Zoredache mentioned in their answer here (emphasis mine):

If anyone happens to be reading this, and doesn't regularly go into the chat please understand that most of the current candidates are pretty active in chat already, and lots of questions and discussions have already been happening.

Is that really true? If so, I feel that this could be a distinct disadvantage for many people. When chat was new I used to go in there regularly and hang around, and not much ever happened. When I read that, I got a bit worried that maybe I missed something, so I hung around for another 3 hours today and a grand total of 1 thing happened when I was in there.

Now, this is most likely because I'm most active when the chat regulars are in bed, dreaming of a world without end users and technical support.

With that in mind, how likely are you to take someone's chat-based activities into account when voting? I'm doing my best not to sound sore about this (maybe I'm doing a poor job), but I want to ensure a level playing field during the elections.

  • For the record, when the chat first open it tend to be very quite, but if nobody ever logged in it probably would have stayed that way. If we want the room to be more active at other hours you might need to start lurking, if they see you in there other people might start showing up.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 20:07
  • Mark and I are in the same timezone. I don't use chat but (mainly because I was bored) I've poke my head in there a few times lately. I've seen no great activity there at those times and quite frankly what I did see merely discouraged me from participating. Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 21:07
  • there are ebbs and flows like any other chat function. Some times it'll go all day with 5 messages (so it seems). Other days I look away for 2 minutes and come back to 118 unread messages. This morning (EST) was quite active, it died around noon, picked up after lunch, and died again in the later afternoon. I think this is a strong reflection of the fact that many of us are at work and only actively chat when we're waiting on something or other.
    – Chris S
    Commented Jan 25, 2011 at 3:44

5 Answers 5


I personally would say meta activity is a far, far more important indicator of whether someone is cut out to be a good community moderator.

Not that chat isn't important, it is fantastic for our most avid users -- but it's probably not in my top 5 things I look at in a candidate.

That's just MHO of course, speaking as a regular user of Server Fault just like you.

  • 1
    One thing I noticed about pro-tem moderator who don't chat is that they tend to fall behind on the news of what they are able to do how, which I assume are relayed first on the mod-only chat rooms.
    – badp
    Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 9:38
  • @bapd - as a mod on another SE site I have to agree with you there, although I feel this could be much better improved by an official changelog. Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 19:24
  • I'm glad to hear it Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 19:34
  • I heartily agree. On a personal level, while I am reading all the discussions related to the election (but not using chat) my voting will be determined not by what is being said or done NOW. Rather, it will be based on the how the candidates have interacted with the community over time, because I see that as far more important. Besides, we're all only too familiar with how people (think politicians) act around election time. ;) Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 21:01

Chat activity is just a metric of how available you are to the community. No less, no more.

As long as users can open a discussion (meta / e-mail / etc) regarding one of your actions, the means remain incidental.

  • 2
    There also the consideration that not everyone is equally comfortable with chat. Different media suit different people. Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 21:12

Being a regular in the chat room and also one who has popped in at odd hours for various reasons (including the one time I was pulling an all-nighter at work) I can say that there is about an 8 hour lull between when the US West Coast goes home for the night and when the UK gets up in the morning. We don't have anyone who actively lurks during that period, even though we do have a user our two popping in to ask "does anyone know anything about $tech?", get no answer, and move along.

Chat activity is relative. Of the current non-SO-employed mods, I believe we have exactly one who is ever seen in Chat on a regular basis. And his being there does get him a bit more work to do as people do come into chat and ask for mod-stuff once in a while. Before the option to do it myself became available, I asked Chopper3 to do a rep-recalc for me (lost about 700 points thanks to my habit of answering questions that get migrated to SU). The very occasional mod-hammer close has also resulted thanks to that on obviously bad questions.

Personally, I do consider chat-availability in my elections calculus, but there is at least two other criteria that trump it. It's not a primary concern.


Personally, I don't believe chat activity is all the relevant to whether you would be a good moderator. I tend to hang out in there most of the day, because I can, but I wouldn't say that there is a lot of moderator focussed activity going on. I feel that not being in chat does not really have an impact on your effectiveness as a moderator, in fact the best moderators would surely spend more time on Serverfault it's self, doing the work that needs to be done, and on Meta where the discussion about the site is going on.


someone's chat-based activities into account when voting?

I agree that your level of activity in chat is not an indicator of your moderator ability.

I think we do learn things about a person and get an impression of a person in chat. That impression will almost certainly influence how people vote.

Every time one interacts with one of the candidates, that interaction will allow us to form an opinion about them. The more we interact, the more data we have in forming our opinion, both positive and negative.

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