# Is CRUDE healthy?

The chatroom CRUDE stands for Close, Reopen, Undelete, Delete, Edit. Is the way this room is currently used healthy for Maths Stack Exchange?

There is a core of users which can be counted on one hand, who use this room to transparently coordinate their hard work, given freely, to clean up the site of the material they don't want on it - and in large part, in my opinion, doing a lot of good things.

Although this substantial cleanup operation is transparent, it takes place largely unnoticed, without reference to the vast majority of users and not receiving a level prominence commensurate with its importance.

Activities also appear to take place which may or may not be in the spirit of MSE:

To some degree, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression questionable activity is tacitly supported by some of the most senior moderators who may feel the remedy is at least better than the illness - i.e. the deluge of low quality material.

When our most senior users are deeply concerned about the quality of material on the site, we must surely listen and act. But I wonder if the community at large should have more awareness of what is going on, be more engaged with the process, or give clearer guidance on what kind of coordinated activity is, and is not, acceptable, and make this process more accountable.

• I think several of your points are misinterpretations. It's not "Hey, I can only close vote once, can you guys cast some more on my behalf? Sure. Sure. Sure. Sure." Instead, it's "Hey guys, I've spotted a mess over here. Yep, it's a mess. Sure is. I see the mess. I'll help clean too."
– user14972
May 8 '18 at 9:48
• I think that MSE itself is unhealthy. My impression is that CRUDE exists precisely because the community at large isn't really participating effectively in site maintenance. If the community at large were engaged with the process, CRUDE wouldn't exist.
– user14972
May 8 '18 at 9:49
• @Did nor have I given evidence that frequent users of CRUDE do a lot of good things. But it was precisely you who called me a "Producer of BS". I don't understand your hostility. Every time you pop up it seems to get personal and it's a little strange tbh. May 8 '18 at 10:53
• I agree with Hurkyl's diagnosis. The site became ill from having an unhealthy diet of PSQs and their answers for many a year. C.R.U.D.E. is the foul tasting medicine. May 8 '18 at 11:36
• Of course, we could eventually rename that chatroom C.U.R.E.D., but that would be premature. May 8 '18 at 11:37
• I will keep reading what users have to say here. Comes with the job. And, yes, I have never been hiding my anti-PSQ anti-repfarming stance. Occasionally I have attempted to understand/analyze the phenomenon (see my past posts in meta), but it is very taxing, and I'm tired of it. May 8 '18 at 11:49
• @amWhy don't be daft, calling me a bully. My question goes out of the way to be complimentary. I'm giving the community an opportunity to declare that they support what you're doing and perhaps even get more involved and carry some of the burden for you. If that means the process also comes under greater scrutiny from the community and its health improves then that can only be a good thing. The more things are out in the open, as far as I'm concerned, the LESS scope there is for bullying. May 8 '18 at 13:38
• @amWhy you're coming very close to calling me a bully. May 8 '18 at 13:41
• And while I do not approve of anyone using the term "BS", it is not hard to see why such a term was used. Producer of BS (previously Robert Frost) himself states on his profile "A hobby of mine is to study the Collatz conjecture. Apologies in advance for cranky questions.". Also see this and this. I've said before that RF sometimes asks good/reasonable questions but does not ever seem to grasp or want to learn the basics of any field that he is interested in. Draw your own conclusions. May 8 '18 at 15:43
• @amWhy I think you're overpersonalising. I don't think the linked examples are all that bad and I already said 95% of activity is positive so naturally these are exceptions but I do think there are too many such exceptions and if the room was frequented by more people, its users would think twice about certain things and that would be to their merit. May 8 '18 at 20:46
• @amWhy When one of the owners (you know who) of CRUDE called RF producer of BS, I can hardly say that it's welcoming. May 8 '18 at 22:19
• @amWhy Just because other people are behaving badly doesn't excuse the bad conduct that GNU linked to. MSE has issues being welcoming, and the comments here are just confirming that.
– user296602
May 8 '18 at 22:25
• @amWhy Every single post can be read by anyone (especially new users), so it can be their first impression about the site. That's why we need content management (by means of reviews, etc) as they represent the site as a whole. Similar arguments apply to the room CRUDE: every single message represents the room as a whole, especially those from owners and active users. May 8 '18 at 23:06
• It appears that this question was written in a purposefully over-polite way, with care taken to offend as little as possible. Thus, the fact that some users responded to it in such a hostile and over-defensive way just screams that they know they're doing something wrong. May 10 '18 at 23:59
• Everything about closing and reopening is toxic, because the most influential people engaged in those activities work to keep it that way. They are hostile to discussion of the merits or demerits of their activities, let alone disagreement with their conventional practices. They have a zero-tolerance policy for disagreement. Aug 2 '18 at 2:41

I agree with a lot of the comments and the other answer, but wanted to add (my own) expanded answer to the question. I've tried to include some balance of analysis of both the benefits and the harms of CRUDE, and the very short version of my final claim is that

CRUDE is an unfortunate symptom of an unhealthy site, not a disease in and of itself.

There are some deep structural problems on MSE that tend to express themselves as serious disagreements and arguments here on meta, as well as increased toxicity and negativity on main. We have an absolute deluge of do-my-problem questions, and a large community of rep-farmers who are happy to answer them, consequences and quality control be damned. The result of this is that many view MSE as a homework mill and don't want to be associated with it. On the other hand, there are well-intentioned people that simply want to teach and to help, and they get lumped in with the rep-farmers who are actively circumventing quality control. A brief perusal of some of the most downvoted meta posts may convince the reader that a lot of toxicity and anger comes from these issues.

So given the disproportionate power between answerers and quality controllers, we get CRUDE. As I remarked recently it takes a rep-farmer a minute to fire off a quick answer, while it takes five 3k+ users to close a question and three 10k+ users to delete it. Without some level of coordination between voters, there is simply no way to stem the tide. So in that sense, CRUDE is a natural and arguably necessary development.

On the other hand, CRUDE has some serious negative effects. The chief of these, IMHO, is the fact that the actions of CRUDE tend to prevent question improvement. There are frequently questions that go through closure and deletion in a matter of hours, whereas the on-hold status should give an opportunity for an asker to improve the post.

Another issue is that CRUDE represents the moderation viewpoints of a relatively small cadre of users (self-selected from the already small group of meta users), rather than the community as a whole. This has lead to a lot of friction in the past, where the few people with the strongest views on both sides of the PSQ debate have completely drowned out moderates.

As far as most of the other allegations in the post here, I don't think they're relevant to this post. I don't see CRUDE coordinating votes to get around vote caps (which would be a problem), and any insulting comments should be dealt with as per the recent guidelines.

For full disclosure: I am not active in CRUDE, nor any other chatrooms here. But I am a reasonably prolific down- and close-voter.

• @amWhy just to be clear; I invest some of the little time I have to follow CRUDE and contribute to some of the content moderation (most usually, by adding encouraging comments explaining to the user what is expected of them but sometimes by voting to close). And it was in the habit of doing so that I repeatedly found myself and others called cranks, nuts, producers of BS, etc., comments made to you, which you did nothing to report and furthermore, you took more issue with me highlighting the problem than you did with the problem itself. So I may not be barred but I certainly felt unwelcome. May 8 '18 at 16:37
• @amWhy Of course no one is barred from participating, and all the activities are publicly viewable. All I meant by "self-selected" is that only people who already have strong views on these issues and are sufficiently motivated by them will participate. The result of this is that the CRUDE users tend to be people who do not represent mainstream MSE (and I don't claim there's anything wrong with that!).
– user296602
May 8 '18 at 16:38
• @amWhy but to be fair to myself, I didn't start this thread to gripe about that. I'm most concerned that more users take interest in the room, pay attention to what's going on, and get involved in maintaining the site. A healthier site; and a healthier CRUDE room will both be consequences of that. May 8 '18 at 16:41
• I'm a whole heck of a lot more mainstream than you give me, or others credit for. And how dare you slander me as being non-mainstream, or as mainstream, or as whatever else you may label me. Remember, people are not to be labeled; only behavior is to be discussed, right, @Robert Frost? T.Bongers; I hardly think your behavior on this entire site qualifies as "mainstream"; I doubt most users' behavior on this site is "mainstream behavior". May 8 '18 at 16:47
• And, certainly, Robert Frost's behavior on this site is anything but mainstream. May 8 '18 at 16:51
• @amWhy I really am not sure how you went from "CRUDE users tend to ... not represent mainstream MSE" to being slander, especially when I said that I don't think anything is wrong with being mainstream. I made no implications about you personally, and I recognize that my own views are non-mainstream as I remarked in the final line of my answer. Comments like your last one are related to the negativity I mentioned in my answer.
– user296602
May 8 '18 at 16:52
• I think this is a great answer and upvoted it straight away - thanks! May 8 '18 at 16:54
• Crude users.... there are dozens of us: tend to .... Is bound to lead to an overgeneralizations, and inappropriate ones at that. I was over-exaggerating the "slander" aspect because I've noticed a pattern that on CRUDE, users are held to a higher standard than anywhere else on MSE. Had I said on CRUDE, that T.Bongers is probably not a mainstream MSE user, you can bet that would also be listed in Robert Frost's meta rant, on this page. But alas, any one else, anywhere else, outside of CRUDE, can say pretty much what they want to say, short of profanity. May 8 '18 at 16:54
• @user21820 I don't know what you're implying is "clear" but only I can judge my intentions so I'll tell you, if you're referring to my Meta post, the reason for it is that I think the scrutiny of, and involvement in CRUDE, by more users, will improve the site. And CRUDE deals with much more than PSQ's. May 8 '18 at 17:20
• @user21820 I don't really know the personal background of either you or the meta-asker, and I focused on the text of the question as it's written now. At the moment, I'm not really interested in figuring out who is alleged to be a crank and who isn't. Regardless of the asker's motivation, I think that there's a worthwhile and timely question here that deserves some analysis.
– user296602
May 8 '18 at 17:33
• @Did I don't think that the asker's question here really discredits what CRUDE does - especially since there has been at least one previous meta discussion about one of the main aspect issue covered in my answer (the rapid deletions). What I think is far more likely to discredit the work of CRUDE is when very high-rep users use the chatroom as a platform for rude comments about other users.
– user296602
May 9 '18 at 13:19
• @Did Is singular vs. plural really the important takeaway from my comment?
– user296602
May 9 '18 at 17:48
• @Did I'm not taking a single comment as the basis of my opinion of a chatroom. I'm taking a lengthy history of comments as the basis of my opinion of certain high-rep users who like to use that chatroom.
– user296602
May 9 '18 at 21:14
• So, dear T.Bongers, don't confuse users on CRUDE now, with users that chased you away in the past. Hopefully, if a next-door-neighbor you did not like moved away, you would not immediately dislike or speak disrespectfully of the new family moving into the vacant home, next door to you, correct? Try to move beyond history, which concerned a user no longer active in CRUDE, and not active there for at least two years. Then edit your post with a more reasonable take on things. May 12 '18 at 18:29
• Calling productive users as "rep farmers" is an insult. The rep is the well-deserved fruit of the work. Exactly what makes you so strongly to avoid people to collect rep? Jun 3 '19 at 10:33

CRUDE, as described in its description, is an incredibly helpful tool. There is nothing unhealthy about "feedback/discussion/requests of Close/Reopen/Undelete/Delete/Edit for questions and answers on Math SE". People are conflating what CRUDE actively is and what it is described to be, imho.

For instance, the close queue is not appropriate to the handling of controversial cases. "Extended discussions", for example, are not appropriate in comments. CRUDE can be a good place for that. The times I've used CRUDE, it was mostly with this intention in mind, as far as I remember.

More practically and close to the daily reality, the extreme inflow of poor-quality questions also makes the ability of swiftly dealing with them imperative, and CRUDE can be a tool for that. There can be objections with this: for example, the subjectivity of "poor-quality", or the circumvention of some core aspects of the close queue. However, I believe that it is "worth it". Again, that doesn't mean there is no objection, and we should hear those.

However, CRUDE, as is used, has a fair share of toxicity (imho). What I can't understand is why people think that this is "needed":

"Until the site stops being unhealthy there will be increasingly unhealthy responses to that."

"I agree with Hurkyl's diagnosis. The site became ill for having an unhealthy diet of PSQs and their answers for many a year. C.R.U.D.E. is the foul tasting medicine."

etc.

It is almost implied that in order to be effective, it has to be unhealthy. I don't understand this at all.

That said, I agree a hundred percent with @rschwieb here:

Now, when a problem and solutions exist, it is a simple matter to play the watchdog and complain about solutions you don't like. Having watchdogs is of limited value, though, when no serious competing solutions are apparent. (Given what's at stake here (digital content) I don't count "do nothing" as a competing solution.)

So, what are the "alternatives"? None. There is no need for one. We don't need to replace CRUDE. We just need to stop being toxic in an irrelevant way, and use it for its proposed topic: which is the discussion of questions and answers, as per its own description, and not users.

I believe what is "rude/polite" should be common sense. Apparently it is not, so I have the obligation to elaborate. Rules of thumb, which people can obviously disagree or not:

• Avoid sarcasm.
• If you are talking to X in a specific way because they are X, chances are you are being biased. So, if you disagree (or even dislike) X, do a mental check that your communication does not fundamentally rely on the fact that it is X that you are talking to.
• Assume good intentions.

Now, specifically to CRUDE, my suggestion is:

AVOID REFERRING TO USERS.

If you think some user is so disruptive that they warrant special treatment, flag them. Moderators are supposed to handle users. I don't think users should be able to, in effect, "moderate" other users directly. And I think the system agrees, since "targeted downvoting" is wrong, for example.

EDIT: I've seen arguments implying that adhering to politeness can conflict with accurately pointing out to users that they are wrong/that they are missing something etc. This is very far from true.

I present a few examples where I point that someone is incorrect or that someone points out that I am incorrect, and I don't see anyone perceiving even a glimpse of rudeness (note that they adhere to the "rules of thumb" I mentioned): [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], etc.

Furthermore, the interactions are rather short and straightforward.

Of course, as anything in this world, there are the exceptions. But this is what they are: exceptions. If you are not being rude, you will hardly have to handle resistance when you tell someone that they are wrong and properly justify it. $^{1}$ If you often face such resistance, maybe it is time to consider the possibility that yes, you are probably being rude.

There are cases, however, that interactions are not so simply a matter of correct/incorrect. For example, when they are related to perception (of MSE, of mathematics, of science etc). Even in those cases it is possible to offer criticism while avoiding being rude. Let me give some examples.

This is a case where I disagreed with how the user was using the website. A short discussion ensued, but I believe it was constructive and polite, and I would guess that the other user has the same impression.

This is a case where I thought the question was overwhelmed with information, and tried to point it out to OP.

Again, my suggestion is: when in doubt, follow the rules of thumb.

$^{1}$This is the impression I have with experience in this site and life itself, which is also corroborated by the links as evidence of such, at least w.r.t. the site.

• @AloizioMacedo I totally agree with your analysis, CRUDE is essential for MSE and users involved make a great work, but it should be used for its proposed topic and according to the "be nice" policy.
– user
May 10 '18 at 19:42
• I think CRUDE as you write is indeed a good thing. However CRUDE as currently used is perhaps not a good thing. I do admit CRUDE is somewhat toxic as it is now, but that toxicity is just a reaction. To be honest whenever I see someone post, particularly if they're new, my gut reaction is hostility because of how much garbage gets posted on a routine basis. I never let this out and act in a way that is measured, but it's my gut reaction. There are other users who I respect a lot, who perhaps contain that hostility a little worse than me. I cannot say I blame them.
– user223391
May 10 '18 at 22:24
• "If you are not being rude, you will hardly have to handle resistance when you tell someone that they are wrong and properly justify it." - glad to see that you also express essentially the same sentiment.
– user170039
May 11 '18 at 7:54
• "If you often face such resistance, maybe it is time to consider the possibility that yes, you are probably being rude." It may be worth qualifying this for cultural differences, so one might be perceived as being rude by the other guy, despite not actually being rude. For example, it's well-known that French people often come across as rude but this is down to cultural differences: thelocal.fr/20180124/decoding-the-french-are-they-really-rude which makes assume good intent all the more important. May 11 '18 at 18:07
• In your choice of verbs and adjectives, dear PBS, to describe your perception of the activities of CRUDE, you fail to assume good intent. You assume the worst, and your descriptions show it. Time you start behaving as you would demand others behave. Else, all is just spin, and seeking pity. Are you up to that? May 11 '18 at 22:46
• My experience as a moderator is that many people do indeed not understand what it means to be rude; comments that simply state that something is wrong and why it is wrong do actually get flagged as rude and abusive from time to time. There are also academic communities in which telling someone they are plain wrong is seen as extremely rude. May 15 '18 at 11:13
• @MichaelGreinecker I think that there may be some perception bias there. You see every flag of 'rudeness' when people get pointed out that they are wrong and get offended, but you don't see every instance where people simply don't. So the exceptions are inevitably more present in your experience than they should, in proportion (which does not make them necessarily less exceptions). With regards to other academic communities, I agree. I believe mainly those who rely on more subjective aspects because then being "wrong" is sometimes a personal close-to-heart assessment.
– Aloizio Macedo Mod
May 16 '18 at 7:33
• If I observe many cases of X, there are many cases of X. I made no statement about relativitve frequencies. May 16 '18 at 18:22
• @MichaelGreinecker "There are also academic communities in which telling someone they are plain wrong is seen as extremely rude." I think it's next to impossible to find "I think that statement is wrong because <some incontrovertible reason>" rude, even if it turns out to be incorrect because the grounds can be addressed. Conversely "This question is nonsense", can easily be interpreted as rude even when it's entirely true, because the OP has no evidence that there is context and justification, nor grounds for counterargument. May 18 '18 at 7:56

Updated: put this suggestion at the top, since I felt it became important. Original answer follows below that.

My challenge to anyone who "doesn't like CURED":

Join the room and take actions at posts you see posted. You can react in whatever way you want as long as it is in good faith (i.e. not simply robo-voting everything open because you can't be bothered to change your bias about the room.)

1. It is not an exclusive room. You can use it for your own ends, and if there really are that many people out there that feel differently, the answer is to participate, not "riot," which is often what we see in posts like this.
2. If you don't participate and you still complain, I put it to you that you are "all talk." A person who really wanted to improve the situation would just take action to improve the situation in the form of voting, not merely complain about how others were acting.
3. Please follow all established stackexchange rules for chatrooms, and stick to the topic. Anything related to Closing, Undeleting, Reopening, Editing and Deleting is on-topic for sure, and there is some leeway for idle chit-chat, but the room does have a topic and a purpose.
4. Take time to listen to others' rationale as you would hope others would do for your rationales that you write. Everyone keeping their minds open and talking civilly will lead to more understanding. (As opposed to now, where people have a dim perspective and strong feelings about something about which they really do not have a realistic understanding.)

The site is faced with a content quality management problem$$^1$$. The number of questions outstrips the number of curators, so consequently the proportion of poor quality questions which live on grows ever more rapidly$$^2$$.

Now, when a problem$$^3$$ and solutions exist, it is a simple matter to play the watchdog and complain about solutions you don't like. Having watchdogs is of limited value, though, when no serious competing solutions are apparent. (Given what's at stake here (digital content) I don't count "do nothing" as a competing solution.)

So now that the discussions in this post have served their purpose, I propose the next step is something about real approaches to dealing with the problem$$^3$$. Surely if another, better, solution were found in such discussions, it would replace CRUDE.

## Let's hear the alternatives.

$$^1$$ Unless you, the reader, are someone who denies even this, which would change the conversation considerably.

$$^2$$ One can also argue that the "broken window" of existing poor quality questions and those who cater to them emboldens less diligent posters to not bother with quality standards, exacerbating problem.

$$^3$$ Just so there is no confusion, the problem I speak of is "how do we increase good quality content and decrease poor quality content?"

• For one, I think a link from the question to its discussion in CRUDE would be really helpful. May 18 '18 at 7:59
• Regarding the new edit, I wish I could upvote this again.
– Xander Henderson Mod
May 12 '20 at 18:16
• The alternative is not to systematically close and delete questions. Very simple. Let the review queues handle it, that's what they're for. May 12 '20 at 19:16
• @MattSamuel Well, I agree that what you said is very simplistic. The Undeletion, Reopening and Editing that goes on is equally systematic. The review queues are also systematic. I guess one could use the review queues, but I was always under the impression that they generated a lot of bad decisions based on hastiness and screening of the context for the contents. But let's reiterate that "systematic" does not mean "concerted robo-voting" as your word choice suggests. Yes, it is people working together. I don't think anyone's established that it is a bad thing for people to share. May 12 '20 at 19:24
• I've spent a few days in the room myself and I've seen only closes and deletions. Not a single reopening, undeletion, or editing. May 12 '20 at 19:28
• @MattSamuel I just did a three minute search and found a reopen and two undeletes in the past week: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/2165?m=54334386#54334386 chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/2165?m=54019708#54019708 chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/53992999#53992999 May 12 '20 at 22:56
• @MattSamuel I think the anecdotal testimony of one who does not apparently want to find evidence to the contrary is not very convincing in this case. May 12 '20 at 22:59
• Admittedly a majority of requests are closes or deletes, and requests for edits ( when something is out your depth) are rare. Edits are usually done as a matter of course and don’t get mentioned. I think the real heart of the matter is that individuals are not actually aware of the spectrum of bad quality of the delete/close requests. I think even a person with very average standards would probably agree with a good proportion of requests. May 12 '20 at 23:25
• @MattSamuel No question about there being less discussion about undeletions and reopenings in comparison to closures and deletions. But you are forgetting that all community moderation is an iterative process. Say, we as a community fail with probability $p$. So with $N$ questions under consideration for moderation actions, the community fails in $pN$ cases, and CURED has to close/delete those. Because CURED-activists are humans, they also err with probability $p$. Implying that $p^2N$ questions need to be reopened/undeleted. My off-the-cuff estimate is $p\approx0.1$. May 13 '20 at 11:40
• (cont'd) That would imply that CURED would have one reopening/undeletion per 10 closures/deletions. I don't know if you see that much, but a lot of r/u takes place elsewhere (also by CURED activists). Anyway, please take this 1st vs 2nd order effect into account before jumping into conclusions about bias. May 13 '20 at 11:42
• @MattSamuel You say "I've spent a few days in the room myself and I've seen only closes and deletions. Not a single reopening, undeletion, or editing." I am not sure why that is at all surprising. There are three things which lead to this: (1) the people who are currently most active in CURED are those who are primarily interested in cleaning up MSE, hence these people seek out low-quality questions to remove from the site. So you see the evidence of janitors doing their job.
– Xander Henderson Mod
May 13 '20 at 12:44
• (2) A cohort who might have been more interested in reopening questions decided to create their own room for that ("GENTLE"). Personally, I see this as a duplication of effort, but it means that there are now two places to post reopen requests.
– Xander Henderson Mod
May 13 '20 at 12:44
• Finally, and perhaps most importantly, (3) there is a filtering going on: a question must be posted before it can be closed, and a question must have been closed before it can be reopened. Thus there are more poor questions which one might ask to close than there are closed questions which have been improved. The same systematic bias appears in the review queues: right now, there are over 400 questions in the close review queue, and none in the reopen queue (and I've never reviewed more than five reopen requests in a row). Not to mention the error rate @JyrkiLahtonen pointed out above.
– Xander Henderson Mod
May 13 '20 at 12:48
• Joining the room and taking action on what you see posted requires too much time. I would rather spend my free time on the main site answering questions, than watching the crude chat to make sure a user doesn't have a hard time. Jun 9 '20 at 5:54
• @user400188 Every single person in that room would rather be answering questions than having to do dishes. And it is as time consuming for everyone else participating as it is for you. Like I said towards the end of my post “do nothing” isn’t a solution to the problem of quantity and quality of incoming posts. Turning off the filters and ramping up the solutions for bad questions is the best recipe I’ve ever heard for diminishing the quality of the site. Jun 9 '20 at 11:03

I was going to write just a comment, but there are several points to be made here so I decided to promote my 2 cents to an answer.

My observations regarding CRUDE, the state of MSE, and this topic:

1. Most people are in agreement that there is a problem with the average quality of a new question (the severity of the problem is subject to dispute);
2. Some people wanted to do something, and got together to form CRUDE to try and mitigate the consequences of 1.;
3. Inevitably, the strain of caring deeply about MSE's quality and seeing the influx of problematic posts leads to emotional responses (the "exceptions") and the application of heuristics in assessing quality;
4. This topic is concerned about how the evolution of 3. is going and whether the community should have any say in it;
5. Those active in CRUDE feel attacked in their caring about the site and doing something about it, leading to strong emotions on both sides.

Now I am proud that there is a selection of users who are collaborating in a shared goal, to improve MSE's quality. Their efforts must not be underestimated. To all of them: thank you!

However, over time, certain patterns may evolve and feelings may pop up that, while they can be understood from the history of being active in CRUDE and what one sees there, are ground for a call for reflection. And it is exactly this what I take this topic to be doing: calling for reflection.

As to a suggestion towards the outcome of the reflection, I can recommend Aloizio Macedo's answer, which seems balanced and reasonable.

Is CRUDE healthy? You mean right now!? I dunno. Heck, I don't even know when right now is!

Perhaps the more important question is

Can CRUDE be healthy? Certainly. Though it would probably be more healthy with a more diverse group of users taking part in it. That and the users involved must hold themselves to high standards, and remember that they are part of a larger community.

But there certainly have been some friction between some avid CRUDErs and others. This very fact is somewhat problematic, and perhaps CRUDErs should pause for a bit of self-reflection on how things are handled in that chatroom.

As a starting point, I'll point to Stack Overflow's SO Close Vote Reviewers chatroom, which serves an (almost) identical purpose. I am not exactly aware of the entire history of the chatroom, but there has likely been similar conflicts arising there as we've seen from CRUDE, as the SOCVR users have put up a small webpage dedicated to that chat room. Of particular interest is the FAQ, which includes a code-of-conduct of sorts for users. A couple of highlights include:

Stay nice and professional in chat:

1. Keep it professional, keep a high standard.
2. All discussions are public. Anything you say can and will be used against you on meta. The RO team has an offline/private lounge for sensitive subjects if necessary.
3. In absence of all room owners, the members lead by example.
4. De-escalate in case of disagreement.
5. When chat flags are raised
• Take them seriously.
• Consider whether or not the flagged conversation should continue.
• Be Nice, and be sensitive to others' feelings.

Don't moderate users:

1. Moderate the post, not the user. Keep the discussion on the merits of the post, not on behavior of the user.
2. Do not post multiple successive moderation requests for posts of the same user. It will be considered as targeting a user which is explicitly forbidden.

## What sort of behavior is expected?

We love this community. Our goal is to get rid of the "crap" so the good content can be found with greater ease. As room owners we are sensitive for the needs of the community on Stack Overflow and encourage our members to help us create a guidance toolkit that enables all of us to fulfill those needs.

No matter what is asked from us, we moderate the post and educate the user, the be nice policy is our bible.

...

Make sure you are OK with exerting your power, but understand when it is necessary to do so to keep the peace.

We are open for any critic, feedback, and guidance received from the community as we are a part of it.

Room owners step in the moment we notice site users are targeted by any room member. This goes without warning.

• +1 just for mentioning SOCVR. It is good to know that something similar exists elsewhere. And to learn from the information we have about other similar room (rooms?). May 21 '18 at 8:29
• It's remarkable that the description you promote refers to content as "crap".
– quid Mod
May 21 '18 at 11:20
• Generally, I think most will agree that this should apply, and many regulars will say by and large it does apply already. The most critical point is the not targeting users, as this is often poorly understood. To what extent such rules are followed at all times is also an issue. All that said, there is also at least a risk of creating an environment that is hypocritical in its "be nice".
– quid Mod
May 21 '18 at 11:37
– user170039
May 22 '18 at 3:08
• Were you coffemath? Dec 1 '18 at 13:50

No, it's not.

Cranks, nuts, newbies, PSQ-askers, PSQ-answerers, rep-farmers, donut-eaters, people making wrong assertions. How can we make them stop doing those things, or get them to leave?

A self-appointed panel of inquisitors should do the trick. If you are unjustly mentioned as a person of interest in the court transcript, post here in meta.SE to clear your name, simple as that. We know the difference between a good poster with proper motivations and one of those other types.

So, yeah, no healthy community works like that. Maybe that's old-fashioned and SE is now just a repository of canonical answers and not a community at all. In that case, do we really want to antagonize unique contributors like OP with naming-and-shaming? If he leaves we might be left with only PSQ-askers.

What gets me is that SE already implements a technological solution, ranking by votes. If you don't like something, downvote it, and it loses visibility. But for some reason wrongthink requires organized extermination.

• Re: .If you don't like something, downvote it, and it loses visibility. I have asked this - specifically about answers: Should we vote to delete wrong answers?. The voting on that post suggests that the consensus is that incorrect answers should be deleted. (If they are not deleted by the OP, then by others.) May 10 '18 at 4:04
• makes sense that an answer with enough downvotes should be deleted but an incorrect one? who here is objective about their own objectivity? May 10 '18 at 4:12
• Well, an answer has to have negative score - otherwise it cannot be deleted by votes. Not to digress that much from your point, I just wanted to point out that this was (at least partially) discussed before. (To the first part of your post, I certainly agree that Be Nice policy should be upheld. If not for other reasons, the room - which I consider useful - can be removed by mods on grounds of posting abusive comments.) May 10 '18 at 4:16
• Just to clarify, @MartinSleziak . In your linked questions, I think the consensus is that incorrect answers should be deleted if not amended. If the errors was pointed out in the answer, it seems that both user21820 and GEdgar's answers suggest that it is acceptable.
– user99914
May 10 '18 at 4:26
• I strongly support your argument that voting plays an essential role in suppressing chaff and promoting wheat. Does it really matter if there are poor (not wrong) questions and answers on here, if nobody ever sees them and they're clearly identified as low-rated? If anything, it's more helpful to see that certain approaches to problems are low-rated compared with others, than to not see them at all. But I also think we all have a responsibility to more strongly reinforce the PSQ rules otherwise we end up with the diamond mods tacitly supporting this toxic activity. May 10 '18 at 7:10
• How about adding "inquisitor" and witch-hunters to your list of no-no demeaning labels that should not be attached to any person. Practice what you preach, re: name calling, dear Dan. You also clearly ignorant of the good work of CRUDE, since you exaggerate, and characterize it as a chat which does not describe CRUDE. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. May 11 '18 at 15:03
• It's a fair point. My view is that there is no actual problem to be solved in this way but that is off-topic and apparently so radical that it's out of bounds. It's like an axiom here that a problem exists but if that's true where is the agreement about what that problem is exactly? Improve quality with better search and ranking instead of closing/deleting posts what a weird idea. But that's a problem for SE to solve not mods. May 11 '18 at 16:51
• I mean everybody seems to be taking "low quality posts are bad" as a given as if it's possible in principle to agree about what that means. I'm looking at it as "some people don't like some posts" so can't we make everybody happy if we don't delete anything but hide it from the people that don't want to see it? But that's all about search/tagging/voting/ranking not moderation policy. Moderation should be for spam and off-topic stuff not a quality filter. Anyway I hope that is more constructive than what I've offered so far. May 11 '18 at 17:18
• Some people don't like empty cans, used tissues, rotten fruit, dog pooh, but surely somebody does like them! Why don't we make everybody happy and keep them around in our streets. We could maybe hide them.
– quid Mod
May 11 '18 at 18:01
• "It's a fair point." How about you correct it and apologize, then? You see a problem with PSQ-askers, which is relatively neutral, but call others inquisitors in the same post? I find this very hard to understand.
– quid Mod
May 11 '18 at 18:17
• @quid true, but if we start to type some rubbish and the search shows somebody already typed it before then we can go there, find it has $-7$ votes, comments explaining why it's not good, or an answer saying "no, you're going about it all wrong", and we know not to post it. If we do post it, it gets labelled as duplicate. I do feel like this CRUDE activity is a bit like baling trash out of landfill to be fair but this is probably deviating slightly from the topic. May 12 '18 at 14:46
• @ProducerofBS theoretically I see your point, but practically that's just not what is happening. I am not at all under the impression that say all those that believe they found a proof of the Riemann Hypothesis, beforehand undertook an investigation of existing failed attempts, or learned much anything from the experience of others.
– quid Mod
May 12 '18 at 14:53
• @quid I think there's a mix with some nonsense, naivety, occasionally pure delusion, a bit of Dunning Kruger sometimes and reverse Dunning Kruger from the readers, even a sprinkling of innovative thinking from somebody with a good grasp of the available literature on some topic from time to time. An overriding problem with that kind of content is that people don't come here to pore over somebody else's lengthy and difficult (and probably wrong) attempt at some open problem. Nevertheless e.g. with Collatz there are a few users with enough interest in the topic to comment on each other's work. May 12 '18 at 15:19
• If an answer or question is demonstrably nonsense, it will get voted down a lot or shown to be so with an answer that gets voted up. The reason for deletion or complete removal of users? Well, I won't waste my time on this any further, but that sounds a lot like the thinking of a type of person I would be ashamed to ever associate myself with. May 12 '18 at 19:36

I am active in CRUDE, not as active as some other users (although I quite respect them). I agree how CRUDE operates is perhaps a bit unhealthy. However the site is unhealthy.

Until the site stops being unhealthy there will be increasingly unhealthy responses to that.

We need to fix the issue of rep farming and PSQs. CRUDE is just one reaction, and until the issue gets solved there will be stronger and stronger reactions.

• Please help out an old hand: what exactly is "rep farming?" Are you referring to people who spend their entire days answering tons of questions to get rep, or is it something more nefarious? BTW "CRUDE" sounds like a supervillain you would see in a DC comic or James Bond movie or, worse, a campaign to re-elect President Nixon. May 9 '18 at 1:02
• @RonGordon Just answering easy low quality questions prolifically. In particular, rather than downvoting/closing bad questions, they answer them.
– user223391
May 9 '18 at 1:46
• Ok, thanks, I understand. May 9 '18 at 1:48
• @RonGordon We're considering a new name. The current activity, and the many users visiting the chat, applies/is relevant since July 2017. We came to the room, already named, in order to be as transparent as possible with our activity. (Such messages between users happen all the time on MSE; rarely do they occur at a designated place, with a name that speaks to precisely the focus of that place. CRUDE has been NO secret; quite the opposite. May 12 '18 at 18:34
• @RonGordon "rep farming" has a much broader meaning than the highly restricted denotation mentioned above, e.g. see this meta.SE answer. May 12 '20 at 22:11

The room CRUDE is relatively tightly overseen by per-site moderators.

The activity that happens there has my full support, and if I am not all that active there myself, it is on the one hand for lack of time and since I believe in the principle that the site is community-moderated and thus to the extent possible users should do the moderation tasks. (This belief is not mainly based on 'ethical' considerations, but practical ones.)

This does not mean that I agree with each and every action or comment written (this would also be an unreasonable expectation in various ways), and there were and likely will be cases where per-site moderators intervened in one way or another to influence activities we felt might go in a wrong direction.

Indeed, focusing on specific users can be a problem; this can even happen unintentionally if one is not careful. As referenced in OP I cautioned against this, for example.

There is arguably also room for improvement with regard to the tone, but this might be true more broadly and does not strike me as problem specific to that room.

Either way, the overall activity is in my opinion in line with the philosophy the SE network and highly useful for the site, while ideas of keeping basically everything around are not.

• I wouldn't handle this the same way a 2nd time around but I'm glad there's been a storm in a teacup on this occasion because I think a flag on the comment which originally offended me would have resulted in the comment being removed but nothing changing. While I don't want to attract the wrong kind of attention, which I'm sure this question has done, it was worth it if this question has resulted in a show of support for the be nice policy, a reminder to moderate the questions rather than the users, and to take actions you can justify. Beyond that I agree, no further change is needed. May 12 '18 at 11:16
• I disagree with the aims of removing content (unless it is patently incorrect) which I would prefer to see suppressed by the upvote / downvote mechanism instead (and I would prefer for high rep users to have a small quota of more powerful upvotes e.g. +5), but in this regard I defer to the more experienced users of the site (in particular I mean regular CRUDE users) who have and will contributed way more than me and on that basis I see as entitled to define its direction. May 12 '18 at 11:20
• @ProducerofBS removal of content is firmly built into the mechanics of the sites. A lot of content is automatically removed. For example, a question no-one cares about is auto-deleted after a year. If you disagree with this you need to ask somebody else about it.
– quid Mod
May 12 '18 at 12:06
• Yes, I'm aware of that but e.g. I would prefer to see this kept: webcache.googleusercontent.com/… although that's not an example of downvotes. But like I say, that's just my vote and my voice is a small one. If more senior users want stuff to go they probably know better than me and have more right to be assertive about it. May 12 '18 at 12:14
• What I wasn't aware of, is to what degree the wider user base approved of this activity and I have a feel now for the spectrum of feelings about it. May 12 '18 at 12:21
• @ProducerofBS Highly upvoted question would need more delete votes to delete (I don't have the formula though)
– user99914
May 12 '18 at 19:10

This is too long for a comment, but several of your links to my own words are being quoted out of context or entirely misinterpreted (willfully misrepresented?). To wit:

• You say that I am

Corralling additional down, close and delete votes from each other on the same material, having already voted themselves. [1]

In fact, I think that this displays some ignorance about how the room works. Often someone will post a large number of questions. Typically, those questions are objectively terrible, and the point is collecting them in one place so that their status can be monitored (to see, for example, if they have been improved and should be reopened, or if they should be deleted after having been closed for two days). Since the janitors need to know which floors need to be mopped then need to remember to go in and wax those floors later, such lists of questions are often pinned in the chatroom, then unpinned once they have been dealt with.

In stating that some of the questions were deleted and that another needed more votes, I was indicating the status of questions mentioned by another user, so that the list of questions could be unpinned. I was not "corralling votes", but giving a status update on a group of questions.

By the way, just for reference, the original list (of 16 low quality questions) can be found here. Please read through those questions. Do you honestly believe that any of them should be kept? Do you honestly believe that keeping track of such terrible questions is an abuse?

Is it likely the level of scrutiny is being maintained when users are exhausting 50 close votes in a day? [2]

You do realize that I only have 5 delete votes in a given day, yes? (Actually, it might be as many as 6 now!) I occasionally hit my limit of 50 close votes (maybe twice in my time here since last summer?); it is much easier to burn through 5 delete votes, particularly when someone provides a list of 16 very poor questions. Again, I think that this betrays some ignorance of how the site works in general, and how CRUDE works in particular.

• You say that I am

Proactively resisting the improvement of questions. [3]

First off, note that there is an emoticon at the end of that message, indicating that it should not be taken overly seriously. Second, if you watch the "Suggested Edits" review queue, you will notice a pattern: some newbie user starts putting in a lot of time making very minor edits to terrible questions in order (one presumes) to earn a couple of reputation points.

For example, a couple of months ago there was a user that had clearly simply searched for a common typographical error, then spent his or her days spamming the review queue with edits to fix that typo, often bumping questions from the very early days of the site; I ended up rejecting a large number those edits with the message that was more or less "Hey, slow down. When you edit a question it is moved to the top of the homepage. It is great that you are trying to fix this one typo, but maybe do it only a few at a time so that you don't spam the front page with really old questions."

In other cases, users propose edits that attempt add TeX or otherwise try to "fix" errors in a question in a way that might be an improvement, or might be contrary to the wishes of the original questioner—if the original question is unclear, adding little bit of TeX isn't fixing the deeper flaws, and does nothing to substantively improve the question. Because such a question is unclear, it is hard to know how to edit it to make it better. I have this problem myself—when going through the low quality queue or the first post queue, my gut reaction is to try to improve things with an edit. Unfortunately, editing is not always enough, and the right course of action in such cases is to vote to close (for clarity, typically).

Note, also, that voting to close for lack of clarity puts a question "On Hold." This is a slightly privileged status over simply "Closed" and gives the poster the poster the signal that the question needs to be improved by the original poster.

In short, I think that you honestly believe that there is a problem on MSE (no disagreement here), and that the name of the problem is CRUDE (this is where I disagree). In an effort to prove this point, you are cherry-picking some scary-sounding sound (text?) bites in an effort to paint CRUDE as some kind of conspiracy theory. However, when you examine the context in which those things are said, it seems apparent that the problem is not with CRUDE, but with the deluge of low-quality questions that appear on MSE. As others have said, CRUDE is not the problem, it is just the bitter-tasting medicine.

That said, if you think that there is a problem with CRUDE, perhaps you would like to participate a bit more? Why not speak up when someone "corrals downvotes?" Aloizio Macedo and I had what I think was a productive conversation starting here-ish. I'm not sure that we came to a consensus (though I'm not sure that we disagreed all that much, either), but he brought up something about CRUDE that was bothering him and the general style of CRUDE seems to have shifted because of it.

• re misconstruing your words; I don't dispute it (although it wasn't intentional). I didn't want to link examples because I didn't want people to feel personally attacked and I knew it would ultimately be a small, unfair and not representative (on a per-user-mentioned basis) sample of material. But after Did said "you have no evidence to support this slandering point of view - but this does not prevent you to present it as an established fact. Interesting", and other things, I thought the question would be better substantiated... Anyway; I accept some of your points but on the question of... May 9 '18 at 7:46
• ...my thinking the problem with MSE is CRUDE, this is far from the case. CRUDE is part of a solution to some of MSE's problems. However there are further problems with CRUDE. FWIW a) I agree with Aloizio we should stick to moderating questions and not moderating users wherever possible and b) using pejorative names for people is against the site's be nice policy, c) all it takes for bad users to make people like me feel unwelcome, is for good users like you to do nothing. SE has warned you, you've got to flag those messages or the room will be closed down permanently... May 9 '18 at 7:53
• RobertFrost: Interesting to see how your real intent with this "question" is more and more apparent. Well done, though.
– Did
May 9 '18 at 8:01
• ...and the recent SE post makes it clear that trying to establish hidden code words such as "donuts" to use instead of pejorative terms would not be acceptable chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/44475274#44475274 nor should those who would flag unacceptable content be made uncomfortable or unwelcome chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/2165?m=44476569#44476569 so I'm banking on the support of good users like you to help stamp it out rather than tacitly support it. It has no place in moderating PSQ's and is in no way wedded to the process. May 9 '18 at 8:07
• @Did I'm glad you're no longer misjudging my intent. We're getting somewhere. May 9 '18 at 8:10
• @RobertFrost I am sure you are not glad to see attention drawn to your real intent.
– Did
May 9 '18 at 8:26
• @Did you're talking in riddles and I have no idea what you're going on about nor what you think my intent is other than you seem to be accusing me of being deceptive, which is contrary to the site's be nice policy. There are plenty of safeguards here and everybody can see the facts for themselves so I'm not daft enough to do anything other than be completely straight with everybody. I'm not going to engage you any more when you're being like this. May 9 '18 at 9:45
• +1 Thank you for giving a detailed view of the other side of the argument, it was very insightful.
– SK19
May 10 '18 at 12:30
• PBS Please don't disparage other users by considering their comments to be "riddles" just because you want to attack that user. You having done so is contrary to the site's "be nice" policy. Please be careful about your use of language, and practice being nice, yourself, if you expect the same from other users. May 12 '18 at 18:14
• Besides, @Prod you've dominated these comments in an attempt to silence Did, precisely what you blame Did of having done to you in the past. You might learn from this, and stop considering yourself a victim, but as a user who fails to be nice, just as every user on MSE has failed to be nice on at least some occasions. Instead of pointing fingers at others, please own up to your own nastiness, and if you post to meta, talk about a problem this entire community shares, to one extent or another. I hope you feel better about yourself now, but my suggestion, as it has been from the get go.... May 12 '18 at 18:18
• Change your username to something more respectful, because as it is now, you disrespect yourself, and you offend me with BS, and you disrespect this community by your self-chosen-username. May 12 '18 at 18:22
• @amWhy you're judging my intent again, and failing to assume good intent as per math.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice . Re my username, I explained to you twice before, I changed it to that to make a stand against it being used in the first place. Users would be on solid ground being offended by it now, had they first taken exception to another user calling me it in the first place. Like I said, it was used in a room you frequent, linking to my question, a question you then visited and voted to close, but nevertheless I'm going to take your word for it that you never saw and tolerated it May 12 '18 at 18:57
• Your entire post, @prod is pre-judging the intent of all users on CRUDE on seven or eight counts. You seem to have been traumatized by one user's comment. I did not see it. I am not at CRUDE every day, as you assume of some users, and my first encounter with the issue was when I saw your new username. I expressed concern. You mentioned a comment from Did, but did not link it. I assumed it was a comment on a question post. I advised you then as I do now that your adoption of the name you were called gives the name caller more power over you, and such. May 12 '18 at 19:11
• You should have asked me and other users on CRUDE earlier, @prod how we thought, linking the comment; I never saw the comment, I thought the comment occurred on main, you did not link to me the location of the comment, and I dealt with my immediate concern: you. Not letting it have such an impact on you. None of us studies the entire transcript of the chat room, particularly on busy days. Sometimes I'll see every comment over a four day span on one page, other times, one day takes up five pages. I am sorry if you felt hurt. I tried to support you. I tolerated nothing. May 12 '18 at 19:15
• @amWhy Ok fair enough. I said above I would handle it differently a 2nd time around. But my post wasn't intended to pre-judge. There was some stuff going on that didn't look healthy and I thought it appropriate to get a barometer on it. My original post was less scathing but another user made some accusatory comments which required that I add evidence, and that made it come across a whole lot more accusatory against individual users, which I would have preferred to avoid. May 12 '18 at 19:19