Part of what gives me the make up to be a developer is following decorum, rules and logic. So it logically follows (see what I did there?) that I try to do that with SFSE. But, being a developer, I may also take that to an extreme.

Recently I gained enough reputation to be able to review some queues (First Questions & First Answers). As some of you may have noticed, I jumped in with both feet. :^) As someone who likes to not just be told when I've done wrong, but likes to be pointed in the right direction if I do break a rule, step out of line, not follow best practices, etc., that is the way I approach most of these Reviews.

Especially in First Questions, some of the things I have added in my Comments are links to the Help Center sections What topics can I ask about here? and How do I ask a good question?

However, I have noticed that some "old-timers" here and some moderators will answer horribly worded or vague questions, questions that do not show research, questions that do not include error messages or unexpected results, or questions that are not even really questions.

Even though the issue is quite obvious to the "old-timer" who is answering, it still seems to me that those "poor" questions should not be answered until cleaned up to meet "spec". Otherwise it is like "enabling" the people posting these "poor" questions.

(I can point you to an example of this, which is what prompted me to actually post this Meta question which I had been thinking about; but I did not want to seem like I am directing this at one person [because I'm not], so I am not including it now.)

Am I overthinking/overanalyzing this? I am still a relative newcomer to SFSE, so I may not be grasping the full culture. If the consensus here is to consider what is found in Help Center less as rules and more as guidelines to be held more loosely than tightly, then I will try to loosen up myself and back off of some of the Comments I am making on these "poor" questions.

  • 5
    I can't speak for everyone, but to some extent I think we've all been there. There's a delicate balance between guiding people down the right path and driving people away. Another issue is that many will feel like we just need to pick our battles.
    – Adrian Larson Mod
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 15:50
  • 4
    I agree with Adrian and with Derek; just wanted to add: thank you for your work both sharing answers and attempting to guide askers on how to improve their questions.
    – David Reed
    Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 16:58

3 Answers 3


The short version/tl;dr

We're a diverse pool of contributors, and I think it comes down to personal judgement.

The long version

Ah, I think that I might be the example (or at least an example) of this one on this question.

Yep, that one was:

  • a poorly posed question
  • from an unregistered user who was unlikely to fix any issues
  • and who was unlikely to participate in the community again

I'd normally just vote to close (and I may not even leave a comment if the user is unregistered), but I chose to answer this one because the error message (well, part of it) was included in the title and it was an easy fix that took me all of one minute to type up.

Even though the question itself is pretty poor, I think that a good answer can make the overall post have some value to the community at large.

I didn't put a lot of effort into that answer, but I made sure to mention the syntax error (the usage of ==), what that symbol means (equality comparison), what to use instead (just =), what that symbol means (assignment operator), and a bad vs good comparison. That information could really help someone out if they're not educated/experienced in programming.

The way I think of this

Is that we're a global community with a relatively loose set of rules. StackExchange itself (as far as I'm aware) doesn't really have much in the way of tools to manage community members outside of deleting user accounts outright (which is limited to mods, and even they may need action from a community manager).

With a large enough community, there will be differences in how the community rules are interpreted and how questions/answers are judged

Getting people to actually follow advice (or links to help pages) we may give about their questions or answers also seems to "miss" more often than it "hits" (at least in my, admittedly likely biased, recollection).

Let's look at another community rule, duplicate questions

Ok, so I don't think this one is actually written down somewhere, but my understanding of the general culture of stackexchange sites is that duplicates are somewhere between mildly and highly discouraged.

I'm reasonably confident that if you were to look hard enough, many of the questions asked here have probably been asked and answered before. Yet, we don't usually see a ton of recent questions marked as duplicates.

Like with answering poor questions, this comes down to a judgement call. It's one thing if the question title is something like "Help me write a unit test for X", which I normally suspect is really a "write my test for me" question, but I'll still give it a read to see if it has a reason to remain open.

For other questions, what I'll mark as a duplicate depends on:

  • If I can remember a similar question being asked before
  • The age of the possible duplicate question (and its answers)

Tech moves fast, so it's possible that the duplicate question isn't relevant any more. I also personally like to avoid making people wade through more than one or two links to get a decent answer and explanation.

My point is

I agree with Adrian's comment.

There's a balance between personal judgement, sticking to guidelines, and driving people away.

I think that StackExchange as a whole has a reputation for being elitist and unwelcoming towards newcomers. I like to think that we here on SFSE are better at that than many other SE sites; but then again the average person thinks they're smarter than average and a better driver than average, so who knows?

I don't agree with every decision that someone else makes here. Without intending to single anyone out, there have been more than a few times where some of the old hands have answered questions that I don't think should be answered (too much of a "do my work for me" question for my taste), and I highly disagree with some of the suggested edits queue items that have been approved.

I also don't really feel a need to try to bring them around to my point of view most of the time. Again, we really do have very few tools to make people change their behavior (meta here is about it, and usually only the more active/invested contributors show up here). I think we also get most of the most egregious instances.

In the end, I think that decentralized moderation is something that you'll develop a sense for as you continue to participate.


Our community is a product of two "parents," Stack Overflow (SO), and the Salesforce Ohana. On the one hand, we want to be focused enough that someone who is trying to do something in Salesforce can, and on the other, we want to espouse the generosity and supportive/nuturing nature of the Salesforce Ohana.

Questions that would be immediately and savagely closed and downvoted out of existence on SO are at least considered here. We do still immediately get rid of any spam or excessively off-topic questions that make it past the spam filters, but we don't demand excellence and perfection, only a genuine attempt. We presume the best in people, and we want to help them improve. Instead of immediate closure, those gray-area questions usually get comments for improving or additional information.

We try to not come off as elitist. People get enough of that attitude from SO, and we like to think we're a better network in our area of expertise. We're the people who might not engage in SO regularly because of their behavior. We're the people who care about the people who come here seeking our help. This is part of our DNA, part of what it means to be in the Salesforce Ohana.

We will help you edit your questions, help clean up formatting, ask clarifying questions, and generally try to give you the best chance at getting the answers you need to be successful with Salesforce. After all, when you are successful with Salesforce, Salesforce is successful as a product, and that benefits every single one of us, directly and indirectly. We care about the product, and we care about the company and how they're trying to make the world a better place.

Still, sometimes we fail in that mission. We are all human, and we've had our problems in the past (just scan through our meta questions, you'll see them come up). That said, we're still here, and we're still trying to do the best that we can. We want everyone that's genuine about getting help with Salesforce to get it. And we'll go out of our way to try and make sure that happens.

We are not Stack Overflow. We are the Salesforce Ohana. And we mean it when we say we want to make the world a better place in any way that we can. I can't donate millions of dollars, or plant a million trees, but I can help someone have a better day, and improve their skills so they can be successful. And we do it one question at a time, as best as we can and know how.

While we do have differing opinions on where that line is drawn--the line between quality control, helping people, and turning them away--we are all committed to doing the best we can to help those we can. We do our best to improve the quality of questions as best as we can, but our primary mission, our singular focus, is to improve the quality of lives. We are the Salesforce Ohana, and that makes us different.

And we would encourage everyone to do the same. Take a second glance at the question. See if you can help them, or guide them to make improving edits. Fix minor formatting problems. Come up with some comment templates you can use for copy-pasting common responses to new users and those that just otherwise need some guidance. Link them to our "How to ask" ([ask]) page, and encourage them to read it.

Our primary goal is to help, and we try to set that bar as low as possible without severely degrading our quality. Don't be afraid to vote to close (VTC) questions that are beyond salvation, but maybe consider salvation to be a lower bar than you might see on SO. Many of us can edit questions and answers, and almost everyone can at least suggest edits, which the higher reputation users can approve or improve upon, so feel free to take advantage of all the tools at our disposal, not just the Close tool.

Our primary culture is that of the Salesforce Ohana, not SO. We want our network to be successful, and so we utilize all of the tools at our disposal. We edit a lot (e.g. Adrian has 7k+ edits), we answer (e.g. my 11.3k), and we vote (e.g. my 17k+ votes). We close when no other options are available to us, and we use every other tool available to us whenever possible.

My apologies for the rant, but I hope it helps convey that we're serious about what we do.

  • 3
    Good point about the Ohana. And also about the need for a genuine attempt. Probably most often when I vote down or close questions by new users it is because there is a complete lack of good faith effort to understand the problem and to understand this site's mechanics and conventions.
    – Adrian Larson Mod
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 16:46

Please evaluate my recent post, which was closed by a mod very soon after being posted: Can we automate Security Token reset for automated testing?

I have been both a member of this forum for years now, and have gained great value from it's contributors. I have done my best to research beforehand, to ask thorough questions that demonstrate clear understanding of the issue I'm attempting to solve, and show my work.

What I've found, however, is that over time (newer?) mods seem to come in with different attitudes, and start swinging their weight around in ways that make me wonder if they're actually interested in helping out, in the spirit of this sub.

Sometimes there are clearcut questions that need an answer that I can't find somewhere else, like in the sample post above. What I got back from a mod was:

Questions about requirements or objectives should demonstrate the work or research you’ve done so far and ask a specific question. Providing complete implementations based on a list of requirements is not a goal of this community. This question can be reopened when it is edited to include the needed information.

Frankly, I think this is not only insulting, but a completely irrelevant criticism given the nature of the question I asked. Mine was a simple, straightforward question, which someone with knowhow could answer quickly and point to a solution, it was not a request for a 'full implementation', and I obviously had to do a fair amount of research and have knowledge of the topic to ask the question in the first place.

I think a mod, in their overzealousness, took a cursory glance at the question, didn't actually bother to process or understand it, then immediately closed it. This is incredibly discouraging to contributors both new and old (like myself).

Questions that are asked poorly tend to not get answered. If people want to answer and help with a question, WHY ARE YOU ACTIVELY TRYING TO STOP THEM? Please consider the results of that kind of gatekeeping behavior.

  • 1
    Please do not blame mods for closure of your post. Moderators are a very small group of users (3), all of whom have a diamond next to our name.
    – Adrian Larson Mod
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 23:36
  • (a) No mods closed your Q, it was 5 VTC from ranked members. (b) The comment provided was one very few "canned responses" we're allowed to have. It's a limit of SO tech. (c) We did ask for clarification and even provided a frame challenge answer, which you didn't respond to any of. (d) Q appears to be an X-Y Problem. Would have been better to ask about solutions to underlying problem. (e) If you want more help, just ask nicely. Read my answer if you haven't yet. We are here to help, but we need your cooperation. We do have metrics we need, again, SO rules, not ours.
    – sfdcfox Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2021 at 2:58
  • Please accept our sincerest apologies, there's only so much we can do with the framework we're given. I mentioned SO twice. We're not the same as SO, but we do have a minimum level of compliance we're forced to take on in order to make our network viable. Again, please take time to read the comments, see if you can improve your question by addressing the X-Y concern, and we'll be happy to reopen your question if it becomes answerable in a way that fits the site's general requirements. Finally, apologies, the comments section is limited to just over 500 characters, and I'm rather verbose.
    – sfdcfox Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2021 at 3:03

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