During the last elections, many users were referring to the meta reputation of a candidate as an important indication on how much the user fits the rule of being moderator.

IMHO, meta reputation shouldn't reflect someone's matching to this rule, specially when he's very active in stackoverflow and knows the rules. Also keep in mind that many users can see updates/requests/questions/answers in meta without actually being part of it.

Take for example a user that has a good participation in stackoverflow, edits posts, votes to close etc.. Does it really matter if he or she's active on meta or not, if they knows what they're doing and they're really updated with all meta related things?

What do you think?

  • 3
    I don't really agree it's "important indication". Bohemian - 2,626 meta rep, 0x7fffffff - 1,727 meta rep. That's not high reputation. Also, it's not the rep but rather the attitude on Meta that matters. I will vote for a user who respond nicely to trivial support question and won't vote for user who attack such trivial questions and throw insults at their author. Mar 10, 2014 at 7:37
  • 1
    I feel I have to say at this point that people can vote as they see fit, based on whatever metric seems best to them Mar 10, 2014 at 7:46
  • I would say having high rep on meta is not that important but on the other hand having very low rep (e.g. <200) would be too low for me.
    – Szymon
    Mar 10, 2014 at 7:49
  • @Szymon That's what I'm talking about. Why? What does this mean to you it it's < 200?
    – Maroun
    Mar 10, 2014 at 7:50
  • 1
    @MarounMaroun Even if you mostly read meta, I would expect an engaged user to answer a question or ask a question to clarify something at least every now and then. Getting rep on meta is not hard and 200 is quite low here if you've been around for a while and you participate.
    – Szymon
    Mar 10, 2014 at 7:53
  • It's an indication of how much you're on meta, listening to the community. I suppose it's possible to just visit meta without ever posting anything but it's not that likely Mar 10, 2014 at 7:54
  • 3
    I don't think meta reputation is all that important, although I do think that candidates should have some. But that's just my opinion. Other people vote how they see fit. I actually think the number of helpful moderator flags that a candidate has cast before the election was announced is a far more meaningful metric.
    – user102937
    Mar 10, 2014 at 17:49

3 Answers 3


You really shouldn't judge a moderator nominee by any one arbitrary metric, because they don't tell the whole story. You need to look at how they've responded to people in the past, how willing they would be to act as a janitor and policeman, and whether they fully understand the site and its policies.

That said, take a look at the top Meta users from the last year. There are an awful lot of diamonds on that list. In fact, most of the remaining people on that first page are ones I could get behind as moderator candidates on Stack Overflow.

If you're spending a lot of time here leaving answers that help out new and existing users, or helping to steer site policy, you are showing both a significant interest in how the site operates and a willingness to guide others in the use of the site and network. This is an orthogonal set of skills to asking and answering on Stack Overflow proper, and I personally consider your participation here more important than your reputation on Stack Overflow.

A moderator's primary responsibility is to handle things the community cannot, and that includes interfacing with users having problems or stepping in when people get out of control. When someone responds on Meta to a question, are they polite, articulate, and knowledgable about the site? If so, that usually indicates someone I'd like for the position, and that tends to coincide with how people vote here.

Also, you better get familiar with Meta before you become a moderator, because if and when you screw up, you're going to have to come here to defend or apologize for your actions.

Again, it can't be the only thing you judge someone by, but I'd weigh Meta participation much higher than reputation on the main site. There's a reason why the Convention badge is required to nominate yourself for election on SO, alongside the flagging and editing badges.


Being an active participant has a lot of advantages when it comes to evaluating a moderator candidate as well as improving one's ability to moderate:

  • Being active on meta exposes you to a much broader scope of posts than the vast majority of users see on SO proper. Most people are really only active in a handful of language tags, and often tend to focus on specific categories of questions within those tags based on their particular expertise. Because of this many users will be unaware of the conventions, problems, solutions, personalities, etc. found in these other tags. When someone becomes a mod they will suddenly be responsible for interacting with questions they may well never have touched before. In such cases it's not a matter of understanding the technical expertise, but realizing that certain tags have built their own conventions for addressing various issues, and moderators need to be able to understand that to effectively moderate.

  • Being active on meta exposes you to a lot of edge cases, and interesting/unusual/rare moderation issues. While very active SO users likely come across some of these issues naturally, they'll come across quite a lot more of them by being active on MSO.

  • Active meta users are much more likely to understand not just what the current policies are, but how they came about, what other considerations were made, the detailed reasonings for why a policy is implemented, etc. A user can moderate quite a bit more effectively when they really understand policies, rather than simply memorizing them. They will be able to apply them more effectively, be able to apply them to more unusual cases more effectively, and (more importantly) they will be able to explain policies, and their importance, to other users more effectively when they (inevitably) have their actions questioned.

  • An active meta user has (generally) demonstrated an effectiveness for explaining site policy to other users, often users who were very...emotional...about the issue. And for those that have demonstrated, through their meta activity, that they aren't very good at this, then their meta activity is still being very useful at evaluating how good of a candidate they are.

  • I really like these points as they extol the benefits to the community of someone that's willing to invest time in the "big picture". What remains fuzzy is the term active participant; which I fear will remain subjective as the only metric (as it were) is possibly the Convention badge. Mar 10, 2014 at 19:26
  • 1
    @JonClements It's not just a boolean yes/no. The more someone has participated in meta the more familiar they are with a broader range of topics, the more policies they'll have an intimate understanding of, the more interesting/unusual cases they'll have touched, the more effectively they'll be able to communicate policies to users, etc. It's on an analog scale. While this isn't all strictly proportional to rep, rep (or total upvotes) is probably the best approximation we can come up with. So the qusetion is not, "Are they an active user?" but rather, "How active on an MSO user are they?"
    – Servy
    Mar 10, 2014 at 19:28
  • But being active on meta doesn't necessarily mean that you should answer/ask.. Isn't it enough if you see the question/answer you're seeking?
    – Maroun
    Mar 11, 2014 at 6:57
  • 1
    @MarounMaroun To some of these points, yes, in others, no. (For example, point 4.) However we have no effective means of determining whether a user actively reads meta questions without participating. The point here is not that anyone who isn't an active contributor on meta is unqualified; that's not true. The point is that people who are active contributors are showing a lot of positive points. There are of course any number of other ways for users to pick up the skills to help them moderate, and to demonstrate that they have the ability to moderate, outside of contributing on meta.
    – Servy
    Mar 11, 2014 at 13:48

As a candidate in the election one of my concerns was my apparent lack of Meta participation. However, that doesn't mean I'm not aware of what's going on, just that for a lot of things I'm not going to waste time trying to FGITW more active and experienced users when I know it'll be answered perfectly well and I could be spending that time editing posts into shape etc...

A comment on my nomination post which shows one way of looking at it:

"keep up to date with Meta (even if I don't say much that often)" It's nice that you have a processing type of personality. The community would greatly benefit from a guy who devotes more time thinking on what others has to say, where instead of words he puts his resolve on those discussions on proper actions. - Mark Garcia

But I'm sure others would look at it from the polar opposite.

Unless there's something that needs my input, or there's something I feel strongly about, then I just observe as if I can argue both sides equally well, then there's no point creating noise with my neutral 2p.

So while I agree with Brad that Meta participation is important, it's difficult to quantify to any reasonable metric. I'd be wary of someone that'd just scraped the Convention badge, but at the same time, I'd be wary of someone that was answering every single Meta question they possibly could (as they'll have to learn to step back to do some exception handling instead and let the community answer).

I personally found when voting that comments were useful - even just the way people ask for clarification, or point out faux pas that new users have committed is an indicator of their attitude which would probably carry over to Meta posts should they have to handle requests/justify their actions.

So yes, while it's important, and I was very wary that a lot of people would weigh it very heavily in their decision, a balanced approach is more reasonable - and for me that was trying to get a feeling for attitude and consistency rather than Meta rep.

Bottom line: People will choose on whatever basis they wish

(further eg: I did see some Twitter posts where one person was voting based on people that used their real names and another for the people with the "coolest" avatars...)

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