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Moderator elections on Stack Overflow will begin in a couple of days. From there comes this question: why do we not organize elections, let us say every 3 years, to depose one moderator?

My request would fit moderators who fulfill one of these 2 conditions:

1) Those who keep the privilege for many years (reminding me of leaders of dark regimes who do not like to leave the throne).

We need fresh blood and a fresh moderation touch and vision. Longterm (many years) moderators would probably develop negative attitudes affecting the quality of the privilege they got.

2) Those who are moderators on many Stack Exchange websites

This type of moderator ends up by rarely contributing to the communities as they have to deal with many things on the websites on which they are moderators.

Moderators who fulfill both conditions mentioned above should not even exist in such 'democratic' communities.

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    I would also appreciate something to back up the second assertion. As a mod on three sites, I can assure you that multi-site mods do in fact contribute just as much as any other mods when it comes to site moderation. – HDE 226868 Nov 9 '16 at 16:56
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    Should we also fire employees (CMs and developers) who are involved in moderation after a while too? – Oded Nov 9 '16 at 17:00
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    Unforunately that is comparing between 2 different subjects. @Oded – user343622 Nov 9 '16 at 17:03
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    And the most important question isn't answered - what actual problem would this solve? I don't buy your assertion that "moderators would probably develop negative attitudes". – Oded Nov 9 '16 at 17:03
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    How is that different? CMs and devs deal with multiple SE sites and are certainly long term. Why are we different? – Oded Nov 9 '16 at 17:05
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    I volunteer to be the first deposed moderator (for science). – Robert Harvey Nov 9 '16 at 17:07
  • On a more serious note, your discussion would be a more fruitful one if you focused on what you mean by "fresh blood," rather than new site mechanics having no discernible purpose other than to address some vague notions of entitlement or time management. – Robert Harvey Nov 9 '16 at 17:09
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    @RobertHarvey request denied, even for science ... – rene Nov 9 '16 at 17:19
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Ben's handled the arguments for why votes to depose moderators are a problem, so let me counter the two items you list as negatives:

Those who do not leave the privilege for many years (remembering me of leaders of dark regimes who do not like to leave the throne).

Moderators are not kings, we're janitors and sometimes policemen. We don't rule communities, or impose policy. We're just there to handle the things that community moderation can't. We clean up spam, voting fraud, outright trash, abusive users, etc. We're volunteers who have been vetted by a crowd of our peers and entrusted with more powerful tools for dealing with these issues.

On newer sites, pro-tem and elected moderators can help steer community direction, but that generally lasts only until a site gets to a certain maturity. Even then, that's limited in effect.

There are a ton of technical ins-and-outs to being a moderator on one of these sites, from the moderator tools themselves to the layers on layers of community standards that have built up over time. Moderators that have been around for a while are likely to know all these intricacies and can help out newer moderators or those who might have missed a particular feature. There are also a lot of techniques that have been developed for tracking down sock puppets, trolls, etc. that can only be passed down in private between moderators.

It's actually difficult to keep moderators around for a significant duration (here's a chart illustrating that on Stack Overflow), so in practice you have a pretty natural rotation of moderators. Being faced with a constant stream of trash and abuse can get to us all, and we're all subject to life changes. The moderators I've seen who stick around the longest are the ones who keep an even keel in the face of the worst of the Internet.

Those who are moderators on many Stack Exchange websites

This type of moderators end up by rarely contributing to the communities as they have to deal with many things on the websites on which they are moderators.

I don't think I've seen this in any case. Stack Overflow is unique in the load it places on moderators, and all other sites don't have anywhere near those kind of demands. Moderators who work across multiple sites haven't been hurt by that, in my experience.

In fact, it can be an advantage where there is subject matter overlap between the two. I know that the fact that ChrisF is a moderator on both Stack Overflow and Software Engineering (formerly Programmers) has been a huge help when we get a bunch of questions flagged for migration to the latter. He knows the scope of both and can help us make those decisions quickly.

Someone with prior moderator experience on one site can often transfer that to a new site, so that's almost always been a positive to me when I see someone running for a moderator position. Many of the same arguments I made above about old-timers apply to this.

So in reality, both of the negatives you list are more likely to be positives for Stack Exchange moderators.

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Sometimes, moderators need to make tough, unpopular choices that are necessary for the health of the community on a larger scale. As mentioned many times in answers over here, it would be bad if moderators had to worry about how taking a necessary action might impact their reelection. Anger might be minimized in the short run if difficult calls were never made, but deeper problems would develop and eventually sink the community as a whole. The Programmers site (now Software Engineering) is only still around because the mod team did what they had to and cleaned up the non-constructive yet wildly popular sludge.

In direct response to your first concern of mods turning hard and sour: if communication breaks down in the mod team, there is a process to remove the uncooperative one. Fortunately, I haven't heard of it ever being invoked.

In response to moderators becoming inactive: if one is absent for a while (a few months), they'll be removed. On Stack Overflow in particular, each moderator has to handle their fair share of the flags if they want to keep their diamond. In cases of one mod handling multiple sites, if they're doing a poor job anywhere, I'm sure the community team will get with them for some coaching, or add some extra mods to help with the workload. Again, if they're nowhere to be found on one site, the seat could be reassigned. I know quite a few moderators who quite handily serve multiple sites.

  • Fortunately, I haven't heard of it ever being invoked. -- We've gotten close, a couple of times. In both cases, I believe the problem was resolved amicably, without requiring an act of Congress. – Robert Harvey Nov 9 '16 at 17:12
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    HopelessN00b departure didn't look quite amicable to me @RobertHarvey – gnat Nov 9 '16 at 20:27
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    @gnat Right, he was forcibly and instantly removed by the community team in response to a surge of unexpected activity. I do know of one (non-trilogy) semi-forcible demodding, but I'm not sure whether that went through the whole MARP. – Ben N Nov 9 '16 at 20:34
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    it would be bad if moderators had to worry about how taking a necessary action might impact their reelection. I disagree. Moderators should be worried about it before they think they can do whatever they please or want to. There are moderators who think they can do anything. They will sink the community in the same way as deeper problems will . You want the name of the sites? Please open a chat room. Also, if one is absent for a while (a few months), they'll be removed, it might apply to Overflow, but not to other sites. – Rathony Nov 10 '16 at 11:33
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    @Rathony I know of at least one non-trilogy mod whose diamond was removed simply because they'd been inactive for a long while. – Rand al'Thor Nov 10 '16 at 22:19

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