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As far as I know, the diamond symbol is given to the folks who

  • are the community elected moderators, for example, animuson
  • are employees of the Stack Exchange, Inc., for example, Geoff Dalgas

In those regards, Jeff is neither a community elected moderator, nor is he a part of the Stack Exchange, Inc. since March 1st, 2012.

So my question is, other than the fact that he is the co-founder of the network, is there any other reason why he still has the diamond symbol next to his name and whether he can still exercise his moderation abilities? :)

Note: I do not have any problems with him having the Diamond Symbol. I just wanted to know the reason and whether he still has those privileges or not. In fact, I'd be very happy to know that he still has those privileges because, you know, he knows the site, the Best. :)

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IMHO revoking a diamond from him feels like insult/rudeness to me. –  hims056 Feb 14 at 10:32
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Attempts to remove the diamond were met with giant S strikes. Better let him keep it. –  Frédéric Hamidi Feb 14 at 10:52
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It would be interesting to know if he only has mod access or full dev access. In any case, if he still falls under the regular agreements for either case, I don't see much of a problem. –  Bart Feb 14 at 11:04
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As @Stijn said He even has his own tag! then why not a diamond! –  hims056 Feb 14 at 11:05
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Jeff doesnt have any control over stackoverflow?.. I thought he was merely relaxing his work load by giving others the opportunity to fill in.. :( –  Roy M J Feb 14 at 11:10
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The diamond was hardcoded deep within the code, SE team is still trying to figure out how to remove it... –  MeNoTalk Feb 14 at 11:16
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Well, he is the site's founder, so he deserves at least the diamond status :) –  Jeff Atwood Feb 14 at 12:53
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Don't know the actual reason, but I think Jeff should keep his diamond if only to quickly distinguish his account from the various trolls that try to impersonate him every now and then. –  Yannis Feb 14 at 13:23
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@Yannis Or as I'm sure the Jeff Atwood in the comment above yours will mention if I don't... is that it will also distinguish the real famous Jeff Atwood account from that of other accounts of people who just happen to of been born with the same name of Jeff Atwood but who are not yet famous. –  Vote to Close Feb 14 at 13:51
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@LowerClassOverflowian Heh, I hadn't really noticed the username in that comment when I posted mine. Happy accident, I guess. –  Yannis Feb 14 at 13:57
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Maybe Jeff should get a little snowflake next to his name, instead of a diamond, for being a special case. –  Amicable Feb 14 at 15:57
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@Xsi Joel is not a developer and was never really active member in the network, he's responsible though to its business success. –  Shadow Wizard Feb 16 at 8:42
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Disappointed that I don't have 10K on meta. I see the last activity on this question was Evan's and I guess I probably missed some amusing rant. –  Martin Smith Feb 16 at 12:03
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@Martin i.stack.imgur.com/FK4ho.png –  Pëkka Feb 16 at 20:06
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@Pëkka - Thanks! That's kind of what I expected. Not as amusing as I had hoped though. Maybe a bit rusty after his meta exile. –  Martin Smith Feb 16 at 20:20
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4 Answers 4

up vote 27 down vote accepted

This issue has come up a few times in the past (here and on other sites, mostly progse) when Jeff unilaterally used his moderator powers against the community despite not being an employee or an elected moderator. Here's an example where Jeff just nuked a tag without allowing the community to cleanup the questions in the tag. From my comment discussion with him re: his role at SE and the reasons for his having a diamond, it became clear that Jeff will keep the diamond forever:

I thought about this and here is my answer. As co-founder and primary architect/designer of the Stack Exchange engine design, I will be an honorary all-site moderator essentially forever. As a moderator I may occasionally take moderator actions just like any other moderator, such as removing a tag that was already on the Tag Cleanup list that I feel is especially egregiously meta. [...]

For the record, I did not object to Jeff having his diamond powers, but to the fact that he was using it to override/get ahead of the community. A few months later, there was some discussion in TL on whether allowing Jeff to keep access to the moderator/developer tools and PII while being neither an employee nor an elected moderator was a violation of SE's own privacy policy. I asked Anna Lear about this, but her glib and rash response was that it is not anyone's business what SE decides to do or who they give access to our PII even if it appears to violate their own policy. Fortunately, Jaydles provided a more sane response (emphasis mine; March 2013):

So, there are a couple of ways a non-employee may have access to PII: They can be someone we've asked to do something for us who has signed a contractor's agreement that includes protection of PII, or they can be a moderator, (which, for clarity, is defined as anyone who's signed the mod agreement & has a diamond next to their user name). Currently, Jeff is a contractor.

I'm satisfied with that. I'd rather they be upfront about it and show us visibly (with a diamond) that he has access to PII, than hide it by moving him to a class of users that can access your PII without a diamond.


An update from Jaydles:

Jeff is not currently a contractor, but is a moderator. From a privacy perspective, the key defining aspect of being a (non-employee) moderator is that you've signed the mod agreement, which binds you to protect PII, etc. Jeff's signed it.

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I think you misread Anna's comment to a degree. In the first half of the comment, she's essentially saying that SE Legal takes those matters very seriously and they have handled the matter with Jeff. She's also pointing out that she's not privy to the details of that agreement as she does not have a "need to know" of the details of that agreement. And it can also be seen as a vote of support or trust in that SE Legal handled the matter appropriately. –  GlenH7 Feb 14 at 16:15
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@Gle Everyone says that they take privacy "seriously", even right after they've had a major hack. Judging by casperOne's response (and the comment votes, for what they're worth), I wasn't the only one to read Anna's comment that way. I guess the key point here is that it is always a terrible idea for a CM to respond "it is none of your business" when asked a serious question regarding their company's privacy policy and a possible violation. If she didn't know, she should've just said so and deferred it to someone who would've either answered it (like Jaydles did) or tactfully side-stepped it. –  Lorem Ipsum Feb 14 at 16:27
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She certainly wasn't obligated to reply (nor was Jaydles) and if they wanted, they could've certainly played hardball (i.e. we won't disclose unless there's a court order). But she chose to, in which case, she probably should've chosen better words, IMO. –  Lorem Ipsum Feb 14 at 16:30
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That's a fair response, and I agree with many of the points you're making. Mine was more to give the benefit of the doubt to Anna with that comment. I saw it more as Jeff being entitled to a degree of privacy as well, and that shaped the nature of her comment. But I agree with you on how it was conveyed. –  GlenH7 Feb 14 at 16:31
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You guys make this sound like it's Target or something. SE routinely hands out diamonds to guys like me whom they don't even know. –  Robert Harvey Feb 14 at 16:45
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I had forgotten what an abomination that "library" tag was. I stand behind its removal, with extreme prejudice. –  Jeff Atwood Feb 16 at 7:38
    
I don't know that it makes a difference, but where possible like to err on the side of transparency, so I should bring my prior commentary up to date: Jeff is not currently a contractor, but is a moderator. From a privacy perspective, the key defining aspect of being a (non-employee) moderator is that you've signed the mod agreement, which binds you to protect PII, etc. Jeff's signed it. –  Jaydles Feb 18 at 21:12
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@yoda - Can you please incorporate Jaydles' update on Jeff's position in your answer, please? –  R.J Feb 21 at 4:59
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@Ɍ.Ɉ: Ok, done. –  Lorem Ipsum Feb 22 at 17:30
    
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Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

IIRC, legally speaking, Jeff is considered a "contractor" of StackExchange and under those terms is allowed to have a diamond

When we collect your personal information, we’ll tell you how we’re using it, any types of third parties to which we might disclose it, (other than moderators or “agents,” such as vendors or contractors, who are only processing such information for us or at our direction), and the choices we offer you to limit the use of your information.

There's basically a third kind of user that can have the diamond. AFAICT, Jeff and possibly Micah (on AskPatents) fall under this category.

As per this comment (10k only) Jeff will keep his diamond indefinitely.

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Any moderation Jeff does is probably to this date going to be a highly accurate adjustment. Before he stepped aside he dealt with a wide swath of moderation across the entire exchange.

He also probably has the most experience moderating (aside from perhaps Shog9), even considering his departure, of any user on the exchange. His account is user #1, and according to Joel, that means he was in the database as a result of coding the exchange rather than being handed an account.

Officially it would seem he is a "contractor" for the company, but regardless of that fact, I think he still has an immense level of trust with a very large portion of the users of the exchange.

To answer your question, "why does Jeff Atwood still have the diamond symbol?" He is quite simply one of the most qualified people to have it.

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Think about this: you came up with the idea of building such a community, and then spent years in your life building and polishing it and then watch it grow like your baby, until she finally became a Ms. Universe. Then you decided to pursue one of your other dreams, but of course, you sometimes are nostalgic and you want to go back to that community every now and then to see if she's doing okay and do some trimming. But you know what? You can't moderate it like you used to any more - just because you're not working in the company who built it at the moment.

How would you feel, then?

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How would I feel? I might be upset for a bit, but then I would realize that, since it's been a long time since I was closely involved with the people and the culture, it probably wouldn't be a good idea for me to just barge in and say "This is how I want things to be done because this is how I used to do them". I, personally, have actually been in this situation -- I returned to a company I had worked for in its formative years in order to help them with an expansion. Procedures and practices, that I personally developed, had changed in the interim. You know what I did? I adapted. –  Josh Caswell Feb 14 at 19:50
    
I myself don't have a huge problem with Jeff keeping his diamond, but how he would feel about not having database acess is just not an argument. –  Josh Caswell Feb 14 at 19:52
    
@JoshCaswell First, I'm talking about a community, not a company, they are two different situations. Second, good job on downvoting me just because you disagree with me. –  Zinan Xing Feb 14 at 22:01
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@ZinanXing - that's how voting on meta works actually... –  Chris Feb 14 at 23:42
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@josh I think it's a bit different when you're a key founder, akin to Gates leaving Microsoft or Zuckerberg leaving Facebook. I still think about SE a lot and use it a lot. See for example this recent presentation brighttalk.com/webcast/43/100507 –  Jeff Atwood Feb 16 at 7:53
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@JeffAtwood, I know it's your metaphorical baby (and I was actually under the impression that you were still working/advising/hanging around at SE in some capacity). I just don't think that "because it would hurt his feelings" is a good argument for a business decision about database access. (And for whatever it's worth, I'd be perfectly happy to see you use your mod powers whenever you like.) –  Josh Caswell Feb 16 at 7:59
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@josh well I don't have low-level database access, that would clearly be insane. I just have regular mod+ type powers. –  Jeff Atwood Feb 16 at 10:02
    
Looking back on this two weeks later, I don't know where I picked up the "database access" thing from. It must have been from a different Meta post, but I somehow thought it was under discussion here. Oh, well. –  Josh Caswell Mar 2 at 7:27
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