Can a Moderator view our personal email and other private information? If they can, then how can Stack Exchange make sure that they will not abuse using it by selling members' info or for any other purposes?

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I personally think a physical prevention on StackExchange is urgently needed. What if a Moderator lost their account and some unauthorized persion get into their account? Would that be risk of exposing milions of members information on StackExachange?

Yeah, moderators are selected under a great deal of scrutiny. But mostly is based on their reputation score and their contribution on the forum. But does a student with good result make them a good student in morality? Does a rich guy or a guy with high status in society make them a truly good citizen? Many news shows us otherwise. Simply just having an agreement is not a good way for prevention. Most moderators are expert in computer. So, if they really plan to do something bad, they will certainly plan carefully that it would not be easy to trace them and bring solid evidence. Even if does, they maybe on the other side of the world, it would take months or years to sue them. Even so, all members private info are already expose in the beginning.

My suggestion is that members private information shouldn't go outside of StackExchange. Moderators can only view members ID. If they have anything need to contact members directly, they can do it using StackExchange tools. I believe this way is the much better way of protection on members' information & privacy.

  • Moderators can't just scrape such info. It's not even on the profile or source code of the page when they look in the first place.
    – random
    Mar 14, 2014 at 1:43
  • There's tracks: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/122801/…
    – random
    Mar 14, 2014 at 1:45
  • Screenshots there, "Click to show"...... Mar 14, 2014 at 1:48
  • I propose we do one better: we should establish a system that prevents Stack Exchange themselves from seeing the private information.
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2014 at 2:35
  • 16
    I find it funny, by the way, that this question is asked by a user who is suspended on Stack Overflow for voting irregularities. Talk about integrity....
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2014 at 2:36

1 Answer 1


There is an agreement that moderators must sign before gaining moderator rights.

It says,

I acknowledge that I may have access to potentially personally-identifying information about Stack Overflow users and that in connection with such access

  • I will use such information solely in accordance with the then-current Privacy Policy of Stack Overflow,

  • I will not disclose this information to anyone, ...

it's a binding agreement and a moderator violating it would surely face losing their powers, and possibly even legal consequences.

Of course, it's just an agreement, and there is nothing physically preventing moderators from abusing their privileges for, say, spam.

That's where trust comes in, and it's why candidates are put under such a great deal of scrutiny. Integrity and trustworthiness have always been important qualities when electing a moderator.

  • 16
    Physically, our hopes for additional swag keep us in line.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Mar 14, 2014 at 1:14
  • what "scrutiny" are you referring to?
    – vzn
    Mar 14, 2014 at 16:05
  • @vzn mainly the public discussion that takes place during the election, users checking out track records, past misdeeds being published, etc.
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2014 at 16:28
  • ok. feel that post-election "scrutiny" generally declines dramatically after the authority is instated. or rather there may be later scrutiny, but it is relatively powerless/without much consequence &/or relies on mod sympathy (which seems generally low)
    – vzn
    Mar 14, 2014 at 16:51
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    @vzn my impression is the opposite - people complaining about moderator behaviour on Meta are always given their say. It's just that 99% of complaints turn out to be unfounded (i.e. the community tends to support the moderator's actions). Also, there is always the possibility to complain about a moderator to the team. I have no reason to believe serious complaints wouldn't be followed up upon by them
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2014 at 16:54
  • huh. interesting. "given their say" and 99% "unfounded" (aka overruled) sounds exactly like "relatively powerless/without much consequence" for non-mods. think moderators are extremely rarely opposed/overruled by each other & the se team. so the community is basically trained/conditioned not to oppose them in general, even possibly on gray areas open for legitimate disagreement eg scope, policy, etc... which means meta is not really much for free/open discussion of policy and/or brainstorming/suggestions of "good ideas" but more justification/enforcement of official views.
    – vzn
    Mar 14, 2014 at 17:02
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    @vzn Discussions about policy actually have nothing to do with behavior of/support for moderators. Discussions about whether moderators are following that policy are a different matter, of course. And you are making an assumption; why can't it just be that 99% of the time, the moderator was right? I've seen numerous mods 'corrected' by the CM team. Including myself. (Granted; nothing big, but still.) Mar 14, 2014 at 17:12
  • 3
    @vzn - All moderators can see all actions taken by other moderators, and we are regularly questioned about them by other moderators and by SE staff. Because this often relies on non-public information, these conversations are not visible to the average user on SE sites. We can be fairly brutal with our criticisms of each other, and SE staff is not hesitant to tell us "What in the world were you thinking? Go fix this immediately." if we screw up in the least. Also, we're very regularly taken to task by the community (one of the new moderators has been called out 3 times already on Meta). Mar 14, 2014 at 17:15
  • 1
    It should also be pointed out that there are very real consequences to any moderator violating any part of the SE moderator agreement, intentional or no: meta.stackexchange.com/a/187557/135615 Mar 14, 2014 at 17:16
  • @vzn that sounds very conspiracy-theorist-y to me. Yes, moderators are relatively rarely overruled by each other, the community, and the team. I put it to you it's because they're doing a really good job overall. If you have actual instances in mind where it didn't, please show them.... moderators have nothing to do with policy decisions, so I'm not sure how that plays into it. Moderators are supposed to enforce policy and should be overruled when they are not acting in accordance with policy.
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2014 at 17:22
  • not a conspiracy but indeed a bit paranoid after 2+yrs on se... think responses are missing pt but not feeling like saying anything else at 1% odds =( you win! & half expecting this whole exchange to be deleted soon by a mod.... fleeing the shootdown gallery asap....
    – vzn
    Mar 14, 2014 at 17:31
  • 4
    @vzn that's disingenious nonsense and you know it. If you have an actual, specific complaint, then make a Meta post about it. (And yes, this exchange is likely to get deleted - not because someone is speaking out against mods, but because that's what routinely happens to most long discussions in comments.)
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2014 at 17:33
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    @vzn if people disagreeing with you is a "shootdown gallery" to you, then there indeed is no point in communicating any further.
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2014 at 17:38
  • will continue in chat with anyone who wishes to actually participate in real/civil discussion on this subject, plz invite me to one if you feel you have an open mind
    – vzn
    Mar 14, 2014 at 17:45
  • @vzn here is a room: chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/rooms/710/… I'll be on and off all day, make sure you @-ping me
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2014 at 17:50

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