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I care about moderators. They are here to make their community a safe and "happy" place. They help newcomers, and they make you feel welcome. They protect you against bigots and rude people. They tell you when you are being unfriendly and help you improve your behavior.

I love them for that. I love them because they will protect their community no matter what. They will make sure everyone behaves and that everything stays friendly.

They aren't perfect. They sometimes make mistakes and they sometimes get angry, just like any other human would.

But I know them, I trust them and I know they will be here for me if and when I need it. That's why I, too, want to be there for them if and when they need it.


Not so long ago, I didn't know anything about the "Teacher's Lounge" (TL). And then a friend privately complained to me that the discussion going on over there was making them feel horrible. And then, Aza resigned and after that, the whole "Monica Cellio" situation blew up.

But it wasn't over.

Another moderator that I have on very high esteem resigned for mostly the same reason Aza did.

And then I learned other stuff and I learned about how and why TL could be a toxic place sometimes.

And the issue essential boils down to what? To the fact that, in a room full of 200 people, no one had actually any moderator power (because everyone had them).

You can't just throw 200 people in the same place and expect them to behave nicely all the time. It just doesn't work.

I'm not a moderator, and I shouldn't be the one saying that. But, with the recent event, I have been made aware of an issue and I can't close my eyes to it. Because I care about moderators. Because I want them to be well and happy.

I hope SE Inc. is already aware that there is an issue here and I hope they are already working on fixing it.

But if not, please SE Inc., do something. Protect our moderators the same way they protect us, regular users.

Don't expect them to be perfect and don't expect them to keep their calm in every situation. Because they won't, and because they can't.

Please, remember that moderators are human too and put safety in place for when their humanity will take the best part of them.

I care for my moderators, please protect them.

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    Can we please stop voting to close on questions like these? There are a ton of questions that don't ask a question, including this one. Either vote to close consistently, or don't. These are special times in pretty much all ways too. – Zoe Oct 30 at 7:56
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    discussion -- "If your question isn't a bug report, feature request, or request for assistance, or question with a concrete answer, it's probably a discussion." – ChrisW Oct 30 at 8:27
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A few notes:

  • You're exactly right: it isn't fair to expect hundreds of people from a dizzying variety of backgrounds and cultures, wielding an even larger variety of languages, interests and beliefs, to get along with one another 100% of the time.

  • Chat is notorious for triggering the worst in otherwise reasonable people; real-time conversation can be rough, and... Well, the more people in one place, the rougher it gets.

  • There are way more than 200 moderators who use the Teachers' Lounge. However, most of them don't use it daily. This is good and bad: while only a few dozen people are there often, the population of regulars rotates over time and the associated culture with it... Leaving the vast majority of moderators who drop in to ask questions unprepared for what awaits them. Meanwhile, any regular who might find themselves at the center of a controversy will quickly find that they can't just have one conversation about it... Each day brings new people who will ask the same questions and be quite surprised at being told, curtly, that their question isn't welcome because it has already been answered thrice on each of the last several days.

...In short, it's long ago gone beyond a small little back room for a few people to trade tips; it's a decent sized community on its own, with all of the problems that entails. And... It's effectively unmoderated.

That changes today. For the next few weeks, we'll be trying something different:

  • The global moderator chatroom will live here, on https://chat.meta.stackexchange.com/. It will still be private, accessible only to folks who moderate somewhere on the network or are employees... But most of the people with access will have no special privileges.
  • Starting out, the room will be moderated by employees and The MSE Mods. All normal chat moderation tools will be available: kick, flag, suspend, remove access.
  • There's now also the possibility of appointing Room Owners who can lend a hand in providing guidance and oversight.
  • The rules don't change: we expect folks to be respectful, friendly, inclusive, constructive... All that good stuff from the Code of Conduct. The only difference is that now there'll be ... less-than-catastrophic options for enforcing those rules.

Right now, there's no special support for this in the system, meaning some nice things that were possible in the old room aren't available. This is a test, to see if providing normal chat moderation is effective at addressing the problems we've been seeing more and more often here. Maybe it won't work at all; maybe it won't be enough. Maybe a 400-person perpetual chatroom is just a really bad idea.

But if this does work out, we'll figure out how to provide these same options on an ongoing basis. Because we care about these moderators too, and it's high time we did something to stop them from hurting.

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    Thanks for this. It’s a great start. – user351483 Oct 30 at 21:16
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    Chat triggers the worst in otherwise reasonable people? Have you ever looked at Twitter? Apart from that I agree with this answer. – Daniel Fischer Oct 30 at 21:17
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    Throwing in Twitter as a comparison here is like barging into a discussion of the heat in Phoenix vs. Atlanta with a figure on the surface temperature of the sun, @Daniel... – Shog9 Oct 30 at 21:21
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    There's truth in that. – Daniel Fischer Oct 30 at 21:22
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    Chat is large enough by now that it's sorely needed chat moderators for quite a while. Have you considered appointing chat moderators who are not necessarily also main site moderators to moderate chat? The skills needed to moderate a chatroom and a Q&A site vary greatly, and it would make sense to have an unbiased set of chat moderators who would be responsible for chat moderation. – Mithical Oct 30 at 21:25
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    We've thought about it, @user58 - but of course there's no support for such a thing within the system right now. Perhaps it is time for that to change. – Shog9 Oct 30 at 21:45
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    "The only difference is that now there'll be ... less-than-catastrophic options for enforcing those rules." Can you please explain what this is referring to? – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Oct 30 at 21:48
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    @shog9: actually, the Suns are in Phoenix and the Heat in Miami, but you're forgiven :) – OldPadawan Oct 30 at 21:48
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    It hopefully means that there'll be other options than to fire and humiliate the victim of bullying. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Oct 30 at 21:52
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    Well the goal is to hopefully stop that from happening before it gets that far – Journeyman Geek Oct 30 at 22:20
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    I am concerned that the problem of the room isn't a lack of higher power, but simply too large of a topic. Perhaps it would make sense instead to offer a set of rooms for moderators? Where each room had its own main topic, and break the topics into, I don't know, 4 or 5 large groups. Abuse, Meta, Spam, Interactions, General. Just as an example... I am sure you can come up with a better set but I figured that would help articulate the direction I had in mind. – Travis J Oct 30 at 22:24
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    @TravisJ This already exists. There’s less-used mod chat rooms for smaller groups, generally based on subject... so there’s one for the religious sites, one for the more subjective sites... etc. So, the mods who have the specialized expertise with the moderation of that type of content can chat with less interruption from mods who may not share that experience. But they aren’t particularly well-used. – Catija Oct 30 at 22:49
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    Shouldn't the mods who participate regularly in TL elect the spokesperson(s)/chairperson(s)? If I were a mod, I'm not sure I would trust the SE employees to be unbiased or not to report back to headquarters and begin compiling their annotation books. – Mari-Lou A Oct 30 at 23:37
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    "Because we care about these moderators too, and it's high time we did something to stop them from hurting." So, about that... is there nothing your team can do to help correct the serious abuse dealt from above your pay grade? I know corporate politics can be messy, but there is an outstanding issue that stands in stark contrast to this stated goal. Don't just throw me out with the trash. – Monica Cellio Oct 31 at 1:50
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    Each day brings new people who will ask the same questions and be quite surprised at being told, curtly, that their question isn't welcome because it has already been answered thrice on each of the last several days. I see this in the Tavern all the time lately (even just "we've had this discussion already" even though the person entering has not - there are still people freshly discovering all the latest issues) – LinkBerest Oct 31 at 2:07
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This is something that we're keenly aware of.

We kind of expect the Community Moderation team to moderate us, but we outnumber them by almost ten to one. We also talk about ten times more, which adds to the load exponentially.

The problem is that a "toxic environment" appears toxic to outsiders, but to the people inside the conversation, the topic is meaningful and important. It's really difficult to respect the importance of those conversation while still keeping them within bounds of approachability to others. We could slice those conversations into another chatroom, but that also ends up excluding people.

It's a tough issue, we're aware of it, and it's on the agenda. But, we have a lot of other stuff that we're dealing with.

This isn't wholly on SE. We, as moderators, do need to find ways of increasing the efficiency of working together whilst retaining respect for each other's opinions and points of view.

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    It sounds like TL needs to elect some room owners, and have modified software, so that the CMs & ROs can effectively kick people, freeze the room, etc. – PM 2Ring Oct 30 at 9:41
  • Perhaps when this is all tried and done and lessons have been learned, some of the people involved can contribute valuable information to our Community Building SE – user1306322 Oct 30 at 10:11
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    "We kind of expect the Community Moderation team to moderate us, but we outnumber them by almost ten to one. We also talk about ten times more" - but normally, users outnumber moderators by over 1,000 to one; and they're volunteers doing it in their spare time, not paid professionals. Surely all it needs is one responsible CM to be on call at any time to handle flags etc? – user56reinstatemonica8 Oct 30 at 10:59
  • 'The problem is that a "toxic environment" appears toxic to outsiders, but to the people inside the conversation, the topic is meaningful and important.' - Then there really isn't a problem is there? If two sides are discussing (albeit in a heated way) but they are being respectful surely there isn't/shouldn't be a problem? – Script47 Oct 30 at 11:03
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    Respectfully, if you want a chat room for people to have deep meaningful conversations about private things, it should not be the same chat room that the rest of us are going to to get help with sock puppet rings. Holiday table rules should apply - no talk about sex, politics, religion, medical problems, etc. If like-minded moderators would like to have a private hang out to be friends, I support that. Just don’t make it my primary means to contact an available CM. – ColleenV parted ways Oct 30 at 12:20
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    @Script47 those two users may be respectful of one another, while e.g. discussing whether lefthanded people should have full human rights or not - thereby making lefthanded moderators feel unwelcome and perhaps unsafe. – Jenny D Reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 13:48
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    Well, that wasn't really what I was thinking about. Imagine walking into a restaurant where there's a table of people having a heated discussion about politics (or something). The discussion is loud enough to be heard across the room. While the people in the discussion feel as though they're not causing any issues, the rest of the diners would rather just eat their meals. More people joining the "politics" table to talk just makes everyone else feel more excluded. – user351483 Oct 30 at 13:53
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    And so again we see how chat is the forgotten cousin of the main site. I'm not any kind of mod here at SE, but in the past if faced with the issue of 'regulars chatting and being interrupted by people asking valid questions' I'd have nicely told the regulars to get somewhere more appropriate to just 'chat' in, and keep the 'questions' room, for questions, advice etc. – djsmiley2k - CoW Oct 30 at 22:21
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I think there could be a simple answer, within the community: the moderators find a set of simple rules for the TL, or any similar "private channel".

Then those community moderators that have access to say, the TL, vote distinct "TL moderators".

I really wouldn't be looking towards Stack Exchange Inc. here. The moderators have proven that they can moderate much larger communities.

(Maybe) it simply boils down to: accepting that such a TL-like place needs moderation, too ... and to then "go figure how to do that".

Sure, if there are really larger "fractions" within the set of moderators, then a "3rd party" might be necessary. But again, when we normal users elect moderators, the underlying theme is "we users are moderating us users". SE Inc. provides the means to help with that (or they don't do it), but in the end: moderators are just elected community members. So why should "their" community depend on a vastly different "moderation model"?!

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    @Mari-LouA I don't intend to prescribe a solution to the moderator community. I think they are best equipped themselves to define a solution that works for them. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 10:25
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    A change to the software is required so that distinct TL moderators can actually do something. – Stop Harming Monica Oct 30 at 11:46
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    @StopHarmingMonica Not necessarily. When all members of a group agree that certain people have a "special" role, then that could do. When that person shows up and tells you: "please cool down, now" ... and you ignore that, then you basically broke your own commitment. Sure, technical means can be helpful, but they aren't an absolute must. And beyond that, it is about priorities: the first priority would be to establish a set of rules that the affected people agree on. Then you can ask "ok, what technical means are needed or helpful to effectively implement these rules?" – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 11:49

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