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Inspired by a comment by Arjan here, I wondered if - in your opinion - participation on this meta (which functions as meta.stackexchange AND meta.stackoverflow) is also important for a moderator on a StackExchange site. In addition to participation on the meta of the given site, obviously.

(If so, perhaps this information should be included in the nomination statistics).

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For the record, my opinion on this question can be read here –  Benjol Feb 8 '11 at 8:16

5 Answers 5

For the site-specific Meta, participation indicates a lot of important qualities of the nominee. The most important of these is that it presents an interest in the foundation of the site, not merely the functional front-end of the Q&A. Meta is where all the administration happens - participation indicates not only that you take a part in this administration, but that you read up on it and learn about it. Not just for discussions on existing issues, Meta activity also helps keep tabs on new developments that are announced. Knowing the background behind the rules is important in being able to properly enforce them.

Also, not all moderation is settled by simply closing or locking or protecting. Part of being a community run site is all the discussion on Meta. Disputes on rulings make some part of it, but there's also tagging conventions, retag requests, on-topic definitions, and general support issues. These are all good things to be a part of that help shape the community. Not required, but pretty helpful nonetheless.


Activity on Meta Stack Overflow helps in understanding a lot of the general engine, as well as keeping up on network-wide updates and news. But I personally find that it's mostly worthless without an ample backing of participation on the site-specific Meta. Background on Meta Stack Overflow may help understand the general case of what is on-topic and such, but it will not tell you how a specific community behaves. This is enough to do pretty well on the parent Q&A with asking, answering, and basic maintenance. But for representing the community as a moderator, you really need to have background in the community itself.

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+1 to "The most important of these is that it presents an interest in the foundation of the site[...]" You don't have to be meta crazy, but at least some activity on meta indicates a bare minimum of intellectual curiosity into how the site you hope to moderate is actually, well, moderated. –  user149432 Jan 24 '11 at 14:36

Top Priority: Active participation in their local meta.
Close Second: Active participant (or at least frequent visitor) on the "national" meta level.

In my opinion, having a moderator that is not active in meta is like electing a Representative who is not active in the legislature. Representatives are not required to show up for the vote… but why would you want to put them in charge if there are others better suited to serve?

Meta is where the administration and policy of the sites are being discussed. How can a moderator stay on top of proper procedure and implement policy if they do not remain active in the process? They can't.

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Revised answer:

I think a lack of interest in Meta is not automatically an argument against a candidate, but as long as a site is young, it is important to have moderators who already are in touch with Meta.SO.

Not being in touch can breed isolationism, and the growth of "fiefdom" like moderation styles that are not in sync with the general consensus of the network. Much like the risk of a remote small town developing dictatorship-like characteristics under strong leadership without some dialogue with the respective regional, state, or federal administrations.

No matter how different in topic and - over time - culture, every SE site shares a certain basic idea and spirit. That spirit is discussed and communicated on Meta.SO, the network's "capital".

The larger a site grows, the less important this connection becomes for new moderators. I, for one, find it meaningless when deciding on who to vote for mod on Stack Overflow. But for a small site, it is a factor.

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Yes, it's not just a technical thing, it's also a cultural thing. There is a certain 'ethos' that's built up here. Some of the wilder discussions on meta.math.se last year were (in my opinion) just symptoms of a culture clash. (For StackExchange, math.se is just another 'state', but the math.se users who are used to mathoverflow consider themselves to be a republic!) –  Benjol Jan 24 '11 at 14:46
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@Benjol Math is an amusing example because despite all the aforementioned clashing, or perhaps wholly in part due to, none of their newly appointed moderators participate actively here. And, well, Math is still doing very well as a site. –  Grace Note Jan 24 '11 at 14:50
    
@Grace Math.SE is just Different (with a capital D!), I don't think they're comparable to most other SE sites. –  Mad Scientist Jan 24 '11 at 22:57
    
@Fabian, their problem is that they think they're not comparable... –  Benjol Feb 8 '11 at 8:13

I would expect moderators to be interested in (and current on) any conversation that discusses metrics to measure the quality of user contributions, or topics that influence all SE sites. Issues pertaining to SO that have been discussed here also apply to most other sites in the network.

Mods should also be able to articulate possible bugs and feature requests on behalf of their respective communities.

I would not expect a moderator on a site about pets to be a regular on MSO, but I would hope to see them participate in 'global' discussions.

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Personally, though I'm a nominee, I don't expect to do particularly well in the election as I don't participate in meta very much. I'm also a geopolitical nutcase, apparently :)

However, I do believe that any successful nominee, regardless of present participation, should be expected to become more active. I note the election page now details meta participation, and even though it doesn't do me any favours, I still regard it as a "good thing".

However, I'm not sure moderators necessarily have to shape the policy of the site in general. They aren't the lawmakers of the site, more their police force. But I do think that some participation in meta-discussions will help to ensure some consistency in the way this police force applies the law!

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thanks for your honesty. The flak you got was TOTALLY unjustified. –  Benjol Jan 25 '11 at 5:35

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