Moderators are mostly like normal users. They earn badges and answer questions like everyone else. But there's two badges that moderators are (mostly) locked out of: Deputy and Marshal, which require you to helpfully flag a lot of posts. With the exception of spam flags (quite rare except on the very biggest sites) and Other flags (perhaps even more uncommon), moderators rarely have reason to use a flag; they don't raise flags, they handle them.

There was even a concern raised in Why do diamond mods have the ability to mark their own flags as helpful? that self-handling flags could be abused for badges (which would be an impressively boring and obviously inappropriate feat).

Instead why don't we count flags handled toward the Deputy/Marshal badges? You still have to handle a large amount of flags to get the badges, and the purpose of the badge is the same; helping moderate the community. The badge isn't really about clicking a button that iterates a counter, that's just a means to an end. It's to encourage community moderation. Mods are just doing this from the other side of the table; this change helps keep the motivating factor of that badge for the same purpose, but let mods experience that motivator as well.

I'll note that these badges would still be hard to get on slow sites. After 4 months moderating User Experience I have handled less than 200 flags. It will take me a year or more to get Marshal, so this isn't a "free badges for moderators" proposal.

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    Those flags are not for handling flags, but for raising helpful flags. I don't think moderators would need a badge for handled flags, as possibly every moderator is going to get them. It is just a matter of who gets those badges first, but I don't think it is nice for the moderators who handle less flags. – kiamlaluno Jul 5 '12 at 13:22
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    Wait, we can flag posts ourselves and then mark them as helpful? I'll be right back... – JonW Jul 5 '12 at 13:22
  • @JonW You don't gain any badge, as moderator. ;) – kiamlaluno Jul 5 '12 at 13:23
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    @kiamlaluno I don't really see the objection here. I address your first point; the real goal of the badge is to encourage community moderation, not clicking a box. You're focusing on the physical act and not the intent. "Every moderator is going to get them" yes, for doing a large amount of service as a moderator. Is that bad? Do moderators not deserve even two measly badges as recognition for handling 500 flags? "I don't think it is nice for the moderators who handle less flags" Moderators that handle less flags aren't going to get the badge anyway, this just actually gives them a chance. – Ben Brocka Jul 5 '12 at 13:26
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    I think this is a good idea. It's a non-issue on SO, where having the Marshal badge is now a requirement to even nominate yourself for a moderator position, but it would be a little kick of extra incentive on other sites for new moderators to use the tools at least long enough to get a shiny gold badge. – Bill the Lizard Jul 5 '12 at 13:29
  • @BilltheLizard it's actually a fairly long-term goal even for mods on most sites. After 4 months as mod on UX I only have 141 handled flags. Marshal will likely take me at least a year – Ben Brocka Jul 5 '12 at 13:36
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    @BenBrocka Oh wow. Then I definitely don't see a problem with awarding a couple of extra badges to people who spend several months moderating their site. – Bill the Lizard Jul 5 '12 at 13:41
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    @kiamlaluno restricted audience is the reason I bring this up; this basically makes the badge fair game for mods and non-mods. As is, it's practically only available for non-mods, baring several hundred spam flags. And I don't really get your last point; other mods already see your moderation stats. Other users won't really know the specifics, they just see a badge. Maybe you had 499 helpful flags and 1 handled flag. Who cares? – Ben Brocka Jul 5 '12 at 13:47
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    Let's not forget that damn 'Beta' badge too. I want me one of them. – JonW Jul 5 '12 at 13:49
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    @kiamlaluno Why wouldn't they? I don't see any reason to forget your progress toward the badge if you already had helpful flags. If you've already put in much of the work towards getting a badge, burning that progress doesn't make sense. The proposal is simply to count handled flags as a mod in the same way helpful flags count. A couple of badges for months of volunteer service really doesn't seem excessive. – Ben Brocka Jul 5 '12 at 13:55
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    +1 I absolutely support this. I don't see any problem with it and actually I don't see why we should exclude moderators from getting one or two badges. – Alenanno Jul 5 '12 at 14:02
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    It must be just me, but as moderator I don't see getting a badge for handled flags as an incentive, when it's just a matter of speed. To make a comparison, also approving an edit is a matter of speed (especially outside Stack Overflow), and the badge you get for the approved edits is a bronze badge. I would like better a badge for being between the first three users who voted to close a question which then was still close after a week, for X closed questions. – kiamlaluno Jul 5 '12 at 14:06
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    Obviously, I'm all for this. I stopped spam-flagging things that were already flagged by others. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/127493/… – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 5 '12 at 14:06
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    Badges for moderating are a neat idea, but I'm not sure these two are the right badges. – Adam Lear Jul 5 '12 at 14:13
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    @BenBrocka There are other badges that aren't attainable by most people. Beta, Precognitive, Tenacious, Unsung Hero. This just isn't something that ever bothered me when I became a moderator. – Adam Lear Jul 5 '12 at 15:37

Personally I think that on the higher volume sites the candidates should already have those badges before nominating themselves, they should be mandatory.

Of course they are harder to get on slower sites, but they will be hard for everybody to get. In this case you are not so likely to earn the badge, and so what if you don't? If you are doing all the flagging in between moderator duties then what is left for the other members to do?

just to elaborate... when we nominate ourselves for Moderator status, we don't do it for the fame and fortune1, to get groupies2, or to earn lots of bling. Badges are nice, but if there are some that you cannot gain while being a mod then so be it.

What also doesn't sit well with me is that earning Marshall while being a Mod is somewhat at odds with established Moderator behaviour patterns. The Marshall badge is for proactive citizens, who get out there and hunt down crap (or just shoot it down when they find it). Mods tend to be reactive - they process flags raised by those good citizens. Don't get me wrong - there is nothing bad about a Mod who gets out there and raises flags where appropriate, but they are not acting as a Mod when they do that. To change the criteria of the badge just to make Mods eligible for it seems kind of... smelly.

1 Well, not all of us do it for that.
2 Not for this either, even though it can be tempting.

  • Disclosure: (not that it matters too much) I was a candidate in the last couple of SO mod elections, so my opinion may be a little stronger than others on the subject. – slugster Jul 5 '12 at 20:35
  • Deputy, sure; but Marshal is gold for a reason, and it's incredibly hard to get on non-SO sites that don't get anywhere near that amount of volume. You run into situations, especially right after a site launches, where nobody has Marshal and thus nobody is "qualified" to run in the moderator election. – user149432 Jul 5 '12 at 22:09
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    @Mark I think you missed my first sentence, I said "higher volume sites"? If a mod wants to go on Citizen's Patrol on a quieter site then so be it, but should they be judge and jury (even though you and me might trust the mods, it will lead to questions from other not so experienced members)? And shouldn't they be letting the non-mod members have something to strive for? – slugster Jul 5 '12 at 23:28
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    My point is that "higher volume sites" would just be Stack Overflow, where it's already a requirement. For the next three highest-traffic sites (which all have a small fraction of SO's traffic): SU has 5 marshals, SF has 2, and Arqade has 7, all less than the number of extant mods on those sites. Every site except for arguably SO needs new moderators faster than marshals are produced. – user149432 Jul 5 '12 at 23:32
  • @Mark We agree on some of the same stuff - mandatory for SO mods, hard to achieve on the other sites. I've edited my answer to elaborate on the bit we seem to be at odds on. – slugster Jul 6 '12 at 0:40
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    The hate groupies always bring their own bile – random Jul 6 '12 at 0:44
  • Handling the 10k flag queue is also reactive, and a fairly easy way to get Marshall on SO. I don't think that's wrong. – bfavaretto Jul 6 '12 at 2:39

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