I'm guessing the moderators can sometimes end up with massive queues of flags and alerts that they need to go through on a daily basis and I was thinking that tag based moderation could be an interesting concept to look at.

I'm thinking that a Tag Moderator would have limited moderation abilities for any questions that have been tagged with a tag that they have been designated as a moderator for, they would be able to close questions, move non-answers to comments, edit questions/answers etc.

Deciding who a tag moderator could be would be one of the important discussion topics, should it be once you get over a certain number of rep in a particular tag or could it be voted on, people over a certain rep, for example more then 200, would be up for election and could be voted on by people who use the tag, ie you need over 25 rep in that tag to vote.

Obviously there is also the potential for abuse, somebody with enough rep to retag a question could retag something so it falls into their moderation realm, make changes and then retag it back. Some of this could be worked arounf by only allowing moderation based on original tags unless the retagger was a site moderator.

I'd be interested in seeing a discussion on this before I put it in as a feature request. What other pros and cons do you see etc.

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    Some of the nominees for past elections were toying around with the idea of focusing on certain tags as well, but not down to the technical nitty gritty as what you're proposing here. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 18 '12 at 21:38
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    Interesting idea. One aspect to consider is that most moderation is subject-independent, so it doesn't necessarily make sense to allow someone to moderate based on subject expertise – Matthew Read Apr 18 '12 at 21:42
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    That's an interesting idea. Would it work if people with over, say, 7000 rep and a gold badge in a tag were automatically tag mods? – vascowhite Apr 18 '12 at 21:54
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    Duplicates and merging come immediately to mind as the part of moderation that is most reliant on domain knowledge (@MatthewRead). Perhaps focussing tag-based moderation on that feature would be helpful. NARQs sometimes require specific expertise, too; when I see, e.g. a C# question in the flag queue, I often have to abstain from acting since I'm hard-pressed to say that the question definitely doesn't make sense. – Josh Caswell Apr 18 '12 at 21:57
  • @vascogotlost That is an interesting way of deciding who would get moderation status. maybe different levels of moderation could be achieved 2000 rep with silver badge could have lower moderation abilities. – Declan Lynch Apr 18 '12 at 22:02
  • I was thinking the amount of rep implies trustworthiness and the badge implies expertise, the qualities that would be required for an unelected mini mod. – vascowhite Apr 18 '12 at 22:05
  • @vasco, why do you think badges and rep implies trustworthiness and expertise in mutually exclusive ways? – Kirk Woll Apr 18 '12 at 22:12
  • @KirkWoll I was thinking they were complimentary, rather than exclusive. – vascowhite Apr 18 '12 at 22:15

I honestly don't see how this could work out. You'd have to make the requirements high enough where there wouldn't be a ton of moderators. We don't want just anyone to be able to go close a question with a single vote, etc. Going off the gold tag badge idea; sure there aren't very many of those awarded, but that's also a problem. Only some of the most popular areas would ever get tag-specific moderators.

Matthew Read's comment stands out. Moderation rarely has anything to do with the subject. You don't really need to know anything about C++ to be able to moderate its questions. If something does arise that you don't feel comfortable handling yourself, you leave it for someone else.

You've also pointed out another major issue in your question. Users can just retag it; and in order to prevent this you'd have to build in more workarounds and exceptions. It's all a whole lot of work for an unknown and possibly undesirable result.

The biggest con: Reputation and expertise shows absolutely nothing for your moderation skills. You've mistaken "reputation as a level of trust" in the wrong sense. Trust refers to their answers and feedback they provide. You don't get reputation for closing and deleting questions, reviewing posts, or making flags. Just because they've answered a lot of questions and have a lot of reputation doesn't necessarily mean they're familiar with all the ever-changing rules, discussions, and other goings-on of the network that they'd be an adequate person to entrust with moderation powers like this. Moderators are community elected and trusted individuals that can make good decisions for the community, not themselves. I don't believe that some of those people who would qualify for this privilege can be trusted in that way.

  • 'con' is rather a strong word isn't it? – vascowhite Apr 18 '12 at 22:18
  • @vascogotlost: I was merely using the "pros and cons" language. Why is it a "strong word"? – animuson Apr 18 '12 at 22:19
  • Sorry my mistake. I read con as in trick rather than opposite of pro. Its been a long day :) – vascowhite Apr 18 '12 at 22:20
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    "You don't really need to know anything about C++ to be able to moderate its questions." Alright. Well then. I'm going to town. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 18 '12 at 22:24
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn: Pick me up some milk while you're there. – animuson Apr 18 '12 at 22:26
  • @Bolt and popcorn; we'll need lots of popcorn for this. – casperOne Apr 19 '12 at 3:50
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    I agree: In a site like Stack Overflow, pretending that each moderator know about most of the programming languages is too much. I am a moderator on Drupal Answers not because I know everything about Drupal, but because I volunteered my time for moderating it. My knowledge of Drupal helps me with the task, but that is not the reason I am moderator; differently, a Drupal core maintainer like chx (just to cite a core maintainer with an account there) would be a moderator. – kiamlaluno Apr 19 '12 at 4:43

I don't like the proposal to give high-reputation users moderator powers automatically. Some of the higher-reputation users are prickly and I would not choose to have them automatically promoted to moderator, no matter how precise their answers may be.

High-reputation users are already very powerful. Restricting the remaining powers to elected users (and those employed by our benevolent dictators) is best.

One counter to this proposal specifically about tags is that adding and removing tags is supremely easy for anyone to do -- even anonymous users can propose tag edits. No user should be able to take unilateral action simply by re-tagging any question.

If you think the flag-handling time is growing too long, I'd be happy to support adding another handful of moderators.

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    "Some of the higher-reputation users are prickly..." Hey, I resemble that remark! Er...umm...resent. Yeah, resent! – Jerry Coffin Apr 18 '12 at 22:47
  • The resemblance is surely coincidental. :) – sarnold Apr 18 '12 at 22:47

To a certain extent you've got this already.

If a user's got to 10K there's a pretty good chance they're going to have a silver or possibly a gold tag badge (or two). By the time they're at 20K they'll almost certainly have. At that level they have access to the tools menu where they can see questions with close and delete votes and also the posts that have been flagged.

They can add their close votes from these lists rather than having to search questions and they can still flag posts for moderator attention if there's something particularly bad. These users will, by definition, be concentrating on question in their favourite tags.

Moderators get to know who the good flaggers are. It's easier on smaller sites, but even on SO I expect you'll see certain names and think "Ah, X has flagged this - I'll just close/delete/whatever". There'll be some checking, but you know it's a "good" flag.

Agreed, the close doesn't happen straight away, but it does happen and probably more quickly than if left to the rest of the community to stumble across the question and vote.

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