gave up, as it hasn’t reappeared. I think it could have been a great, useful question with lots of really interesting feedback as to how others organize. I agree, it seems lately that more good questions are a bit too quick to be pulled for editing.

markyy's avatar

@Buttonstc I disagree that we need more time to edit a question. I realize a mistake is easy to make, but I’d rather see people put more time and effort into their questions beforehand than just posting something and edit it while people are actually answering the questions. Small edits can be made within said 10 minutes, and after that with the help of moderators, but anything bigger usually means changing the context of the question. Which means the answers that were given during or before the edit no longer make sense.

Also, I don’t think it’s fair to look at forums and compare them to Fluther either, seeing as Fluther is much faster of pace.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well obviously I’m not the only person who feels the way I do about questions being yanked summarily with apparently slim justification (at least that’s the impression I get after glancing at two more recent Meta Qs just asked which are variations of the same theme).

Right now there are no clear-cut criteria understandable to the majority of long time users as to why these are being pulled.

Secondly, there is absolutely no distinction made between truly egregious Qs and those with a minor easily correctable flaw. They are all given the same drastic treatment which makes no sense.

That’s like amputating someone’s arm because of a hangnail or shooting a gnat with a shotgun instead of a fly swatter. Talk about overkill. It just doesn’t make any sense and really seriously interrupts the flow of things and needlessly annoys many people in addition to the original questioner.

Go read the two most recent Qs above which I referenced and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Yes, there are some Qs so ridiculous that they deserve to be deep-sixed and the majority of us recognize them when they appear. But there are far far too many which are being yanked for very inconsistent reasons.

It seems that in many many cases where there is even the tiniest most miniscule problem perceived, the immediate reaction is to yank it rather than giving it some time to let people sort it out. Basically this treats all of the users like children. Why not have a little more faith in the intelligence and common sense of the majority ?

As things are now, the first response (at the tiniest icky picky perception of a “problem”) seems to be to just yank it. This should be the LAST RESORT and reserved for truly egregious violations.

Instead, it is being used as the FIRST resort and there is little or no consistency in how it is applied. THAT IS PRECISELY what many members are finding objectionable. There has to be a better way.

My suggestion of private PMs and extended edit time for minor issues was just one attempt to present a solution rather than merely complaining.

I don’t know enough about comp. programming to know whether or not extending edit time temporarily on a case by case basis is feasible or not.

But common sense tells me that it isn’t necessary to use shotguns to kill gnats. There has to be a more nuanced way to deal with something that irks so many people.


I understand that Fluther is fast paced and the other sites to which I refer were equally fast paced as well due to a very large and active user base.

I understand that with lengthier edit times that immature folks use it to take potshots. But I’ve seen that taken care of by the community taking them to the woodshed about it.

After a user base chimes in with how cowardly one is to do this and gets in the habit of screenshots or lengthy quotes to resurrect the original, that type of nonsense rarely raises it’s ugly head again. I’ve witnessed this scenario play out enough times to know that it fades of it’s own accord.

As I said before, how about showing a little faith in the wisdom and common sense of the majority of the community. You just may be in for a pleasant surprise.

I do hope that you do take some steps to remedy all the question yanking, but until then I, for one, am less and less inclined to waste my iPhone typing time on new Qs which could get axed at any moment for God-only-knows-what-reason. It’s a shame but it’s my only defense against unnecessary aggravation.

And I am most certainly not the only one so aggravated.

syz's avatar

@Buttonstc Questions are not yanked summarily.

You are assuming that you see every question,
that you see every request to edit that we send to the OP,
that you see each time they return it to use with no alterations,
that you see each time that they ask us for clarification,
that you see each time that we respond to their requests,
that you see the flags that we receive from (your fellow) Fluther users,
that you see behind-the-scenes interpersonal dramas that we are asked to referee,
that you see the discussion that we have about the merits of questions and complaints,
that you see requests from the OP that send a question to them so that they can edit a mistake before having it pointed out to them by less than friendly comments,
that you see activities in chat that have spilled over into questions,
that you see questions that are thinly veiled attacks on other users,

I fail to see what the bitter complaints are about. The moderation rate appears to actually be lower than before the changes (we’ve considered actually compiling the stats, but frankly, it will take a better person than I to spend so much time on such a thankless chore).

lillycoyote's avatar


Thanks to everyone for responding to this question, thanks to the mods for reinstating it, and a particular thanks to both @Dog and @Buttonstc for putting so much energy and heart into responding. If we don’t ask about these things, talk about them then I think there will always be a certain animosity between some users, including myself and the mods. I think the changes, the new system will take some getting used to on everyones part. Both the stricter rules in the general section and the freedom of the social section. I think it is hard to adjust to both being more free and more restricted at the same time. But as long as everyone cares, one way or the other, about how things flush out here on fluther, well that’s a pretty good sign, isn’t it? Anyway, I am still a refugee, still figuring my way here, so I apologize if I stirred things up, but I think it is good for the place, to get things out in the open, but I could be wrong. I’m still kind of out of the loop.

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