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The Moderator review and reinstatement processes posted 21 October 2019 have been discussed with the moderators and the two posts below reflect the agreed process for removing or reinstating moderators from now on. While these processes may change over time as they're put into practice, for now they are considered finalized and are available for use.

There are two review policies - one (Action Review) is the older policy from 2012 and one (Conduct Review) is the new policy. There is one reinstatement policy for all former moderators who wish to be reinstated.

We expect that some of you may have questions about the processes and want some clarifications. This post is a place for you to ask them. Please do not post questions about the process on those posts - they will be removed.

We very much respect the value of meta discussion but would like to keep the process posts clean and not have to delete all of the discussion to make the actual policy clear. Having the discussion here makes that easier. We have cross-linked the posts so that they're easy to find.

For ease of response and voting, please limit each answer to one specific concern.

  • 81
    Are there specific guidelines re interacting with the press (by either party)? – mjwills Oct 21 at 20:26
  • 15
    @mjwills have you seen meta.stackexchange.com/questions/335708/… ? – sourcejedi Oct 21 at 20:27
  • 1
    @sourcejedi Thanks, very helpful. I wonder whether it may be prudent to be explicit that that policy is in effect in this context. – mjwills Oct 21 at 20:29
  • 96
    Genuine question, when can we expect to get responses to the questions/concerns raised? – Script47 Oct 21 at 21:18
  • 9
    @Script47 Gonna depend on the question. Some of them we're already answering. Some of them will take some time. – Catija Oct 21 at 21:22
  • 72
    It ain't much and I don't have a big reputation but I kindly ask for Monica to be reinstated. – smtrejo says Reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 0:20
  • 3
    Slightly off topic, but how is it decided who gets the unhappy task of posting "questions" like this and exposing their reputation to damage from massive downvoting? – K Man Nov 3 at 23:24
  • 1
    @KMan Kinda depends. For this, I was helping JNat so he posted the policies and I posted the feedback post - but as you can see, JNat's been the one primarily answering questions in the answers below. For the new FAQ, I was the primary person working on reconciling the existing FAQ posts to create the new FAQ and Cesar was helping and had posted the prior FAQ. – Catija Nov 4 at 0:16
  • 13
    @Catija Is there a planned timeline you can share when a followup to this is posted? Can we expect any changes in the process, and/or an announcement of the final process, and is there a timeline for either? – mag Nov 4 at 9:33
  • 26
    @Script47 Well it's been a few weeks and only 1 of the top 13 posts has a staff answer. I guess that's your answer. – Reinstate Monica Nov 5 at 21:42
  • 21
    @Catija I haven't heard anything on the feedback that was left -- do you have a timeframe on when we can expect to hear something? – George Stocker Nov 7 at 12:51
  • @bobobobo comments aren't even sand, and they add to noise unless they improve or clarify a question or an answer. – KorvinStarmast 11 hours ago

69 Answers 69

76

I mentioned this on the Moderator Team site, but never had time to come back to it and follow-up:

For a re-instatement, will the information gathered during the Discovery phase be shared with the former moderator?

It seems to be mentioned in the removal process that the moderator will be informed of what's happening, but it's not completely clear there, and it's not mentioned in the re-instatement process that the former moderator will be told specifically why they were removed.

  • This was the first thing that came to my mind as I read through the processes. – BenV Oct 21 at 20:25
  • 5
    Yeah, complete transparency would seem to require this, albeit with redactions where necessary to prevent sharing of sensitive information (although the need for that should be minimal, as the focus should be on the moderator’s own actions, and there are no privacy concerns in sharing one’s own actions with them). – Cody Gray Oct 21 at 20:57
  • 3
    Do you mean in the case that the request for reinstatement is denied? – Catija Oct 21 at 21:53
  • @Catija I meant in any case... Ideally a mod would be given the specifics when they're removed, but in cases where that doesn't happen "on the way out," it should be part of the process to come back. – Ward Oct 21 at 22:57
  • 3
    Oh, you specifically say "for a re-instatement"... If the reinstatement is deemed uneventful and just passed through the process and confirmed, is there a reason to mention anything found in Discovery? – Catija Oct 21 at 23:05
  • 49
    @Catija A reason ? It's called being honest. Not "mentioning" things found in discovery is called "covering up things". The expression "honesty is the best policy" leaps to mind, although not in terms of recent SE management actions. – StephenG Oct 22 at 0:00
  • 3
    @Catija In my original comment in the Moderator's Team, I was specifically referring to the re-instatement process because that's where I thought the term "discovery" was most appropriate. And to me, "Discovery" implies that both parties have all the information. Ideally, both parties would have the information during a removal, but in addition to the current Monica situation (where she wasn't told why), I can imagine a re-instatement where the former mod doesn't have all the info, e.g. if it's after a long-ish period of time. – Ward Oct 22 at 0:14
  • 5
    @StephenG I’m gonna to need you to explain... an example, maybe? When is a time that a mod requests reinstatement, that reinstatement is granted without debate... what is there to disclose? – Catija Oct 22 at 0:53
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    @Catija Seriously ? The reasons for the removal (including whether they were in error or a deliberate act of malice or seemed justified and if so why) and the reasons for the reinstatement. People need to see that justice is done and why things happened. I am flabbergasted that you need this explained to you. – StephenG Oct 22 at 1:02
  • 6
    @StephenG I think we’re coming at this from two different assumptions... most of the time the reason for reinstatement is “because they asked to be reinstated.” – Catija Oct 22 at 1:05
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    @Catija I think you're right in that the two of you are looking at it from different POVs. You appear to be looking at it from: moderator asked to resign and asked to be reinstated. StephenG appears to be looking at it from the point of view: moderator was removed not at their request and has now asked for reinstatement (possibly not knowing why they were removed). In the future, moderators will, hopefully, have had the reasons for removal communicated to them during the removal process. At this time, that is not necessarily the case for any moderator who was previously removed. – Makyen Oct 22 at 2:49
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    @Catija Moderators elected by the members and removed by the elected moderators should not be reinstated without explanation to the members - this challenges the (alleged) trust relationship that is supposed to exist. Likewise elected moderators removed by SE management and subsequently reinstated need to have a clear explanation (which they are free to publish) explaining why they were removed and why they were reinstated (and what remedies were applied). This is natural justice for moderators, the members who elect them and the managers. Justice is open, not secret. – StephenG Oct 22 at 8:22
  • 3
    @Catija, policies like this should be written with the exceptional case in mind. In the more mundane cases, people will naturally take shortcuts and/or combine steps (like combining the communication about being reinstated with the message about what was found during the discovery phase). – Bart van Ingen Schenau Oct 22 at 13:18
38

Could we rename one or other of these policies? "Action Review" vs. "Conduct Review" doesn't make it particularly clear what the purpose of each policy is - the former is for mod teams to use in case of breakdowns, while the latter is for broader community concerns and for CoC/agreement violations.

Calling the former policy something along the lines of "Moderator Team Review Process" should serve to clarify that - it's not actions we're really reviewing, it's whether or not the team can continue to work together.

210

The new process was created in response to the lack of process that led to the firing of Monica. So I think it is fair to ask in what ways the events around Monica's firing violated the tenets of this new process, and what SE is planning to do to correct their mistakes. I think SE should state publicly in which ways the rights this process grants to moderators were ignored by the previous events. We have read an apology by SE, but that was a bit fuzzy on exactly what SE thinks they did wrong, and it doesn't really leave me with the impression that SE necessarily understood just how much they screwed up. It would help to restore confidence if SE would actually state what went wrong, and how the new process addresses these mistakes.

One important principle of the new process is that there should be a warning, and that this warning should contain clear and actionable feedback. This is to me maybe one of the most important parts, and one I personally consider one of the aspect that were not followed at all in previous events, to my limited knowledge.

I think the process itself is fine, and I'm glad to see that SE incorporates the feedback it received from the moderators. But the process still requires us to trust SE, as it's entirely in the hands of SE employees. Which is probably the way it has to be, I don't really see any other viable options. But that trust is something SE has to earn again, and while the new process is a good step, it doesn't necessarily fix the fundamental issue behind the botched firing without process. Resolving the situation with Monica is a prerequisite for quite a few people to earn back that trust.

  • 5
    I kinda want to chalk this one up to the fact that there wasn't a clear and followed policy which led to Monica's abrupt dismissal. The absence of a policy would, in my mind, be enough to see to it that things like this "happen" without what others would consider due process. – Makoto Oct 21 at 22:25
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    @Makoto Then the right course of action would be to reinstate Monica instead of "standing by the hard decision" to abruptly fire her without due process. – ColleenV Oct 21 at 22:36
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    @ColleenV: Sorry, this process isn't about Monica. This is about making sure that some other moderator doesn't get treated as badly as Monica did. That's how I'm reading it, anyway. – Makoto Oct 21 at 22:37
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    I will note that there was a process, and that it was completely ignored. – SolveIt Oct 21 at 22:55
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    You're functioning under they assumption that they believe they did something wrong. I haven't seen anything to suggest, at least specific to Monica's case, SE believes that. Which I guess in the end is their right. It's their company, their rules. I don't like it but if the bosses have spoken then... – James Oct 22 at 3:42
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    @SolveIt Yea, every time I read one of these posts I keep thinking "What's the point of creating a new policy if the old one wasn't used?" – Mast Oct 22 at 8:44
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    @Mast - Ah, but they'll follow it this time, honest. – Richard Oct 22 at 11:30
  • There are other options. See this question and this answer for two possibilities. – rockwalrus-stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 20:54
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    Based on my reading of the proposed process, it allows for exactly what happened to Monica to happen again. Step 1: CM decides there is a problem. Step 2: CM unilaterally removes moderator status. – BJ Myers Oct 22 at 22:49
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    @Richard I haven't read anywhere that they intend to follow the new process any closer than the old one. To my knowledge, they just said "we didn't follow process, so let's make a new process". – Reinstate Monica Oct 22 at 23:26
  • @Makoto If Monica had just been fired I would agree. But Monica was fired over the CoC, which was being amended. That SO had a knee-jerk response in firing her is a secondary concern. If she can be fired as a moderator for Kafkaesque reasons, every user is at risk of punishment. If SO will not treat her equitably in a process they set up in response to their own admitted screw-up, what hope do we have that we will be treated any better? – Machavity Oct 24 at 14:15
17

Is there a plan to communicate this out to all the existing previous moderators? I literally asked about this after being mostly away for months and happened to pick about the best time ever to ask about this in chat, that being five minutes before the policy was posted (go me, I guess). But had this happened any time in the last year/likely next months I would have missed it.

It also is a change from what I understood the process would be when I stepped back from being a moderator (the "process" then was "let us know if you want to come back!" or some equally vague variant :-).

16

Why was the number 30 days? Was this an arbitrary number? If you're considering bringing a moderator back why such a small snapshot?

Also on this, why is it that the community isn't involved if that's who elected the individuals in the first place. This sounds more like at that point that SE Inc is devaluing the voices that originally signed off on that moderator. Perhaps it's not the moderation team that has grievances, but the general community.

  • 5
    (Duplicated from the other question): 3. CM1 will pull community interactions involving PM for the past 30 days. This is far too short. I would suggest 90 days (last three months) or greater. – Frédéric Hamidi Oct 21 at 20:38
  • Yeah, I wasn't going to throw a specific date out there myself. However my thought is that if someone's looking to become a moderator again after being removed or stepping down, their entire time should be considered while not having the diamond. – Trasiva Oct 21 at 20:39
  • 2
    You should split this into two answers ... As to the second point, I would hope that the remaining moderators would be aware that there may be a grievance between the previous moderator and the general community and ask for additional time to make outreaches to the community. – StrongBad Oct 21 at 20:39
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    So... 30 days is already an almost crippling amount of data to sift through for, say, a SO mod, @FrédéricHamidi – Shog9 Oct 21 at 20:42
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    @Shog9 I'm not arguing that it isn't likely a huge amount of data to go through. Especially if they're active in multiple exchanges. My only concern is 30 days is just a small snapshot of an individual. – Trasiva Oct 21 at 20:44
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    Ok, so, we're not limiting ourselves to 30 days of history, @FrédéricHamidi. The 30-day check is intended to tell us what the mod has been up to recently, in case we haven't been paying attention. – Shog9 Oct 21 at 20:53
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    @Shog9 I guess despite your checkup, why would you guys remove the community from the process? You certainly don't have to ask for yay/nays, but the community has no idea when this process is being done. I'd suggest at the very least give a discovery window where the community can voice their concerns about the person who's supposed to have their trust. – Trasiva Oct 21 at 20:55
73

Regarding the reinstatement process.

Community Managers (CMs) can recuse themselves if they feel they can't be impartial

Is it the case that a CM should also generally recuse themselves if they were involved in that moderator's removal process?

  • 4
    That might be ideal, but there are not that many CMs. – StrongBad Oct 21 at 20:47
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    This is like filing an appeal to a court, only to find you are facing the same judge again. – ace_HongKongIndependence Oct 21 at 23:41
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    Yes, this is absurd. What moderator who feels they were justified (or wants a certain state of affairs) would ever recuse themselves? It shouldn't be voluntary—it should be essential. No moderator involved with the original decision should have any say in anything to do with the reinstatement process. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Oct 22 at 4:04
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    @JasonBassford Manager. CMs are staff, community managers, not moderators. There's only seven of us and four or even six could have been involved in the process of removing a moderator since the first event leads to a warning and the second to removal. If it was six, that leaves only one person on the CM team... and at least two, if not three are required for reinstatement. We can not require that they all recuse themselves. – Catija Oct 22 at 4:55
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    @Catija In that case, it's impossible for the process to be impartial. You've pretty much said that the process is a fait accompli. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Oct 22 at 5:04
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    @JasonBassford Except for one thing... it’s completely hypothetical. No mods have been removed with the process at this point and the existing process for mod removal has been used once. So saying that it’s impossible and we can’t be impartial when it’s not even a concern... these processes may change over time as we put them to the test. Your concern may be completely valid... but on the time scale I’ve seen (one removal in 7 years), I think we can see how it goes? – Catija Oct 22 at 5:32
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    @Catija But that's not how due process (or planning) works. As an earlier comment said, if you appeal a decision from a judge, the legal system does not have the same judge rule on your appeal. It's only common sense. I don't see how my concern could not be valid. You are also splitting hairs—because you know perfectly well that Monica was removed. Saying that it wasn't with the process is a convenient blinder to the issue. You've had her wait, on the premise that it's for this process to come out. Saying now that the reinstatement process doesn't cover her situation is disingenuous. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Oct 22 at 5:45
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    @JasonBassford Well, fortunately, all seven CMs are available even by your standards to address Monica's request, should she make one. – Catija Oct 22 at 13:35
  • @Catija is this answer out of date then as it lists 12 people, not 7. – Robert Longson Oct 22 at 15:31
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    @Catija My point is that not all seven should be involved. It should be much less than that. Assuming it's even possible at this point for anything about this to be impartial. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Oct 22 at 16:13
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    @RobertLongson Community Team != Community Managers – Catija Oct 23 at 12:12
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    @Catija That question says Who are the Community Team (sometimes referred to as the Community Managers or CM's), and what is their role? and the answer doesn't say Community Team doesn't mean Community Managers. I guess that is what confuses Robert. If that answer is wrong, it should be corrected. – kiamlaluno Nov 4 at 8:44
55

The Reinstatement Process mentioned checking for annotations deeming reinstatement impossible. I expected to see the criteria for determining and applying such annotations in the Review policies but didn't. What is the criteria for such annotations?

13

In the Moderator Action Review Process, it is stated:

Once begun, the following steps must be followed, in order, to completion within a reasonable time frame. If this is not possible, all participants will be notified by us that the process has been discontinued and informed of the resolution (if any).

What resolutions are possible if the process cannot be completed in a "reasonable time frame"? That is, is this intended to establish a Statute of Limitations and/or a "Right to a speedy trial" principle (that is, the moderator automatically keeps their diamond if the company is unable to fully execute the process in a rapid and fair manner), or does it allow the company to decide to immediately suspend a moderator upon concluding that the steps cannot be reasonably followed? This could happen if important witnesses are away, if documents have been lost, or even if the moderator has fled and is making themselves unavailable in an attempt to stall the process.

  • 1
    Another case where this might happen: if the moderator resigns in the middle of the removal process. – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Oct 21 at 20:41
116

In the restoration process, Discovery phase, step 2.1,

If CM1 finds any annotation that states reinstatement is deemed impossible, the request is denied....

Under what conditions would such an annotation be added to the former moderator's account? Neither the Moderator Conduct Review Process nor the Moderator Action Review Process seem to indicate who has the authority to make such an annotation or what circumstances must be found to exist for such an annotation to be made. Is such a clause intended only for the worst of the worst, the remorseless "serial killers" of the moderation world, or is it intended as a standard annotation to be used in most cases of moderator removal?

  • 5
    Almost duplicate of yonder answer, but this is more comprehensive. – Daniel Fischer Oct 21 at 20:51
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    Yes. these annotations should be considered extremely rare and particularly substantiated. They should not be considered standard at all. The bulk of (unrequested) moderator removals are for going dormant and failing to respond to emails checking in. None of these would include an annotation like this. – Catija Oct 21 at 22:30
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    @Catija I'm sure that's the case, but nobody was worried about the typical removal anyway. The whole point of having a process is to fairly deal with difficult cases. – SolveIt Oct 21 at 22:43
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    @Catija This procedure, from our perspective, is to protect us from you. Such annotations should make no difference at all, since if a moderator should never be reinstated there'll be reasons for that beyond "you've got a User-Is-Evil flag, sorry-not-sorry". This step should just be completely removed. – wizzwizz4 Oct 22 at 10:20
  • 1
    @Catija so an "ordinary" CoC violation (one that is not extremely grievous), like calling someone an idiot for posting an off-topic question or using the old cover sheet on a TPS report, would not result in such a bar? Or is this intended to cover non-CoC violations versus any CoC violation (with any CoC violation resulting in a bar)? – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Oct 22 at 13:35
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    I fear (read: lack of trust) that this step 2.1 is there for one and only one purpose: so that after ratification and before reviewing Monica's case, someone can add an annotation stating "reinstatement of this former moderator is impossible", thus not just permitting but forcing CM1 to deny reinstatement and end the process right there, in order to avoid the embarrassment (for SE) of what a genuine reinstatement review would entail – landru27 Oct 23 at 20:48
92

Initiation

The process is started when the Community Management Team is made aware of an issue. This can be a complaint against a moderator, or the Team being made aware of a security issue (like a moderator's account appearing to be compromised).

Emergency Removal Phase

The CM (CM1) who "stumbles upon" the issue will take care of it. Moderator access should be removed immediately, to limit the potential for any further damage. Available info is documented.

This looks like what happened to Monica. I can understand why a security issue or compromised account would warranting immediate, unilateral action; however, I'm still bothered that "a complaint against a moderator" is grounds for immediate removal.

I suppose this explains why calls for Monica's immediate reinstatement have seemingly been ignored and gone unheard. SE still feels like they made the right move; now they've put a process in place that conveniently justifies and codifies their prior actions.

Complaints against moderators are part of the business of moderating. You can't please all of the people all of the time.

I'm very disappointed in the way this is heading. Had the procedure said that, in the case of complaints, the Emergency Removal Phase will be skipped (instead of can be skipped), my concerns would be allayed. However, as written, I don't like how skipping is merely an option.

  • 3
    "In the event of a security issue, the Emergency Removal Phase is initiated; in the event of any other complaint [...], that step can be skipped" This seems to indicate that emergency removal will be used for security issues only, with regular complaints using the non-emergency process. – Davis Broda Oct 21 at 20:54
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    @DavisB - I suppose I'm concerned about the wording there. If the procedure said will be skipped instead of can be skipped, my concerns would be allayed. – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Oct 21 at 20:57
  • might want to edit the question in that case, to make it clear that the can/will distinction is your objection here. Otherwise it just looks like you missed a few lines in the policy. – Davis Broda Oct 21 at 20:58
  • @DavisB - I took your sage advice and have edited my post accordingly. – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Oct 21 at 21:01
  • 1
    "We made a decision to act quickly, which I personally approved, but in doing so skipped several critical parts of the process." [cto apology] Does that help? From the list of anticipated reasons it seems pretty clear to me emergency removal is about time-critical stuff. "This feedback should always be the first option if the moderator could have simply failed to perceive their actions as problematic." [policy] I'm not seeing your reading of the policy. – sourcejedi Oct 21 at 21:12
  • 1
    I'm kinda happier with the blanket "extremely out of character" and "other unanticipated incidents", than trying to go into greater detail to map out what it looks like for a trusted moderator to suddenly become damaging to the site or users. I'm put in mind of this alledged example. Content warning for extreme injury, also philosophical discussion and historical debate. – sourcejedi Oct 21 at 21:24
  • ...Semi-relevant question, what happens in the case of complaints against community-facing company employees? – Justin Time 2 Reinstate Monica Oct 22 at 22:14
  • 2
    Moreover, why can't emergency halts be accomplished by a suspension rather than the much more severe demodding? – Numeron Oct 24 at 3:33
  • @Numeron: A suspended mod can unsuspend themselves, if memory serves, and in fact I believe this has actually been tested by mods in the past, just to see what would happen. That is, the software does not treat suspension as a temporary demodding: they still retain the mod power to issue and remove suspensions of any user. Diamond removal is, for technical reasons, the only way to actually stop a mod from using their privileges. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 26 at 8:28
  • That seems like a bizarre and somewhat serious oversight, @NathanTuggy. o.o I'm curious why it's set up that way. – Justin Time 2 Reinstate Monica Oct 26 at 19:52
  • @JustinTime: It's never been considered important enough to fix, since the designed way to temporarily halt a (potentially) rogue mod is just to remove their diamond (and then suspend if still necessary), then put it back when done. Mod tools in general, since they're in-house software used by probably less than a thousand people ever (~600 current moderators, a few hundred past moderators), are kind of rough around the edges. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 27 at 4:12
  • Fair enough, @NathanTuggy. Still comes across as a bit weird, though, even if there's a good reason for it. ;P – Justin Time 2 Reinstate Monica Oct 27 at 18:14
34

I have some concerns that if a former moderator who was removed for cause doesn't think they'll be able to get reinstated through the reinstatement process (or if they went through it and the outcome was to not reinstate them), they might try to work around that by simply attempting to go through the moderator election process again.

I have a question: if a moderator is removed for cause, are they still welcome to nominate themselves as a candidate in a later moderator election on the site?

  • 5
    Additionally: If a moderator simply stepped down, can they still enter an election again? (Not that it'd make sense, but is it possible?) – Cerbrus Oct 21 at 20:54
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    @Cerbrus - I can think of a few scenarios where that might make sense – most notably when the moderator steps down for personal reasons (entering medical school, birth of quintuplets, trip aboard the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior, etc.), but then decides to rejoin the Exchange when life circumstances permit. – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Oct 21 at 23:08
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    @J.R. In that case, the moderator can simply request their privileges back; they don't have to be elected again. It's always been the case that if a moderator resigns under good terms and remains under good standing, their privileges will be restored upon request; the new reinstatement procedure doesn't change that. – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Oct 21 at 23:32
  • @Cerbrus If they don't need to. If a moderator steps down in good standing, they can ask for their diamond back and they will generally be reinstated. – Kevin Oct 22 at 0:32
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog As written, this reinstatement process does change that. As written, a moderator who has resigned and asks for reinstatement must go through the entire reinstatement process, including review by CMs and the rest of the site moderators. It's quite possible for the PM to be denied reinstatement, as the process is currently written (e.g. CM1 and CM2 agree to deny, or if there's >=1 current moderator who "strongly objects to reinstatement"). Thus, asking if a moderator can step around the reinstatement process and be re-elected is something that should be clarified. – Makyen Oct 22 at 3:18
  • @Makyen We could always refuse if there were extenuating circumstances. Much of the reinstatement process is a formalization of the standard actions a CM would take before giving someone a mod position back... say to the rest of the CMs "oh, hey, X on Z.SE wants their diamond back, any concerns?"... check their recent history for annotations/suspensions... make sure they haven't been causing problems in their recent actions... ping the mods on the team to say "X is asking for their slot back, any concerns?" (assuming they weren't the ones telling us that X wanted it back)... – Catija Oct 22 at 5:01
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    @Catija Can't they bypass all those processes by simply getting re-elected again? – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Oct 22 at 5:10
  • @Catija I'm glad to hear, and not surprised, that there was in the past at least an informal review among the CMs of returning resigned moderators. Frankly, that seems prudent. I probably should have more accurately said that there's a change in the perception of what the process entails. OTOH, one thing I hadn't seen mentioned as being previously being done was that a currently active site moderator could, effectively, veto the reinstatement of a PM. – Makyen Oct 22 at 5:31
  • Sonic... maybe? But it’d require an election, which aren’t super predictable. I’m not sure it’s ever happened outside of pro-tems running after taking time off. @Makyen it’s not super common that a mod will return after time off so I’m not sure if we had such a thing or not. If someone on the mod team expressed concern for their safety, we’d certainly take that into account, though. – Catija Oct 22 at 5:38
  • 3
    @Catija Say they actually end up winning the election. Will they get to become a moderator again as a result? – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Oct 22 at 5:41
70

tl;dr: Does being removed as a moderator result in an ineligibility to stand for election? If so, does the ineligibility apply only on the site(s) where the moderator was actually removed/de-modded, or does it apply to all sites?

How does the moderator restoration procedure relate to a former moderator getting elected or re-elected by a community? I asked this a while back and never got an official answer.

The moderator reinstatement process seems to indicate that a favorable result for the former moderator results in immediate restoration of their diamond, without any need for an election or even any community involvement at all. Is this intended to imply that the former moderator may alternately choose to seek restoration by being elected or re-elected by one of the Stack Exchange communities, or is it intended as the sole restoration process and/or a prerequisite for becoming an election candidate?

This answer asks specifically about a former moderator seeking election on the community that they formerly moderated, but there's also the possibility that such a person might seek election elsewhere. The Initiation section of the restoration process states:

Previous moderators (PM) may request reinstatement through the /contact form on the site that they wish to be reinstated....

Thus, it isn't clear if this reinstatement procedure even applies to a moderator seeking election in another community. What happens in that case? For example, suppose I was dismissed as a moderator for cause from Shoes and Ships Stack Exchange. I contribute quietly for a sufficiently long period of time (e.g. at least a year, to allow any possible general site suspension-related bars to expire), eventually deciding to leave my old haunt alone and instead seek moderatorship on Sealing Wax.SE, which I have never moderated before. What happens in that case?

  • Do I have to seek reinstatement on Shoes and Ships.SE before I can stand for election on Sealing Wax.SE?
  • May I just go ahead and run, letting the community determine if I am worthy?
  • Do I have to apply for "reinstatement" on Sealing Wax.SE despite the fact that I have never actually been a moderator there?
  • Do I have to begin a "generic" reinstatement process that does not give me back my original diamond, but restores my ability to stand for election?
  • 2
    Those are some interesting example communities... :P – V2Blast Oct 22 at 3:44
  • 7
    @V2Blast they are from Lewis Carroll. The entire mess is very Wonderland like. – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Oct 22 at 10:15
  • @ColumbiasaysReinstateMonica, especially when you read Wonderland as a surreal horror story. – Frank Luke Nov 4 at 21:20
461

The reinstatement process is broken as written.

The process is rigged against the previous moderator (PM).

Community Managers (CMs) can recuse themselves if they feel they can't be impartial.

There needs to be a way to recuse CMs who can't be impartial but won't recuse themselves. CMs recusing other CMs? The PM recusing up to a small number of CMs? The moderator teams for the target sites?

The process is concluded here.

This is unacceptable. The PM never gets a say in this whole process other than applying. They have no way to argue for themselves, set preconditions of their own, or even say "Hang on, the reasons you gave me are factually incorrect/too vague to mean anything!".

If a precondition is set, CM1 will communicate this back to PM

Wait, that's done after talking to the mod team? That seems pointlessly opaque: what's wrong with telling PM "Is $thing okay with you? If so, we'll ask the mods if they want you back on condition you do $thing" first?

reinstatement is possible under the agreement that a reasonable and attainable precondition should and could be met

This is vulnerable to "Have you stopped beating your wife?". It may be okay if the conditions are strictly about the future, e.g. "PM will never call a user a doo-doo head". It's certainly not okay if the condition can be "PM will stop calling users doo-doo heads" (implying that they did so) or worse "PM will apologise for calling users doo-doo heads" (when PM denies having ever done so).

access is restored

This is the best possible outcome for PM. There is no outcome that involves an acknowledgement that the removal was in error (e.g. a miscalculation of inactivity duration, a mistaken belief that PM had broken a rule), let alone an apology or reparations if applicable.

subject to summary removal for non-compliance

Who evaluates compliance? This could easily be gamed.

  • 367
    "The process is rigged against the moderator." status-bydesign – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Oct 21 at 21:03
  • 12
    If preconditions are communicated to the PM prior to consultation with the current moderators and the current moderators have additional preconditions, then PM will be given two, potentially conflicting sets of preconditions and be aware that the second set of preconditions were specified by the current moderators. That seems less desirable than holding off a week to tell the PM about the preconditions. – StrongBad Oct 21 at 21:08
  • 2
    If a former moderator who goes through this process has their own preconditions, wouldn't that generally be a barrier to continued participation with the CM team? I mean, at the end of the day, all of the bits and bytes still flow to Stack Exchange, and someone wanting to come back to work with the CM team would have to accept that they're not really in control of their destiny. – Makoto Oct 21 at 22:52
  • 1
    (It's also the same reason that I don't think it makes any sense for Monica to ask for reinstatement, nor for others to ask for it on her behalf.) – Makoto Oct 21 at 22:52
  • 10
    'This is vulnerable to "Have you stopped beating your wife?"' to me that seems to be by design (and rightly so). If it has been determined that PM hasn't violated a rule, then there will be no precondition. But if it has been determined that there was a violation, then it's reasonable to request that PM acknowledges that before being reinstated. If PM still denies that they did the thing even though it was determined that they in fact did it, the promise not to do it in the future is not worth much. – tim Oct 22 at 7:41
  • 12
    Great point about the voluntary recusal being problematic. (I wonder if, say, Sara Chipps would recuse herself from Monica's case. It would be a most interesting test case.) – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Oct 22 at 10:24
  • 8
    Another rigged part of the reinstatement process is step 2.1: "If CM1 finds any annotation that states reinstatement is deemed impossible, the request is denied [...]". This seems incredibly vague and arbitrary - so there's an annotation like "never reinstate her lol" about Monica, she can never be reinstated? Hopefully it's not as frivolous as that, but having non-transparent annotations that can immediately stop the process after the first step seems like an easy way out for SE. – l4mpi Oct 22 at 11:28
  • 40
    @J.R. - for me the better question is, that since Sarah was undoubtedly the person who made the call to demod Monica (and given that she is a director and the other CMs are not) why on earth would we expect them to go against her when it would threaten their jobs and livelihoods? If my boss asked me to review one of their decisions, I'd say "great idea, boss" because I'm not a moron. – Richard Oct 22 at 16:11
  • 2
    You raise a valid point, @tim, although it depends on any preconditions supplied by the company and/or moderators being fair. If, e.g., someone is demodded because a director is having a horrible day and needs to vent on someone, then given the precondition that they must publicly state that they will never again eat live babies while tap-dancing on global television (when they have never done so in the first place), then it becomes problematic. (A silly example, I know, I just wanted an example precondition that clearly has no basis in past actions, to illustrate the flaw. ;P) – Justin Time 2 Reinstate Monica Oct 22 at 22:00
  • 9
    @tim When someone has behaved badly, it is indeed very important that they admit their mistakes and try to rectify things before you give them your trust. Will anyone from Stack Overflow do that? Or is this something they just want other people to do? – Gort the Robot Oct 23 at 1:26
77

What constitutes an "emergency" for removal purposes? While an emergency by its very name indicates that things must be expedited to prevent ongoing harm, I think that this needs to be defined better, so that the vagueness of one word in a policy cannot be used as a sole justification for a removal. I certainly hope that expressing disagreement is not an "emergency".

I don't know if a list of things that constitutes an emergency is desired, or a list of things that are not emergencies, or both. But this needs elaborating.

Funny how no one really thought about what constitutes an emergency before. But just thinking about why we need this: it's about something many others and I have pointed out plenty of times recently. It's a matter of trust.

This is just one case of needing to "get it in writing". The times when people need to get it in writing are when working with other parties/groups where the trust level isn't high enough given the importance: the mortgage company when getting a home loan, contract review, credit card companies, lawyers, etc.

With trust firmly in place, so many people wouldn't be questioning, nitpicking, and just generally being cynical about all Meta interactions.

In addition to getting the process right, do the right thing and regain the community's trust.

  • 67
    +1. Was Monica's removal an "emergency" according to this new process? (If so, it stretches the definition of "emergency" to "because a SE employee wanted to do it now...") – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Oct 21 at 23:35
  • 12
    Emergencies generally center around possible account compromise (and actions that look like it), misuse of private information (PII, particularly), or even mod-only userscripts that have gone awry and are removing content while the mod sleeps. These are serious security threats for which a diamond removal can't be delayed due to the special access the diamond grants. – Catija Oct 22 at 5:08
  • 28
    @Catija Can we take that as a "no"? – SolveIt Oct 22 at 6:42
  • 4
    @Goyo Either way, I'd like to hear SE's official position on this. – SolveIt Oct 22 at 11:59
  • 8
    I don't think that defining emergency is that important.... what is important is that any emergency measure is only temporary, e.g., limited to at most one week and thereafter either confirmed by a regular process or automatically undone. – maaartinus Oct 23 at 10:36
  • 1
    @SolveIt definitely a no – danielbeard Oct 23 at 17:08
36

I really don't get it.

If CM1 finds any annotation that states reinstatement is deemed impossible, the request is denied and the reasons for it will be stated back to PM. The process is concluded here.

Moderator was elected by a community. It looks strange that one CM decide mod's fate.

And even this:

Community Managers (CMs) can recuse themselves if they feel they can't be impartial. CM1, CM2, and CM3 will be picked at random from remaining CM pool

If there be any disagreements between mod and one CM, the rest, obviously, will be on the CM's side. How can we be sure of an impartial CM's attitude in this case?

  • 3
    Annotations are placed on an account by other CMs. You should split off your two questions into separate answers. – user474678 Oct 21 at 21:44
3

Reinstatement process, Discovery phase, step 2.3:

If CM1 (and the team) finds reinstatement is possible and there isn't a need to establish a precondition, they'll just proceed.

Does this mean "Proceed to reinstate" or "Proceed to the next phase"?

  • 5
    Based on the flowchart it seems to be: "Proceed to the next phase" – divibisan Oct 21 at 21:22
  • 2
    To the next phase, correct. – JNat Oct 22 at 10:04
23

Community Managers (CMs) can recuse themselves if they feel they can't be impartial. CM1, CM2, and CM3 will be picked at random from remaining CM pool.

There aren't a lot of Community Managers. What if there are not three CM's remaining after some have recused themselves?

  • Waiting for the new one... – Suvitruf says Reinstate Monica Oct 21 at 21:25
  • 21
    You get a segmentation fault. – ace_HongKongIndependence Oct 21 at 23:47
  • Does CM mean the SE staff moderators, rather than the elected moderators? – Raedwald Oct 22 at 6:37
  • @Raedwald Yes, Community Managers are SE employees, not volunteer moderators. – curiousdannii Oct 22 at 11:53
309

The two new processes are palliative at best. I would NEVER want to be a moderator with such procedures in place:

  1. There is no community oversight of any community manager's action, and frankly, I do not trust the CMs to never make mistakes and do not see why the community should. The oversight could be performed by other mods under NDA, and be not binding. Both parties need an impartial voice guaranteeing that the process was followed and that the decisions were not too controversial.

  2. CMs retain absolute power, including the ability to ban a moderator indefinitely without giving any reasonable reason or appeal. This is unnecessary.

  3. Any annotation that says a diamond can't be restored prevents it, indefinitely and with no limits. There are no appeals or guarantees of reinstatement in case of mistakes. This should be corrected (in fact, I don't see why it should be allowed at all).

  4. CMs are responsible for inevitable mistakes in judging moderators and are also responsible for deciding whether they made a mistake. This should not be the case, and community oversight is essential to align the incentives.

  5. There is no oversight for emergency demodding and nothing to prevent its abuse.

  6. Substantially, there are no guaranteed timings. You can delay responding to anyone as long as you want. This should also be corrected, especially in the case of emergency demodding.

  7. Accused mods are merely informed that the process is in place once their guilt is "determined". This is "guilty until proven innocent". By talking to @Catija I know this is not as intended but it needs to be fixed: mods should be contacted before any determination and the accusation and the evidence supporting it needs to be shared too, so they can defend themselves.

While I appreciate the effort in writing this, it's clear to me that you have not demonstrated the intention of creating a fair process - this apparently codifies the previous "non-process" in a process that fails to solve the more substantial problems. Instead, it should make more effort to increase trust in some form, and make sure it does not codify that you do not trust us, instead.

You should extensively review it or scratch it and build a process that enshrines mutual trust.

  • 9
    We are suffering from day to day. hide_the_pain_harold.jpg. – Suvitruf says Reinstate Monica Oct 21 at 21:51
  • 7
    You're not wrong, Sklivvz, but I can't really see a better way either. How could the community provide oversight of CM actions? There will be times when the actions of the "bad" mod can't be shared with the community without shaming them publicly. This should basically be like the process of user suspension which is handled by mods with no community input. The problem is that we no longer trust SE to act fairly. If trust hadn't been lost, this procedure would be fine. Without trust, no procedure can be good enough. I don't really see a way around this. – terdon - stop harming Monica Oct 21 at 22:08
  • 93
    @terdon there are plenty of ways! (a) the accused mod should see all the evidence against them and be able to present counter-evidence. This would prevent cases like Monica's where she's not even able to disagree because the accusations are so vague and no evidence was presented. (b) some random community moderators could be included in at least reviewing the evidence under NDA and be able to agree or disagree publicly about the outcome. Just two random thoughts, but if there was an interest in having a process based on trust there are 1000 ways. – Sklivvz Oct 21 at 22:16
  • 8
    Hmm. Yes, those are good suggestions. I was thinking of "community" as "the community that elected this mod". But allowing the mod to see the evidence (except when provided in confidence) does seem like a no-brainer, really. I hadn't realized that wasn't part of the process! – terdon - stop harming Monica Oct 21 at 22:18
  • 24
    In absolute generality, a necessary condition of a good process is that the incentives align with the outcome. All parties should have incentives that create a balanced outcome, preventing mistakes, and reinforcing trust. At the moments the incentives are objectively broken. For example CMs have no incentive in finding mistakes in their own work. Sometimes they don't even have the possibility (e.g. an annotation is unappealable even when totally wrong) – Sklivvz Oct 21 at 22:18
  • 12
    I don't normally do this, but this is one thing I would categorically disagree with you on. Community-elected Moderators are appointed to represent the community, but have always been beholden to the rules the company sets for them. This also means that CMs have the privilege of serving as benevolent dictators over the process. Asking the community to adjudicate a situation like this is akin to making moderation more of a popularity contest rather than it being at least somewhat more in-line with what an outside observer could expect. – Makoto Oct 21 at 22:27
  • 3
    That isn't to say that I don't see your point; I think what you're trying to get at is to make it more of a trustworthy process. I think my only real sticking point is that you're not thrilled that CMs hold absolute power...when in actuality they do. Resolving that tension is something that goes above this process' pay grade. – Makoto Oct 21 at 22:28
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    @Makoto I think CMs should be free to make their own decisions, but I think they should NOT be able to do so secretly. Non-binding oversight is one way. – Sklivvz Oct 21 at 22:43
  • 1
    @Sklivvz: I mean...this isn't a public trial. This is honestly the company providing clarity around a policy which they admitted wasn't followed or in place or both, and we're still getting the same judges and the same hard reality check we had before this whole debacle kicked off. The company can make decisions about whether or not a moderator can remain a moderator. Expecting any less is a bit odd since this isn't a public trial. – Makoto Oct 21 at 22:50
  • 5
    Again, the opposite of a secret trial is not necessarily a public trial. Plenty of trials are conducted behind closed doors to guarantee privacy, yet with oversight by the public to guarantee fairness. – Sklivvz Oct 21 at 23:03
  • 24
    My biggest problem with this is that it doesn't seem to involve the other mods for that site ("team") at all - not in gathering information and context, not consulting them... Why not? It does reinforce the problem that we don't trust the CMs to handle this. – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Oct 21 at 23:25
  • 6
    @Sklivvz I really liked the one line summary as you had it before the last edit: "You should scratch it and build a process that enshrines mutual trust." – De Novo supports GoFundMonica Oct 22 at 0:05
  • 1
    @DeNovo Thanks, I've incorporated your feedback – Sklivvz Oct 22 at 9:17
  • That's such a nice idea that I'd have to agree. And there is an even better approach: "build a process that does not need mutual trust." But one that works even without. Taking a hint from democratic institutions that need to be balanced against each other in the face of antagonistic interests and ambitions. We saw the ousting of the 7th king Superbus a benevolent dictator/king and now look at processes modelled after a failed republic. Why not just skip that? – LаngLаngС Oct 22 at 10:27
21

Execution.1 on removal:

the network account may be suspended for 30 days to prevent further harm while issue is being handled

Won't this disallow reinstatement and/or reelection for a year after the moderator has been removed in an "emergency"?

That seems unprecedented, especially considering the case of a compromised account that may be fixed easily by changing a password or an email.

  • 2
    IIRC that election restriction for recently suspended users can be circumvented with a message sent via /contact – Kevin B Oct 21 at 21:50
  • 10
    There are special circumstances where a suspension may not be considered when running in elections. If the mod was determined to not be at fault, then this would fall into that circumstance. – Catija Oct 21 at 22:07
  • Also this rule might be open to abuse/considered abuse ("silencing the mod"). – MEE - Reinstate Monica Oct 22 at 8:23
27

Execution.1 on removal:

If an Emergency Removal took place, moderator access can't be restored.

Is this permanent (this user will never be a moderator again), or is it temporary (moderator access can't be restored at this stage)?

  • 9
    I guess it depends. If we see a mod selling user PII, for instance, it probably will be permanent. If, on another example, we find ourselves that far down the process without being able to dismiss some other less serious issues (say, going on an uncharacteristic post deleting spree), it could've been simply because the mod's account was hacked while they were on vacation, and they took 2 weeks to even notice it and our emails requesting clarity on the matter... at which point they'd prolly use the reinstatement process to get reinstated — and possibly get reinstated. – JNat Oct 22 at 10:42
40

One question specifically about international sites.

  1. CMs can recuse themselves if they feel they can't be impartial. CM1, CM2, and CM3 will be picked at random from remaining CM pool.
  2. CM1 will review data and research concerns - look through account annotations, query the involved parties, etc. If there is a note to check with the Community Strategy Team (CST), they'll do so: the CST may have information relevant for next steps.

There is only one CM responsible for all international sites. So, even if CM recuse himself when he feels he can't be impartial, other CM's will learn about the situation from his point of view. For SOru it's especially important, because there is only one russian speaking CM in your team. Basically, the whole process in the case of disagreements between mod and this CM will be biased.

Any suggestions for this case?

  • 17
    This is perhaps an extreme case, but the concern is not specific to RUSO or even international sites; everything comes with a perspective, a filter. The rationale for having multiple - at minimum 2 - CMs involved is to reduce this distortion, but it cannot be entirely eliminated. The role of CM2 is particularly critical in this, akin to the original role of the devil's advocate: they must test the claim, ensure that it has merit. That may in some cases require drawing on additional resources to assert the veracity of statements made by CM1. – Shog9 Oct 21 at 21:59
  • 3
    @Shog9 thanks! Looks good in theory. I hope we will never examine it on practice. – Suvitruf says Reinstate Monica Oct 21 at 22:03
44
  1. CM1 will look through account annotations for reasons for removal. Annotations weren't always a feature, so CM1 will also consult with the rest of the Community Management and Community Strategy (CST) teams for any extra context.
  1. If CM1 finds any annotation that states reinstatement is deemed impossible, the request is denied and the reasons for it will be stated back to PM. The process is concluded here.

There needs to be an investigation into the correctness of the annotation. As it stands, it's possible to apply a permanent, unappealable veto to any reinstatement request for any reason or no reason at all.

9

Thank you for posting these processes. However, in What is the process for reinstating a moderator?, point #2 of the "Discovery Phase" states:

  1. CM1 will look through account annotations for reasons for removal. Annotations weren't always a feature, so CM1 will also consult with the rest of the Community Management and Community Strategy (CST) teams for any extra context.
    1. If CM1 finds any annotation that states reinstatement is deemed impossible, the request is denied and the reasons for it will be stated back to PM. The process is concluded here.
    2. If CM1 (and the team) finds reinstatement is possible under the agreement that a reasonable and attainable precondition should and could be met (such as an agreement to discontinue a certain kind of behavior), this reason is documented.
    3. If CM1 (and the team) finds reinstatement is possible and there isn't a need to establish a precondition, they'll just proceed.

Is there any particular reason why sub-point #1 has only the CM1 involved while sub-points 2 and 3 have "CM1 (and the team)"? I believe the team should also be involved in sub-point #1 to help ensure not just one person determines a specific annotation is considered to be such that reinstatement is deemed impossible. Also, are there any specific guidelines as to what constitutes an annotation which makes it impossible to be reinstated?

Another issue in sub-point #1 is that it doesn't explicitly state anything about documenting which particular annotation, and why it's deemed important enough, for a PM to not be reinstated. I believe this should also be documented, such as in cases where a PM asks again later to be reinstated so the previous reason can be reviewed and, for example, considered if it was reasonable and still applicable.

176

These processes miss the point.

All of the company's current big issues with the community boil down to one issue: The company lost a lot of goodwill and trust.

Without trust, review processes that work must rely on transparency and consistency. A written process theoretically creates some consistency, but unless it's accompanied by transparency or trust, in practice people won't know if the process is followed correctly, fairly, and impartially.

Keep in mind how all of this looks: The company fired a moderator, refused to let her know why, then the company posted some seemingly false and slanderous accusations against the moderator, missed 4 separate opportunities to apologize and own up to their mistakes, and now, weeks later, graciously allows the moderator to ask to be let back in, if she promises, so to speak, "to stop beating her wife".

This looks bad. If what actually happened is any better than the above summary, the company should be desperate to create more transparency.

  • 28
    This, but the collapse didn't begin with the loss of trust. Losing trust was a consequence of changing the site's primary focus from programming to socially engineering programmers. – No U Oct 22 at 22:30
  • 7
    I see no reason why a rational person would engage with this site. It is built ENTIRELY on contributions from un-reimbursed volunteers. These volunteers serve at the whim of people with a political agenda diametrically opposed to the very premise of meritocracy. Or in the words of WOPR from the movie 'War Games' -- The only winning move is to not play. I will continue to farm SE for answers. I will not contribute ANYTHING that could be used against me in the kangaroo court they have established. – Terry Oct 23 at 13:42
  • 6
    @Terry its not even a kangaroo court - they implemented a star chamber. – gbjbaanb Oct 25 at 8:59
110

The last process we had was completely ignored. What happens the next time a CM decides there should be an exception?

18

Moderator Conduct Review Process, Discovery Phase, 4.2:

If CM1 determines a CoC or mod agreement violation occurred, they will contact the moderator about whom the complaint was raised and inform them of the ongoing process, prompting them for their perspective/context/reasoning, and add this to the documentation to be reviewed in the Confirmation Phase.

On first reading, this sounds like by the time CM1 contacts the accused mod, the CM would already have decided an infraction occurred. It suggests the idea of guilty until proven innocent. I don't think this is actually what is meant, so could you change the wording to something like:

If CM1 suspects a CoC or mod agreement violation may have occurred, they will contact the moderator about whom the complaint was raised and inform them of the ongoing process, prompting them for their perspective/context/reasoning, and add this to the documentation to be reviewed in the Confirmation Phase.

The wording doesn't need to be like that, I'm sure it can be improved. It just should emphasize that no conclusions will be reached before hearing both sides of the story.

  • Hmmm kind of convoluted, isn't it? Like Pinocchio trying not to be caught in a lie... How about "If CM1 determines a CoC or mod agreement violation might have occurred"? Looks less confusing to me. – walen Oct 22 at 10:04
  • 1
    @walen yes, good point. Better now? – terdon - stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 10:07
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    In Discovery#3 there's a bit about "query[ing] the involved parties," which means dialogue with the moderator may have already occurred, which would have informed the CM's decision. The intention of the step you highlight is to assure that at that point the moderator will be contacted, not as an option, but as a required step to proceed in the process (regardless of whether or not there were any previous contacts). – JNat Oct 22 at 10:10
  • @terdon Yes, better. OT: isn't "might" always used for past events instead of "may"? – walen Oct 22 at 10:12
  • 1
    @JNat OK. But then it would be helpful to make that very clear. The main problem with this entire process is that it seems to require blind trust in the CM team handling it. Anything to suggest that other people will be involved needs to be very clear. You already have set up a frustratingly opaque process, so those few bits of it that might be less opaque deserve to be highlighted. – terdon - stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 10:12
  • 1
    @walen no, you can use may for past events when you're not sure whether or not something happened as you think. For example "this may have been the case in the past". Here, the may is used to indicate possibility. It makes it even more hypothetical than might. At least that's the way I read it, anyway. – terdon - stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 10:14
  • 2
    When we posted our original drafts in the mod Team, @terdon, y'all asked for many things we'd accounted for to be clarified, and they were — there are still many that need to be made explicit, clearly. We have a way more wordy document for ourselves, but in shortening it for sharing with mods and the community there are clearly bits in intention that are missed :\ – JNat Oct 22 at 10:14
  • 3
    @JNat I get that, of course. It's just that few people will be reading this assuming good intentions from the company and most will be reading it assuming bad ones, given the recent history. So clarifying the good seems really important. You don't want to give the impression that ya'll will be working under the assumption of guilty until proven innocent. I don't believe you will (at least, not the current batch of CMs, who knows about the future), but that's what it reads like. – terdon - stop harming Monica Oct 22 at 10:16
  • 3
    The input is appreciated, @terdon: I'll try to get some bits clarified before the end of the day :) – JNat Oct 22 at 10:18
51

It looks to me like the removal process is still driven by a single CM, with the slight speed bump that they have to convince one other CM of their case (which is pretty easy to do, given that they're the sole participant in the discovery phase). The only fundamental difference I can discern between what's written and what was done to Monica is that there has to be a warning annotation (and without any description of how annotations are created/edited/challenged/etc. there's not really hard evidence that there's a difference there either).

In my opinion, a fundamental tenet of justice that's missing from this process is the ability of the accused to know the charges leveled against them and to see and address the relevant evidence. As long as all the evidence and all the annotations that go into this decision process remain opaque to the accused, there's no way for anyone outside SE, Inc. to differentiate this process from the arbitrary process used in the recent past.

  • 1
    There's a difference. Removal, except emergencies, requires going through the process at least twice. The first time, the process results in "CM2 will [warn the moderator] (along with suggestions for adjusting behavior), and annotate the account." The next time through process, "if there is an annotation that notes the moderator had previously been warned about the same issue", then the moderator will be removed. I would say that the wording should be adjusted such that the warning to the moderator must be "clear and unambiguous" and clarify that "do so" means warn the moderator. – Makyen Oct 22 at 3:29
  • 2
    As Catija said in a comment to Monica's reply - there are no annotations on her account for the past 3 years. Go figure that one out! – gbjbaanb Oct 25 at 9:06
4

I have identified a potential optimisation to the process:

Execution phase 1.1 gives any existing CM moderator veto rights to reinstatement. If this veto step is carried out at the start of the process (during the CM selection/recusement of Discovery Phase 1) then the entire discovery phase can be skipped.

Execution Phase 1.1

If this consultation results in an unfavorable outcome (at least one mod in the current team strongly objects to reinstatement), the request is denied and the reasons for it will be stated back to PM. The process is concluded here.

Or maybe this veto right should be looked at as it seems to render a lot of the process superfluous.

  • The text you quoted is about objections from current mods on that site, not about CMs... It's the current site mods that have "veto rights", not CMs. – V2Blast Oct 22 at 3:50
  • @V2Blast Thank you, I thought they were the same thing. That clears up some of my confusion. Although the point remains that they could do that step first and save a bunch of the CM's time. – david Oct 22 at 3:56
  • Ah. Yeah, the CMs are the actual company employees, as opposed to the elected diamond moderators specific to each site on the network (e.g. Cooking.SE). – V2Blast Oct 22 at 4:04
24

So it used to be that diamond mods who decided to step down due to time reasons or whatnot could be reinstated just by asking. (That's what I was told when I stepped down on RPG.SE.) So that's no longer the case? Why is there all this review stuff for cases other than "they were forcibly removed via one of these removal processes?" So now if a diamond mod steps down for time reasons, the other mods vote whether they come back or not? What problem is that solving?

I suggest the reinstatement process be automatic for elected moderators NOT removed forcibly, and you just go through all the shenanigans when there was an actual problem. (Obviously included "resigned while in the removal process" - just when they leave say "you're good to return automatically" or "see this process if you want to return".)

  • 2
    Based on @Catija's comments, this is sort of compatible with the existing flow: apparently it's been CM process to check in with the current mods even for fast-track reinstatement, but with active mod teams it's largely seamless. It does appear that the current flow would require a second CM, and the blackball voting process could inflict a 7 day delay even if one mod is out of contact and the others all approve. In practice, I imagine "they left on good terms and all reachable mods are 100% content" would suffice, but the doc could certainly support that better. – wintermute92 Oct 22 at 13:15
9

Execution Phase, item 1:

The team will have 7 days to say their piece.

So essentially anyone on the team can stall the process for 7 days for no reason?

So if a PM was unfairly fired from several sites, and wishes to reinstate PM's mod status, PM would have to go through the trouble of completing multiple contact forms, and would have to wait up to seven days?

Justice delayed is justice denied.

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    Also as noted in other answers, there's no guarantee that the CM who handles the reinstate process isn't the same CM who unfairly fired PM in the first place. – ace_HongKongIndependence Oct 21 at 23:54
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    I read that as the PM dragging their heels. But if I'm correct then the wording needs adjusted to clarify that. The CM's shouldn't be dragging out the process just to use that as an excuse to invalidate it. – AGirlHasNoName Oct 22 at 0:44
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    I'm not sure what you mean. Is it clear in our wording that the "team" you're referring to there is the moderator team PM is asking to be reinstated into? If so, I don't know that there's an easy way for us to shorten that 7 day window — we'd have to be able to coordinate with multiple mods (depending on the size of the team) to hear all their input, and not everyone is available at the same time, etc. – JNat Oct 22 at 10:17
  • @JNat I'd say it's not entirely clear whether "current moderation team" includes CMs and other staff with diamonds. I'm also saying that the process should be expedited as much as possible if the firing was obviously unfair in the first place. For example if some day a CM decides to be a jerk and fires a mod for no reason, and the CM that processes the reinstate request finds this to be true. Would the process still be delayed by 7 days because another unrelated mod is on vacation? – ace_HongKongIndependence Oct 22 at 11:06
  • I'll see how to clarify what "team" means in that context, then. As for the second bit of your comment: yes, the process would need to wait for a full 7 days if one mod's response is pending. Also, the Conduct Review Process prevents the "some day a CM decides to be a jerk and fires a mod for no reason" scenario you presented. – JNat Oct 22 at 11:11
  • @JNat Just because a "process" prevents it, doesn't mean it won't happen. This is especially important when there's no way to appeal a Conduct Review decision. – ace_HongKongIndependence Oct 22 at 11:20
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    @JNat, what are the technical measures you have implemented to prevent a single SE employee from demodding a random moderator? Without such measures, anyone can circumvent the process. If they are acting maliciously, they can even prevent the moderator from being reinstated according to the reinstatement process. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Oct 22 at 12:03
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    @JNat What will prevent the Conduct Review Process from being ignored like the previous Moderator Action Review Process? – Andrew says Reinstate Monica Oct 22 at 18:11
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    I'm not sure I can predict what conditions would lead to this process being ignored, @AndrewPiliser, so I can't speak to what we could do to prevent that :\ That being said, the process was designed with a lot of use-cases in mind, so that hopefully sends a strong signal of when it should be used. – JNat Oct 31 at 18:40
  • @JNat Thanks for the update! – Andrew says Reinstate Monica Oct 31 at 19:25

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