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The Sheriff badge is currently awarded to users who have

Served as an elected moderator for at least 1 year.

This was correct when elections were tied to a site leaving beta and elections were the sole method of getting moderators on non-beta sites. However, it is incorrect today, because:

  • The team now uses pro-tem elections to get moderators for beta sites. The winner of the first pro-tem election received a Constable badge, like his colleagues who were appointed, and did not receive a Sheriff badge.

  • We also now have appointed moderators on non-beta sites, on Meta Stack Exchange, Stack Apps, and Ask Patents. Moderators of such sites do receive the Sheriff badge, even though they weren't "elected".

To further complicate matters, we now have a bunch of sites which have graduated aren't betas anymore but haven't held an official permanent election yet, and it's unclear at the moment if/when those will take place. So "Served as an elected moderator on a graduated site for at least 1 year." wouldn't be correct either. "Served for at least 1 year as an elected moderator for life." would technically be better but highly confusing IMHO.

Any thoughts for a better wording? Or shouldn't we bother at the moment since the site lifecycle is still being discussed by the Community Team?


Oh, and if the non-beta sites aren't graduated, as mentioned by @Catija in a comment, we need to adjust Constable's description as well; I got one right after the announcement, as if Chess Stack Exchange were graduated:

Served as a pro-tem moderator for at least 1 year or through site graduation.

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  • 2
    Just removing the "elected" should be enough, IMO. "Served as a moderator for at least 1 year". Aug 5 '19 at 14:49
  • Oh, right, "Served as a non-pro-tem moderator for at least 1 year" came to my mind as well, but it's also kinda awkward.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Aug 5 '19 at 14:49
  • True. It doesn't really matter what type of moderator that person is/was or how they were elected. What matters is that they were moderators, and that's it. :-) Aug 5 '19 at 14:50
  • To take it a step further: since CM's often perform moderation tasks, they should also get this badge. Aug 5 '19 at 14:51
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    @ShaWiz We have two different badges. Sheriff is specifically for graduated sites, Constable for beta sites. We don't award Sheriff to pro-tem mods, even if elected.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 5 '19 at 14:52
  • @Glorfindel It's... eh... the 29 sites that left beta aren't actually "Graduated"... if I'm being pedantic. I think "Served as a moderator on a non-beta site for at least 1 year." is probably the closest.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 5 '19 at 14:52
  • @Catija kind of misleading, since real Sheriff isn't elected by the community. Not really important, just nitpicking. ;) Aug 5 '19 at 14:53
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    @ShaWiz It's existed this way for ... uh... years. So...
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 5 '19 at 14:55
  • @Catija Maybe it's time to introduce a new terminology - "tenured moderator" - to refer to moderators that are elected (traditionally) as part of a graduated site election (and thus can serve permanently, have right of return, etc.). Previously, "elected moderator" referred to this since there were no pro-tem elections, but it might be worth introducing this new term since the previous one can't be used in this manner anymore. Aug 5 '19 at 15:14
  • @sonic Not really a huge fan of using a term that... has so much baggage. We already have issues with beta mods feeling less valuable. Calling mods on non-beta sites "tenured" is... just going to exacerbate that.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 5 '19 at 15:17
  • @Catija What do you think of the general idea of introducing a new term for that concept (doesn't have to be the same specific one I proposed here)? Aug 5 '19 at 15:18
  • @Sonic Considering we don't even know how the beta process is changing yet, it's way too early to discuss.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 5 '19 at 15:19
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    Another proposal would be to merge the badges...
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Aug 5 '19 at 15:19
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    Oh for crying out loud. This post is attracting spam for some utterly bizarre reason. Its protected, but if you have a legit reason to post, flag it, or grab a mod and we'll life it for you.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Aug 6 '19 at 8:29
  • It is weird that in Spanish.SE a Sheriff badge was awarded to a Pro-tem election moderator. Same in Writing.SE Sep 16 '20 at 9:35
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To take this proposal a little further - why have two separate badges at all?

Back when beta sites were expected to only last 90 days and the moderators on them were really just stop-gaps until graduation and the site could hold elections, this made sense. Moderators on beta sites were just there for a while, doing a little moderation here and there, and just keeping an eye on things - whereas moderators on graduated sites generally had more of a workload keeping a handle on a bigger site, and were there for far longer.

These days, beta has changed massively. We have lots of beta sites, including plenty that have been in beta for a number of years, and plenty that are pretty large sites. The moderators on beta sites are still hand-picked to start with rather than elected, but may be elected later, and will generally serve for a much longer period of time than they were ever expected to when the concept was introduced. Some of our beta moderators are among the most experienced and respected moderators we have on the network.

Having two separate badges is an unnecessary distinction between two "classes" of moderators, despite the two groups doing pretty much identical work and shouldering very similar workloads. To call one group Sheriffs and the other Constables minimises the work that beta moderators do without any good reason - so let's merge the two badges and give everyone the same one.

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  • Yep, I realized this as well, hence my last comment. It'll solve a lot of problems at once.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Aug 5 '19 at 15:51
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    Merge them into one badge that's awarded annually, like Yearling - that seems a better way to recognize long-serving mods. Aug 5 '19 at 18:48
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    ... but only if you handled 200 flags :P
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Aug 5 '19 at 19:48
  • What do you think of getting rid of the distinction between "pro-tem" and "tenured" moderators entirely? Considering we now get the initial set of "pro-tem" moderators through an election anyway, I don't see a need for this distinction. Aug 6 '19 at 3:33
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I've just been bitten by this myself (elected mod on a beta site, expected Sheriff, got Constable). I think the sheriff/constable distinction should be between elected and non-elected moderators, but that's just me. If the powers-that-be wish to make the distinction be between non-beta site and beta site mods, that's obviously their prerogative, but please, please be clear about what's going on. It's been over a year, and misleading expectations do nobody any good at all.

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Its worth considering that these badges are uncommon and recognise, well, uncommon qualities. As someone who's gotten a diamond through three different tracks - pro-tem on SR.SE, elected on SU and appointed on MSE.

My experiences as a new mod on a new site - SR.SE, and what I was expected to do (as I worked it out), a moderator on Superuser (as an older site with an established moderation team) or for that matter, the strangeness of MSE, which is an established site with a historic moderation team, a gap, and a moderation team.

Pro-tem isn't a great term, but for a beta site, you're shaping what the site could become. You're building a foundation and working on it. There's no garden to tend, only a big mass of mud that could be something awesome. The beta moderator experience is in building.

Mod elections on beta sites don't change these things. I suspect its just a way of handling not being able to be everywhere as such, and letting folks who have shown the quality of leadership in a community, but arn't as visible rise to be a mod if they feel they want to contribute. It doesn't change the scope of work.

I'd swap "elected" with something else, but I don't think dropping "constable" is a good idea.

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