15

As you should already know, three very deserving young chaps/chaplettes will soon become a real deal moderator on Stack Overflow. Most voters that have been following the election already know many things that a moderator is expected to do and do well once elected. However, I'm sure there are some things that are not so well known to us common folk, that have not lived the life of an actual moderator. We can only really dream at what that life may be like. Some people probably think moderators are living the easy life, while it's more realistic that being a moderator makes life harder in some aspects as well as easier in other aspects.

  1. Do you feel that you've gotten a lot more upvotes on your answers since you received your diamond, just because people likely suspect that you are correct since you are a figure of authority?

  2. As a public figure, your errors can be over-dramatized and be placed directly into the public sphere. Can you please share one embarassing story that you have while being a moderator?

  3. When you first became a moderator, did you feel as though the tenured moderators welcomed you with open arms? Or did you feel like you must prove yourself to garner their respect?

  4. Do you think the newly elected should seek out 1 mentor (tenured moderator) to help them down the new path they hopped onto? Someone to chat with when they are unsure of a decision they should make? Someone that they can always turn to for advice?

  5. What are some things that are not very well known among the community at large about being a moderator?

  6. Please share some advice for the soon to be elected.

6
  • 7
    We generally share our advice for other moderators in the Teacher's Lounge, in private, where only other moderators can see it. – animuson ModStaff Feb 23 '14 at 21:01
  • 7
    ... and where the accompanying maniacal laughter doesn't seem to out of place @animuson? – Bart Feb 23 '14 at 21:21
  • 4
    like the Stone-cutters, the rituals are secret - especially who deals out the ordeal of the "paddling of the sore ass" – user246806 Feb 23 '14 at 21:21
  • 1
    "lady", "lass", even "girl" is the female equivalent of "chap", not some "-ette" – random Feb 23 '14 at 21:39
  • 1
    @random - And definitely not chapLettes!! – Chris Feb 23 '14 at 22:54
  • 3
    Pretty sure it's "chappesses", but should probably ask on English Language Learners – Shog9 Feb 24 '14 at 3:43
9

I figure this question is useful for moderators of other sites, as well, so I'll give my experience as a moderator of 4 different Stack Exchange sites, none of them with nearly as much traffic as Stack Overflow.

Do you feel that you've gotten a lot more upvotes on your answers since you received your diamond, just because people likely suspect that you are correct since you are a figure of authority?

I don't think so. I don't know for sure, of course, because I'm not in voters' mind. But I would guess that I've had more such blind upvotes from being a very high-rep user than from being a moderator.

Moderators run against the opposite problem — users who are upset with, say having their question closed sometimes go on a downvote spree. These are usually reverted automatically by the nightly serial vote reversal script.

As a public figure, your errors can be over-dramatized and be placed directly into the public sphere. Can you please share one embarassing story that you have while being a moderator?

Over-drama and embarrassment are different issues. When an irate user researches your phone number and calls you at home, that's not embarrassing. (It's happened to at least one moderator who uses his real name in his profile.)

I'll relate an embarrassing story which fortunately ended well. On Science Fiction and Fantasy, I once deleted an answer which was merely a link to the poster's blog where he advertised his book (self-published, if I recall correctly). As I felt that this was not just a link-only answer but borderline spam, I left a fairly abrupt comment. It turned out that the poster was in fact one of the writers or producers of the show that the question was about (I've forgotten the details). Fortunately (s)he took it well and posted a self-contained answer.

When you first became a moderator, did you feel as though the tenured moderators welcomed you with open arms? Or did you feel like you must prove yourself to garner their respect?

I haven't directly experienced this, since in all cases I started out as a moderator designated by Stack Exchange during the beta phase. But I've never seen that moderators have to prove themselves.

Stack Overflow is a bit peculiar because there are a lot of flags. But even the moderators who don't pull their weight aren't ostracized, we just don't see them around much.

If there is a rite of passage for being a moderator, it doesn't come from tenured moderators, it comes from the community: getting your first callout on meta.

Do you think the newly elected should seek out 1 mentor (tenured moderator) to help them down the new path they hopped onto? Someone to chat with when they are unsure of a decision they should make? Someone that they can always turn to for advice?

I don't think that's necessary. Moderators of all sites have access to a dedicated chat room where they can ask for advice. This works better than a designated mentor because there is pretty much always an experienced moderator around in the chat room.

What are some things that are not very well known among the community at large about being a moderator?

  • It's out on meta, but it bears repeating: moderators do not have access to voting information (with some very very few exceptions that are not publicly disclosed). Moderators cannot remove votes or affect reputation.

  • When you see a moderator doing something “unilaterally” (e.g. voting, deleting, …), it is very common that they were in fact alerted by one or more flags.

  • Being a moderator does not give you any advantages. (There's a T-shirt, but you get it merely for running in the election.) Mostly, you get a shovel and directions to the crap heap. The only reward of being a moderator is the satisfaction that you helped make the site better.

Please share some advice for the soon to be elected.

The role of moderators varies somewhat between sites, from low-traffic beta sites to Stack Overflow.

  • On a young site (especailly during the beta phase), the role of a moderator is in part to guide the community. Flag handling is only a small part. Moderators do things like

    • answering support questions on meta;
    • commenting on posts and chatting with users to help them improve their contributions;
    • promoting the site on other venues;
    • providing advice to the community at large (about closing, editing, flagging spam, …)

    While any user can perform these actions, moderators tend to play an important role, especially early on.

  • On Stack Overflow, it's the other extreme. Moderators are pretty much flag handling machines, handling 100 flags on a slow day. There is no time for one-on-one guidance.

On a slow beta site, you can be an effective moderator with ½ hour per week. On Stack Overflow, plan to spend at least 1 hour per weekday.

0
15

1) Do you feel that you've gotten a lot more upvotes on your answers since you received your diamond, just because people likely suspect that you are correct since you are a figure of authority?

No, not really. But then again, I (personally) rarely ever post answers anymore. Most of my reputation I gain anymore is necro-rep from very old answers that get viewed constantly.

2) As a public figure, your errors can be over-dramatized and be placed directly into the public sphere. Can you please share one embarassing embarrassing story that you have while being a moderator?

A moderator shouldn't really be embarrassed by anything. We make mistakes, and we admit our mistakes when we make them. Life goes on.

3) When you first became a moderator, did you feel as though the tenured moderators welcomed you with open arms? Or did you feel like you must prove yourself to garner their respect?

There's always a nice welcoming committee in the Teacher's Lounge.

4) Do you think the newly elected should seek out 1 mentor (tenured moderator) to help them down the new path they hopped onto? Someone to chat with when they are unsure of a decision they should make? Someone that they can always turn to for advice?

They don't need to. Moderators immediately get access to the Teacher's Lounge, where a fleet of moderators from across the network are always ready and available to provide them with any guidance they could possibly need. All they have to do is ask.

5) What are some things that are not very well known among the community at large about being a moderator?

How much fun we really have in the Teacher's Lounge.

6) Please share some advice for the soon to be elected.

You'll want some extra cleaner for your boots - you're about to step in a lot of crap.

13

The biggest piece of advice that I can provide to any newly elected moderator is to maintain proper perspective.

As a moderator, you're going to be handling an awful lot of absolutely terrible content. You're going to have people write obscene tirades and sometimes outright threats against you in messages. You're going to see a stream of spam, trolling, and sock puppets, and have to keep coming back each day to deal with all of it.

You have remind yourself from time to time that there is much larger quantity of amazing material and incredibly helpful people here, and that you can't become bitter, angry, or burned out by the bad. Step back every now and then and look at the fascinating and important questions and answers being provided each day. Remember why you first started contributing to the site to begin with.

Anyone running for moderator has to understand that they'll have very little time to answer questions and participate as a normal member here (and if you still plan on that being a focus for you, perhaps you should reconsider applying). Still, it helps to at least participate a little in an area you enjoy. I love to check out new questions in a few more technical, and less heavily trafficked areas, to see what new and crazy things people are trying. For me, that helps balance out the garbage I have to clean up.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .