As far I know, currently the mods have some minimal money what they can donate to a non-profit organization. It is a fixed sum, and it doesn't depend on the success of their sites.

My idea would be, making this money somehow dependent from the growth/shrink rate of their sites.

(Before answer, please read also this italic part)

I think, the SE has likely many internal stats (using also the data unavailable for ordinary mortals on the SEDE), making them possible to make real quality measurements. This data is unavailable also for the mods, however, the CMs could advice the mods, what to do, to optimize them.

The money, what the mods can donate, should depend also from the site quality, too, not only from its growth.

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    Suggested reading: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/42481/… – Oded Aug 30 '17 at 22:05
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    TL;DR: by paying them, you make it into a job and will get moderators dropping off. Every flag handled will be seen as $$$ earned. – Oded Aug 30 '17 at 22:05
  • @Oded I am reading the long linked post. I think it is not so bad, also the SE is optimizing for $$$ and it can make funny sites with it. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:13
  • @Oded Ok, I read it. The SE believes in the idealist mods, because they are far more motivated. But the ideals of the mods will result a "perfect" site - which never grows. Here is an example. The blue line shows, how depends the probability of the closure of a question on the count of the questions asked on the same day. On this graph, I can see a site which is actively working on to avoid its own growth. The idealist mods result fixed-throughput moderation and thus stagnating sites. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:21
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    Not only does this absolutely destroy the motivation aspect, but it also ties it to external factors that are generally not even in the moderator's hands. How do you measure, "growth"? Number of questions? Reopen them all. Number of users? Never dupe any, answer them all, destroy all sense of quality. Any way you look at it, this proposal would kill the quality of any site where the moderators actively tried to participate. And it would then become a ghost town as the experts jumped ship. – fbueckert Aug 30 '17 at 22:36
  • @fbueckert Did you read also the second half of the post? Also others didn't. I made it italic now. Could you please read it? – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:46
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    Nothing in the italic part says anything to alleviate the concerns raised. Sure, SE has access to tons of stats and data. So what? – yannis Aug 30 '17 at 22:51
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    Handwaving away the metrics doesn't change how bad this idea is. – fbueckert Aug 30 '17 at 22:52
  • @yannis And thus, they can measure also quality, not only quantity. Measuring quality is a much more advanced thing, but I think they could (can?) do it. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:54
  • Why are assuming they aren't doing it already? – yannis Aug 30 '17 at 22:55
  • @fbueckert I think I don't need to reason too long, how weak is an unsupported "it is bad" argument. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:56
  • @yannis I didn't assume. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:56
  • Case closed, then. If they are already doing what you suggest, not much more to discuss. Except perhaps the extremely bad idea of financially "motivating" moderators, which isn't ever going to happen. – yannis Aug 30 '17 at 22:56
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    "Some minimal money" - are you meaning stuff like Stack Overflow Gives Back? I'm just not sure what you're even getting this idea of there being money involved from in the first place, let alone the rest of this plan. – Ash Aug 30 '17 at 23:03
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    @peterh you're wrong on your first sentence, read this post, moderators vote for an org, we don't have money at disposal to give to whatever org we wish. – Tensibai Sep 1 '17 at 15:54

That would be a great way to change a straightforward gesture of goodwill into something messy and divisive.

First, how do you propose to measure success? It's not just about quantity (of anything), after all; some communities are large and some small, and "small but serves its topic niche very well" is certainly a supported configuration. (It's why betas don't get shut down just for not getting lots of questions.) Evaluation is subjective. You haven't described how one would do that quality evaluation, just said it should happen.

Second, the entire community is responsible for the success of that community, not the few people who have diamonds. Providing benefits to moderators based on what their communities do (or don't do) misses the mark.

Third, the charitable donations are SE's to do with as they choose. They choose an amount of money and an amount of effort that makes sense for them. Instead of telling them to do it differently, try thanking them for doing it at all.

Leave it alone. It's not broken.

  • Not bad, but it could go better. The "responsibility of the community" is a very fluid thing if one has to decide, how to vote in a concrete situation. I think we can suspect, the majority of the clicks isn't motivated by the question "Will it result a better site or not?". It is a non-issue in most voting decisions. It is a non-issue even on the meta sites, typically "strong people" on the metas don't even understand, why would it be important. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:34
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    Or, there's always the possibility that people fully understand your definition of a "better site", but don't agree with you that it's actually better @peterh. – yannis Aug 30 '17 at 22:38
  • If I vote or react, my personal motivation on a site success is exactly zero. I have many other wishes/ideas what I follow. Ok, I am a commoner here. But... I know, also the 25k+ are in the same situation. They typically have different wishes/ideas, what they follow and also these aren't strongly success-oriented. And... even the mods aren't. From CMs and upward can I believe that they are really motivated in site success. A "small but serves its topic niche very well" means to me stagnating sites controlled by "good old guys", expelling anybody out of them and working actively to avoid – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:39
  • any change, any growth. Because it would be a deviation from the "perfectness" what they think, they've already reached. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 22:39
  • @yannis The post is about to provide a motivation to the mods to make their sites more successful. The post is not about, what do I, or others, consider better or more successful. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 23:57
  • @peterh If a mod really cares about a site, money is not needed – Anthony Pham Aug 31 '17 at 3:29
  • @AnthonyPham The motivations and ideals of the mods are independent to the financial goals of the company. – peterh Aug 31 '17 at 6:49
  • Elected mods don't work for SE @peterh – Anthony Pham Sep 3 '17 at 20:27
  • @AnthonyPham Yes, this is why their interests and the typical interests of any website (growth, making success, building an increasing community, and so on) may sometimes significantly differ. The idea would get them closer. The "really care" of the mods results mainly a "perfect" site - in the view of the mods and some similarly old site members. These sites tend to be static. – peterh Sep 3 '17 at 21:29

I can't even begin to list the ways this would end in disaster. Every scenario where you tie some sort of compensation to a subjective metric ends with one result: the death of the site. Okay, maybe death might be a bit of hyperbole, but not by much; the site becomes a ghost town, experts are gone, and it's swept up and relegated to the dustbins of historical archives.

Here's what's going to happen as soon as this becomes a reality: Moderators will resign. Maybe not all of them, but a very good chunk of them; the primary motivation behind being a moderator right now is to help the site be better than it is. A worthwhile endeavor in it's own right. As soon as you introduce compensation into the mix, you're changing the entire motivation and obligation aspect.

At that point, no only do you have less moderators to deal with the incoming questions, you're also going to shed experts on a regular basis; burnout will claim them in stages, as they struggle to keep up with maintaining the quality and standards they're used to.

This will lead to a spiral of quality decay, going faster and faster, until inevitably, the only experts left are the moderators who believe the compensation is worth the effort. Which...won't last long, as not only are they only ones left to do all the work, but now they're going to feel they're not getting paid enough to do it.

All this, and I haven't even started on the compensation metrics. Here's exactly what will happen: whatever metric is put in place will be gamed to maximize that compensation. If you're doing a job, and you can manipulate it to make more money, you're going to do it; after all, your motivation for doing the work is to get paid. So anything you can do to get paid more will happen.

If the metrics are based on:

  • users: incredibly simple to make bots to make accounts.
  • question views: ditto
  • number of questions: reopen and undelete everything. Nothing can be closed. War with community ensues, ghost town happens even faster.
  • number of answers: bots with markov chains to make nonsense look like answers.

Not one of these increase the quality of the site. Most of them actually result in the site dying as those left standing pursue maximizing their revenue.

So. Money for moderators bad. If you expect your community to invest in making it better, paying them, by itself, is bad. Tying said compensation to measurable metrics makes it even worse.

  • It is really a dystopic disaster, in a nearly artistic description of a disaster what the proposal would result in your opinion. However, I think it misses the actual, factual support. Also to you, I could suggest, maybe a little bit of googling around "big data math prediction" would be surely useful. Note, currently the SE is looking for a data scientist, so they likely understand very well, what I am talking about, only you don't. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 23:20
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    So, rather than argue the points, you're just gonna go with, "You don't know what you're talking about". Okay, then. I guess this question was asked under false pretenses, then. – fbueckert Aug 30 '17 at 23:21
  • No. You beautifully enumerated, how disastrous idea is my proposal. If I would be your teacher for literature, I would give to you the best note for that. Had you born some decades earlier, you may have became a successful author. However, the concrete arguments, that I can't see in your post. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 23:24
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    Well, then I guess we let the community decide if I have concrete arguments or not. They're there, whether you can see them or not. – fbueckert Aug 30 '17 at 23:26
  • Please really google a little bit about the big data things. It is really much more as markov spamming or question/day graphs. It is like, that the google knows, now, where you will be 2 months later. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 23:26
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    Oh, please. If you're going to try to insult me, you'll need to do way better than that. You just don't like it when your points can be refuted with logic. – fbueckert Aug 30 '17 at 23:33
  • Read the whole post before react. If you react only to the first line, you miss a lot of important information. If you wish, I could make italic the important, missed part, again. – peterh Aug 30 '17 at 23:35
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    I did. And I told you; you're handwaving away the core of your argument. If you can't be bothered to articulate it, there's really no point in addressing it. – fbueckert Aug 30 '17 at 23:35
  • The details of the possible big data things is obviously out of the scope of this post. We can talk about it on the chat, or in other relevant posts. The scope of this post is, to motivate the mods better, to make their sites more successful. – peterh Aug 31 '17 at 0:00
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    "I can't even begin to list the ways this would end in disaster.", well, you overcame that barrier pretty quickly. – Bathsheba Sep 1 '17 at 6:57

I think you completely misunderstand the motivation for being a moderator.

I've been a moderator on various web sites for over a decade at this point. No one's ever paid me. I've been happy to, since it gives me a chance to build and maintain places that give me joy (and possibly help me in other ways)

I started off as a random person, who'd saw a mention of this new tech site which worked differently from forums. Popped in, figure I'd take a look, get bored and wander of, and found I liked what I saw.

Over time, I found a community around the site, that meta-moderation was somewhat fulfilling, and and that I found a certain joy in contributing to the community. My motivations are entirely intrinsic.

I've never worried about numbers. I'm more concerned with building and keeping a community I can be proud to be part of. I've got a chatroom on my site that's surprisingly close knit and watches out for each other.

So if you told me "What we donate to charity depends on how much your site grows"

I'd probably go "guys, guuuuuys, that's not the point". SE's donating money every year cause, its the right thing to do, and its fun to agonise over who to donate to "ugh, so.. international rescue or unicef? EFF was last year"

That said, I do not moderate cause SE provides donations in my name. I moderate because this is my community. I don't think that money plays any factor in my activities here, unless I'm actually an employee.

  • I personally can't really remember painful moments on my SU activities, thus I think the community is quite okay there. Your argument is strong, I am thinking on it. – peterh Sep 3 '17 at 21:44
  • I've thought. I think you are right. I agree, that extrinsic motivations wouldn't have a positive effect for the moderation. I am thinking more about it. – peterh Sep 3 '17 at 21:47
  • The main problem is that the intrinsic motivations are obviously impractical to reach extrensic goals. And a goal, to make a site big & happy, is obviously very extrensic. It is capitalist. – peterh Sep 6 '17 at 9:17

Money cannot be a driver for communities and their moderators.

Right now, despite what you think, we have some incredibly busy sites (the original trilogy), a whole host of sites that are visited by hundreds of thousands, and even millions of people regularly, and a wide range of smaller sites, many of which are still very successful, but that maybe have a small niche, or are edge cases for Stack Exchange, for example.

These are a success - despite no-one involved being given anything more than imaginary internet points and some nice t-shirts and mugs. Maybe a few pens... What I'm saying is - these are fun token rewards. The real reward is being part of making the sites live and breathe.

If I didn't get the annual email from SE asking for my steer on where part of their charitable donation goes every year, I'd probably not remember it. But when the email comes in, I look at the choices, and tend to pick whichever one is most relevant to me. Sometimes there are none in my country so it's obvious that there may be no material benefit, but the important bit is that some money is given to charity and I am a small part of deciding how much goes to which one of the shortlisted charities.

Should I get 7 times as much as someone who moderates a single site? Or should I get a tiny fraction of what a moderator for SO gets as those sites are huge? Should my vote be valued by percentage growth of my site - that could really benefit a new, tiny site?

All of those options are nonsense - why do you want to complicate a simple charitable donation? Why do you want to make the system financially gameable? Because that is what will happen. If there is a real world financial reward, individuals will look at the metrics and act towards them, not the benefit of the site.

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