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Why are moderators of Stack Exchange communities never paid for their service?

Moderators remove spam from the site, so why should they struggle and never get paid?

https://meta.stackexchange.com/users/155160

I have already come across How do top users have time to answer several thousand questions? Do they get paid for that?, but that question is asking about whether they get paid or not. My question is completely different from that question.

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For what it's worth, the user you linked to is paid. They're a developer at Stack Exchange, and used to be a community manager. Assuming you're talking about elected/appointed moderators, though:


Speaking for myself, I don't want to be paid. This is a fun, somewhat relaxing (sometimes terrifying) job, with no hours and relatively low expectations. I'm expected to give what time I feel comfortable giving to the site, to help the site.

Now let's say all moderators get a $10,000/yr salary (random number I pulled out of the air). Suddenly I'm being measured for pay. There's pressure on me to handle flags, because, ya know, it's my job. Also, we see (even more) candidates in moderator elections that don't want to do it because they want the site to prosper, but because there's money involved.

As a moderator, I wouldn't like the pressure. As a user, I wouldn't want to have moderators running a site I participate on because they want money. I want moderators that are doing it because they want the site to be the best place possible.

If you take away the volunteer part, you're left with hired hands that are out to make the numbers on the dashboard next to their name as high as possible.

User might be a spammer, but probably not? Meh, nuke them anyway. Because that adds to the number.

Someone posts something that's borderline, but you personally think should be left open? Close it, because there's a number for it.

I don't want to see this behavior. I don't want to exhibit this behavior. A cool hat and a couple t-shirts is plenty.

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    Don't forget the roaming unicorns! – Andrew Barber Jan 29 '15 at 12:04
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    Don't forget the annual donations to charities on behalf of community moderators, either. – codesparkle Feb 1 '15 at 5:29
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    You can deconstruct anything. A small reward for moderating might attract people, e.g., retirees, to be moderators when otherwise they would not. Consider that $1,000 per annum for moderation might get you 80 moderators or one employee. You haven't done a cost benefit analysis on this, or even considered it seriously. – Carl Oct 3 '18 at 6:47
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    @Carl That could help to fix the problem of "not enough candidate for moderator position", which is not an existing problem as far as I know, so the cost analysis is done: it would just cost more than actually for no gain. – Tensibai Oct 3 '18 at 10:02
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Oh, but we are paid! We get a well-maintained site that makes the internet a better place, and we get to say "I helped make that". (That's not exclusive; all our contributors get to say that. But I still feel a little more pride in those sites I curate more.) We get to work a little more closely than others with the SE team, which is beneficial in various ways. Occasionally there's public praise and thanks. Also, there's a badge and we get some swag.

Oh, you meant in cash? No, that's what my actual job is for.

  • +many: a priceless hat and a sane place to recreate and learn is worth much more to me than any remuneration--and attendant guilt on a day when I don't spend an hour moderating--would be. – nitsua60 May 22 at 2:24
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The idea of paying moderators is nice...up until the site has an election/pro tem appointment. Then people nominate themselves for the money and not for the joy of taking care of all the flags and cleaning up abuse and such.

As it is, I've seen some sites get a lot of "low-quality" candidates during elections. In one case, there were several candidates who only scored 1/40. And this is without it being a paid position (assuming they realized this?). We'll only see more of this behavior if people are paid, and it will be harder to keep bad submissions out. Increasing the reputation threshold for nomination (which has been done on some sites) doesn't work well on new/small sites, nor does it keep out the people who have rep but no desire to be a moderator and who would do it only for the money.

(Reposed in part from a deleted answer of mine.)

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