(I'm still experimenting with this site, so I'm trying out alternatives for having discourse within the confines of the current technology. I have created a tag 'experimental'. It is my belief that in order to improve the community, users on the meta side should have a certain leeway to play with the system. I think the comment fields are inadequate for organizing threads of discussion. Feel free to indulge my experimental impulse by editing the question directly on a point by point basis or abstaining from a response entirely. My goal has been to find someone ambitious enough to have a serious dialectic about what happens here and to coalesce around a platform to vote and advocate as a bloc on these matters. My intent is not to attack your position, but to find common ground. I believe the Q&A mechanism fundamentally discourages that.)
As one of the legendary moderators of this site said in the past: no, we are not philosophers (and I don't like that you've edit the post with a question mark; it defeats the whole point of the post).
Objection noted, however, without the question mark to at least hide the lack of question as rhetorical, it's not even a Q&A post, but rather an A&A post, which is sort of silly, UNLESS we're allowed to use the Q&A format to just post our thoughts without any concern for the Q&A format. I didn't mean to go Trebek, but it seems that we are supposed to adhere to a polite convention to at least pretend that we are seeking input from others, no?
We are not a community of philosophers, or an academic enclave. We are a group of students and teachers of philosophy...
We are not philosophers, but we are teachers of philosophy? I was a licensed educator, so let me say that no teacher of philosophy who is not a philosopher can actually teach philosophy. This is self-evident. Would you accept a teacher of piloting who wasn't a pilot, would you learn to defuse bombs from someone who isn't skilled in ordnance, a teacher of surgery who wasn't a surgeon? Of course not. Are you familiar with Vygotskian notions of the zone of proximal development? From a constructivist perspective on educational psychology, non-philosophers teaching philosophy is an existential impossibility. Besides, this whole fact-opinion dichotomy, isn't it a false dilemma? Isn't there a middle ground of editorial discrimination required?
Has the political will of the veteran user base decided that the current status quo is the terminal velocity and terminus of this institution that aims to facilitate philosophical pedagogy and critical thinking?
How exactly is the political will of the veteran base decided at all? Is there even a mechanism for polling?
The users of this site (mostly mods but also "regular" users like you and I) have repeatedly tried in the past to change the "velocity", direction and style of this site. As Philip wrote in his post, and in many other places, this isn't the first time the red flag has been raised (perhaps most recently was my post from over a year ago). Voting System
Yes, but this time, we should be empowered to vote on by-laws to assist the moderators and moderation-minded on collaborating so this forum functions as a bazaar instead of a cathedral, right?
Again, we cannot afford to have questions that lean to the more discussion-y type.
Why not? Is there not enough room on the server for two communities by differentiating quality by tag? Couldn't a question be tagged or maybe voted as high-quality subjecting it to a second set of moderating principles?
Personally, I do not see the benefit of down-voting instead of closing a question that does not fit our model. I haven't spend too much time in other SEs to really know, but I assume that with the nature of this SE we get (at least currently, perhaps forever) a truly vast amount of questions that simply don't fit this site (see this post for example).
Do you or do you not believe that the Q&A format is pedagogical? A teacher of philosophy does not have the luxury of just ignoring questions that require work; that is the prerogative of the professional philosopher! If you believe that we are teachers of philosophy, then the proper response is to facilitate the transformation of the question from poorly-formed to well-formed. Isn't that the basis of the Socratic method and the dialectic, and isn't the slaughtering of imperfect questions an act of philosophy and not philosophical pedagogy?
Obviously, if a user thinks this question is not a good question within the constraints of the site's model, I'd expect them to down-vote, and not vote to close. But it's a bit of a thin line and I'll understand a user that decides to vote to close instead. After all, for a question to be closed we require at 5 votes - it takes time to get 5 votes, which that gives the OP time to revise their question. And even after that the OP can edit the post and request to reopen it. A very standard procedure on the SE network.
Do you believe that many questions that are rewritten stay dead because there is simply a lack of interest in moderation duties?
The fact that you've brought the FAQ into question baffles me a bit (perhaps I understood wrongly?), as the way I see it the on-topic post is very clear on the rules of the site.
And since you believe it's clear, it's not open to debate, revision, or separate interpretation? What if I were to say that the language is ambiguous? How we would go about resolving that conflict? What if the moderators themselves disagreed? What if I were to tell you from a veteran teacher's perspective, nothing short of a rubric of would suffice? Are we possession of such a metric?
I did nevertheless thought while reading the question and the answers here, and have a suggestion (which I hinted to in the past) to help solve our rather distinct issue: "discussion" tag on the main site
Agreed that tweaking features can improve the site, but where are the by-laws that govern how they can be requested, debated, voted on, and implemented? Do the moderators simply have absolute power and regular users must rely on their goodwill?
As Philip rightfully said, "regular" users are currently simply not active enough in their review queues (and I'm no saint at all). In my opinion we need some way to encourage more activity (new users, but more importantly keep "regular" users active), and I honestly think this might be a good way to do so. Give the users a) the option to have free discussion, and b) take away some pressure from the review queues.
From my experience, I'm not sure why anyone who has recently been involved would venture to take on moderation at all with such a lack of guidance. I've been on the site for more than a year, and I'm just getting hang of it. What if the problem isn't a lack of will, but a lack of resources to clarify how the culture functions?
Finally, I do agree with Philip that at the end of the day moderation, moderation and moderation is what keeps this site (as every other SE site) enjoyable. I'm simply attempting to ease the need for moderation a bit while trying to solve another big issue (active userbase) as well.
Do you also agree with Philip that this place is a cathedral precisely because the moderation falls entirely on the moderators? And do you not agree with him that a framework of rules to assist him in remaining apolitical in moderation would be an aid?