Proposal: SE Moderators

Let's take a look at the top five on-topic questions right now:

This proposal is about how moderators can use SE best. MSO is about how everybody can use SE best. There is a full overlap here, and the proposal should be closed as duplicate.

By the way, you might be interested in this related, but more generic proposal: "Moderators".

I agree 100% - now everyone needs to vote to close the proposal – warren May 24 '11 at 16:47
When you say, "it could be salvaged by changing it to 'Moderators and Community Leaders'," could you be clearer about what you're proposing? That linked to the existing Moderators proposal—are you suggesting the two merge? If so, why not just leave the name as "Moderators"? And you didn't link to the existing Community Leaders proposal, although it's much further along than the others. What precisely is it that you are proposing? – Dori May 25 '11 at 3:53
+1 I was about to post the exact same question. – Peter Olson May 25 '11 at 4:09
@dori When I wrote that I wasn't aware of the existing proposal(s). When I searched for it and found it, I linked to it. Merging would be wrong because those questions are covered by MSO. – badp May 25 '11 at 5:17
@badp - Okay, then color me completely confused as to what your last paragraph is suggesting. – Dori May 25 '11 at 5:26
up vote 15 down vote accepted

My objection to this proposal is that it attempts to silo moderator-related issues from the general population; conversations that should be discussed in the full light of day.

Moderators are NOT SUPPOSED to segment themselves into a "members' only" clique. That's not what a moderator is. We should be ENCOURAGING meta users to have more interest in this stuff; Not removing it from their field of view!

General users start earning moderator privileges as soon as they start earning reputation. Moderation issues ARE NOT the stuff of back room conversation. Many of our most insightful "community advisers" are not moderators at all!

We already have a "Moderator Chat Room" to discuss potentially private issues. So this proposal amounts to little more than an attempt to collect "just the good stuff." Don't tell yourself the story that a separate site will somehow gather "just what you need to know" in once place. That sort of systematic fragmentation of purpose would create a ridiculous number of niche and overlapping sites, and that's not how Stack Exchange works.

There IS a lot of information that moderators learn to be effective. But the way to learn this stuff is through experience, discoverability (make the tools better), and creating a readily-accessible support network (meta, and moderator chat).

If your goal is to "consolidate 'best practices' in one place", use the tools we already have. Create an "instruction manual" or a meta FAQ (beware the bulleted list from hell), or other means of referencing the best material already out there. Creating yet another site will only duplicate (and further fragment) existing information.

I'm keeping an open mind, but this still strikes me as a very bad idea.


Everything about how to act as a moderator is an easy search through the chat logs and explained (quite verbosely now) in the tools themselves.

Anything about the particular SE community, such as topics for the site and community behaviour, belongs on the child meta.

Anything else about the engine belongs on Meta Stack Overflow. (Or you can still post on the child metas as the dev team and staff survey all.)

This proposal serves no purpose.

'Easy search'? There's far too much chit-chat in the Teachers Lounge to call the search easy. – Ivo Flipse May 24 '11 at 15:19
The tools, even though they're usually explained, are often surprising to new mods - You spend enough time in the Teachers' Lounge to know that! Also, discovery of this explanation often requires a click and hoping for confirmation. That's scary on a live site. – Kevin Vermeer May 24 '11 at 15:38

I'll concede, if someone were to search through MSO, and the Tavern, and the mod chat, one could find answers to most of the questions. But there are a few things which organizing this as a community could do that the combined 3 things would not.

  1. It would help new mods realize the types of things they need to be thinking about.
  2. It would provide a place to discuss issues that might be sensitive, without compromising confidentiality. Note, this doesn't require that names be included, but it could prevent a partial war. I'm thinking of questions like "A user did this, this, and this, should I suspend them?". Putting this on the child meta would be very bad, even on MSO, but on this site, it could work.
  3. It could be a place to ask about moderator tools, which aren't as easy to discuss on MSO (Although they could be done).
  4. It could be a place to collect best practices, without repeating them over and over again in the mod chatroom. Also, it would lead to putting the best practices on the top, as opposed to the opinions of whoever is in the room at that time.
I agree: the real problem is not everything hits MSO and gets lost in chat. We should be more involved in populating the existing site with our questions. – badp May 24 '11 at 15:22
Not sure I agree with 2. Is this mod-only? – Kevin Vermeer May 24 '11 at 15:47

Explanation of the purpose of this site

Here are four categories for questions of interest to moderators:

  1. Questions about policy for the individual site: These belong oner-site metas

    "What should we post on our blog?" "Are questions about X on topic?"

  2. Questions about policy on Stack Exchange in general: These belong on MSO.

    "When should a question that's not really something the user faces be closed"
    "What should I do with a user who constantly posts low quality, but not spammy, answers?"

  3. Questions about specific moderation problems: For these, flag the user/answer and talk on per-site moderator chat rooms. They don't belong on MSO or Mods.SE because of privacy and temporality issues.

    "This user keeps posting inappropriate comments" "This question is under an edit war"

  4. Questions about general moderation tools and abilities:

    "How do you ban someone from both chat and the main site?"
    "What happens when a mod flags a comment?"
    "How do you ban a user who creates new accounts and posts spam from multiple IP addresses?"

The second category is a subset of Meta Stack Overflow. The fourth is what I want to see here, I'm not sure why MSO questions were posted and upvoted on this proposal, but the fourth category needs a home. That home is currently the Teachers' Lounge.

Response to Random's answer

Random wrote:

Everything about how to act as a moderator is an easy search through the chat logs and explained (quite verbosely now) in the tools themselves.

If searching chat logs is a better solution to Q&A than Stack Exchange, why do any of the other sites exist? IRC, mailing lists, or forums also have search features, but Stack Exchange offers something better that those sites don't have. Placing Q&A on Mods.SE would reduce the amount of time spent/wasted in the Teachers' Lounge and make educating new mods easier.

The tools themselves are running on live systems, with real people. Most of the tools are well documented, most work as expected, and most are reversible. However, not all are reversible, and not all are inconsequential. Discovery and learning by doing are difficult.

Reasons we need this site:

There are >500 sites in Area51 at the moment, which could develop into 1,500 to 3,000 moderators. That's not the global audience of the Internet, but it's an awful busy chat room. There's no reason not to plan for scale.

The sites are live. While you can go far playing on one's meta site, you need a sock puppet account to accomplish anything, and user, migratory, and permanent actions are hard to explore.

New mods don't search the chat room, because they don't know the right keywords to search for, there's a huge amount of noise, and it's inefficient and tedious. drachenstern estimated that 65% of the content of the Teacher's Lounge was just banter.

The 4th category belongs on MSO as well. – badp May 24 '11 at 15:49
I hope you realize that if you segregate the 4th category on a separate site, even avid meta readers will find themselves lacking necessary information about how the system works once they become moderators? That's just not a good plan. – Shog9 May 24 '11 at 16:16
@Shog9 - I consider myself an avid meta reader, and have been for close to a year now. I was elected to be a community moderator a week ago, and I feel strongly that I lack necessary information about how the system works. Other community moderators (as I've seen frequently in Chat in the past week) also have lots of questions. – Kevin Vermeer May 24 '11 at 16:28
@Shog9 - Arguing that there's not a problem or that a particular solution is inappropriate when people keep saying that there is a problem won't solve anything! Some action needs to happen. – Kevin Vermeer May 24 '11 at 16:29
@badp - Then why aren't there more questions about it, and why is this the hottest proposal on Area51 at the moment? – Kevin Vermeer May 24 '11 at 16:31
@reemrevnivek because 1) we're too lazy to post follow-ups on MSO, and this should change, and 2) because Area51 is pretty quiet as of late. I committed a few minutes ago to Moderators, which was enough to push it to the top of that tab. – badp May 24 '11 at 16:33
@reemrevnivek: MSO was created in response to a constant stream of meta questions on SO. If there was a constant stream of mod questions on MSO, I could see some justification here... But they're rare. Demonstrate an actual need for this... – Shog9 May 24 '11 at 16:39
@badp - Didn't realize that the Moderators and SE Moderators proposals were different! It's interesting that this discussion is linked from both. – Kevin Vermeer May 24 '11 at 16:44
@reem That's because the question body links to both – badp May 24 '11 at 16:47
@Shog9 - 111484 posts in the Teachers' Lounge isn't a constant stream? A sizeable percentage of those have to be on-topic for this site. drachenstern estimated (and it sounds about right) that 15% of this would be on-topic for this site, or 16,700 posts, but even 5% would be sufficient need in my mind. Not to mention the Tavern, or the occasional question on MSO. – Kevin Vermeer May 24 '11 at 16:48
@reemrevnivek: I honestly don't see how chat messages are relevant. If chat is not a good venue for a question, it should be asked on MSO. If chat is a good venue (time-sensitive questions...), then, um, use chat. – Shog9 May 24 '11 at 16:56
@Shog9 - Then the message in the moderator dashboard, "Unsure? The Teachers' Lounge is available to discuss general moderation questions." should be changed to include per-site mod chatrooms and MSO. I'm guessing that message inspires a lot of new mods to bring questions to chat that would be a better fit on MSO. – Kevin Vermeer May 24 '11 at 19:15
@Reemrevnivek: actually, we should be doing in TTL what we do in the rest of the chat rooms: pointedly refer users asking questions that can be asked on the relevant site (MSO, Metas) to that site. – Shog9 May 24 '11 at 19:19
note that that 65% estimate was a total BS guess pulled out of my arse, but then again, nobody seemed to question it. – jcolebrand May 25 '11 at 1:34

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