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As far as I'm aware, moderators can not only be removed voluntarily or for cause (following one of the two processes listed here), but prior to the publication of that post, there has also been a process to remove moderators who are inactive from moderating their sites.

I had previously inquired about this process in chat more than a year ago, and the response I got at that time is that if the moderator hasn't been seen on the site in six months, they are contacted to see if they wish to continue moderating, and if there is no response, they are removed.

Has this changed with the new processes for moderator removal, or is it still as is? Can I please get a formalization of this process (e.g. "Moderator Inactivity Review Process"), akin to the processes noted in that other post?

Also, will moderators who are removed for inactivity be required to go through the standard reinstatement process, or can they get their diamond back just by asking (since the removal was entirely procedural, not due to a resignation or for cause)?

Finally, I've seen this process applied fairly inconsistently: there was a case on a now-shuttered beta site in which a moderator who hadn't been seen for three years on end was still allowed to retain their diamond until the very end. Is there a notification that is raised for employees if a moderator hasn't been seen in six months, or is it entirely manual? Also, does time that moderators have marked as planned absence/vacation count toward that time?

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    "a moderator who hadn't been seen for three years" -> Note: on one of my favorite SE site, we have a moderator like that. From the outside, this person seems completely inactive. However, the mods over there "swear" that this mod is still helping handeling flags. So, a moderator inactive from the outside might still, in fact, be active. – BelovedFool Nov 3 '19 at 7:24
  • @BelovedFool - I've seen this too. Exactly as you described it -- but probably on a different site. However, at one point the two ghosts stepped down and made room for someone with more time available. – aparente001 Nov 3 '19 at 7:42
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    @BelovedFool By "seen", I was referring to the "last seen" date, and I'm sure that logging in to the site and browsing a few pages will trigger it to update. Also, the team did appoint a replacement for that moderator, but their privileges weren't revoked even after that. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Nov 3 '19 at 7:45
  • @Sonic Maybe you should clarify that, then? (not sure that it really mater, though) – BelovedFool Nov 3 '19 at 7:58
  • @BelovedFool but the userbase doesn't see that. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Nov 4 '19 at 17:06
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As you note, a policy for removing inactive moderators has existed for a long time. It goes as follows:

  • The system notifies moderators who haven't performed any moderator activities for 4 months, by sending them an email informing them of this, and the inactivity policy: after 6 months of inactivity, they'll be removed. Removal is mostly due to the fact that mods have access to users' privileged information, so we wanna restrict who has access to these tools to people who actually use them; there's also the matter of diamonds not being supposed to just be a show of status, but rather a description of a role in the community (that is, moderators are supposed to actually moderate).
  • At the 6 month mark, a new email is sent to the mod by the system, and the Community Management Team is also notified of the mod's inactivity.
  • At this point, a Community Manager (these days, me) reaches out to this mod, and once again points out the removal-by-inactivity policy. The CM will allow for 1 week to get a response.
  • If the moderator replies back saying they'll be picking up their moderation efforts, we're fine as is. If they reply back saying that "yes, indeed, I've been away and can't see a future where I'll have time to moderate" or somesuch, or don't reply at all, we'll proceed to work on finding a replacement...
  • ...which means we'll reach out to the remaining mods on the team, and assess their moderation needs, so as to set up an election. We also take the chance to make sure no one else is gonna be stepping down in the near-ish future: elections are usually spread a minimum of 6 months apart, and since they're fairly heavy-weight, we might as well get the appropriate slot count on the first go, if possible.
  • Then, finally, once that's all set up, and the election eventually runs its course, we remove the inactive moderator's diamond. We do this only here to minimize the "diamond shuffle," unless the moderator has expressed they'd rather get rid of their diamond sooner. We also defer to the departing mod to make their personalized farewells on their community's Meta.

So that is the process has it's been for years now, as you noted.

As you also note, though, this hasn't always been applied consistently: sometimes these'd fall through the cracks and CMs would forget following up on them; sometimes we've missed removing a diamond once an election is wrapped up; and sometimes the trigger for the email that the system is supposed to send to the CMs was broken for some reason...

Since some time in the first few months in 2019, though, we've been more consistent in taking care of these — we used to... well, no easy way to put it: let these requests pile up a bit. Awkward, I know: that's not the case any more, though! They're now usually handled on the very week they show up in front of me — still a lengthy process, as noted above, but at least the initial email to the inactive moderator is now sent as soon as we can, so the rest of the process starts moving.

Oh, and as for the last question: if moderators mark themselves as "away" using the vacation tool, the system still counts that time as "inactive" time; though depending on the circumstances, there may be a bit more flexibility there, if nothing else because it is more of a planned absence, than a "vanished off the site" situation. And I don't think I've stumbled upon a 6-month planned vacation yet...

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  • Do staff members with a moderator diamond also get such email if they're inactive on the sites where they have diamonds? – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Nov 12 '19 at 12:28
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    Don't believe so: the reasons for having diamonds are somewhat different too, right? – JNat Nov 12 '19 at 12:31
  • Sure, but wonder how the query works. So you don't get lots of false positives? :) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Nov 12 '19 at 12:45
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    We do not, no — I assume the query checks if the account belongs to an employee or not, and only counts non-employees. – JNat Nov 12 '19 at 13:00
  • "performed any moderator activities"...quick question: do non-moderator activities count toward this? So, in other words, can a mod be removed for inactivity if they weren't moderating, even though they were participating actively in the site in a non-moderator capacity (e.g. asking and answering questions)? – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Nov 12 '19 at 21:56
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    That is correct, @SonictheReinstateMonica-hog: we're looking at mod-only activities. – JNat Nov 13 '19 at 8:11
  • Follow-up question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/340658/… – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Dec 19 '19 at 0:02
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    This system seems flawed to me, we have a mod on SFF who only logs in once every 2-4 months at best and appears to do the bare minimum just to keep their diamond. They have also been doing this for a few years as far as I can tell. Is there no "repeat offender" policy for those that keep tripping the system? Or keep just falling short of the first step at least? – TheLethalCarrot Mar 6 at 10:42
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    It has flaws, yes, @TheLethalCoder. It's worth pointing out that, in such a situation, if the rest of the team feels more hands on deck are needed, we usually ask the less present mods if they wanna stick around or not, and if necessary point out that ideally they should be more active. Many times these mods decide that an election is a good opportunity to step down, given their low activity. – JNat Mar 6 at 11:23
  • @JNat - It's also pretty frustrating that out of the five mods on SFF, only two of them are active as users. The other three have posted a cumulative total of about one comment a month on average for the last year. We're assured by the other mods that they're still active as mods ("Behind the scenes") but there's a flat refusal to prove that. Additionally when the two active mods went on strike the flag-handling time sky-rocketed, so it's not immediately apparent what (if anything) the other three are doing, but it ain't a lot. – Richard May 3 at 16:30
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    @ShadowKeepsSocialDistance It was later clarified that staff members with diamonds aren't considered true "moderators" (to the point where moderators who take employment with SE are required to resign as moderators before doing so, even if their job entitles them staff diamonds). So, there is no process for such users. See meta.stackexchange.com/q/340658/377214 – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog May 7 at 1:55
  • @Richard For all you know, those three other moderators may have also gone on strike without publicly acknowledging it. Also, quite a few things happen in the background, such as dealing with abuse reports. Not being active content contributors doesn't mean that they shouldn't be moderators. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog May 7 at 18:55
  • @SonictheStay-HomeHedgehog - One of them is on strike, but his activity was so marginal that him saying "I'm on strike" is the most we've seen from them in the best part of a couple of years. One of the others only logs in to the site once every 3-4 months (and often less), presumably just to keep his diamond. – Richard May 7 at 19:08

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