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My primary role would be to undelete posts, as that would be the reason for my election. I would search undeleted posts on my own and I would also respond to requests for undeletion from users.

Jeremy Banks - http://chat.stackoverflow.com/transcript/message/4135460#4135460

If you haven't read Jeremy Banks' nomination post, now would be a good time to do so. You might also want to look at the comments posted on his nomination.

Now that it appears he'll move onto the final election stage and have a non-zero probability of actually being elected moderator, I think it would be a good time now to ask two fairly important questions:

  1. Can a moderator actually have un-deleting old deleted content as a primary duty?
  2. Should un-deleting old deleted content be a primary duty for a moderator?
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Chumming necrosis of the waters –  random Jun 15 '12 at 16:29
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I'm struggling with this question, as it appears to me to be a thinly-veiled attempt to leverage Meta as a means to publicly point out a particular candidate's character flaws, rather than a question asked in good faith. –  Robert Harvey Jun 15 '12 at 16:35
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It's not a real question, as you point out, @Robert, but it's certainly not about character flaws. It is surfacing an easily-missed campaign promise. –  Michael Petrotta Jun 15 '12 at 16:38
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Without wanting to attribute Jeremy's success solely to his campaign promise (he did very well last time already): I guess the deeper issue here is that there still is no good solution to the "deleted content" problem, and I don't understand why it's not being tackled. As long as there's no archive for deleted stuff, there will be discontent –  Pëkka Jun 15 '12 at 16:48
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@Pekka: You mean that blast furnace we went through a few months ago had no discernible effect? We do have a solution: questions that have merit, in spite of their off-topic nature, are preserved, and there are mechanisms available for periodic review. In perpetuity, if necessary. The situation is much better now than it once was. We're never going to please everyone. –  Robert Harvey Jun 15 '12 at 16:50
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@RobertHarvey It is a real question. I'd rather it about moderator's duty, but if you want to frame it against the election, the question I want answered would be "can Jeremy keep his election promise?". –  Yi Jiang Jun 15 '12 at 16:54
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@RobertHarvey: "there are mechanisms available for periodic review" Mechanisms that are difficult to use, poorly-specified, require constant monitoring (you can't get a historical lock without a deletion/undeletion war, which means you have to monitor a question to see if it's deleted, so then you can vote to undelete it, and thus provoke a conflict that the moderator shows up to stop with what you wanted in the first place), and is in general more likely to leave things deleted than not to. Yes, it's better, but it hasn't exactly reached the level of good yet. –  Nicol Bolas Jun 15 '12 at 16:57
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@Robert what Nicol says... for the record, I'm not terribly fond of Jeremy's bringing this up in the mod elections - it's not the right place, nor the right way to make the point. But I can see where he's coming from –  Pëkka Jun 15 '12 at 16:59
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The entire process for preserving an off-topic question and raising it for review it is documented in detail here. –  Robert Harvey Jun 15 '12 at 16:59
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@Robert But is there a way for me to find questions I would like to see undeleted that weren't covered by the manual efforts here on Meta? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see one, short of downloading the data dump. I can't search for deleted questions as a non-mod, can I? –  Pëkka Jun 15 '12 at 17:01
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@RobertHarvey Also, I don't understand why you would characterize this as an attack on his character. At worst this would be an attack on the stance he takes in the nomination, but I really tried to avoid ad hominem here –  Yi Jiang Jun 15 '12 at 17:10
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FWIW, I disagree that this is inappropriate: campaign "promises" are public information, and it is critical that they be discussed - I'm still not sure if Jeremy is being serious there, but if he actually followed through there's a reasonable chance we - the site members, other moderators, SE administrators - would have to deal with the consequences in some (likely unpleasant) fashion. That's absolutely something that needs to be discussed in advance. If someone campaigned on the platform "I shall give all SO users $100 if I am elected", that would also be up for debate... –  Shog9 Jun 15 '12 at 17:57
    
@Tim: It's perceived as an attack on his character because undeleting crap and reviving lots of off-topic nonsense makes the site bad worse, and having the intention to do so reflects badly on him. But of course it's only his own fault if this is his reason to run for moderator. –  sth Jun 16 '12 at 4:14

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Update:

It appears Jeremy withdrew from the election.


The primary duties of Stack Exchange moderators are:

So in summary, if you are a community moderator on a Stack Exchange site, here’s what to expect:

  1. As a moderator, your actions now represent the community, so you will be held to a higher standard of behavior. You are an ambassador of trust, with the same sorts of rights that the official development team and community coordinators have.

  2. Your goal is to guide the community with gentle — but firm — intervention. Respect your fellow community members at all times; demonstrate fairness and impartiality in your actions.

  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.

  4. Keep the site reasonably on topic by closing, migrating, or removing blatantly off-topic questions.

  5. Regularly check for flagged posts, and decide if further action is warranted.

  6. In the case of serious disputes, communicate directly with users via email to help mediate and resolve those disputes.

And specifically for Stack Overflow:

I believe we regrettably must have a new, specific policy for community moderators on Stack Overflow, due to its size and scale: I propose that on Stack Overflow, all elected community moderators must close a 'reasonable' number of flags while they are on the site. If they do not, they cannot continue to hold the position of Stack Overflow community moderator.

I have absolutely no issue with Jeremy's "undelete crusade", however it can't be his primary role. If elected, the requirements are pretty well documented, and "undelete all the things" is not one of the primary responsibilities of a moderator. I feel there's a populist angle in Jeremy's nomination, and that's perfectly fine, Jeremy is not currently a moderator, we can't expect him to be fully aware of the role's responsibilities, and all of us who went through the process can tell you that we did so without having a very clear idea of what comes next and we all had a more or less populist touch in our stubs. It's an election after all.

(All) that said, Jeremy's promise might conflict with:

Keep the site reasonably on topic by closing, migrating, or removing blatantly off-topic questions.

I don't know, I have no idea which questions he has in mind. But I wouldn't worry much, if it's a problem, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. From what I've seen from Jeremy so far I'd say that he fully realizes that if elected the wider community should come first, and not the small (?) subset of that had issues with deleting off topic questions. And I'm hoping he's talking about questions that were deleted by moderators, reversing the community's will would be a far more troubling issue.

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Moderators do not set policy, nor should they promote personal agendas. –  Robert Harvey Jun 15 '12 at 16:47
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@RobertHarvey We do, albeit most times unwittingly. Moderators are also users, and as such free to push for policy (not set) and promote any personal agenda they want. It gets tricky when people (up/down)vote the diamond instead of the proposed policy, but that's not a burden on the moderators (imho). –  Yannis Jun 15 '12 at 16:57
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I understand that flags make up the majority of a moderator's workload. That would also be true for me, but it would be a lower priority than addressing the issue of deleted questions, i.e. I would respond to requests for undeletion before checking the flag queue. I am not only referring to questions deleted by moderators, I would also undelete ones deleted by the 10k+ community. –  Jeremy Banks Jun 15 '12 at 16:59
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From a comment I posted on my nomination: "Most issues obviously affect prolific users much more than they affect the average user, so on those issues their opinion deserves more weight. This is not one of those issues. The impact of deletions it not just felt by prolific users; it is felt by common users and by users of the internet in general. If I am elected over someone proclaiming their moderation abilities, that will demonstrate that voters care enough about this issue that that the consensus deserves to be overturned." –  Jeremy Banks Jun 15 '12 at 16:59
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@JeremyBanks I am not only referring to questions deleted by moderators, I would also undelete ones deleted by the 10k+ community That would be an abuse of your diamond status. –  Yannis Jun 15 '12 at 17:04
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but it would be a lower priority than addressing the issue of deleted questions -- This point of view is misguided. The primary and principal responsibility of moderators is to service moderator flags. Everything else is secondary. Unilateral moderator action is unwise; any action you take on the site that is not accompanied by a moderator flag can, and will, be challenged on Meta. Rightfully so. –  Robert Harvey Jun 15 '12 at 17:04
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@JeremyBanks If this is your position, I would respectfully request that you withdraw: even if one concedes that moderator elections are policy referenda (which I don't, because they aren't), elections generally only attract less than 5% of the active user population of Stack Overflow. So even if you get 100% of the popular vote (which you won't), you would still only have the demonstrable support of a very small minority of users. There is no mandate for moderators to do what you plan on doing, and it seems you're very confused about what you're getting yourself into. –  user149432 Jun 15 '12 at 17:09
    
@Jeremy a bit off-topic, but would this suggestion of Shog's alleviate your concerns about deletionism? –  Pëkka Jun 15 '12 at 17:39
    
@Mark, is that possible without current mod/dev intervention? All the other election pages say "nominees may withdraw at any point...". The election page doesn't. If it's not possible and a dev must "withdraw" someone doesn't that make a mockery of the election process? –  ben is uǝq backwards Jun 15 '12 at 17:48
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@Ben I'm pretty sure you can withdraw at any time, but I know people have withdrawn during the primary phase, which is still going on for another 2 hours. :) –  user149432 Jun 15 '12 at 17:57
    
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@Pekka It definitely would. The solution he's considering would be far better than what I could accomplish as a moderator. –  Jeremy Banks Jun 15 '12 at 19:05

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