Most moderator tools and policies are public, and should be discussed in public for the sake of transparency. But there are a few aspect that cannot be discussed in public, this concerns mostly the tools and policies concerning sock puppets and vote fraud. Revealing the tools at our disposal would make it much easier for users to cheat the system, so this has to stay somewhat secret by necessity.

The policies surrounding sock puppets and vote fraud are not actually secret, but it is rather hard to formulate them in a way that doesn't reveal specific information about the moderator tools. So while the general policies are public, there is still a lot of information that would be very useful for new moderators that is not available at any easily accessible place.

The way it works at the moment is that a new moderator just asks in the moderator-only chat room when they have such an issue and some moderators or SE employees will walk them through the process. One significant disadvantage here is that regular moderators don't have access to the tools on other sites, so we have to advise blind, as we can't really see the information the moderators on-site see. It is far easier for comm team members to walk a mod throught the whole procedure, but they are not always available and very busy in general.

I propose to have a part of the new help center that is only accessible to moderators. The content of that help center would be identical across all sites, and it would be created by the community team and the moderators. I'd let moderators suggest edits and let the comm team have the final say on the page, but other variants are possible. This mod-only help center would host pages on topics that can't be discussed in public without compromising the effectiveness of our tools. I can only think of two topics right now, sock puppets and vote fraud, but there might be more. But even those two topics alone are rather important, and having some clear guidelines would be very useful.

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    Where is that damn moderator manual when I need it? Oh, wait. It's supposed to be secret. I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a thing.
    – user102937
    Sep 25, 2013 at 21:42
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    I think this would be rather handy for guides to certain tools that may or may not exist, as well as for documenting various policies and procedures we (the comm team) sometimes hand down.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Sep 25, 2013 at 22:10
  • That sounds handy. As a stopgap, can any of these "com-team member walks the mod through it" conversations in that chat room be bookmarked? Sep 25, 2013 at 22:51
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    @MonicaCellio That's been more or less happening so far. I think most important things are already bookmarked? I'll try to remember next time we introduce something special. The trouble is, chat UI is complex and we can't just bookmark the relevant bits of the conversation. It's the entire transcript or nothing, so there's a fair amount of noise in there.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Sep 25, 2013 at 22:54
  • @annalear don't you mean "next time we may or may not introduce something special"? ;) Sep 25, 2013 at 23:14
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    I would just like to have everything in one place w/o needing so search MSO, or asking in chat.
    – mpdonadio
    Sep 25, 2013 at 23:23
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    You want a "help center", but editable and accessible to all network mods. Like some sort of Moderator Stack Ex...you sly bastard Sep 26, 2013 at 0:23
  • I've had a mod manual on the backburner for a while now -- it was supposed to introduce new users to the tools and be a reference manual for the intricacies of SE. I'm pretty busy these days, but if anyone wants to work with me on this, drop me an email :) Sep 26, 2013 at 7:54
  • Examples on some the tools? :P Jul 9, 2014 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


The feature is implemented and will be rolled out soon.

The CMs are still to populate it with relevant documentation, but once they do, all moderators will have their own private corner of the help center.

One caveat - due to ongoing changes to our search infrastructure, this section will not be indexed or searchable. Hopefully, these changes will be finished soon and we will be able to make these posts searchable by moderators.

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