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On a site I review¹, I notice one or two of the ♦ mods (especially newly elected) seem to be spending a fair amount of time in the review queues (FP, LA, SE, LQP, CV, etc). But those queues are almost always empty, and there are probably a dozen or more users willing to review that are currently doing zero to one per day per queue (total volume is well under 100 reviews across all those queues per day).

It seems like it contradicts the advice to only act unilaterally if flagged or otherwise needed for exceptional situations; is this healthy in the general case, or is it something I should bring up over there? If the latter, what would be a good way to bring this up? (Site Meta seems a little too public for best results.)

¹ which shall remain behind a paper-thin veil of obscurity

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    What do you mean by significant? And what if those queues don't have large queues to start with? – random Jun 30 '15 at 21:15
  • @random: Their avatars show up in every review queue's recent items; they (seem to) review 10%+ of items in those queues. And the premise of this question mainly applies to sites with slow-moving queues, as I mentioned: a dozen or more users that are far from their daily caps but are reviewing whenever items are available. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 30 '15 at 21:17
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    Why shouldn't they participate in the review queues? Besides being mods, they are also members of the community and they have as much of a stake in reviewing as others. – Taryn Jun 30 '15 at 21:20
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    @bluefeet: Please add that as an answer! :P But my basic concern is that they're spending time on things the community at large can handle quite adequately. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 30 '15 at 21:22
  • @NathanTuggy Do you think their focus on the queues means less attention / care is being taken with mod-only activities? – Tim Jun 30 '15 at 21:23
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    @Tim: Probably not, or at least not much; I would suspect more burnout, as well as increased risk of misclicks/random error from unilaterally handling perfectly ordinary reviews. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 30 '15 at 21:24
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I think it’s fine if moderators act in the review queues in the following cases or for the following reasons:

  • The first-posts and late-answers queue are unilateral anyway, so there is no problem with a moderator going through them.
  • While not generally unilateral, the suggested-edits, low-quality and close queues have actions that allow a regular user to immediately dequeue the item, namely editing the post (yourself). As with regular users, there is no problem if moderators use these actions responsibly.
  • As suggested edits have additional priority (there are special alerts in the top bar for them) and in most cases the decision is easy, I see no problem if moderators use their powers to speed them up without improving the edit themselves.
  • The low-quality and close queue often include clear cases such as posts that got autoflagged but are fine, utter garbage or blatantly off-topic questions. In either case, a moderator ending the issue quickly just saves other people’s time. Also, we want utter garbage to be eliminated as quickly as possible.
  • In my opinion, only in cases where the decision is not very clear or which could profit from other users giving guidance – which in particular applies to most questions in the close and reopen queues –, should moderators refrain from reviewing (except if they cast a vote that would have dequeued even if they were regular users).
  • Looking at the items, in particular in the close and reopen queues, is a good thing as it gives them a good idea as to what are frequent issues and spark relevant Meta discussions. When a moderator stumbles upon clear cases during this, there is no reason for them not to act (due to the above).

On the other hand, you may have something to address, if moderators frequently cast close or reopen votes on posts that have only few other such votes and that are not clear cases. You can use a private chatroom for this.

  • Hmm. I can see the point of going through queues and skipping anything that's not just blatantly obvious. I do a vaguely similar thing with SO's suggested edits. It's mostly the actions I'm thinking of, though. – Nathan Tuggy Sep 4 '15 at 7:42
  • @NathanTuggy: I amended my answer a little bit regarding this. – Wrzlprmft Sep 4 '15 at 7:48
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Should diamond moderators spend time in review? Of course, they should, if they have time to do so. Why wouldn't they?

Diamond moderators are invested in the site just like any other community user. If that means, they have no flags to handle or want to spend time reviewing and cleaning up posts, then why shouldn't they do that.

The typical line is that moderators should be involved in things that the community can't handle - that applies to flagging, user problems, etc. - review queues are open to everyone with the privilege including diamond mods.

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    I totally agree, but I would add the proviso that on low volume sites mods need to show some constraint so that the community gets a chance at being involved. – slugster Jun 30 '15 at 23:33
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    @slugster: This question is pretty much only about low-volume sites, with e.g. <100 total reviews/day; on S[O/F/U], the environment is quite different and I don't expect the same rules of thumb to necessarily apply. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 30 '15 at 23:51
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I moderate Open Source and Hardware Recommendations. On both of those sites, I regularly patrol the review queues.

  • In First Posts and Late Answers, I figure there's no problem with me reviewing - it only takes one person anyway. Moreover, as a mod one would hope I'm pretty well versed in the site, and can provide good advice for the posters of the items in the queue. That sounds like a good thing to me.

  • In Suggested Edits, once again, I figure that I know pretty well what makes a good edit and a bad edit, and I can recognise edits that have missed a couple of things. I also have a couple of tools to get extra data about the submitting user or edit, if it's borderline. Acting on these gets them out of the way of the community, and improves posts.

  • In Low Quality Posts, the rationale is much the same. I can recognise which posts Look OK, and which posts need improvement. If something warrants deletion or closure straight off the bat, I can do that. The key here is that I don't take an action if I wouldn't take it outside of the queue. For example, if I wouldn't close a question unilaterally if I came across it on the site, I won't close it from review just because it's in review.

  • Close Votes and Reopen Votes are slightly different. Closure and reopening is something the community is well-equipped to do without mod intervention, and in the majority of cases, the community does do it very well. I do look through these queues, because it's useful to see what kind of things the community is voting to close or reopen, but I usually end up skipping the review. Again, only if something is so clear-cut that I'd unilaterally close or reopen it if I came across it on the site do I take an action here.

There's no concrete requirement that mods only act unilaterally in response to a prompt from a flag or vote - mods have the extra powers so that they can act wherever necessary. If that's just something they come across before anyone else has flagged it up, there's no requirement to wait until there's a flag before we take an action.

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First Post queues alert users to new ones who need help and identify spam (look at the answers there); the same goes - to some extent - for the Late Answer queues. Moderators know the site well; they're perfect to introduce new users to the site. Also, if they see spammers in the queue, it's easier for them to be dealt with.

The same goes for Low Quality posts. Many things that should be flagged will go straight to a moderator, eliminating the middleman.

  • In FP and LA, I suppose the unilateral nature of the action doesn't much matter, since they're that way anyway. The other queues are still a little different. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 30 '15 at 22:05
  • @NathanTuggy That's true; there was a request a while back to increase the number of First Post reviewers to stop roboreviewers; that wouldn't be an issue with mods, I would hope. – HDE 226868 Jun 30 '15 at 22:06

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