I would like to request that the question "Instances of the UN defusing serious crises" be reopened. If not, I would like to understand how exactly this question is non-constructive or falls under "predicting the future based on historical trends".

Apropos this decision by the mods, I would like to call attention to other questions such as these which appear to have their blessings:

... I could go on and on.

  • Personally I think the only reason the first question wasn't closed also was that nobody even cared enough about it to bother closing it. :-)
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Nov 19, 2012 at 16:38
  • @T.E.D. Perhaps, but it sends the wrong message to other questioners. This might currently be a low-traffic SE. But nevertheless, we ought to maintain standards, yes? :) Nov 20, 2012 at 15:03

1 Answer 1


Yes, you could indeed go on and on! There is definitely no shortage of questions on this or any other SE site that could be considered sketchy, but we as moderators can't always act on every single one of them. We are volunteers who try to spend as much time as we can looking over the site and trying to keep it as current and relevant as possible.

Quite honestly, I personally do not ever read about 25% of the questions on this site when they are first submitted because I simply do not have the time. I eventually get around to reading all of them, but sometimes it may be a week or so after they are posted. I can't speak for other moderators, but I suspect they do not see most questions on the day they are submitted. (New answers are even harder to keep up with, but I won't go into that right now.)

Because of our limited time, we rely on the community to help bring our attention to potential problems. They do this by voting to close a question or by flagging it if they believe there is something that needs to be addressed. Pretty much every single day I look at every question that is flagged or voted on for closing or reopening. Questions or answers submitted by new users are automatically flagged, as are answers to older questions, so all of these get my attention first.

The short and simple answer is that this question got flagged and voted for closing, while most of the other questions did not. When we receive a flag, we have to make a decision based on a number of factors, and sometimes it comes down to just a personal evaluation. We are not always going to satsify everyone, but we certainly try.

Again, speaking for me personally, one of the first things I look at is the number of commenst vs. answers. This question has 9-0, which means it easily falls into the category of one that will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. Those are easy decisions for me when it comes to a request to close!

Another factor I consider is the number of votes (up or down) for either the question or any answers. Pretty much all of the examples you gave have good participation from the community, and as a moderator, we will very rarely do anything with one of those. At some point in the future as we get closer to becoming a full site, we will be required to clean up a lot of those or remove them, but until then the moderators are not going to act on them.

We don't claim to have the perfect solution. It is simply one in which we rely largely on the community to help give us guidance. All of these factors are weighed individually (and quite honestly, sometimes with some personal prejudice) before we decide how to act on them. As long as the community remains active and provides their feedback, we will be there trying to help mold this site into what you guys want it to be.

  • Thank you for the detailed answer. Could you please also address the reason why this question was closed? The raison d'être (or at least one of them) of the UN is to stop wars. Yet the question of "has the UN stopped any wars" is apparently not constructive on this site. The majority of the comments on the question apparently related to my use of the word "war" and I have subsequently replaced it with "serious crises". Nov 17, 2012 at 15:56
  • This question had nine comments but no answers, which indicates it is soliciting discussion or debate, and that is not acceptable. (see the fifth paragraph in my explanation above) Nov 18, 2012 at 0:17
  • ... and as I've mentioned in my comment, I've since replaced war with serious crises to address the "how do you know that there would have been a war?" question. One of the commenters has then stated that he does not have an issue with the "meat of the issue" any longer. There are also three votes to reopen the question; one more than the number of close votes. In any event, that was not what I was asking you to clarify. Nov 18, 2012 at 0:32
  • My comment was my attempt to clarify why this question was closed. Whether you use the term "war" or "serious crises" doesn't really matter. Either way, there is no way anyone can objectively answer either question. All we can do is speculate, offer opinions, or discuss the different crises in which the UN was involved. Sorry, I don't see any justification for reopening. Nov 18, 2012 at 2:55
  • No, your comment only clarified the criteria you used to close the question. It didn't address the question itself. This line of reasoning is simply ridiculous and moreover, your style of moderation is singularly hypocritical. In one issue, you suggest that you want to go by what the community decides and thereby do not close an egregious off-topic question even once it registers 4 close votes. On the other hand, in this question, neither do you give it time to garner answers nor do you wait for the community to vote to close the question. It's just plain silly. Nov 19, 2012 at 5:33
  • 2
    The problem wasn't (IMHO) "war" vs "crisis" - the problems were twofold. First, that examining counterfactuals/alternate history is more likely to lead to debate/discussion than to answers supported by facts. Second, the question contains an assumption that since the UN's stated purpose is to end wars, and a war was averted, therefore the UN was involved. Questions with implicit assumptions like that are more likely to lead to debate than to answers. The question fostered opinions, not scholarship.
    – MCW Mod
    Nov 19, 2012 at 17:03
  • @StevenDrennon Thank you for reopening the question. Nov 20, 2012 at 14:58
  • @MarkC.Wallace From most of the comments, the question being posed was "How do you know that a war would have occurred?". This is what I attempted to address by centring the question on crises instead. Answers always need to be supported by facts. It's the conclusions that might be speculative and debatable and I'm fine with that. I personally have nothing against wrong answers either and will vote them down accordingly. Nov 20, 2012 at 15:01

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