In the days and weeks before a moderator election, the community applies great scrutiny to all candidates. They need to jump through a series of hoops, answer hard questions in the town hall meetings, and have to convince the audience of their good character and judgement - almost like in a real-world election for a seat on the city council, or a judge's post!

After the election, however, we seem to forget about them unless they do something scandalous. In general, that is a good thing and by design - the basis of Stack Overflow's moderation is being an invisible hand in the background, so most of the moderators' activity will go unnoticed.

Still - once they quit the post, there is not much left to thank them for their service. For example, Gumbo and SLaks withdrew from the post before last election, and received little in terms of thanks from the community. That's not meant as criticism - I, too, read the post, and somehow didn't feel like adding my thanks, either - for whatever reason, I don't really remember, it somehow didn't feel fitting. But it is a little bit unceremonious and not really reflecting the work they put in to keep the sites clean - and I'm sure being a mod is much, much more like work than it is to just be a power user. As a mod, you are expected to show up frequently, and process some amount of flags.

I think after a year of service with a good track record, moderators should get something nice and special. Inviting every mod to New York City would probably break the company's budget twice, but there are smaller ideas that might also be nice:

  • At the very least, a gold badge.

  • Some official confirmation in the profile of being an ex-moderator for CV purposes (if desired)

  • A donation from SO, Inc. at year's end to a registered charity of the moderator's choice, in the name of the moderator (Edit: As pointed out by Michael Mrozek, moderators already get to decide which charities SE's annual donations go to.)

  • A programming-related perk (no money) bought wholesale by SO, like a subscription to a magazine, paid video training, a book of their choice from a publisher's range, access to stuff like those paid MSDN thingies...

  • A special piece of swag reserved for moderators (and bound to fetch a fortune on EBay in ten years ;)

What do people think? Am I alone in seeing things this way? I'm not a moderator so I don't know for sure of course, and I've never heard anybody complain. I'm just thinking there could be a bit more recognition.

It goes without saying that additional ideas are welcome.

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    So do I downvote this if I think we aren't rewarding moderators enough? :) – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 9 '11 at 21:42
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    @Pekka: Some amount of flags? How about 1.7K+ in the first two weeks? And that's not counting what must be at least 5-10 posts on meta calling me out. =) – casperOne Dec 9 '11 at 21:44
  • "I'm sure being a mod is much, much more like work than it is to just be a power user." ~1.63k flags/day, between 12 moderators on SO. You do the math. – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 9 '11 at 21:45
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    An MSDN subscription would be like, awesome. – studiohack Dec 9 '11 at 21:49
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    @studiohack: Ultimate. Its only 10k. – user1228 Dec 9 '11 at 22:11
  • @casper, IIRC we were all asked that very question during one of the town hall chats ("whatchya gonna do when they come for you?"), then it went and happened to you for real. Bet you weren't expecting that :) – slugster Dec 9 '11 at 22:15
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    "Thanks" doesn't really fit into the model of StackOverflow -- we almost always have something we can upvote to indicate that we like it or appreciate it. When SLaks and Gumbo retired, no where quite felt appropriate for saying "Thanks SLaks, I've seen you handle a ton of the crap I flagged" -- so I settled on clicking the little comment up-vote for the others who thanked them first. It felt a little weak. Upvoting this definitely feels better. (And a big thanks to Anna for destroying a huge pile of crud I found the the other day.) – sarnold Dec 10 '11 at 0:03
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    @sarnold Any time. :) – Adam Lear ModStaff Dec 10 '11 at 1:39
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    @slugster I actually was ready; in my nomination bid and and the town hall meetings (IIRC), when asked this I referred to my having done commentary for live streams of video game tournaments (some very large ones relatively speaking) for which I was trolled quite hard for. That community (the fighting game community) is ruthless in their trolling; SO in comparison has nothing on them and I find it to be quite manageable. There's even a (somewhat) running joke/comment about about my daily meta callout. – casperOne Dec 10 '11 at 15:16

Actually, we pretty much do get all this. Our badge is our diamond, we always can prove we are/were mods, we do get swag...


and even neato moderator business cards!

enter image description here

And who needs a friggen book when we have StackMotherEffingOverflow?

Appreciate the sentiment, but we're k. Though, I wouldn't mind getting all rep from a user when I destroy their account. Wouldn't be more than 1 or 2 rep points, but it they would taste oh so sweet.

  • swag – phwd Dec 9 '11 at 22:07
  • @phwd: Oh, nononono. That's awful. This, however, is pure swag. (nsfw!) – user1228 Dec 9 '11 at 22:08
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    That top picture is rep swag, not mod swag. – mmyers Dec 9 '11 at 22:11
  • ya! – phwd Dec 9 '11 at 22:12
  • @mmyers: Well, heck. Its just representative of the swag we get. – user1228 Dec 9 '11 at 22:15
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    I would support a feature request to that effect. Or maybe we need bounties. You know, as in bounty hunter. Burninated spam user = 100 rep. – Pekka Dec 9 '11 at 22:17
  • Accepting this for the picshurz, the profanity, and the fact that Will is the most senior mod among the answerers. (right?) – Pekka Dec 9 '11 at 22:24
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    @Pekka Oh man, I'd hit 10k and beyond in no time with that. – Adam Lear ModStaff Dec 9 '11 at 22:24
  • Just make sure you spell your name correctly on those business cards... Just sayin' – Ivo Flipse Dec 10 '11 at 13:25
  • Wait, I have 30k in SO and I've never gotten that. What kind if rep do you need to get that? – casperOne Dec 10 '11 at 15:20
  • @TheP.G.RepMiningCo.: Uh, I dunno. I wonder what our order is? I was in the first election and was the first runner up. JA asked me to mod soon after because they didn't elect enough at the time... – user1228 Dec 10 '11 at 17:53
  • @casperOne: I think it was for high rep users who were in on the beta. – user1228 Dec 10 '11 at 17:53

At the very least, a gold badge.

This seems risky; people love badges, and it wouldn't surprise me to see people run in elections just to get that shiny gold badge. It also kind of sucks to have a badge that most people by definition won't be able to earn

Some official confirmation in the profile of being an ex-moderator for CV purposes (if desired)

Seems fine

A donation from SO, Inc. at year's end to a registered charity of the moderator's choice, in the name of the moderator

This does happen (or at least has the last three years)

A special piece of swag reserved for moderators (and bound to fetch a fortune on EBay in ten years ;)

This seems logical. SE 2.0 mods got t-shirts at one point (I can't remember if it was for running in the election or for winning), but then they went on sale in the store, which kind of ruined the effect

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    Re the badge, I think the merciless election process would filter those out :) But I can be wrong. Re the donation thing, I mean an additional donation specifically in the name of each moderator, on top of what is being donated in the name of the company. It would surely have to be a realistic and modest amount (there already being hundreds of mods IIRC if you count all the SE sites) but it would be a nice gesture. – Pekka Dec 9 '11 at 21:21
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    Well, they at least let mods choose who to donate to. I'm not sure whose name the donation is actually in – Michael Mrozek Dec 9 '11 at 21:23
  • oh, I didn't know that. Edited, thanks – Pekka Dec 9 '11 at 21:25
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    RE: Swag, we got the same swag package as the top 2 pages of users (T-shirt, marker, pen, stickers) and special mod-only business cards in addition to a USB stick for finishing up a pro temp mod term. TBH I've never felt unloved or neglected by the SE staff, even if that love is not publicly displayed all the time. – user149432 Dec 9 '11 at 21:29
  • We give swag to all who run for moderator on the 2.0 and... I believe if they make it to the election phase. – Grace Note ModStaff Dec 9 '11 at 21:34
  • It was certainly the case that those who ran in elections when I was elected got an SE branded T-shirt. I assume the same thing happens now. – ChrisF Mod Dec 9 '11 at 21:35
  • Maybe a badge for every 1000 flags handled? – Paŭlo Ebermann Dec 9 '11 at 21:51
  • @PaŭloEbermann I still wouldn't have one T_T – Michael Mrozek Dec 9 '11 at 21:53
  • @MichaelMrozek Yeah, this is difficult to scale. SO mods would get such a badge every week or so, and we low-traffic sites need some years for one. Crypto had all-time 33 post flags handled by the three of us (+ 7 by employees). – Paŭlo Ebermann Dec 9 '11 at 21:59
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    @MarkTrapp The swag varies by site, to some extent. All I got for being a Physics mod was the T-shirt and stickers. Not that I'm complaining, since Physics is a ghost town compared to e.g. Programmers, but those business cards would have been sweet. (Coming from someone who thinks of Staples the way a 5-year-old thinks of Toys R Us, mind you.) – David Z Dec 10 '11 at 0:37

It may not be public all the time, but even being one of the mods everyone loves to hate on Programmers, I've never felt like Stack Exchange has neglected or under-appreciated me. We are in constant (like, several-times-a-day-can-get-someone-almost-24/7) communication with SE's comm team and they have generally been responsive if not supportive of moderation issues.

To your specific suggestions:

  • We don't get a badge, but I don't really see the point. If I was disgruntled or feeling neglected, a badge wouldn't make me suddenly gruntled. I like the small tokens of appreciation we get from time to time, but I know I don't moderate for a badge. If I did, I'd just flag a bunch of stuff to dismiss and get me some of that Marshal action.

  • I haven't asked, but I don't have any reason to believe why SE wouldn't acknowledge our work if needed for a CV or a job. They've publicly acknowledged our work on Programmers on a few occasions, like on the podcast.

  • They donate in our name at the end of the year. Just got that email the other day, actually.

  • We get free swag from time to time: moderator-only business cards, the same swag packages high-rep users get, and I got a USB stick for being a pro temp mod (or was it for running in an election?)

If I'm totally honest, what SE does or doesn't do is nowhere near as demoralizing as checking in on a meta-discussion site to see someone characterize something we do as evil, destructive, or tyrannical. We're just regular users who just happen to have the responsibility of making unpopular decisions from time to time.

The best token of appreciation the SE community could give is to treat us as such: every time I see a well-reasoned meta-discussion post that talks exclusively about a specific issue in a constructive manner instead of demonizing the people involved in the issue, it makes my day.

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    I'm not thinking in terms of disgruntled/neglected that much - I don't think there is a problem, else nobody would be running for moderator, or everybody would be quitting the job. What I mean is more along the lines of adding small tokens of appreciation here and there. But your answer draws a nice picture. – Pekka Dec 9 '11 at 21:48
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    +1 for "gruntled" and truth. (Though I never say no to moar swag.) – Adam Lear ModStaff Dec 9 '11 at 21:49
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    We have a diamond, which is even better than a badge :-) – Paŭlo Ebermann Dec 9 '11 at 21:50
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    I agree with this but, now that it's been brought up ... I want a gold badge. It's like getting a gold star for never spelling a word wrong all year in school. – user154510 Dec 9 '11 at 22:19
  • "We get free swag from time to time: moderator-only business cards, the same swag packages high-rep users get, and I got a USB stick for being a pro temp mod (or was it for running in an election?)" -- Interesting. In over three years as pro-temp mod I have received nothing of the kind. Maybe things changed as the number sites exploded? Or does it only happen once branded swag exists (after graduation with design)? We'll see. – Raphael Feb 23 '16 at 11:46

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