Recently I've seen several questions that can be easily construed as being opinion-based — hence off-topic — not only not closed, but also answered by moderators. For example:
- Is it considered a bad thing to choose a book character's name as yours in Chinese? Picking a name from a book etc?
- Help review chinese names for characters in a wuxia setting
- How would you write Yuna in a Chinese poetic name?
- which name is better?
Plus some others that are borderline.
I've already made clear my stance about opinion-based questions, you can see it in Why are questions asking for personal opinions (opinion-based) off-topic?
In case there are still doubts, that's not just my personal opinion. It's a clear guideline of the Stack Exchange network.
While I also can appreciate chatty exchanges, they are not a good fit for the Stack Exchange Q&A format. They don't belong here, and I simply can't see why they should. The internet is full to the brim with places apt to discuss personal preferences and ask open-ended questions. Stack Overflow and the rest of the Stack Exchange network were born with a different mission, and we, as its community, are trusted with keeping it true to that mission.
I feel strongly about this because I'm very much aligned with Stack Exchange's Q&A format and mission and I will be vocal when I see it deviating from it. When I want to ask random chatty questions I go to Reddit.
Now, elected moderators are supposed to drive the community and set the example. Among the Stack Exchange sub-sites I'm a member of, Chinese Stack Exchange is peculiar in that its moderators instead tend to not set the example, either due to an explicit approach of least interference or — I wonder — due to a misunderstanding of how this site works.
I can agree that moderators are not required to close specific questions. I can also agree that they may deliberately choose a passive moderation style — i.e. let the community cast some votes first and cast theirs only after some consensus becomes apparent.
However, some consistency is expected here. If they don't close off-topic questions because they are waiting for consensus to form around it, why do they answer it in the meantime?
I tried to be not vocal about this as long as possible, but since the trend is continuing and I find it especially egregious, I would like to bring this issue to everyone's attention.
A moderator answering off-topic questions is implicitly sending the signal that such questions are OK here, contrary to Stack Exchange format and (I would say) community expectations. Chinese Stack Exchange has few active curators, therefore mod proactiveness and adherence to guidelines is especially important in keeping things clean and on track.
Please let's discuss.