I've been looking at who is running for moderator for SF&F. There are people there that I have never seen post an answer, a question, or even a comment. There are others I know from answers and questions and comments, others that are active in Meta, and also some I know well from chat.

I'm finding that I learn about a person's knowledge of the field from their questions and answers (Are they only interested in one topic, or do they have a range? Are they nasty to fans of any works or authors?), and from their participation in Meta, I can see if they're interested in what it takes to make the site work and I feel like chat shows me what kind of a person they are. Anyone can write a good one-time speech about what a great mod they'l be, but it's hard to fake it over time.

But when I think about this, it sounds like I'm saying, "To be a moderator, you have to meet prerequisites. If you aren't in Meta or Chat, you don't qualify." And I'm wondering if that's a helpful attitude.

When considering voting for a moderator, is whether they participate notably on the board, on Meta, and on chat important?

3 Answers 3


The elections site shows various statistics about the candidates, more than appears on the nomination page. There have been discussions as to what statistics are relevant, especially Good Moderator Heuristics?; also How important is meta.SO participation for a SE moderator? and a few more.

My opinion is that meta participation is important, but can be essentially read-only (which is hard to verify). Chat participation is not important. Having done some share of voting, editing, closing and flagging is important: you should to have some experience of how Stack Exchange works beyond the basics of posting questions and answers. The last elections on Stack Overflow made a minimum level of voting, editing, flagging and meta participation a requirement; it would be difficult to arrange on smaller sites where the total volume of things to do doesn't stretch so far, but you can see the corresponding stats on the elections page.

The intangible qualities that make good moderators can't be judged by such metrics. In the end, you'll be voting on your own conscience and in privacy.


Vote for the kind of person you want to see moderating the site.

If you can't tell if someone is that sort of person, then chances are pretty good that they won't be: one of the tenets of Stack Exchange is that almost everyone is a moderator in at least some capacity - very few actions are limited strictly to diamond-after-their-name Moderators, and those that are can be achieved by ordinary users via the moderator-flag.

As Gilles notes, there are plenty of stats available for you to peruse when evaluating the candidates. And every candidate has a list of their recent activities linked to on their profile. But which of these are important - and which are pointless - will depend on what you expect from your moderators. Do you want them to provide excellent questions and answers? Well, nothin' wrong with that - but they can do that without the diamond. Do you want them to hang out in chat? Respond on Meta? Cleanup bad questions, assist new users in posting good ones, guide experts in posting answers rather than discussion? All of that is available for your discovery...

So decide what you want. What you think the site needs. And then vote for that.

  • 1
    Yes, of course vote for the person I want to see. That's not the question. The question is more about how can I tell -- and it seems that the best way is to see them in various situations. Stats only tell part of a story, though.
    – Tango
    Jan 25, 2012 at 1:57
  • 1
    There's no "moderator goodness factor" that'll tell you who is best for the job. Folks have very different opinions as to what sort of moderation is desirable, and what sort of moderators are best to conduct it... That's sorta why we have elections the way we do - so y'all can hash it out in public. I strongly encourage you to leave comments on the nominations now, while you can, to ask candidates questions and share your opinions of them (constructively, of course). Messy business, democracy!
    – Shog9
    Jan 25, 2012 at 2:05

When considering voting for a moderator, is whether they participate notably on the board, on Meta, and on chat important?

TL;DR: I think yes and no.

I don't think it's possible to demonstrate through chat or meta one's potential competence at or particular skill for moderating, or lack thereof. Users may read the chat logs and the meta questions regularly and give to both thoughtful consideration. There are different ways to participate in a community and I would submit that using only one's own context to define acceptable user participation doesn't allow for other valid models. People assign value in different ways and I think it's important to allow for different approaches. Just as in the real world, an online community will have a variety of user roles to choose from. There will be those who are overtly social by hanging in chat and those who ask and answer questions on meta fairly often. Conversely, there will be community members who take a quieter approach to the site. Does that make them a lesser user than the visible extrovert? I think not, personally.

That said, If someone with a rep score of 27 is running for moderator and is presenting himself/herself as very active on the site, I would find that claim to be somewhat mutually exclusive. Perhaps they have a higher rep score on SO or in another SE forum -- as a voter, that's something I would definitely take into consideration as I ponder the candidates. But if someone's only rep score is 27 and the only site they've been active on is Sci-Fi/Fantasy, I would want them to satisfactorily explain to me how I might be able to consider them active on/involved with the site.

Since I'm not running for a moderator position, I did want to defend users who participate in just one topic. I don't think that is necessarily indicative of their overall Sci-Fi/Fantasy experience/knowledge. Like myself, a person might be familiar with and have knowledge of numerous different universes, but not feel quite expert enough to answer the very specific questions that are asked on this forum. Like, I can't tell you what Spock's internal body temperature was in The Wrath of Khan, nor can I tell you how to build an At-At, but I'm familiar with both of these universes, plus many more. A person who is singularly focused could absolutely edit posts for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, have a neutral and unbiased approach to their fellow SE members, have excellent de-escalation and problem-solving skills, and be committed to the vision of the site.

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