I have noticed that Health.SE is being targeted by predominantly two types of questions:

1) Which are so-called blatantly off topic such as this, this and also this. All questions have been posted by completely new accounts which of course raises doubt over their authenticity (if theres any need of that)

2) Those seeking personal advice. I'm not sure why i need to reference, but here they are: 4, 5 and 6 to name a few

I see the potential of a Health.SE but what can be done to weed out these kind of questions, before its too late?

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    Thank you for your Meta post. I have also noticed this problem. – Narusan Jul 31 '17 at 11:31
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    Yes, this is a huge problem and frankly I have been thinking about unsubscribing to Health.SE because of the plethora of odious questions. I won't do that now since I see others share my concern, and perhaps we can craft solutions to stem the tide. – Mark D Worthen PsyD Aug 1 '17 at 3:30
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    @MarkDWorthenPsyD The problem is that there are only a limited amount of active high-rep users: You, L.B., Lucky, Carey, Kate, Mark, Doctor Who. I will be gone for the next 5 weeks or so (enjoying my vacation rather than voting to close questions here) so out of 5 out of 6 people who could vote to close will have to vote to close to get a control of the situation. – Narusan Aug 1 '17 at 7:22
  • This answer of mine has a section with some numbers. Basically, 26% of the posts in the last month were garbage. – Narusan Aug 1 '17 at 22:08
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    Sounds like it's a Catch-22: We need many users with >500 rep to keep up with the 'off-topic' (and worse) questions, but many potential high-rep members probably unsubscribe because they get fed up with all the junk. – Mark D Worthen PsyD Aug 2 '17 at 4:43
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    Yes and yes and yes. I too have been very tempted to stay away, since the crap questions are overwhelming, but seeing the efforts of those who are actively working to improve this site encourages me to keep at it. I too think that we need to do something aggressive or the site will be choked out by the floods of bad questions. I strongly support heavier mod activity as discussed below, as well as pop-ups or other things new users are required to do before posting (INCLUDING those with 100 rep from other SE sites). – DoctorWhom Aug 5 '17 at 3:24

The problem is that such questions do not get closed fast enough. There are simply not enough high-rep users active in a short period of time. I can see two possible solutions:


I know that this tool is not used very often, but in this case I think it would be okay if mods delete questions as soon as one other member of the community votes to close due to the question being off-topic and the mods agree. This way, visitors do not see the many off-topic-questions and don't get a false impression of the site.

Feature Request

  • Before being able to post a question, we could have the site disclaimer (personal diagnosis is off-topic) open with a "read and accept" button (much like terms of services and similar. This way, new users will be made aware of the site policy, as the banner can be overlooked

  • Question containing too much "I" or too much text could be prevented from being posted, much like code-only answers on other SE sites.

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    Having the ability to use a mod-hammer would be great. I don't know what reputation is required to have access to such a tool. perhaps they could be hidden for further validation by other mods. Instead of deleting them completely. just make sure that they're not visible. I would also suggest increasing the minimum reputation required or account age or some activity such as a form, to make it slightly more demanding before posting a question – DottoreM Jul 31 '17 at 14:33
  • @DottoreM 2.5k is necessary on beta to have access to mod tools. – Narusan Jul 31 '17 at 20:13
  • If I flag a comment as off-topic, is that considered a 'vote' to close (or hold) the question? Or are you referring to a 'vote' that only moderators can cast? – Mark D Worthen PsyD Aug 1 '17 at 3:19
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    "we could have the site disclaimer (personal diagnosis is off-topic) open with a "read and accept" button" - YES! In fact, every stack needs this type of gate-keeper. Some of the execrable questions seem to be intentionally unsavoury or titillating--I imagine a bunch of middle schoolers sitting around thinking up questions to ask the stupid grownups. But our rules/guidelines are so easily missed by sincere visitors that we need to put them front-and-center, with a checkbox as @Narusan suggests, to at least educate our earnest new members. – Mark D Worthen PsyD Aug 1 '17 at 3:37
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    I just posted a companion piece - We Need a Crystal Clear “Rules for Asking Questions” - Agree or no? – Mark D Worthen PsyD Aug 1 '17 at 4:35
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    @MarkDWorthenPsyD Regarding your first question: Currently, 5 users with rep > 500 have to vote to close a question. There is a review queue for all questions that should be closed. If you flag something, it will show up in the review queue for me to vote on, but it does not count your flag as close vote. – Narusan Aug 1 '17 at 6:39
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    @Narusan I think this should change a bit. The cost to moderate is way higher than the cost to 'damage' the place with bad questions. At least lower users such as myself, should have the ability to "hide" them until further notice. – DottoreM Aug 2 '17 at 10:03
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    You can flag something as off-topic, and I will definitely have seen your flag within 8 hours and voted to close. However, it needs 5 to vote. Changing the privileges thing is way too difficult, this is why I proposed a different solution in @MarkDWorthenPsyD linked Meta thread. If I could ask you to a) leave a comment under every post that you think is off-topic, b) downvote such posts and c) flag them, you would do us a great favour. Posts with a score of -5 will immediately get deleted, and they also attract mods. Downvoting costs reputation, but you will ultimately gain that reputation – Narusan Aug 2 '17 at 12:01
  • [cont'd] once the post is deleted. – Narusan Aug 2 '17 at 12:02
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    I 100% agree with the mod hammer, please do it if possible. It would be great if the OP were sent an email/notification of the rejection of the question and why, with links to the key portions of the rules and tour. If there were to be a way for us to see those posts after rejection, and we saw potential in a closed question, we could manually edit them and reopen them. – DoctorWhom Aug 5 '17 at 3:20

I participate regularly on another Beta site, which is probably around the same size as yours. At any rate, it's pretty small! There are a couple of moderators there who close and delete questions unilaterally when they feel it necessary. So I checked what the rules are, to share the information here. Here's what I found:

What special privileges do diamond moderators have?

Their votes are binding. Any place that requires a consensus of multiple users — closing, reopening, deleting, undeleting, reviewing, marking as spam, etc — a single moderator's vote will reach the threshold and take effect immediately.

I'm a bit confused because I don't see these three names listed in the comment by @Narusan-sedated:

The problem is that there are only a limited amount of active high-rep users: You, L.B., Lucky, Carey, Kate, Mark, Doctor Who. I will be gone for the next 5 weeks or so (enjoying my vacation rather than voting to close questions here) so out of 5 out of 6 people who could vote to close will have to vote to close to get a control of the situation.

And I do see diamonds next to the three moderator names at https://health.stackexchange.com/users?tab=moderators.

  • Moderators are not supposed to moderate a lot, this is why I excluded them. Also, I have never Seen Susan answer my flags, cast close votes etc., so we only have two active mods – Narusan Dec 2 '17 at 15:52
  • @Narusan-sedated - When you have the time, I invite you to visit Spanish Language SE. I've only once seen a diamond moderator there mis-use the power. I think that (save that one exception) the diamond moderators are using their power judiciously there. Look, in a well established, high traffic site, there are enough citizen reviewers that a trashy post can get cleaned up quickly. In a Beta site, prompt housekeeping is necessary, to prevent participants from getting turned off. So in a Beta site, diamond moderators may... – aparente001 Dec 2 '17 at 16:59
  • ... need to use a slightly different threshold of unilateral action than in a non-Beta site. I'm offering this suggestion because the frustration that I read on this page strikes me as a fairly easily solvable problem. // I don't know what's needed to depose a moderator by holding new elections, but if you feel Susan isn't pulling her weight, you might want to look into that. (Just a suggestion -- I just got here and don't have an opinion.) – aparente001 Dec 2 '17 at 17:01
  • Back to my main suggestion. Here's an analogy: when you go to a small, old-fashioned one-ring circus, and they bring the elephant out, there is always someone with a large dustpan and a shovel promptly cleaning up after the elephant, so that everyone can focus on putting on a good show, without having to worry about where they're stepping. // What I'm saying is that it is possible for the diamonds to do quick clean-up, without being heavy-handed. The community here could guide its moderators to do more prompt clean-up of really obvious problem posts. There is at least one precedent. – aparente001 Dec 2 '17 at 17:03
  • Well, that is exactly what I was suggesting only answer above with more „mod-hammers“ – Narusan Dec 2 '17 at 17:22
  • @Narusan-sedated - "only"? Is that a typo? – aparente001 Dec 2 '17 at 17:28
  • Yeah, should be in my. Stupid clumsy thumbs :) Can’t fix it anymore – Narusan Dec 2 '17 at 18:04
  • Susan was last seen on Health on October 29th. In my opinion, that is too long ago, it’s more than 31 days. – Narusan Dec 2 '17 at 20:32
  • @Narusan-sedated - If I were a regular participant here, I would compare that against her previous participation level, since it's possible that someone might have a personal situation (health or otherwise) that would prevent her from participating for some period. Anyway, I'm not a regular participant here. You and some others seem to care about the site, so I wanted to share some constructive suggestions. If you want to drop into Spanish Language SE to get a feel for the moderation style there, you'll be very welcome. Many of the questions, answers, comments and discussions are in English. – aparente001 Dec 2 '17 at 21:24
  • Thanks for true encouragement. I‘ve never had Spanish (probably a mistake), but I‘ll come along. The issue of moderation has partly been solved by my asking on Meta Chat, it’s up to the remaining mods. If they feel they need more assistance, SE usually opts for a fourth mod instead of dismissing an existing one. Thanks for the feedback! – Narusan Dec 2 '17 at 21:27
  • @Narusan-sedated - Glad you feel progress is being made. Thanks for your commitment. – aparente001 Dec 3 '17 at 2:32

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