With the ever-growing network of Stack Exchange sites as well as the increased traffic and therefore larger number of moderators, the way policy updates and feature changes are currently announced makes it almost impossible for moderators to catch up.
Currently, if you as a moderator want to be up to date on what's happening, you have to:
- Hang around on Teacher's Lounge all day and be sure to check the starred or pinned messages
- Visit Meta Stack Overflow and look at the recent feature changes as well as the top questions for the last week or months
- Wait a few weeks until you receive a newsletter, which only covers the major issues
What you could be missing…
This is a process that needs moderators to actively check for any new info. For example, two things I completely missed as a moderator unless some others had informed me:
- Why are the moderators being so strict with quality related flags recently? – I've always been strict about quality flags but it took me a while to see this topic. I just had a talk with @ChrisF yesterday who apparently hadn't seen the topic until now. No offense, but if you want moderators to act consistently, you have to get this information out more reliably.
- There are new ways for moderators to check review statistics. Those are buried somewhere in a list of links. Unless you check out that page (which I don't do that often), you just won't find these links. The rationale can't be that "you'll find this out when you see it, and then play around with it" – why make these tools in the first place if they shouldn't be used right away?
Now, I can imagine that – even on the larger sites – there are moderators who simply cannot afford to spend the entire day in chat, or even on Meta. Moderating is something most of us to "just for fun", and often while working.
… and why that's bad?
But yet, we moderators are the first port of call for support on our sites. You wouldn't want the site mods to respond "Umm, no idea, they must've changed that recently." And you want them to act consistently (e.g., with regard to the low quality flags). I dare say that if an otherwise very active moderator isn't there for two weeks, they'd miss out on important (policy/feature) changes.
A new information feed
What I propose is that Stack Exchange actively pushes out small bits of information to all moderators of all sites. Unlike the newsletter, which is only sent every few months, these messages could be kept really short and to the point.
In the mod page, you could make a counter for updates:
And there, list all the new stuff, for moderators to read:
You could then just write a small message:
Be more strict on very low quality flags
If a very low quality flag doesn't exactly apply, consider declining it with an appropriate message. This is to ensure that validated flags are accurate. See more: Why are the moderators being so strict with quality related flags recently?
And done. Now you get the information out to every moderator, in a feed that now pushes out the important bits instead of waiting for moderators to find them.
This would ensure that moderators who can't check in every day still get news of the critical feature and policy changes, which results in a more consistent moderation experience for the users, and in the end it might also save the team from repeated questions about new features or policies.