18

The moderator election states that there are two positions open. With the recent loss of Chopper3, this means that this is a net gain of 1.

There's some discussion with regard to the specific count for this election; maybe some more general discussion is needed on how many moderators are needed.

Is there a Stack Exchange rule of thumb for how many moderators we need? Where did the 2 come from with this current election: Did someone decide this? Based on private discussion (by this I mean, "not on meta") with the existing moderators and their sense of the workload? Or does the system just have a random number generator for how many positions to open when an election comes up?


I'm not going to include Kara in this list, as she seems to be inactive. I'm also not going to include Kyle and George, as my anecdotal impression is that they don't spend a lot of time on community moderation tasks these days (I don't see their names on a lot of closes, deletes, or migrations) -- correct me if I'm wrong on that.

So, that leaves us with 5 moderators. From east to west:


Most of us don't have any point of reference for the flag volume, and at which times it's heavy, but what I do know is that Chopper3 handled a lot of flags, and was getting burnt out from it. Picking up that load among the existing moderators plus two seems like people would still be forced to spend all of their time on the site clearing flags.

This is something that's been discussed recently, but bears revisiting here; it (again, anecdotally) seems to me that two of our current community moderators are handling the bulk of the heavy lifting.

Dealing with sheer flag volume is one aspect of this (which most of us can't speak to), the other is community faith in the moderators. Inactive or semi-inactive moderators may not be equipped to deal with flags appropriately; and even if they are, their lack of visibility to the community leaves a perception that they're disconnected from it.

The Stack Overflow opinion is that moderators are moderators for life. Does that automatically apply here? Giving up the diamond has been a breath of fresh air for Phil; handing it off doesn't need to be a bad thing.


So, to sum up:

  • Where'd the 2 come from?
    • If it's arbitrary, shouldn't it come from a discussion with the existing moderators, or else a public discussion on meta?
  • Can one of our existing diamonds weigh in on what times of day need attention at this point?
  • Do we need to adjust our perception of our current moderator count, if only a small subset of the moderators are handling a vast majority of the work?
  • Do we need to add additional moderators beyond what we feel is needed, so that they all can spend a smaller proportion of their time on moderator tasks to avoid burn out?
  • 4
    "Dealing with sheer flag volume is one aspect of this (which most of us can't speak to), the other is community faith in the moderators. Inactive or semi-inactive moderators may not be equipped to deal with flags appropriately; and even if they are, their lack of visibility to the community leaves a perception that they're disconnected from it." +1 on that alone. Not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but that is exactly the perception. – Chris S Jan 10 '12 at 4:58
  • The Stack Overflow opinion is that moderators are moderators for life. … or until they stand down. I would argue that the federal bench is the best analog for moderator positions: Lifetime appointment, we add more judges if we need them (based on case load), and when one retires we fill the vacant seat in addition to any new seats we're adding. – voretaq7 Jan 10 '12 at 8:45
  • @voretaq7, that might be the way the federal bench is handled where you are but elsewhere things are done differently. While both systems have their strengths and weaknesses, lifers in anything are rarely as valuable as someone who has to earn a position. – John Gardeniers Jan 10 '12 at 21:19
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    @JohnGardeniers Very true - the lifer logic is that you can be truly independent (absent gross misconduct and impeachment), but the flip side is the lifer who only comes to work every other Tuesday for 3 hours (mods who move on & go inactive). // Interestingly in the US we have a mix of both - Lower court judgeships are often regular elected offices with a set term (that typically gets longer as you climb the ladder: My village court is a 3-year term, NY State Supreme Court is 14 years). Perhaps StackOverflow would like to guinea pig that model for us? :-) – voretaq7 Jan 10 '12 at 21:33
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    Info: In the last 30 days, SF moderators have handled 652 flags. That's 21.7 a day, or .9 an hour. They tend to come in bursts, though. – sysadmin1138 Jan 10 '12 at 23:52
30

Upvote if you think we should have three new moderators.

  • 1
    Did we get completely ignored on this subject? – pauska Jan 14 '12 at 1:10
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    @pauska No, you were not ignored. Just timing things to go with the switchover from nomination to primary. (: – Rebecca Chernoff Jan 16 '12 at 18:03
5

Looking at stats, both before and after Chopper3 retired, Mark, Splattne and I have been handling more flags. Mark & splattne more than me, since their overlap with Chopper3's historic schedule is larger than mine. The numbers are inflated right now due to certain users going through old off-topic content and flagging extensively, and such users tend to do so on my watch for some reason.

That's a good point though. All it takes is one high flag-rank user to expend their entire flag quota in 30 minutes to turn the mod-queue into it's usual no-higher-than-9 into an intimidating 46. I do look at each case individually to see if I agree with it and to figure out exactly how to handle it, so I'm putting in as much work as the flagging user in this case.

At the moment, me, Mark, and Splattne are all in the triple digits for handled-flags in the last 30 days. Zypher and Sam are currently tied. Before retirement, Chopper3 was the top flag-handler.

Do we need a third moderator? In my opinion only, if we can get another me or a Mark around UTC+0 or so we'll just fine with two. Our most active flag-handlers seem to be least active from UTC 0900 - 1600. In my case it's because I'm sleeping and then dealing with dayjob morning issues.

One caution about more moderators is inconsistency. The more of us there are with the hammer, the more individual interpretations there are about where the edge cases belong. We can 'do better with better communication,' but with all of us on the three corners of the globe that kind of discussion is hard to have.

There is more, but I've run out of breakfast. More in several hours when I have time, since today is a datacenter day for me.

  • I'll hold my hands up to not being as active as I should be during UK daytime, mainly because of Work, but that should start to pickup again now. That said the volume of flags we see before the US wakes up is usually quite low. – Sam Cogan Jan 10 '12 at 14:31
  • "Certain users" <_< – Wesley Jan 10 '12 at 16:03
0

Upvote if you think we should have four new moderators.

-3

I haven't read your whole post yet, I want to very quickly say:

Iain should just be appointed, and then we need two other new moderators.

It's unlikely that SE.inc is going to appoint Iain, so I totally agree that three new mods makes sense. This gets us a net gain of 2 compared to a month or so ago.

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    Not withstand that Iain will probably win a spot, I'd disagree that there should be any appointments as long as we're going through the election exercise. – Chris S Jan 10 '12 at 4:57
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    I would agree with @ChrisS -- It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Iain will wind up with a shiny new diamond at the end of the election, but as a "mature" site (out of beta, many users meeting the eligible-to-vote criteria) an appointment isn't really appropriate. Better to let the electoral process do its thing and just add an extra slot to make up for Chopper3 standing down. (In fact it's probably a good general policy that when mods stand down an "replacement slot" is added to the next election) – voretaq7 Jan 10 '12 at 8:40
-14

Upvote if you think we should have two new moderators.

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