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No, I don't mean diamond mods - I'm talking about the plain ol' moderation privileges.

I was reading a (very) recent post (Think before reviewing edits) and saw this comment by JasonC:

Maybe it would be beneficial if, say, once you reach the edit review reputation level, you have to go through (and pass a certain percentage of) those fake edit tests before you actually get the privilege (and perhaps, if you do not pass, you have to wait another few K of reputation before you get the chance again). Then the original rep level could remain low, and people with low rep are still given a chance to gain the privilege.

Servy responded with:

Been suggested before. Personally I don't see it being effective. The audits, as they stand, are there to make sure that the reader is reading the post. No more than that. If you read it, and no nothing else about whether or not it's an appropriate edit, you ought to pass. Users should really have a higher standard than "I read the post" to be an acceptable reviewer. There are of course other problems with them as well.

I happen to agree with Servy on this. The audits are meant to be an extremely low bar - a threshold below which you are clearly a bad reviewer. Using these for training would not ensure graduates would actually be good reviewers.

But the idea resonated and, after thinking about it a bit more, I remembered our little About (aka Tour) page. If you are a new user and you read this page, all the way to the bottom, you get a badge. It's purpose is clear: help new users to understand important aspects of the site through an entertaining (animated!) overview.

Perhaps we could develop something similar to the "About/Tour" for users who have acquired moderation privileges, especially at the 2k and 3k levels. Just a basic overview of what the edit/close privileges are for and clear, easy-to-understand examples of the kinds of questions/answers that need moderation. Go for obvious, non-controversial (perhaps invented) examples so that the purpose of the mod tools are clear. (Obviously, gray-er posts require experience and judgment, which can't really be taught in this format.)

Reading the page all the way to the bottom could earn you an "informed moderator" badge. We could even go so far as to nag new moderators a bit to read our "Moderation Tour" when they visit the review page - at least until they are over a threshold - just like we nag new downvoters to consider leaving a comment.

I think a lot of users who gain these privileges (and actually visit the review page in an effort to use them) really want to do a good job at it. But, right now, the instructions on how to do so are difficult to find, polluted with old (obsolete) advice and are littered with gaps and contradictions. A clean, one-stop interface, just to help get new mods going, might go a long way toward improving the overall quality level of our community's moderation activities.

  • I like the idea of showing people something (via an inbox notification, etc.) as they reach new privilege levels. I remember being surprised with new tools and capabilities as I passed the 5k, 10k, and 20k levels. A little explanation about them would have gone a long ways. – Brad Larson Feb 24 '14 at 20:01
  • @BradLarson - I think that was already done, though you probably missed the boat. :) – JDB Feb 24 '14 at 20:03
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    I was thinking about something maybe a little more fleshed out than that ("here's the 10k tool screen and how it works"), but yeah, I think I missed when that came in. – Brad Larson Feb 24 '14 at 20:05
  • Better education is never a bad thing. But, as you've already pointed out, I don't consider robo-reviewing an educational problem. The only sort of education that is relevant for potential robo-reviewers is the kind of education that SE seems unwilling to provide to users: "This behavior is unacceptable, and if we catch you doing it, there will be consequences." – Robert Harvey Feb 24 '14 at 20:05
  • @RobertHarvey - If you look at the review in the linked question, I don't think it was necessarily a robo-review. The edit appears to be legitimate, and it takes some understanding of SO's culture to understand why the edit was not valid. – JDB Feb 24 '14 at 20:08
  • You're right about that review. It's pretty far removed from this question, though. A training course would not necessarily require system changes; all you would need is a link to a FAQ meta post. Provided, of course, that prospective reviewers actually read it. – Robert Harvey Feb 24 '14 at 20:11
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    Looking at meta, I see surprisingly little guidance on how to review. – Robert Harvey Feb 24 '14 at 20:19
  • You're aware there is already a descriptive page for each privilege level, right? E.g., this one. In any case, I agree the content on those pages could be improved. – bfavaretto Feb 25 '14 at 0:55
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    @bfav - it's the difference between reading the directions for settlers of catan and playing a practice round. Some people "get it" from the directions alone, but most need to see it in action before they understand. – JDB Feb 25 '14 at 1:22

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