30

So there I am, making my evening run through a site I moderate, beverage of choice in hand, and I get to meta -- where I see a post from a confused or upset user that begins "the moderators {deleted my answer, closed my question, kicked my puppy} -- why?!?!" Great, I think -- what happened here? As my tea gets cold (or beer gets warm) I start digging, eventually to discover that a well-meaning passing SE employee perceived a problem and "fixed" it.1

Now this can of course happen with fellow mods -- who's got time and inclination to track every single action each of my peers takes? -- but the difference is that the mod teams, at least the ones I'm part of, tend to talk about site-governance philosophy rather a bit and bring anything that might be controversial to the others right up front. Each site is a little different and on our site we know that UserA and UserB have been improving a previously-hostile pattern of interaction, that questions about such-and-such topic that looks like a bad fit are ok if they conform to carefully-crafted guidelines, that we've recently adjusted this aspect of our scope and need to give people an extra helping hand, etc. We mods know that stuff, but it is unrealistic to expect employees to be able to track that stuff for 130+ sites. So the result is that sometimes a well-meaning employee gets it wrong and makes a mess that the mods have to clean up.

And we don't know about it until it blows up.

We can ask them to pop into the mod chat rooms and let us know, but that doesn't always work. It'd be better if we had an easy way to find out what diamond-level actions have been taken by people other than the site's moderators. This would let us get out in front of brewing problems, give us a chance to ask "hey, why'd you do that?" (if we can't tell) before our users call us on it, and allow us to respond with something resembling an informed and unified face instead of having to say "gee, I dunno... lemme see what I can find out" when asked in chat.

I'm imagining something simple like a single reverse-chronological list of recent diamond-only actions taken by employees at the bottom of the moderator-dashboard page. Flags handled (and mod messages) already show up elsewhere; this is for everything else.

1 And yes, mods routinely get blamed for staff actions because we all have the same diamond and some people don't notice who's who. That's a different problem.


Addendum: Changing the mod dashboard so that it lists everybody who's been active on the site, rather than just ones who've handled flags, would also meet this need. I just want easy access to information that is currently only available if you go hunting for it -- which, for actions that should be rare, is not practical. I asked for information about employee actions because we already get information about mod actions, not to set up some sort of us-versus-them tension.

15

And yes, mods routinely get blamed for staff actions because we all have the same diamond and some people don't notice who's who. That's a different problem.

Mods also routinely get blamed for the actions of regular users. Most people don't distinguish between the different levels of moderation we have here.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what you're asking for here.

As you say, it's unreasonable to ask every diamonded employee (really, we're just talking developers who don't tend to get involved and community managers who try to stay clear unless they have to step in) to keep up with the specifics of 130+ sites. Internally, we have a policy to avoid interfering with individual sites as much as possible with the exception of obvious things like spam. It doesn't always work out that way, though, since issues come up, we get emails, we get chat pings, etc., and we come in to investigate. This isn't, however, any different from any other moderator doing something that doesn't immediately make sense when another moderator looks it over.

In my experience, problematic, controversial actions by an employee are also quite rare. Not non-existent (I know I've made my share of mistakes), but rare. Showing every diamond-only action would largely just be noise.

So overall, I don't feel like we need to draw more special attention to employee-diamond actions than we do to community-diamond actions. However, if you have specific ideas for making all of that information easier to find and more digestible, let's hear those.

As you know, you can view moderator actions by any employee form their user history just like you can with any other moderator. I wasn't aware that there's a bug with the "last active" date on the /admin page, but if that's the case, we can fix that. The tricky bit there is that the list is driven by flag handling, so if there are no flags involved, actions don't tend to show up. I think proposing ways to improve that screen for all moderators would be a bigger win for everyone involved. Tell us how y'all use it (if you do) or what sort of other information you'd like to see on it, and we can (barring technical difficulties) make it happen.

  • 4
    The most recent case of this involved a CM acting on a site I moderate without involving flags. Nothing showed up on the admin page. Yes I could speculatively visit the profile of every employee every day asking myself "what's he been up to?", but that would be a huge waste of time. As you said, these kinds of drive-by actions are rare -- but when they do happen they can leave the mods blind-sided. I want to be told if people other than our mods are unilaterally closing/opening questions or deleting/undeleting posts, even if they didn't handle any flags in doing so, in case that's a problem. – Monica Cellio Dec 5 '14 at 4:55
  • 2
    Again, I know everybody is acting with the best of intentions -- but sometimes mistakes get made. I am not asking busy employees to take on the task of learning the quirks of every site. I just want a notification when somebody who probably lacks context does something that users are likely to care about. – Monica Cellio Dec 5 '14 at 4:56
  • 2
    @MonicaCellio I personally think that's perhaps too reactionary to a single incident, but I see your point. Still, a better feature request out of that may be "let's have non-flag actions trigger updates to the /admin screen" rather than "let's list every action a non-site diamond takes". As a bonus, you'd also get better notifications for absentee moderator actions. This isn't an "on site diamond" vs "off site diamond" problem. It's a deficiency in the existing diamond tools overall. – Adam Lear Dec 5 '14 at 4:57
  • 1
    It's happened more than once. A recent one finally got me to write up this request. Fixing that admin page to include everybody who's acted, not just people who've handled flags, would address the need. I'm not trying to do us vs them, just trying to get helpful tools, which already cover mods. – Monica Cellio Dec 5 '14 at 4:58
  • 1
    Reasonable. Stop having such a controversial site, y'all. ;) (I'm seriously kidding. The rest of my take on how to approach fixing this stands, though.) – Adam Lear Dec 5 '14 at 4:58
3

As far as I can tell, what you're asking for already exists.

Go to /admin on your site (click "mod" in the top bar) and scroll down to the section that says "Stack Exchange Employees". You will then be able to see actions taken by SE employees within the selected time period.

This log doesn't show every action by a SE employee, such as editing posts or answering questions, only moderator actions taken on your site. For instance, if an SE employee migrates a post to your site from another site, you won't see it here. But you should see posts being deleted, flags being handled and the like.

It also appears to be buggy. The date in the Last Activity column doesn't always seem to correspond with the most recent action taken. So it's possible you'll see nothing unless you change the time frame to "all" and then go manually look at every single one. This, at least, should be fixed.

  • While that page does exist, it isn't the most...helpful in its information. – Ash Dec 5 '14 at 4:07
  • 3
    I use that page all the time. Unfortunately I am not seeing it there. That is, there are employees listed there and I can see their actions, but some specific recent actions (which did not involve handling flags) do not appear there. – Monica Cellio Dec 5 '14 at 4:26

You must log in to answer this question.

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