Someone with 10,000 rep has access to the moderator tools. What's the difference between them and a moderator?
"Moderator" actually refers to anyone who participates in community moderation. Depending on how strictly you use the term, that is at 20k, 10k, 5k, 3k, 2k, or even 1 rep (flagging).
Usually, it refers to either 10k+s or ♦ mods.
Some differences between 10k/20k and ♦ powers:
- ♦ mods are elected (or "chosen", in the case of pro tems like me) by the community. I've seen users on SO with 20k+ who I'd hate to see as ♦s (judging by the quality of their posts). One can get to 20k without knowing SE policies, and just by posting a high volume of mediocre answers.
- ♦ mods have access to sensitive data. A lot of it.
- ♦ votes are binding. (close, delete, undelete, reopen, etc)
- Certain flags (under the "it needs ♦ moderator attention" section) are only seen by ♦s
- ♦s can merge users/posts/tags. They can migrate posts (to any SE site), convert to comment, wreak havoc in user profiles, lock posts, and a few other stuff I can't remember.
- ♦s have the power to PM ("mod message") users for important stuff. They can annotate/suspend/delete/destroy users as well.
- There are other powers as well, quite a few of which are under
- ♦s have extra powers on chat as well. Handling ♦ flags, suspensions, superpings, user profile editing, and access to a special "private room" option (Makes room only visible to mods of that site and invited users; if the room is associated with SE.com then all mods can see it)
I think that sums up most of the differences. The well known ones, anyway.
There are three main differences:
- The moderators are the only ones who have access to certain flags.
If you pick the flag → it needs ♦ moderator attention → other option, your flag will be treated with the highest confidentiality and will only be visible to community moderators and Stack Exchange employees. In addition, flagged comments and spam/offensive flag counts are not visible to you.
- Moderators are elected. The election process can be found here.
- SO members with 10k+ rep are not expected to participate in advanced moderation. The elected moderators are. Jeff Atwood describes the position of the elected moderators as
"...human exception handlers, there to deal with those (hopefully rare) exceptional conditions that should not normally happen..." (full post here)
There is a fourth (and most significant) difference:
- Moderator votes are binding and instant.
When closing a question what ever close option the moderator chooses is the one displayed and the post is closed regardless of how many other votes it has. The same it true of deletion.
A fifth difference:
- Moderators can migrate to any site on the network.
While regular users are limited to the (up to) 5 destinations presented on the migrate dialog, diamond moderators have an extra box to type in the name of any site.