-13

Before I start this let me point out the following: This isn't a post to draw hate towards the moderator team, it is to try and reach out to them to get them re-involved with the community again.


In this previous meta discussion about the moderator team two conclusions appear to have been made:

  • "Something should be done" - The majority of the community.
  • "Nothing should be done, we're fiiiine" - The moderator team.

Now I was watching this discussion, and was involved in it, quite heavily and I continued to monitor events after it too. Here is my summary of what appears to have happened during the aftermath.

  • All of the moderators suddenly emerged from the cracks (make of this what you will)
  • Flag handling times were quick and edits/comments and other visible things from the moderator team improved (barely but it's a start)
  • ~2-3 days later this died down to almost nothing again
  • In the next few weeks moderator only flags seemed to take ~5 hours on average to handle (based off experience and mainly comment flags so adjust the average accordingly)
  • Flag handling times last week seem to have stabilised again at ~2 hours (again based off of the above)

However, visible activity by the team has again fallen and we're once again left wondering "Where are the mods?"

Now I wasn't going to point fingers in this post but I think it's important to look at the two moderators who appear to be at either end of the spectrum:

  • Rand al'Thor: Is around every day, reviews, edits, comments, is active on meta, is active in chat
  • Thaddeus Howze: Was last seen May 31st

Rand is a good example of what we want a moderator to be doing, visibly moderating the site and leading by example. Thaddeus hasn't been seen at all and is a poor example of someone even interested in the site never mind moderating it.

So, what do I think would be a good step? More visible moderation activity. (Not in any particular order, just how they popped into my mind)

  • Edit posts
  • Be active (i.e. log in to the site)
  • Comment
  • Handle flags and other moderator only business (obviously not exactly visible and should go without saying)
  • Active on meta
  • Active in chat
  • Review (not necessarily important but if one is sitting there for a while and the community hasn't handled it why not handle it?)
  • Delete low quality, R/A and spam posts (only >10k users can see this)
  • etc.

All of this tells the community you are still alive and kicking and keeps our faith in you. You were elected to moderate and lead this community, please reward us with your continued effort in it.

  • 19
    It would help if you gave some reason why any of those things you mention are important for a mod to do. Apart from meta participation, and flag handling (which you do not see and have no idea about apart from anecdotal evidence you can glean from your own flags) none of the things you listed are a mod's job, they're what users should do. Also, you claim that "the community" reached two conclusions on the other meta post, but the votes clearly indicate one. Just not the one you seem to be advocating. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 12:33
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    @terdon If you followed that meta post you'll know that the meta votes on one answer we're highly skewed by off site users. And is it not obvious that a moderator should be moderating the site? As for flags I know roughly the average time of my moderator only flags take to handle and it's higher than I'd expect on a site with this low activity (low compared to others on SE). – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 12:35
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    @TheLethalCarrot I did follow but I absolutely do not know that. Neither do you, nor anyone else not working for SE. Nobody can see votes. You can assume whatever you like, but if you do, please don't try to pass it off as something you "know". That said, of course mods should be moderating. But of all the things you mentioned here, only handling flags (and seriously, you're complaining about a ~5h average?) and meta participation are mod stuff. Everything else is better done by the community rather than the mods. That's kinda the whole point of "community moderation". – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 12:38
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    @terdon Exactly and mods are still a part of the community. They don't work for SE, they volunteer their time. A ~5h average is high for 5 mods on a site with ~70 posts a day. And of course I don't know that but given the context of what happened it's incredibly likely that is what happened so I can say so confidently. Side note, developers can see votes. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 12:41
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    Well, yes. Developers work for SE. And of course mods don't work for SE! Whoever said they do? But, as you say, they volunteer their time. So it seems kind of rich to berate them because they take 5 hours instead of 2 to deal with one of your flags. Petty, even. These folks are volunteers, SE flags are not exactly life or death issues, and they still deal with them within a few hours. What else do you need? Side note: do not conflate post volume with flag volume. They are not related and I expect this site to have more flags than its size merits. Just think how many will come from this post. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 12:43
  • 3
    @terdon As someone who flags quite heavily at the moment I understand you'll have more flags than posts. However, posts are a good indication of site activity and lower site activity means lower flags. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 12:46
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    Regarding R/A and spam posts, many of those are detected by SmokeDetector and are deleted within seconds by autoflags. Even the most active moderators are therefore less likely to see such posts before they are deleted. – Null Jun 18 '18 at 15:27
  • @Null Oh of course, I have personally seen you handle a few though and if they get posted whilst I'm around I'm generally on the scene quickly. Just pointing out it's something else a mod can do. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 15:29
  • 17
    Since your guess at flag-handling times is only based on your own flags, let me be clear that the ~5 hour figure is not representative. The average flag-handling times over the last 7, 30, and 90 days are all well under 2 hours. Just in case anyone is misled by incomplete information. – Rand al'Thor Jun 18 '18 at 19:44
  • @Null, TLC - if you see who handled a spam/abusive post, that probably means that it wasn't actually deleted with the full spam effects. For all of the spam penalties to kick in, it needs to be flagged as Rude/Abusive/Spam, and should show deleted by Community♦. If it isn't, then it doesn't get locked and the double whammy IP block from post nuking and user destruction doesn't apply. – Mithrandir Jun 18 '18 at 20:23
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    @Randal'Thor And to reiterate that time includes community handled times... according to Null from chat. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 19 '18 at 7:58
  • 8
    @Möoz I hate it when things become "mods vs community". We should all be pulling together. But ask yourself who's being confrontational in this: it's not me or the other mods. A few people are taking it on themselves to attack us, and there's little we can do to reduce tension when any honest response we make is construed as a cover-up or a power-grab. And no, I haven't called anyone a "whiny a-hole", although the OP is doing a good job of making us sound like that ("we're fiiiine"). Frankly, I think some people here have genuine concerns but some are just seeking drama. – Rand al'Thor Jun 19 '18 at 10:35
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    @Randal'Thor The meta post is about the mods being more visible, my approximations were from mod only flags. Stating the average is 2 hours without stating that's the total average is misleading. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 19 '18 at 10:43
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    @Randal'Thor FWIW if I'm involved in the "seeking drama" then the whole point of my post has gone over the mods heads and I mean that network wide, not just our mods. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 19 '18 at 10:44
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    The meta post is to try and get OUR mods to be more visible again. When all we get is responses from off site mods and the two that are visible I think it's purpose has failed miserably. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 19 '18 at 10:45
18

OK, since you want to toss this can around again, let's have a look at your claims:

In this previous meta discussion about the moderator team two conclusions appear to have been made:

"Something should be done" - The majority of the community. "Nothing should be done, we're fiiiine" - The moderator team.

Kevin's answer in the linked post currently stands at +46/-13 = 33 votes. This means that a total of 59 people voted for it. The top voted answer on the other side is at +31/-14 = 17. This means a total of 45 people voted for it. This site has 1,260 users with more than 1k rep. Therefore, the idea that either position espoused on the linked meta post reflects the "majority of the community" is ludicrous. That the one with fewer votes and fewer positive votes reflects the views of said majority is even more so.

In the next few weeks moderator only flags seemed to take ~5 hours on average to handle (based off experience and mainly comment flags so adjust the average accordingly)

First of all, a 5h average handling time is absolutely fine. I am having a very hard time believing that you honestly think a change from 5h to 2h is somehow important or even relevant. Sites that actually do have the sort of mod issues you think SFF has can take days for flags, not just a few hours.

Then, you list various things you think a mod should be doing:

  • Edit posts
  • Be active (i.e. log in to the site)
  • Comment
  • Handle flags and other moderator only business (obviously not exactly visible and should go without saying)
  • Active on meta
  • Active in chat
  • Review (not necessarily important but if one is sitting there for a while and the community hasn't handled it why not handle it?)
  • (20k only): Delete low quality, R/A and spam posts
  • etc.

Of these, you are of course completely correct that it is a mod's job to handle flags and be active on the site's meta. I will also grant you that it is indeed important for mods to log into the site relatively often so they can keep abreast of whatever is going on. That, however, doesn't mean that mods can't take a holiday and come back after a while. This isn't a job, and even jobs let you take time off!

That said, of the 5 moderators this site has, all but one have been seen in the past 24 hours and all of them have been seen in the past month. So they're here. And active. Perhaps not as much as you are, but there's nothing wrong with that. Moderating can be surprisingly draining. Especially on the more drama-prone sites.

Now, you claim that the average flag handling times on SFF are ~5h. As I said before, if that's true, then the mods are doing a pretty good job! However, you really have no way of knowing. Even if you took the trouble to look at your past N flags and when they were handled and taken the average (and if you did, you should add it to the question to show that you actually have some evidence and aren't just throwing random numbers around), even if you did do that, that would still not indicate anything about the overall handling time. Some flags are much easier to deal with than others.

As for meta participation, the most active meta user on the site is a moderator. However, it does indeed look as though the other mods aren't that active on meta. I don't know if that's a problem. The mod team is a team for a reason. Not everyone needs to do everything, so maybe they leave the meta work to Rand. Still, if you feel that some of the mods aren't getting involved enough in meta discussions, then maybe you could bring that up. Ideally, in a less confrontational manner, and see if the community wants to touch on that.

None of the other points you make are mod jobs, however. Mods do not need to be active on chat (chat is not what we do here, this is a Q&A site that happens to have some associated chat rooms). Mods do not need to edit, or post. Why should they? Why would you want your moderators to take over the tasks that the community can do? That's the whole idea of "community moderation". Mods should only step in for things the community cannot do and always allow the community to deal with as much as possible..

In fact, if mods were to start doing most of the things you mention instead of waiting for the community to handle them and only stepping in if the community doesn't, then I would expect people to start complaining about power abuse and petty dictators shaping the site to fit their fancy. And people would be right. It isn't a mod's job to deal with things that can be dealt with by users.

  • 6
    You know the point of this meta post is to ask the moderators to be more visible, the rest is backing for why I believe they should be. I feel like you've latched onto the backing rather than the main point of the post. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 13:13
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    @TheLethalCarrot I don't think the mods need to be more visible. I think they are very visible indeed. Which is why I tried to refute the arguments you used to claim they are not visible. Those arguments are the main point of the post since without them, it's just a baseless claim. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 13:15
  • 6
    Can you provide evidence for them being visible? ALL of them being visible? – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 13:16
  • 5
    LOL where did I say mods can't have time off? – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 13:18
  • 6
    Yes logging in shows us they are around and is one factor. It is by no means a factor in deciding if they are actually moderating though. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 13:20
  • 5
    @terdon Or could it be that I can't see them doing anything? No edits, comments, flag handling times are slower than the average quoted by a mod (2.5 times in fact), spam and R/A posts are generally handled by the community... – TheLethalCarrot Jun 18 '18 at 13:23
  • 5
    @TheLethalCarrot but that's the thing. When a community is working well, the edits, comments, spam and R/A flags are all handled by the community. This is a good thing, not a problem! Since you haven't given any data about the flag-handling times, I have no way of answering that one, but I can tell you that the average flag handling times of the two non-beta sites I can speak about are at around 4h. So again, I don't see a problem. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 13:26
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    @terdon You may want to take a step back because it seems like you're taking this post personally for some reason. The OP asked for more visible mod activity. I don't see where he implied anything about vacations or putting people in jail. – Z. Cochrane Jun 18 '18 at 13:26
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    @TheLethalCarrot but that's just it: they were not elected to do it for us! What a strange idea! The moderators are supposed to act as "human exception handlers". They should only step in when the community fails to do its job and should not get involved when the community is working. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 13:29
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    @TheLethalCarrot no, they are elected to moderate. They are not elected to post, comment, edit or do any of the things you can do without being a mod. They are elected to do the things the community cannot do, not those that the community can deal with. That's why they're moderators. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 13:32
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    TLC, I think you and terdon are using different definitions of "moderate". Mods aren't supposed to deal with every issue that comes up on the site; they're there to handle the things that the regular users can't deal with using the tools they have available to them. – Mithrandir Jun 18 '18 at 13:32
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    You might want to mention in your answer that you're a mod elsewhere on the network. – Valorum Jun 18 '18 at 14:32
  • 10
    @Valorum why? I am not a mod here, so why is that relevant? I am answering as a user of SFF, not as a moderator. And it's easy enough to see I'm a mod elsewhere by checking my profile. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 14:58
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    @Valorum: Given that this question contains multiple outright falsehoods (about what "the community" wants, about what moderators are "supposed to" do, etc.), I find it very surprising that you even care about whether the person pointing it out is a mod or not. It comes across as cliquish and exclusionary, as if you're accusing terdon of not being a "real" member of the community. This us-and-them mentality is very unhelpful in my opinion. – Kevin Jun 18 '18 at 18:19
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    @Kevin - I don't think it's "cliquish" to ask someone who's a moderator elsewhere to declare a special interest when answering a question about moderation. Other moderators have done so in the past. – Valorum Jun 18 '18 at 18:23
13

I think it's worth pointing out here that the most active moderator on this site by far... Isn't a person. It's a group!

Over the past year, only about 20% of moderation actions here have been performed by the elected moderators; the vast bulk of the work is being done by folks like you, the overall moderation cost of the system amortized across thousands of teeny-tiny slices of effort contributed by regular, everyday users - exactly as it should be for a mature site such as this one.

Of course... This makes it a lot harder to satisfy a call for action such as the one you raise; more verbosity from one or two or five people with diamonds next to their name doesn't really do much when 4/5ths of the moderation involves someone else.

But that's no reason not to try! You can lead by example: four out of the last five questions you voted to close have no comment from you; you could certainly provide a bit more guidance to folks asking off-topic questions, providing a template for others on how to visibly guide new users in the process. Ditto for edits: you're a pretty good editor, and often try to rescue problematic questions with helpful revisions - but rarely do I see you offering specific guidance to the author in the process. Again here, a few notes on what your edit is accomplishing could set an example for other editors, not to mention the author themselves - teach a man to fish & all that...

Of course, this isn't all on you. Anyone reading this would do well to consider how their own small part in moderating the site could be improved.

I'll leave you with some gratuitous numbers...

Appendix: moderation stats

Here's a breakdown of moderation activity over the past 365 days:

Action                                  Moderators Community¹ 
--------------------------------------- ---------- --------- 
Users suspended²                              11          7  
Users destroyed                              242          0  
Users deleted                                 22          0  
Users contacted                               32          0  
User banned from review                        1          0  
Tasks reviewed³: Suggested Edit queue         75       5355  
Tasks reviewed: Reopen Vote queue             94       2838  
Tasks reviewed: Low Quality Posts queue      238       8851  
Tasks reviewed: Late Answer queue             96       3476  
Tasks reviewed: First Post queue             150       8267  
Tasks reviewed: Close Votes queue            102       7866  
Tags merged                                   35          0  
Tag synonyms proposed                         14          2  
Tag synonyms created                          15          2  
Questions unprotected                          1         11  
Questions reopened                           113        234  
Questions protected                           56        342  
Questions migrated                            23          5  
Questions merged                               6          0  
Questions flagged⁴                             5       1480  
Questions closed                             157       2082  
Question flags handled⁴                      448       1037  
Posts unlocked                                 5         26  
Posts undeleted                               54        142  
Posts locked                                  14        239  
Posts deleted⁵                              1294       3134  
Posts bumped                                   0        766  
Escalations to the CM team                     7          0  
Comments undeleted                           167          0  
Comments flagged                               3       4348  
Comments deleted⁶                           6765       6358  
Comment flags handled                       3083       1268  
Answers flagged                               47       7851  
Answer flags handled                        3254       4644  
All comments on a post moved to chat          86          0 

Footnotes

¹ "Community" here refers both to the membership of Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange without diamonds next to their names, and to the automated systems otherwise known as user #-1 - a system process that operates based on votes, views, reviews and other heuristics.

² The system will suspend users under three circumstances: when a user is recreated after being previously suspended, when a user is recreated after being destroyed for spam or abuse, and when a network-wide suspension is in effect on an account.

³ This counts every review that was submitted (not skipped) - so the 2 suggested edits reviews needed to approve an edit would count as 2, the goal being to indicate the frequency of moderation actions. This also applies to flags, etc.

⁴ Includes close flags (but not close or reopen votes).

⁵ This ignores a good chunk of deletions that happen automatically in response to some other action.

⁶ This includes comments deleted by their own authors (which also account for some number of handled comment flags).

  • 9
    I find it somewhat concerning that Column A contains thousands of actions but some of the moderation team haven't posted a single comment for months. – Valorum Jun 19 '18 at 22:41
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    So the OP asks for more moderation involvement or visibility of their involvement, and you suffice to say that the "general" community is doing fine? Why have 5 moderator positions (some of which are seemingly unused) then? By the way, a genuine thank you; I know we're doing a bang-up job in this community (it's nice to hear it). – Möoz Jun 19 '18 at 22:55
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    I don't, @Valorum. Expecting moderators to drop comments all over the place is fine on tiny new beta sites where almost no one can do anything, but it doesn't scale at all. On graduated sites, the bulk of this work is expected to be done by the folks who use the site; if they can't or won't, then this tends to act as sort of a natural limiter on the site's growth. – Shog9 Jun 19 '18 at 23:31
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    I'm not sure what you're asking, @Möoz. There are five positions because that's what the moderator team decided they needed; there are five people because those are the five people you collectively chose to fill the positions. Thankfully, the current team works pretty well together (something that has not always been the case); I've seen no requests for more assistance nor complaints about work left undone in quite some time. – Shog9 Jun 19 '18 at 23:35
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    @Shog9 - Sure, and only a barking idiot would expect them to comment on every action they undertake, but we're talking about hundreds (potentially thousands) of actions taken by three of our moderators, with zero comments to explain those actions. Surely you can see why that might be a cause for concern – Valorum Jun 19 '18 at 23:54
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    My concern with moderator actions tends to start with the point at which they refuse to explain why they took an action when such an explanation is needed, @Valorum. Arguably moderators shouldn't be in the habit of taking actions that generate confusion and demand explanation... Moderators here range from maybe 5 actions per comment on average all the way up to 80+ actions per comment; on Stack Overflow experienced moderators can rack up thousands of actions before needing to explain anything. – Shog9 Jun 20 '18 at 0:16
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    @Shog9 I don’t really think it’s fair to compare SFF to SO (or one of the other “big 5” sites) the numbers involved are just too different. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 20 '18 at 0:39
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    I'm not sure there is a "fair" comparison, @TheLethalCarrot; I'm not sure this is even a useful metric to begin with. If I delete 30 comments on a single post and leave one, is that bad? If I delete 1 comment each on 30 posts and leave 15, is that better or worse? I've left about 28 comments over the past thousand actions I've taken on Stack Overflow, vs. zero comments for the past 27 actions I've taken here - do either of those numbers mean anything? – Shog9 Jun 20 '18 at 0:58
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    @Shog9 There are five positions because that's what the moderator team decided they needed Yes, at the time, it seemed like that was what was needed. But all I've heard so far (in this and the previous discussion) is that the two or three active mods are handling everything fine. So my point is, if we elected them there, why can't we question them now? – Möoz Jun 20 '18 at 3:44
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    Surely that's what you have been doing for a good while now, @Möoz? The problem seems to be not so much an inability to question so much as an unwillingness to accept the answer. – Shog9 Jun 20 '18 at 3:49
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    but rarely do I see you offering specific guidance to the author in the process: I generally offer advice to post authors at least once a day (usually a lot more) so I wouldn't say that's rare. I suppose you could argue it isn't necessarily too specific but I try and tailor even my canned comments. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 20 '18 at 8:11
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    Something that's easy to miss... a site has X (5 in this case) slots because that's what was determined to be needed at some point in time. The quantity of slots can grow or reduce at any time based on a number of factors including both site activity and moderator activity. Removing an inactive moderator does not actually require that position to be filled if the moderation team feels like they have things in hand. If four is enough, four is enough. The system is elastic, not carved in stone. Removing someone for being inactive doesn't necessitate an election! – Catija Jun 20 '18 at 14:41
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    @Catija I don't think anyone here is asking for an election. I feel like several of these meta questions have been marginally passive-agressive ways to express the exact idea you just did -- we have 5 moderators but not 5 active moderators, why not trim some of the excess? The response, of course, was "why? it's not hurting anyone." (which is not 100% strictly true, but close enough). – KutuluMike Jun 21 '18 at 2:17
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    @doppelgreener - Thaddeus is extremely active on Quora and social media (he posts hourly on Twitter, for example). As far as SFF is concerned, he seems to have entirely stopped visiting or taking any useful part in the site. As far as I'm aware, there doesn't seem to be any specific justification (such as a short-term crisis) for this other than that he just doesn't feel like it. – Valorum Jun 21 '18 at 13:38
  • 3
    Gotta be honest, @Kut - if, as Val implies, this is all a thinly-veiled conversation about Thaddeus, then it's a tempest in a teapot; the only "harm" is a couple of slightly noisy comments. I'm tired of this conversation. – Shog9 Jun 22 '18 at 19:41
8

I must say that I disagree with most of your "activity" points, for a couple of reasons.

  1. I'm on record for many years as arguing against excessive moderator activity.

    • Binding votes are bad. Many reasons (rehashed on Meta before).

    • Nothing worse than expressing your point on Meta, only for a mod to come in, and destroy your argument not because you are wrong, but because a diamond publicly opposed you (as clearly seen in voting patterns on the Meta post before and after Moderator post - I have experienced this). While this happened occasionally with regular users posting things too - duh, I have plenty of bad ideas and suck at articulating good ones - it never had either the frequency OR the magnitude of the effect when a mod does it. I often vote-win Meta contests of ideas against answers by other users, and don't think I ever won one against moderators.

  2. More objectively, there's only so much effort a moderation team can put in (especially when some members are... ahem... how do I put it gently... less engaged?).

    As such, I'd rather see them expend that rare currency on human exception handling (which is moderator's main job description), rather than actions regular community users can easily do.

    And since there has been a marked improvement in moderation team quality of recent, I'd rather not lead them to be burnt out.

  • 4
    Just to be clear - this only applies to "community-replaceable" moderator activity. Please don't construe this answer as endorsement of moderators who don't pull their fair share of doing the actual diamond-specific jobs. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 20 '18 at 2:36
  • 2
    I agree with most of this, but we're in a situation now where two (possibly three) of the moderation team are basically acting like invisible gods. They aren't interacting with the site other than to moderate it, they aren't contributing much of anything to the site and where they do moderate things, they aren't explaining what action they've taken or why. That can't be right.... – Valorum Jun 20 '18 at 6:20
  • 9
    @Valorum: Well, it depends. Deleting spam and destroying spam-only accounts? Keep up the good work, no need for comments. We don't know that they're behaving in the manner you suggest, and I still have not seen any evidence, in all of these comments, that there is an actual problem that needs to be solved. Can you identify one single moderator action that was genuinely problematic in the recent past? If not, then I think this whole discussion is a massive waste of everyone's time. – Kevin Jun 20 '18 at 7:00
  • 2
    To be clear my "activity" points were examples for what a moderator could do to be more visible. The main point is for them to be more visible. But I do see where you're coming from. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 20 '18 at 7:47
  • 3
    @Kevin If it's waste of everyone's time, take a step back and think "Wait, why am I getting involved in this?" – TheLethalCarrot Jun 20 '18 at 7:48
  • 2
    @Kevin - Well, there's the rub isn't it? If they've stopped communicating their actions, then how do I know what they're doing or whether they are doing a good job or not? – Valorum Jun 20 '18 at 8:04
  • 5
    @Valorum - that's easy. Do you see an increase in crap? Do you specifically see an increase in crap that ONLY moderators can do? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 20 '18 at 9:23
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    @DVK-on-Ahch-To - That's a toughie. Flags seem to get handled pretty rapidly but there's no comments being made to explain who handled them or to explain why decisions were made. We've also had some high profile issues where flags have sat untended for entire days – Valorum Jun 20 '18 at 10:04
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    @Valorum - if there's no controversy on what the decision should be, a comment seems unneeded. If there is, then THAT is what should be highlighted instead of generic "activity" or even "comments". – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 20 '18 at 11:38
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    @Valorum - as far as high profile issues, that's self inficted. When a mob of users decides to do vigilante justice that violates the rules and norms of SE, I can't blame the mods for being careful. There is a reason moderators are there - they are human exception handling, not do what the mob wants (see: "representative democracy"). Plus, you know me - I am more likely to go off on a mod for being too aggressive, not too careful, in general - you when you were a mod got the same treatment. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 20 '18 at 11:39
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    Can you provide some examples of when a "mob of users decides to do vigilante justice that violates the rules and norms of SE", because from the way you phrased that it sounds anecdotal, yet I have no recollection of such an occurrence in the past 18 months. – Edlothiad Jun 20 '18 at 12:35
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    @Edlothiad - I'm surprised that you even have to ask. As a rule of thumb, some sort of drama usually occurs every six months or so in SFF. I haven't been a member that long, but I have lurked on it. I'd wager that the ratio of controversy to site traffic is atleast equal to, if not greater than that of SO. – Simpleton Jun 21 '18 at 4:15
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    @Simpleton sure we have drama that comes up, be it mods abusing powers or whatever, but when has a “mob of users” ever decided to do ”vigilante justice” which violates the rules. Either it was covered up very well, or it never happened. – Edlothiad Jun 21 '18 at 5:43
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    @Edlothiad Can you provide some examples of "mods abusing powers"? Aside from occasional mistakes (since we're all human) I'm not aware of any instances of the current SFF moderators deliberately abusing their powers. – Null Jun 21 '18 at 13:54
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    @Edlothiad I just want to make sure that your mention of "mods abusing powers" is not referring to any of the current moderators, as that would be a serious accusation and would need to be addressed ASAP. In the context of this meta discussion about the current moderator team your comment could easily be (mis)read as an accusation of current moderators causing drama by abusing their powers. – Null Jun 21 '18 at 14:49
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One of my personal concerns is that several of our moderators don't seem to be following one of the main precepts of the "Theory of Moderation" (the rules that are supposed to guide how Stack Exchange volunteer moderators comport themselves), specifically point #3

Whenever possible, try to leave frequent comments on posts where you’ve taken (or considered taking) a moderator action, explaining the reasoning. This is important so that community members can learn the norms of the community and the moderation policies.

Rand Al'Thor has confirmed that two of the site's mods (Kevin and Thaddeus) are doing moderator things in the background but we can see from their activity logs that they aren't leaving frequent (or indeed any) comments to explain the actions they've taken.

Rand: Kevin and Thaddeus aren't so chatty as me. Does that make them less effective as moderators? ... They can still (e.g.) delete posts and comments, and have been doing so.

The fact that they've haven't posted a single comment to explain their actions for months is troubling.


What can we do about this?

The short answer is nothing. If the mods say that they're acting appropriately then there's no way of determining if this is true or not. That being said, the (available) evidence is worrying.

What can they do about this?

Comment occasionally. Remind us that you exist and make sure when you take an action that you also leave a comment to explain what happened and why.

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    This is a valid concern. But do remember that most actions a mod can take on a post that are not reactions to flags, are basically deletion. So the comments may well be left, but you'll only see them if you happen to come across the deleted post. Do the mods really take so many actions without comment? I don't know, maybe they have, but it'd be nice to see some evidence to back up that claim. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 23:18
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    @terdon - Based on the fact that some moderators are posting zero comments per month (in fact, in the past 120 days only one of the three moderators mentioned has posted a single "action comment"), I'm forced to the conclusion that they're acting without commenting. Either that or they're only acting on flags that require no comments. I've no way of knowing which is the case since that info is privileged to the moderators only (who keep insisting that everything is fiiiiiine) – Valorum Jun 18 '18 at 23:21
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    @terdon - Note also that moderator comments (to guide and support the community) are also supposed to be posted where an action was merely "considered". Either way things have gone wrong. We can point fingers and make it them vs. us, but surely it's better for them to rectify the situation by simply following the agreement they signed up to when they became moderators. – Valorum Jun 18 '18 at 23:22
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    oh, I'm glad to hear you don't want to make it an "us vs them" thing. That's the best news I've heard all day, and I'm all for it! I look forward to the new, friendly and evidence based discussion thread. – terdon Jun 18 '18 at 23:33
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    @terdon - It's quite hard to get evidence when asking for that evidence results in a firm "sorry, we're not gonna share that with you" and no possible right of appeal. I am, however, reasonably certain that the mod team have been telling us that they're active "behind the scenes". When that translated into zero action-comments, that tells me that something has gone awry. – Valorum Jun 18 '18 at 23:34
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    For the record, comments on deleted posts don't show up in anyone's public activity history. – Rand al'Thor Jun 19 '18 at 10:37
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    @Valorum Correction: we did not give you a firm "sorry, we're not gonna share that with you" with no possible right of appeal. We the scifi mods asked the CMs to give us statistics that are not available to us and they only gave us permission to share broad details (which we did in last month's meta). You are welcome to ask the CMs to share additional data but I doubt they will share it since they already told us not to. – Null Jun 19 '18 at 13:21
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    @Null - Can we have a picture of the current Mod Dashboard? – Valorum Jun 19 '18 at 15:16
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    @Valorum The page with the table listing each moderator, how many flags they've handled, etc.? No, not the whole page. We were told each moderator would have to agree to share data regarding himself. In other words, I could share data like the number of flags I've handled, but I can't share the number for any other moderator -- you'd have to ask each moderator for their data. – Null Jun 19 '18 at 15:37
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    @Null - So, a firm "sorry, we're not gonna share that with you" then? – Valorum Jun 19 '18 at 15:39
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    @Valorum I can't answer for everyone. I am willing to share some information about myself but you'd have to ask the others if you want their data. – Null Jun 19 '18 at 15:45
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    @Null - The ones I'm keen to see seem to be the least keen to share information about their activity (or lack thereof) – Valorum Jun 19 '18 at 15:49
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    The mod dashboard is hidden to everyone except users with a diamond on the site (i.e. the site mods and SE employees). Clearly SE considers the information on it private (otherwise they would make it public). I can only guess that the CMs were trying to strike a middle ground by allowing moderators to release their own information but not the other moderators'. – Null Jun 21 '18 at 13:46

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