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It's become clear to me over the last few days that not all of the active moderators agree with the current policy of deleting old questions. Some prefer a more balanced solution like locking, freezing, etc ...

As a 10K+ user I can investigate deleted questions and find out a moderators habits. This is not true of the vast majority of eligible voters (200 rep). Moderators are publicly elected officials and their actions hence should be view able by the voting public.

Hence I propose that any user who is eligible to vote in the moderator elections should be able to view all moderator actions taken by the existing moderators. Today there seems to be no way for even 10K+ users to do so. Actions such as delete don't seem to appear on the activities tab. You can search question by question but this is highly inefficient.


Several people have pointed out that we don't currently remove moderators after election. I still believe we need to make moderator actions visible. Users should be able too see how the people they elected are behaving. If it deviates enough from what the majority thinks is correct perhaps it will spur a process by which to remove them.

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What actions do you have in mind? –  jmfsg Mar 4 '12 at 1:32
All of the moderators prefer a more balanced solution. There aren't, however, any mods that advocate keeping crappy questions around. How about doing something constructive and contributing to the process of finding a more "balanced" solution? Loved your tweet, by the way. It's always nice to know I'm lumped in with book burners. –  Robert Harvey Mar 4 '12 at 1:34
@RobertHarvey you actively support deleting history of the site. Either you stand by your actions or you don't. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:35
And you actively support keeping garbage around forever. Pick your poison. –  Robert Harvey Mar 4 '12 at 1:35
@RobertHarvey I have and I'm comfortable standing by my point. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:36
@JuanManuel if it is then point me to it. I'd love to take a look –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:37
What would this achieve? Scaring all the moderators into not even wanting to do anything, or not even become a moderator, because the community is watching every single move they make? Who wants someone watching what they're doing 24/7? I'm sure you wouldn't appreciate your boss standing over your shoulder all day while you're working. –  animuson Mar 4 '12 at 1:37
@animuson moderators have the power to undo thousands of contributions to a gray area on a whim. They actions should be public because they must be able to defend their decisions. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:38
@JuanManuel which is visible to non-10K users? Is there a way for me to look at a mod and see their participation history? –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:38
You should read this, if you haven't already: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/124439 –  Robert Harvey Mar 4 '12 at 1:39
@JuanManuel the entire point of my request is to make moderator actions visible to everyone, not just 10K+ users. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:41
Well, I disagree... from the post linked by @RobertHarvey: "If a moderator had to spend every day looking over his shoulder, expecting to be called out and questioned on every decision, they would be hamstrung - no one needs or wants that much grief." –  jmfsg Mar 4 '12 at 1:45
You don't vote in already elected moderators. So what activity do you want to see for the election process? Which way new mods should follow by example? –  random Mar 4 '12 at 1:48
@random thanks for linking to that. I don't think the accepted answer though really addresses the problem which comes when there is a disconnect between how the moderators are policing the site and how the majority of users want the site to be policed. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:58
Once again, certain people insist on blurring the line between "garbage" questions and questions that are simply not a good fit for Stack Overflow's content model but have potentially interesting information to offer others/the Internet. I don't think the way people are approaching this topic is productive, and I think the inflammatory discourse is obscuring the real need to find a solution. But yes, I'm not sure that what you're proposing is the answer, because I think it's like killing a fly with a bazooka. There's way too many moderator actions that are unrelated we'd be showing. –  Cody Gray Mar 4 '12 at 8:06

3 Answers 3

Have you given any thought about the other side of the coin?

If you do that, it creates a trail of problematic posts (moderators tend to intervene on problematic posts). That's not too much of a problem with closures, but I don't see the point in distinguishing closures by a moderator for others. There is already a way to list close posts (search for closed:1). But it draws attention to anything else, deleted posts in particular. Non-moderators cannot search for deleted posts, by design, to avoid attracting attention to them. Now you're exposing anyone who creates a deletion-worthy post. Not good.

Yet other moderator actions absolutely cannot be made visible, because moderators have a duty to keep a number of things confidential, such as any personal data they may have seen, or the contents of flags. Things like suspending or merging users is never made accessible on anything but the affected user's profile; there is no public trail of troublesome users. This is vital to give these users a chance to reform. Making suspensions visible would brand for life any user who has once had a bad day and done something harsh. No, that is not good at all.

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Shog's own posts says moderators should be willing to stand by their decisions. Why don't they want to make those decisions visible? Note: I don't want anything which is a potential privacy issue public (banning, messages, suspension, etc ...) just actions which are overriding user contributions. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 2:44

That's what the nominations are for (mods to be can present their ideas and philosophies)
There is also the chat (prior to the election) where they answer specific questions presented to them.

This is enough for you to choose who to vote, moderation actions are not visible to all by design (we have enough angry users as it is)

From Community-led deletionism: a protocol for sanity:

If a moderator had to spend every day looking over his shoulder, expecting to be called out and questioned on every decision, they would be hamstrung - no one needs or wants that much grief.

Also, regarding this

Going forward I have no intention of voting again for moderators who do support the deleting of old questions. It's my vote and I'm free to use it to influence the community.

Currently, moderators are not removed from their positions, so the point is moot (unless you are thinking about voting for them on another SE site)

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Chat is the only way to vet first time moderators. For existing moderators we should be able to examine their behavior. Just because they say the do X doesn't mean they actually do it. For the vast majority of users there is no way to understand what a moderator is actually doing. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:28
Who deleted it is listed right there on the post...so I don't follow the "not visible" bit? –  Nick Craver Mar 4 '12 at 1:28
@NickCraver, you're right, I was thinking about something else (edited, feel free to delete these comments) –  jmfsg Mar 4 '12 at 1:30
@JaredPar, see my edit –  jmfsg Mar 4 '12 at 1:35
Just to repeat my comment from the question since it's relevant here: I don't think that first quote is intended to apply in the context of elections. It seems to me that it's totally valid to vote for someone (moderator, politician, etc.) based on their actions, rather than what they say they'll do in their little blurb. Being accountable is not the same as having everyone jump on your decisions and demand they be reversed, IMO. With that said I agree it's a non-issue with mods elected "for life". –  Matthew Read Mar 4 '12 at 2:12
@NickCarver: Only if you can see the deleted question in the first place. –  Billy ONeal Mar 4 '12 at 2:19
@JaredPar You are so wrong about vetting new moderators. All moderators on Super User had a track record that could be verified by the existing mods, where they either edited, commented or helped close the vast majority of questions. If you're truly part of a community, you would know which users stand out. I guess SO is to big for you to judge that on the grand scale of things. –  Ivo Flipse Mar 4 '12 at 6:52
@IvoFlipse are you saying I'm not a part of the SO community? –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 6:54
To a degree it surprises how little you are familiar with the internals of SO, given how often they are discussed on MSO. I guess SO is so big, that there are different groups of people, with different interests. You clearly have less interest in how the site is kept clean for the millions of visitors and more in providing helpful answers. Great, we need people like you, but that doesn't make you the perfect person to judge other users ability to participate in moderating. –  Ivo Flipse Mar 4 '12 at 7:10
@IvoFlipse I don't spend much time on meta. I prefer to help people than to have meta discussions about helping people. I only come here when meta interferes with SO in a negative way. Spending more time discussing how to answer questions than actually answering them doesn't make you the perfect judge either. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 7:54
Before they gave us moderators fancy pants tools and improved the flagging system it was virtually impossible to answer questions AND keep the site clean. While you may disagree with a small percentage of the actions of the moderators actions, such as deleting highly popular questions, even you should admit that overall the moderators do more good than evil. Trying to make our job harder by having every user, including spammers and grievers, look over our shoulders, because you disagree with a couple of decisions is not in any way constructive. –  Ivo Flipse Mar 4 '12 at 7:59
@IvoFlipse yes, vast majority of deletions are good. The recent deletions are not good and moderators should be held accountable for their actions. Your making decisions that defy hundreds or thousands of pieces of user feedback over the years. This shouldn't be taken lightly or be done privately. To do so is to completely discount all the prior data. Also please @ jaredpar in your responses so i get notified you replied. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 8:04
@JaredPar There is a misunderstanding in the way you think moderators operate, which I is in part due to the fact that a lot of discussion about these questions take place in a private moderator room. So a more constructive suggestion would be to have the moderators hold these discussions out in the open, so every user would access to the same information to decide for themselves what is right or wrong. –  Ivo Flipse Mar 4 '12 at 8:16
@IvoFlipse I've made that request before. But I don't think there's confusion here on how they operate. Mods are deleting very old questions that have significant user feedback. The only recourse we have as users is to beg for the question to be reopened again. –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 8:22
let us continue this discussion in chat –  Ivo Flipse Mar 4 '12 at 8:25

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Agreed. If you're a moderator, everything* you do should be an open book for the community to see. Your user activity should reflect the moderator actions you've taken.

*everything define as things that are public in nature. Sending a private message to a user is not. Banning a user is.

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Completely agree about keeping actions like private messages private. This is definitely meant to support the realm of public facing actions like deletes –  JaredPar Mar 4 '12 at 1:30
Actually banning a user needs to be private for the user's sake. The team is notified every time someone is suspended though, so there's that. –  Matthew Read Mar 4 '12 at 2:10
So what about what we do isn't visible to someone now? We're already the most visible people in the system by far. –  casperOne Mar 4 '12 at 2:17
I am all for being visibly accountable to the community. However, and to repeat my concern under Jared's question, the risk here is that what we would see would be an unbalanced view of a mod's overall activity i.e. the contentious bits which are a tiny fraction of the rest of a mod's day-to-day actions clearing up hundreds of flags every day (which are already visible on the site). All mods can be brought to task on Meta if it is felt there is something he/she is doing that is derailing the site in anyway. –  The Anti-Santa Mar 4 '12 at 11:25
@Kev: If those who act in the name of their users are afraid of how the users might interpret what they are doing, there are two ways to deal with that: more security and privacy, or more openness about what they do. Guess which of the two the users they represent would prefer? –  sbi Mar 4 '12 at 18:48

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