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This has apparently been discussed on the Teacher's Lounge before, but I can't find any official record of it (thus further leading me to believe my request is a good idea).

I would like to propose a Q&A site strictly for the use of moderators of SE sites. That is, the exact same people who have access to the Teacher's Lounge chat room.

I could propose this on A51, but that doesn't seem appropriate for a closed-access site for internal use only.

Reasons a Q&A site would be a benefit beyond the existing chat room:

  • Q&A format is less of a distraction while working at my real job.
  • Many questions have "canned" answers that are not searchable currently.
  • Would likely allow for better answers for some questions--we'd poll from the entire moderator community, not just those who are logged into chat at the moment.
  • A searchable history of moderator Q&A would be beneficial. I realize the chat room is archived and searchable, but I believe the Q&A format is much easier for this sort of thing, as evidenced by the popularity of the numerous existing SE sites, despite IRC having been around for many decades more.

EDIT: In an attempt to avoid confusion for those who aren't moderators, I'm proposing a Private moderator's Q&A site. This is distinct from the Area 51 proposal for a site about moderation, which would be a public site. We already have a private chat room (called Teacher's Lounge) where only moderators are permitted to participate.

The sorts of things we talk about in the chat room would also be the topic of discussion on the Q&A site. Topics like:

  • Is it appropriate to migrate a question about unicorn farming from StackOverflow to the Farming site?
  • One of our community members insists on posting his off-topic questions about unicorn farming. How should we deal with him?
  • Discussion of a private or sensitive nature (moderators have access to additional site statistics and metrics, additional user data, etc, that cannot be discussed willy-nilly)
  • I'm a new moderator. Where can I go to see our super secret unicorn farm?

This is not a proposal to start secret meetings behind the backs of everyone else. It is, as pointed out in comments, a proposal to provide a alternative to the chat room that is already in place.

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Isn't that what MSO is? Q&A on the SE sites and how they work? –  Rachel May 30 '12 at 18:48
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"I can't find any official record of it (thus further leading me to believe my request is a good idea)." I can't imagine how that thought process worked –  Michael Mrozek May 30 '12 at 18:48
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@MichaelMrozek Because he can't find it, it would be better if there was a more appropriate repository making the information easier to find. At least, that's how I interpreted his statement. (For the record, I'm not stating that I agree or disagree with it.) –  Servy May 30 '12 at 18:57
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@Rachel Ah, but there are Secret Super Special Awesome stuff the mods hide from the users, like our secret Unicorn farm! –  TylerShads May 30 '12 at 18:57
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what, common sense no longer enough for mods these days? –  Lorem Ipsum May 30 '12 at 18:58
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@AlEverett The moderators proposal is for a public site about community moderation, this request is for a super secret Q&A for SE moderators. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 18:58
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There's also this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/118972/… –  Al E. May 30 '12 at 18:59
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The examples you provided so far are handled well here on meta already. –  Anna Lear May 30 '12 at 19:05
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I initially thought this was a decent idea, but then I was reminded of the "open moderation" principle in practice here. One would hope that true instances where privacy needs to be maintained would be very rare, thus making this proposal unneeded. (and having it would encourage private discu... errr.. Q&A). And disclosure: I'm not a mod anywhere. Yet ;-) –  Andrew's a Unitato May 30 '12 at 19:13
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@AndrewBarber: I think we already do a pretty good job of open moderation. But the truth is there are times when sensitive data must be discussed. Not having a Q&A site won't stop that--it just changes the format of the discussions. –  Flimzy May 30 '12 at 19:18
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@AndrewBarber One would hope that true instances where privacy needs to be maintained would be very rare, thus making this proposal unneeded. Unfortunately they are not as rare as all of us would have hopped for... –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 19:41
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The problem I have with this: if you make it easy to hide things, people will hide things. I don't want a secretive aristocracy to end up ruling SE and doing things the public doesn't understand for no apparent rhyme or reason. –  John May 30 '12 at 19:56
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@John: It's already easy. Arguably too easy. (See MarkTrapp's answer, and related comments below). Adding a QA site, if anything, would make it easier to police that problem, not harder. –  Flimzy May 30 '12 at 20:05
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Sarcasm aside, @John makes a good point there - truth is, we (the employees / community team) would end up having to moderate a moderator Q&A site. I would hope it wouldn't be a large burden, but still... That's honestly not a task I'm particularly eager to sign up for. –  Shog9 May 30 '12 at 22:43
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@John I don't think closing as a duplicate of a 3-year old question that gave us the very system folks now want to replace is appropriate. This request clearly stands on its own. –  Anna Lear May 31 '12 at 4:08
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7 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

The Teacher's Lounge exists for two reasons:

  1. Provide a place where moderators can relax a bit, commiserate and bond without every word being thrown back in their faces the next time someone disagrees with their actions in public. The name is sort of a giveaway here...

  2. Allow discussion of sensitive topics without violating the moderator agreement. Note that this is very much the secondary reason: many sites have a completely separate, private room or rooms, accessible only to that sites's moderators, for the discussion of sensitive information.

The ever-present danger with that is the growth of a separate, moderator-only subculture, where critical decisions are made in private and handed down without any public discourse. This is stymied, to some extent at least, by the differences in the beliefs and backgrounds of those who participate - if it ever becomes a problem, the TL will be shut down completely with no equivalent replacement. In my opinion, a private, moderator-only Q&A site risks both encouraging this behavior and discouraging the sort of public, open discussion (and, let's face it, spirited debate) that has allowed Stack Exchange to operate for an increasingly diverse set of topics.


Regarding your specific reasons for needing such a thing

  • Is it appropriate to migrate a question about unicorn farming from StackOverflow to the Farming site?

Absolutely no reason why this should be private. Strictly-speaking, it doesn't even need to be asked, since sites can reject migrations - but if you're gonna be polite and ask before migrating, do it in public: mods aren't the only ones who get to say what's on/off-topic for a site.

  • One of our community members insists on posting his off-topic questions about unicorn farming. How should we deal with him?

You can have this general discussion in public too. Once it becomes specific to a single user, it's Too Localized - what purpose does hosting a Q&A site for questions about a single user serve?

  • Discussion of a private or sensitive nature (moderators have access to additional site statistics and metrics, additional user data, etc, that cannot be discussed willy-nilly)

Frankly, most of these aren't things you should be discussing at length with moderators who aren't from your site anyway. Yes, there are times when it's necessary or merely very useful to ask for input on a sensitive matter from more experienced moderators who've dealt with similar things before - but these again tend toward "Too Localized" territory. This is probably the one area of the proposed site that actually makes sense, and it's exceedingly tiny.

  • I'm a new moderator. Where can I go to see our super secret unicorn farm?

Documentation for the (sensitive) moderator tools belongs in the UI for the moderator tools. There are... Not many of these. But we could and should do a better job of documenting their use. That said, there's a fair amount of subjectiveness and subtlety to how they work currently - encouraging folks to go nuts with, say, the voting fraud tools on Ask Different based on a writeup by one of the moderators on Stack Overflow is crazy - the scenarios and their responses diverge considerably.

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Someone should put some of those incode comments and put them as tooltips to give the mods a heads up on what they're fingering with them hovers –  random May 30 '12 at 22:15
    
The examples in the question are indeed of discussions that we could hold in public (and most of the times we do). But how about Robert's list? Since you declined this, it would make sense to address all the points that were raised for the mod only Q&A... –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 22:24
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Robert's list seems to consist of stuff that either should be public, shouldn't be handled with a Q&A tool at all, or shouldn't involve moderators from uninvolved sites, @Yannis. I responded to Flimsy's list because it was (reasonably) specific; Robert's touched on some rather more pressing concerns, but the need for things like urgent / sensitive requests for attention from the team go well beyond those made by moderators - we're actually looking at hiring someone to help dispatch those, since our current system isn't scaling and yet another Q&A site to monitor is a clumsy solution to that. –  Shog9 May 30 '12 at 22:39
    
@Shog9 "clumsy solution" I could live with, "too expensive for its value" also. Addressing only the weaker points of the debate was my concern, and that's no longer an issue. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 22:51
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Moderation, as much as is possible, should be transparent and open to the public1: Meta Stack Overflow and the child metas are your outlets for asking general moderation questions.

We even set up moderator-specific FAQs that you should contribute to:

Of course, not every moderation issue can be discussed in public: things that are sensitive in nature like personally-identifiable information or the contents of a flag. But, given the quality standards for Stack Exchange sites that prevent the asking of questions that are too localized, questions that require the explanation of a problem sensitive in nature (personal information disclosure like flags and such) would be off-topic anyway.

While I think bending the rules on a moderator-only site would send the wrong message2, in the comments some proponents have suggested that the benefit to non-moderators of having a Q&A for moderator issues is that when someone asks a general moderation question, it can be quickly and easily migrated to a public meta.

This idea is a little more palatable, subject to a few conditions and caveats:

  • The Q&A site cannot have a "do not migrate messages out, ever" rule. This rule exists presently in TL to protect moderators from reprisal for bouncing ideas off of each other as well as to protect people's sensitive information. If the new Q&A site has this rule as well, the main benefit to the community for allowing the new Q&A site to exist is null and void.

  • TL would have to go. Creating a new private silo of information and allowing people to continue to use TL as they do now doesn't help anything: it's likely just going to lead to a situation where half the information is in TL (and unable to be migrated) and half is on the new Q&A site, where we still have to worry about whether everything that should be migrated actually is.

If those conditions are met and SE took to enforcing the migration of general moderation issues out of there, sure: why not? It would at least be marginally better than the situation as it is today.

Notes

Note 1: I don't know how much has changed in Teachers' Lounge since I left, but many general moderation issues were discussed there that should've been in a meta question, and several attempts were made to correct that.

Note 2: Moderators spend a lot of time telling people what SE is and isn't for. Bending the rules just because it's a mod-only site is a case of "do as I say, not as I do".

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Mark the proposal is for replacing TL with a Q&A site. If anything, that could help make the process more transparent: If a discussion that should be public is taking place in the mod only Q&A, it would be extremely easy to remove the private tidbits of information and move the discussion to a public place (i.e. migrate to MSO). That's completely unrealistic with discussions that happen in TL. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 19:10
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Not everything is nor should be truly transparent and the TL exists for this reason. Unfortunately, let's face it, chat transcripts suck as a repository for information - so any incident that may involve info that is too sensitive for full public disclosure is essentially lost knowledge after the incident ends. Further, there's nothing to say that "too localized" would be a valid close reason on a Mod-only site, much in the same way "votes work different on meta". –  Farray May 30 '12 at 19:11
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@YannisRizos I know what the proposal is, and I've been party to people suggesting it several times in the past. The reality is that most stuff discussed in TL is not sensitive in nature and should be discussed in public on a meta. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 19:15
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@Farray The only reason moderation is able to work so well on Stack Exchange with the sheer numbers of moderators that exist is because moderators are not exempt from the rules. Bypassing the Area 51 process is one thing, but then creating a private, members-only Stack Exchange site that also ignores SE's quality guidelines sends an awful, and wholly inaccurate, message that moderators are above the law. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 19:18
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@MarkTrapp Above the law? How does having one private discussion platform doesn't send the same message, and moving to another, more efficient, platform does? –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 19:23
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@MarkTrapp Each SE site has its own scope with on-topic/off-topic definitions posted in its FAQ. Something that is not allowed on SO may be allowed on Programmers, etc. I respectfully disagree that having a site-specific definition for allowable questions on a Mods QA site would be any different and somehow send a message that mods are "above the law". –  Farray May 30 '12 at 19:25
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@Alenanno You, Yannis, and Farray have been confusing is with ought: you have TL where you discuss general moderation issues so you think "why not have a whole site?" The fact that general moderation issues are discussed in TL and not in public on a meta is the problem: creating a private mod-only Q&A site only exacerbates that problem. The intention of having a private chat room is to discuss sensitive moderator issues: things like the contents of flags and PII that cannot be in a public meta question and do not fit the Q&A format. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 19:31
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@MarkTrapp And what we are saying is: Chat doesn't work, for its intended purpose. Of course we are all very much aware of the off topic discussions in TL, we aren't proposing a Q&A site where we can talk about unicorns and what not... –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 19:33
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@YannisRizos You acknowledge TL is being misused, so you want the sign-off on a whole site without any shred of proof it won't be misused in the same manner? Good luck with that. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 19:42
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@MarkTrapp Not all sensitive questions are too localized. I mod on a site with a handful of really active users. If one of them does something that I think may warrant a response, yet I'm not truly certain if it does, I have to ask in TL. I'd much rather ask a generalized question on a Meta site, but my site is so small that, despite any amount of generalization, the user in question will likely still be revealed. Instead I'm stuck with TL, where I may not ever get a useful response and I have no idea if a similar question has ever been asked before –  Farray May 30 '12 at 19:44
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TL is misused because chat is a platform for casual conversations, and fails horribly for serious business. Give me an option to close off topic conversations in TL, and I'd be happy. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 19:45
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@MarkTrapp Fix the misuse of TL for anything other than PII issues and see if you still have a problem. Well, that's what I'm trying to do, in a way, by supporting moving mod only discussions to a platform that leaves little room for off topic conversations. The root cause of the problem is the casual nature of chat, we can keep trying to fix TL ad nauseam, or realise that it's time to replace it with a platform that, well, works. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 20:00
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@Farray Again, you're confusing "is" with "ought". TL being rampantly misused to decrease overall moderator transparency is a problem that needs addressing by cleaning house. You don't solve a problem by pretending that it's actually good and facilitating it even further. The fact that TL is used to discuss general moderator issues is flat out wrong, and as a moderator, you should know that. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 20:01
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@MarkTrapp: I think I agree with you that TL is over-used. I think it would be much easier to self-moderate a QA site than a chat room, though. If we were to use a QA site in place of TL (not what I was originally proposing, BTW), it would be possible to close (or migrate) questions that shouldn't be private. There's no way to enforce that in a chat room. –  Flimzy May 30 '12 at 20:04
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@Mark I'm not confusing the two, I'm accepting what "is" as opposed to wishing for what "ought". As such, what "is" is broken and should be fixed. I feel a QA replacement for Chat would be beneficial and bring the result closer to "ought". Chat is chat is chat. People behave a certain way in chat. Deploying a chat-based solution and hoping that people won't act the way they do in every other chat room ever created is naive. –  Farray May 30 '12 at 20:05
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Here's what we're trying to accomplish

(Note: this is excerpted from a conversation in the Teacher's Lounge, with the permission of all participants):

  1. Search tools that are not brain dead.
  2. A list of known network-wide trolls.
  3. A way to queue and track requests for The Team that mods can't handle (like vote invalidations, IP blacklist requests, and purging sensitive information from edit histories).
  4. A place to host moderator policies, case studies, edge cases, and the moderator handbook.
  5. A place to collectively evaluate and make mod decisions that involve sensitive user information that cannot be made public.
  6. A knowledge-base/issue tracker.

The site would follow the same rules that the Teacher's Lounge already does: policy decisions are to be debated publicly. The new site is not for that, and everyone in TL understands this.

Waiting for the mods to demonstrate these principles in the TL is a specious idea; they are already accountable to the Community Team for compliance, and there's no way for the community to safely perform an audit.

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1) Sure 2) No. Creating private hit lists is BS and moderators should know better 3) Sure, but SE has repeatedly said pinging them in chat works best for them 4) No. This is public information 5) Sure 6) No, this is public information. The fact that mods are already privately discussing how to misuse the site to discuss what is currently public information does not bode well for its execution. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 20:44
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@Mark Trapp: I don't think the team wants us having a public KB for every single one of our moderator tools... –  BoltClock's a Unicorn May 30 '12 at 20:50
    
@BoltClock'saUnicorn We already do, though. The fact that the tools exist is not private, just the data they provide. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 20:52
    
Kill point 2. Or change it to how to identify network trolls. –  ChrisF May 30 '12 at 20:52
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@MarkTrapp Sure, but SE has repeatedly said pinging them in chat works best for them Works best for them, given the alternatives. A mod only Q&A site is not (currently) an alternative. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 20:54
    
@MarkTrapp: Also, I'm a bit surprised that you never got the chance to read the Super-Sekrit Moderator Manual. –  Robert Harvey May 30 '12 at 20:56
    
@YannisRizos Has anyone run this latest push for the mod-only site past SE? In past conversations about having a mod-only SE, "but we want to make it easier to file reports to SE" was one of the primary arguments for it, and "pinging in chat takes two seconds" was the response provided. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 20:56
    
There are several Community members in TL right now talking about it. –  Robert Harvey May 30 '12 at 20:57
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@RobertHarvey The fact that this discussion—which is a public issue—is half taking place in private and half in public is a great example of the problem and why this idea is bad news. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 21:04
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See, that's the thing. Everyone's taken their eye off the ball; if all the arguments here about "the perception of privacy" are genuinely valid, we shouldn't have TL either. –  Robert Harvey May 30 '12 at 21:09
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As a non-mod, I have to echo @MarkTrapp 's sentiments about the perception about mods being above the law. Users are told over and over again that SO / SE is not the place or platform to host certain conversations, and that those should be taken to chat. SO / SE is interested in hosting specific questions that have definitive answers provided by experts. Period. Aggressive moderation of other crap is what makes SO / SE great. But now the mods want to use the platform for their own private discussion area? –  JohnMcG May 30 '12 at 21:13
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@MarkTrapp: Although I agree most of this conversation could just as well happen at Tavern on the Meta, or whatever public venue, to be fair, it has sparked a lot of conversation about data that ought to remain private. It may be possible to conduct the same conversation in public, but it would be very cumbersome to do so without the relevant details. –  Flimzy May 30 '12 at 21:14
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@JohnMcG: I don't think anyone has sugested a "private discussion area" at all. A private QA site != private discussion area. –  Flimzy May 30 '12 at 21:14
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@JohnMcG Mods already have a private discussion area. It's noisy and messy, full of... discussions ;} All we want is to get rid of it and replace it with a platform that works, Q&A. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 21:22
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With respect to 5. A place to collectively evaluate and make mod decisions that involve sensitive user information that cannot be made public - Wouldn't a true-to-form SE site have to close this sort of discussion as too localized? They could theoretically be great, educational case studies, but it's probably more likely that they would be localized discussions. What are you imagining? –  Kevin Vermeer May 31 '12 at 0:18
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Given that the Teachers Lounge already exists, discussions over whether things "should" be public or private is a separate discussion. As a simple matter of implementation, a Q/A-style solution would be preferable to the current chat-based one.

  • Q&A is easier to search.
  • Chat transcripts have a horrendous signal:noise ratio. You can scroll through pages of chat transcripts looking for an answer to a question without even knowing if one was posted.
  • Q&A notifications are already built-in. No need to read transcripts wondering of somebody responded without the required @@

That's it. The network was built around Q&A. Chat sucks for anything other than immediate gratification interrupted by random memes. Would you rather get answers from a concierge or just by yelling in a lobby while everyone else is yelling their conversations at the same time?

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The only issues discussed in TL that should be private are ones that are related to specific issues that contain personally-identifiable information. The need to have those be in a Q&A format is at best pointless bureaucracy and in reality just impedes the resolution of a problem. All other issues should be on a meta. I get the draw of getting a quick answer from other moderators, I do: I did it myself on more than one occasion. But it's against the spirit of "A Theory of Moderation" to facilitate it more than it already is. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 19:46
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@Mark If we had a mod-only QA, it would be a simple issue to migrate questions to MSO/MSE if they do not truly need to be private. Wouldn't that be far superior to the current TL situation? –  Farray May 30 '12 at 19:51
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Would you then shut down TL? Because if people are still going to use it to discuss things in the manner they do now (and given how previous attempts to branch out of TL have gone, they will), adding another private area does nothing to fix that problem while creating a new one. –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 20:14
    
(By the way, the fact that you can easily migrate when the issue is supposed to be public is the strongest argument for this, but only works if what's being claimed as the impediment to that now—TL—is removed entirely.) –  user149432 May 30 '12 at 20:19
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@Mark I would be totally happy if the TL was no more. I find it nearly utterly useless. –  Farray May 30 '12 at 20:24
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This same idea was discussed somewhere around this time last year. At the time, I had been a moderator for less than a week and had lots of questions about this stuff. Everything was in the chat transcript which was painful to search. There were several new mods at the time, so the same questions kept getting asked over and over.

Lots of things were changing really fast, I was a new mod, a bunch of the tools didn't exist or weren't as refined as they now are. I was initially a strong supporter, but now I know how most all the tools work (and that mistakes can be fixed or have stern warnings), and there's a lot better documentation. I'm no longer in favor of this proposal. We have the aforementioned documentation and tools, additional mods and employees: it's generally easier and better, and I don't think this site is necessary.

For historical purposes, the transcript is on the Teacher's Lounge starting at about this post from May 23 of '11 and discussion continues in spurts for about the next 48 hours. It was discussed in public as well but I can no longer find the (high-activity) post, I think it was deleted. There was a (now deleted) Area51 proposal here, but it was closed (as a dupe of MSO, IIRC) and has been deleted due to ordinary lack of activity.

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Thanks, that's some good context there. –  Shog9 May 31 '12 at 2:16
    
@Shog9 - Any chance you could temporarily resuscitate some of the content from that Area51 proposal or any deleted:1 url:http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/32294/se-moderators/ MSO posts? It seems like everything currently being said was said before. –  Kevin Vermeer May 31 '12 at 2:33
    
Yeah, I haven't been able to dig up any useful discussions outside of the TL, which probably means this should have been posted and answered a year ago and wasn't. I did however turn up this... meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5862/… –  Shog9 May 31 '12 at 2:43
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I do like how you back up the ease of preserving mod-only discussions with a link to a scattered 48-hour chat transcript. :P –  Ziv May 31 '12 at 9:44
    
@Ziv - ...which Flimzy could not find and others could not remember. The irony is not lost. –  Kevin Vermeer May 31 '12 at 13:03
    
@Shog9 - It looks like it was posted on Area51 here by badp: This is a full subset of Meta Stack Overflow as linked in this chat entry. Any chance we can undelete that? –  Kevin Vermeer May 31 '12 at 13:15
    
Undeleted, @KevinVermeer –  Shog9 May 31 '12 at 15:12
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This is more an extended comment, but it applies to many comments under several answers.

I don't think evaluating the proposed site with criteria applied to other SE site proposals is helpful. The proposal is not to establish a successful Q&A site but to have some structured platform for mods only (as opposed to chat). It could be a forum as well. But we have the Q&A software already and using it would make the site (migration-)compatible with meta sites, so why not use that format? It might not become a good SE site, but it would be useful tool for mods, and that is what we should (exclusively) talk about.

Resentiments regarding "public moderation" are also immaterial. Make no mistake: all those topics others bring forth are discussed among mods (in TL). The proposal only aims at moving discussions/advice of persistent value to a more structured place so it can be found, changed and extended more easily. If anything, that should improve the quality of moderation.

Today, the quality of advice that can be obtained in TL largely depends on whether the right people are there (because everybody remembers some piece of chat history). If nothing else, this can be problematic for mods that are not on North America; for example, during my core SE time in the morning, most NAns are fast asleep. I have been a mod for only a few weeks and it has happened more than once that I obtained advice later invalidated by others with more recent information. That is the kind of stuff that happens in chat and another, more persistent and structured platform can avoid -- to everybody's advantage.

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By the way, having a proper meta.SE (not meta.SO) might help discuss some network-level issues in public that are now discussed in private (because some SO-only users think SO is the one and only and discussions with them are rarely fruitful). –  Raphael May 31 '12 at 9:22
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The "discussions/advice of persistent value" that you refer to need to be done in public with community feedback, not in private. That they currently happen in private at all is the problem that needs fixing, not the medium in which they occur. –  user149432 May 31 '12 at 11:08
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@MarkTrapp: That is not generally true. Such discussion or advice may contain data or statements we don't want everybody to see, if only not to give angry users ammunition. Moderation is to some extent politics, and sometimes you need to be able to speak clearly without being demonised. –  Raphael May 31 '12 at 11:21
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Being able to bounce ideas off of fellow mods and to commiserate with people who know what you're going through is one thing, but when you get into discussions of lasting value—things that form the basis of policies that affect users—moderating is not a membership into a cabal where policies are discussed and formulated in back rooms: if a moderator is unable or unwilling to discuss general moderation issues in public without animosity, there's a problem. –  user149432 May 31 '12 at 12:07
    
The problem you raise happens all the time here on Meta SO as well. It happened to you at least once. No one person keeps every single quirk, bug, or edge-case in memory all the time - that's an argument for making stuff more public, not less; if the person who knows the answer doesn't happen to be a moderator, or doesn't enjoy spending time in the private room, you're kinda screwed if that's where you decide to ask... –  Shog9 May 31 '12 at 15:17
    
But yes, the need for a separate MSE is palpable. –  Shog9 May 31 '12 at 15:18
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@Shog9: Who is talking about making stuff less private? All I see is people asking to move already private content (in TL) to another platform so less remembering is necessary (among other things). –  Raphael May 31 '12 at 15:23
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@Raphael: yeah, but the details on that are a bit handwavy. Most of the "worth remembering" info in the TL should just be public; the rest, well, most of it isn't worth remembering - see my answer. –  Shog9 May 31 '12 at 16:16
    
Couldn't the same be true on any number of topics? But they must follow the Area 51 Rules. Why a different standards for mods? –  JohnMcG Jun 7 '12 at 21:05
    
@JohnMcG: Why should a site not available to the community be evaluated by the community? Again, the proposal is not to create a Q&A site but to give mods another tool. –  Raphael Jun 7 '12 at 22:12
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I don't think you need a separate closed Q&A site for that, and I really dislike that the proposal is for a "closed" Q&A site

MSO is already a Q&A site to discuss the SE engine, and how it should work. If you have a moderation question, or think an answer on how to handle a specific situation is outstanding and should be archieved, ask and answer it on MSO. There's even a special tag for it already

As for my objection to a "closed" site, moderators are just regular users who have been elected by their communities to perform extra duties that the community themselves can't handle. The SE sites are all about community-moderation, and I feel that answers on how to moderate the sites should not be something private that the community cannot see.

Sure specific discussions might be best kept private, but if you're going to make some official, on-the-record statement about how specific situations should be handled, then anyone in the community should be able to view those, not just moderators.

If you start moving moderation Q&A to a closed site, then it seems like you're removing that aspect from the community, and only giving it to a select few who are in charge.

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I don't think there's anything they should say that shouldn't be said in front of the entire community. Oh, that's not entirely true... –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 19:01
    
@YannisRizos "should" being the key word there :) –  Rachel May 30 '12 at 19:02
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No it shouldn't. We already have private conversations, the proposal is to move them out of chat and into a mod only Q&A. It's not really about making them "official" but replacing the current discussion medium (chat) with one that's a bit more efficient (Q&A). –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 19:04
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Moderators have access to a great deal of personal information that should not be disclosed. IMHO, that's what the TL should be for. I agree that mods should be as public as possible. –  John May 30 '12 at 19:05
    
@John I see what you mean now :) I rephrased the wording a bit because I realize it sounded more like I was talking about general discussions instead of answers to solutions –  Rachel May 30 '12 at 19:08
    
Re your edit: We are only talking about stuff that are already private, and will continue to be private regardless if discussed in TL or a mod only Q&A site. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 19:51
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@YannisRizos My concern is that a moderator-only Q&A site won't be used for just private moderator conversations, and it will instead start to get used for all moderation Q&A. This seems to contradict the SE stance of community moderation, since it shuts the community out of moderation discussions entirely –  Rachel May 30 '12 at 20:03
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@Rachel Which already happens in TL, you start talking about private stuff and half an hour later the conversation has transformed into a nebulous debate about the breeding habits of unicorns. However it's extremely unlikely that we could move off topic conversations out of TL, chat is extremely messy. But with a mod only Q&A site, if a question that should have been public is posted, we can migrate to MSO asap. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 20:05
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And better yet: We can close off topic inane discussions, that's not an option we have in TL. –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 20:08
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The Teacher's Lounge is already private; making those discussions public already requires the consent of all participants. I'm not sure I get the argument that keeping the mod communication tools crippled is a way to make that information more accessible to the public. –  Robert Harvey May 30 '12 at 20:13
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@YannisRizos It might be a good idea in theory, but I don't see it working when implemented. The Assembly chat room was supposed to be for non-private moderation discussions, and it is very seldom used. Meta sites are meant for site-specific discussions, however I still hear of many question discussions taking place behind closed doors. A moderator Q&A site will likely be abused the same way - nobody will migrate questions, and you'll be shutting the community out of the moderation process. –  Rachel May 30 '12 at 20:14
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(cont.) Perhaps if moderators prove they can responsibility use such a site for private conversations only (by setting an example with how they use TL), then I might support such a proposal, but until then I just see it making the divide between user and moderator even bigger. –  Rachel May 30 '12 at 20:15
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Prove to whom, @Rachel? Would you have any idea that the current system doesn't work if we weren't publicly discussing it? Isn't that proof enough that we already hold public discussions in public, and all we are looking for is a better platform for the necessary private ones? You would have absolutely no way of knowing that off topic conversations sometimes happen in TL if the mods didn't own up to their responsibilities... –  Yannis May 30 '12 at 20:44
    
@YannisRizos I've actually heard of many general moderation conversations that happen in TL, but always assumed it was normal. It wasn't until this question that I found out this was not the desired use of TL. Some sites are great about discussing moderation topics in chat (dba.se, gaming.se, ux.se, workplace.se), but other sites are not. –  Rachel May 31 '12 at 12:01
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@jcolebrand Thanks, both for your 5c and for pushing other mods to go have chats in their own chat room :) I was referring to P.SE mostly, where I'll see questions closed with comments like "I've talked this over with the other mods... ", yet I never see those conversations anywhere in chat or on meta. I would definitely like to see that kind of conversation done in the site's own chat room or meta site instead of somewhere hidden. I've started to participate in some other SE sites, and haven't seen this behavior on them, so perhaps P.SE is special. Keep encouraging that behavior in TL! :) –  Rachel May 31 '12 at 15:26
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