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We're really excited to announce the appointment of three new community moderators to Meta Stack Exchange! I know this might come as a really big surprise to some, and I can't wait to talk about it, but let's not delay the introductions any more. Please welcome ChrisF, Tinkeringbell and Journeyman Geek as they step up to become emissaries of Meta Stack Exchange!

ChrisF Tinkeringbell Journeyman Geek

Appointed 2019-01-30

Monica Celio

Monica is an experienced moderator across the Stack Exchange network and we thought it would be presumptuous to ask her to step up yet again; that was a little short-sighted of us because she's been rocking it here and has the cycles to come on board. If we make more changes, we'll write a separate post. Things have been going very well, so we don't anticipate that being any time soon.


These folks have quite a bit of moderation experience, some since the dawn of time the concept of pro-tem moderation itself. All of these individuals have been leaders on their respective sites, as well as leaders in the broader Stack Exchange moderator community. They're fair, even-keeled and most importantly, they're incredibly great at disagreeing with Stack Exchange!

I'm sure you've all noticed the recent up-tick in off-topic questions as well as a tad more than the usual snark in comments, these folks will definitely help with that. But, appointing community leadership here is something I've always intended to do since we split all the metas years back, it just wasn't until recently that we could clearly define what a role for a community moderator would look like on what's become our primary support site.

Why do we need moderators on MSE?

Chip Uni said something pretty simple, but inspirational back in 2010 when we were still working out what moderators were supposed to be doing on Stack Overflow (emphasis is their own):

In my opinion, moderators should only do what the rest of the community cannot.

The community simply can not deal with the tide of off-topic questions that engagement efforts inadvertently create. Has anyone ran out of close votes recently? We've also seen an uptick in targeted trolling, as well as people simply not acting in good faith. There are also janitorial tag tasks, languishing synonyms, stuff that still probably needs to be migrated, short-circuited duplicate chains - there's no shortage of stuff to do.

But going even further, I'd like to share something with you that I wrote when I was offering guidance to moderators in the Teacher's Lounge; it's the best stab I've taken at trying to articulate the finesse required to fairly moderate a very active meta community (this really needs to be public guidance, so I'm making a deliberate decision to re-post it here):

In a dynamic where we essentially hold all of the cards and power, we need to give folks as much latitude as possible in order to create a field that's as level as possible. That means, we've gotta let the truth hurt, essentially, even when it's incredibly inconvenient. HOWEVER, if we can't find a trace of good faith in correspondence or it has become personal, it needs to be removed to keep the bar to entry in line with what we can take.

That, right there, is a big part of the balance that I feel we've been missing since we separated Meta Stack Overflow away from the network discussion resulting in MSE becoming an insular site. Everyone that works at Stack Exchange is very passionate about what they do, which leads to very passionate discussions especially where there's criticism involved. Sometimes, we as employees need to disengage, or dial it back, or whatever euphemism you want to use for calm the heck down and think about the goals and the people helping you meet them.

Our appointed moderators will have full agency to correct any chain of correspondence that appears to be going off the rails, no matter who was originally driving the train. Sometimes it's better to let an objective party step in and handle things, we'll just leave it at that.

Why are moderators appointed instead of elected?

Candidacy for moderation here would be rather empty if it were self-appointed, because of the following reasons:

  • There's no agenda for a candidate (no "more of this, but less of that") as a basis for a platform. There's nothing to really change. This is our main support site, we set what's on-topic, and we may even be trying new features soon (better bug tracker tie-in, re-starting community blogging as a special kind of post, etc).
  • There are no real growth initiatives that other sites might take on, or liaison roles between moderators and Stack Exchange like we'd see on other sites. However, we need people with demonstrated experience in navigating treacherous interpersonal dynamics and that's something that we're just going to have to select for based on observation.
  • This isn't a pro-tem appointment, this is an office that they'll hold until they don't want it anymore or lose the capacity to continue. While we're very deliberately seeking folks that can constructively disagree with us, 'constructively' is a very key modifier, and we need to see that over a period of time.

There are literally hundreds of moderators that would be great for this role.

I had to pick three, and that was hard.

When appointing moderators we usually touch on the fact that we almost certainly missed the opportunity to connect with someone that would be a perfect fit; that's an artifact of having way more talent on-hand than you actually need and there are far worse problems to have :)

However, if we add or replace moderators, we'll open a post and give people an opportunity to express their interest, similar to how we open up additional seats on younger sites.

Is this an experiment? This sounds like an experiment.

It was always going to be one, just one that you couldn't simply stop if things weren't going the way that you expected. We're calling it a trial for the first few months just to make sure your moderators don't get sick of us, and that we're able to ensure they're thriving in a role that's fulfilling and enjoyable for them. We don't anticipate any snags, but we'll get through them together if we hit any, always with the mindset that we're all about making it work for them.

Please, join us in welcoming these brave three! If you have any questions, ask away!

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    Should this be [featured]? – ArtOfCode Nov 21 '18 at 16:24
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    @ArtOfCode don't think so, it's local to MSE. – ShaWiz Nov 21 '18 at 16:30
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    @ShadowWizard But if we feature it, we'll make sure the new mods have plenty of work by driving people to the site that have no idea what it's for! – Tim Post Nov 21 '18 at 16:36
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    While there are two "good boys", I have my doubts about that parrot ... Jokes aside, all great choices! – Bart Nov 21 '18 at 16:46
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    Welcome to zoo.se. Please don't feed the mods. Respect their habitat. Stay on the footpath. – rene Nov 21 '18 at 20:13
  • I'm actually excited about this. Is the intention to have representation from most of the larger network sites, or is this still being ironed out? – Makoto Nov 21 '18 at 23:27
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    WOOF. WOOF. WOOF. (Hey, parrots can imitate dogs too!) – Rand al'Thor Nov 22 '18 at 8:40
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    Now that parrot badly neads a diamond hat. Fixed. – Andras Deak Nov 22 '18 at 12:13
  • @rene almost correct. The parrot may always be fed chocolate :D – Tinkeringbell Nov 22 '18 at 19:05
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    Many congrats to the new mods. Well deserved in my opinion. I'm looking forward to even faster turnaround on off topic posts getting done in :D – Magisch Nov 23 '18 at 13:36
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    How many more answers are we going to see congratulating the three newly appointed mods? I can see only two answers that have broadened the "discussion", the others are just being friendly. All very well and proper but we should vote on the one answer announcing the congratulations, and then perhaps we can vote on the other answers (?) that expand further. – Mari-Lou A Nov 23 '18 at 18:47
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    For instance, the reason for there being no election seems a little stretched.... and goes against the old SE ethos. This was a surprise for me. – Mari-Lou A Nov 23 '18 at 18:49
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    @Richard Do you see how that could be a source of contention? – apaul Nov 27 '18 at 1:55
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    @apaul - Well, if all they want is an echo chamber, why pretend it's something else? – Richard Nov 27 '18 at 7:12
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    I'm not complaining about appointing mods here at all, but some things about the reasoning offered in this post don't add up: "Candidacy for moderation here would be rather empty if it were self-appointed" seems directly contradicted by the following header of "There are literally hundreds of moderators that would be great for this role.". Also, "This isn't a pro-tem appointment, this is an office that they'll hold until they don't want it anymore or lose the capacity to continue." Elected mods are not pro-tem either; other sites have pro-tems appointed. So why the opposite reasoning here? – TylerH Nov 30 '18 at 16:55

12 Answers 12

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Meta has needed independent moderators for a while, so I'm very glad to see this. There have been times when flags and borderline content had to linger just because of the appearance of conflict of interest -- a comment snarkily criticizing an SE employee being removed by an employee could be seen as "removed because of the criticism" rather than "removed because of the snark". That's no good; problematic content needs to be handled regardless of who's involved, so that we can have a more constructive environment for everybody. Adding community moderators serves that goal, and I look forward to a better-functioning meta.

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    Even worse is, stuff that probably should be deleted getting left around in the hopes of not creating a conflict of interest and .. the yucky polar opposite of, you guessed it, creating a conflict of interest. I'm really glad to have this done. We used to be accountable to the SO moderators prior to the MSO/MSE split and bringing that element back seemed like a great idea. – Tim Post Nov 21 '18 at 17:13
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Excellent decision to appoint three of our finest, now that there are fewer CMs than there used to be.

ChrisF, Tinkeringbell and Journeyman Geek, good luck!

Question: will they become moderators on the chat.meta server as well? This could be welcome in the Tavern at certain times, but IIRC you're also chatting about 'internal' stuff in private rooms at times.

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    Company-internal rooms have additional access checks and moderator status on MSE is not part of them either way. :) – Adam Lear Nov 21 '18 at 20:17
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    @AdamLear, can the MSE moderators access the chat rooms created on MSE to address moderator removal/impeachment calls? – Bhargav Rao Nov 22 '18 at 5:52
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There are literally hundreds of moderators that would be great for this role.

I had to pick three, and that was hard.

When appointing moderators we usually touch on the fact that we almost certainly missed the opportunity to connect with someone that would be a perfect fit; that's an artifact of having way more talent on-hand than you actually need and there are far worse problems to have :)

It's a hard decision, sure. That said, could you elaborate on what factors guided your decision? Why these candidates and not others with long, productive track records as moderators (and MSE power users), leaders in their communities, who are great at constructive disagreement?

I'm not asking you to comment on individuals. These three are fine choices; not trying to knock that. I'm asking what factors are most important to SE when choosing moderators for this complicated quasi-community where, as you said, some of the usual selection criteria don't apply. I want to understand the philosophy behind the decision.

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    Given that in every other area of SE, there is a formal process for selecting mods, it seems odd that they would forego it in what is really the community that links all the various topic-centric SE communities. MSE is well established, the parties who would be candidates for moderators are well known. This isn't like a beta site where it is made up of people who don't really have a feel for each other yet. I believe an election was appropriate. More than anything, there should have been transparency in the selection process and the criteria used. – Jane S Nov 25 '18 at 5:08
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    Were mods approached or did they look at all the mods? I'm surprised you weren't chosen and would like to know why, unless it was your choice. – Yvette Colomb Nov 29 '18 at 1:52
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    @YvetteColomb nobody said anything to me and I saw no general call for interest (like in TL or on the team). I found out when this meta post was made. If asked I would have accepted. – Monica Cellio Nov 29 '18 at 1:56
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    @MonicaCellio I'm actually upset you weren't selected. I've mentioned it in TL. I thought about bringing this up, and the site is transparent, so I figured I'd be frank about it. – Yvette Colomb Nov 29 '18 at 1:57
  • Congratulations. SE could not have chosen a better person for the role. – Mari-Lou A Jan 30 at 23:06
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    You're the best qualified 🥂 🍾 – Mari-Lou A Jan 30 at 23:14
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Tinkeringbell has been an amazing influence on IPS. I'm happy that she's getting the power to better more of the network while also getting her name out there. I don't know the others well so I can't speak for them, but I trust that they're equally amazing to be chosen for this role.

Congratulations to all the new diamonds!!

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Congratulations you three! Excellent choices - all very level headed, fair and thoughtful.

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    So, we got someone who can compete with you in collecting diamonds :D – Nog Shine Nov 21 '18 at 17:13
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    Chris and Monica have had the same number as me at various times, I think. That said, I'm standing for Bicycles mod just to try and keep ahead – Rory Alsop Nov 21 '18 at 17:15
  • @NogShine it's an endless source of annoyance that Rory has more diamonds than me ;) – ChrisF Nov 21 '18 at 17:25
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    @ChrisF but an SO diamond is, like, a thousand carets, so that should count for something too. – Monica Cellio Nov 21 '18 at 17:33
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    I just want a lot of shot glasses - meta.stackexchange.com/a/314970/154443 – Rory Alsop Nov 21 '18 at 17:34
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    @ChrisF What Monica said, a SO diamond is practically equivalent to 50 non-SO diamonds. :-D – EKons Nov 23 '18 at 11:45
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Why only three? I have a feeling they will be swamped, perhaps 5 would have been better. Is there a decent overlap with timezones?

That said you appear to have picked three of the very best. Congrats to them!

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    We generally start sites with only three... and these three are very active and experienced mods. With the current (generally low) flag rates, I doubt it will take much of their time. I'm sure that if they start feeling overwhelmed, we'll support them as we always do, by making sure they have the help they need. :) The mods generally know that if they need help, they only have to ask. – Catija Nov 21 '18 at 23:47
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    From what I've seen so far I don't think we'll be swamped. We're not talking about Stack Overflow levels of activity and flagging here. – ChrisF Nov 22 '18 at 9:52
  • reasonably decent. Actually compliments the site well cause none of us are US timezones as I recall. And Y'all know my strange work hours. – Journeyman Geek Nov 23 '18 at 15:37
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Firstly, a great decision to appoint moderators on Meta Stack Exchange. Thank you.

Secondly, great choice of selecting three power users of Stack Exchange ChrisF, JourneyMan Geek and Tinkeringbell for that role. They are always active in the discussion posts and also on chat. Congratulations to all the diamonds!

(Looks like Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange is a lucky charm. Who ever moderates it gets an extra diamond. Catija became Community Manager. AJ got elected on Movies. Now Tinkering Bell appointed on Meta Stack Exchange.)

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    One is almost led to believe that...interpersonal skills might be beneficial for moderation. ;-) – Christian Rau Nov 22 '18 at 12:13
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+100

Ya... an election would have gone a long way towards inspiring confidence, or at least reducing disillusionment.

In the wake of the recent PR trainwrecks we needed fresh independent moderators, I'll give you that, but appointing rather than electing... well, it doesn't really say that this is a community driven site.

If you all would like to regain user confidence, have confidence in the users.

I'm not entirely opposed to the folks that were selected, I'm just saying that the process should have mattered.

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if these same folks would have been elected, had an election been held, but again, that process should have mattered. I'm not voicing opposition to who was selected. I'm voicing opposition to the way they were selected, rather than elected. We're community moderated or we're not. The processes that built this community shouldn't be so readily swept aside.

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    You're assuming that MSE is a community like any other community on SE. I'm not sure that assumption is even remotely applicable. While there are regulars and a group of core and power users here, I'd think appointing seasoned mods instead of attempting to introduce new mods (that always need to learn the ropes to some extent) is a better move. If only because moderating here is something very different than moderating "any old SE site" – Vogel612's Shadow Nov 23 '18 at 23:22
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    @Vogel612'sShadow I'm not assuming that MSE is a community like any other, I'm assuming that the principles that SE holds up, should hold up here. I've been around for a good while, the SE community has always been able to choose mods well enough. – apaul Nov 23 '18 at 23:36
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    I totally disagree. All three new mods are veteran users of Stack Exchange with vast knowledge about the network and even more in the sites that they already moderate. Taking this as weapon against SE management is just wrong. If they would have brought total strangers from other forums than I'd agree, but that's really not the case here. – ShaWiz Nov 24 '18 at 0:07
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    @ShadowWizard In your opinion, how long should a user be an active member before they can be called a veteran? It would be highly unlikely that an unknown user or newish contributor would ever be elected by any community. – Mari-Lou A Nov 24 '18 at 0:22
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    @Mari it is less about time, more about how the user acts and how the other site users treat them. If I would see lots of complaints about the three mods coming from different users I would also might object appointing them here, but yet again, that is not the case. – ShaWiz Nov 24 '18 at 0:49
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    @ShadowWizard As I said in the post... "I'm not entirely opposed to the folks that were selected, I'm just saying that the process should have mattered." Are we to be community moderated, do we elect mods, is there accountability in that? I like the folks that were picked well enough, but I still think an opportunity to show that these things matter was missed – apaul Nov 24 '18 at 0:53
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    @ShadowWizard I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if these same folks would have been elected, had an election been held, but again, that process should have mattered. – apaul Nov 24 '18 at 0:57
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    Jane's comment above makes a lot of sense. – Mari-Lou A Nov 25 '18 at 15:30
  • @Mari-LouA Yup. Pretty much what I was trying to convey. – apaul Nov 25 '18 at 15:38
  • After further interactions, I am perhaps more than a little, opposed. @Mari-LouA – apaul Nov 25 '18 at 15:42
  • I take it, a little more than opposed to how the users were selected. – Mari-Lou A Nov 25 '18 at 15:55
  • Eh, a little more than that at this point. @Mari-Lou – apaul Nov 25 '18 at 15:56
  • TBC we're talking about the procedure now, not the users themselves. Because the sentence reads …I'm not entirely opposed to the folks that were selected,… – Mari-Lou A Nov 25 '18 at 15:58
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    TBC my perspective has shifted since yesterday. The process lacked transparency, we should have had an election, and I'm quickly losing confidence in one of the mods that was selected. @Mari-Lou – apaul Nov 25 '18 at 16:02
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I'm happy for this development. Meta.SE is supposed to be the Town Hall of SE, but it has felt more like the Wild West - an area nominally under the jurisdiction of proper authorities, but in reality dominated by desperados people who post off-topic questions, thriving out of a lack of enough deputies to maintain law and order.

Welcome!

One thing I am wondering is whether this will lead to a more distinct local "culture" of Meta.SE - what do you think?

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GO MODS! Two dogs and a parrot can be a good choice, if you select the dogs and the parrot carefully. ;-)

I wish Chris, Geek and Tink good luck in moderating this mother of all metas. I can't say I haven't seen this rise in off-topic questions, and I hope that these three appointments will alleviate it to a great extent, and that we won't need to appoint more mods in the future.

I know all three of them are very experienced when it comes to moderating, so I think this is a very good choice.

Happy moderating! May your service leave a positive mark in the history of Stack Exchange.

  • I've changed the last sentence, feel free to rollback if I was wrong about your intention. :-) – ShaWiz Nov 24 '18 at 0:09
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    @ShadowWizard The sentence is a bit longer now, and that was pretty much my intention. :P (even though I wish their service actually leaves many positive marks ;-) ) – EKons Nov 24 '18 at 14:23
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We need cross-network standards. I already had an encounter with one of these new moderators and he was informative and gentlemanly! We need people who can correct us and make us feel glad about it.

  • Certain site mod teams could definitely use this refresher in being nice to users. – TylerH Nov 30 '18 at 16:53
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Congratulations, ChrisF, Tinkeringbell, and Journeyman Geek! I'm very excited that you're becoming Community Moderators. You've always done very well on SE, and I have a lot of faith in you.

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